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Cameroon : Gender Budgeting Refuted Despite Paul Biya’s Instructions

Louis Paul Motaze

In his recent circular on the integration and evaluation of gender budgeting implying taking into account gender equality, the Minister of Finance, Louis Paul Motaze, reveals that the government shows resistance on the issue, despite instructions from the President of the Republic, Paul Biya.

In addition, the official adds, the measures deployed and the resources devoted to reducing gender inequality in the budget remain “insignificant“. It points out that public plans, programmes, strategies and budgets that set out development priorities do not take sufficient account of commitments to gender equality.

With regard to the state budget, despite presidential circulars insisting on the need to take into account at the level of budget preparation, shortcomings remain with regard to the consideration of the needs, interests and specific concerns of men, women, girls and boys in the annual performance projects of ministerial departments,” writes the Minfi.

To remedy the situation, Minfi says, the government now intends to make the systematic consideration of gender in the state budget a credo backed by the sustainable development objectives of the 2030 Agenda, in line with the National Development Strategy 2020-2030. In this sense, Minfi points out, gender budgeting is not a separate budget for women or budget segregation, with credits allocated separately to men and women in the general budget.

It is not necessarily about increasing spending on programmes targeted at women; rather, it is about optimal and adequate allocation of resources to contribute to gender equality and women’s empowerment. This is reflected in programmes and actions through the definition of gender-sensitive targets and indicators.

Considered an innovation, the application of gender budgeting has been set for 2022, according to the circular signed on 30 August 2021 by the President of the Republic. “For 2022, the gender budget document should concern, on a pilot basis, the ministerial departments in charge of agriculture, livestock, decentralisation, basic education, secondary education, health, social affairs and the promotion of women,” the document stated. But, according to Minfi, these presidential instructions have been little respected.

In terms of gender equality, Cameroon is poorly ranked. According to the Human Development Report 2020, the Gender Inequality Index (GII) is 0.560, which ranks the country 141st out of 162 countries in the world. Also, according to the international NGO GenCap, discrimination between girls and boys, women and men remains a major obstacle to human development in Cameroon. According to GenCap, 39% of the national population lives below the poverty line. This rate rises to 51.5% for women. 79.2% of them are underemployed.

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