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Gender plan under threat

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Ministry of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare Principal Secretary (PS), Emmie Kainja, has expressed worry over the Treasury’s decision to ‘grossly’ underfund some crucial sectors, including the gender department, in the ministry.

Out of the K15 billion that the ministry has been allocated in the 2018/19 national budget, K11 billion, which is for the Social Cash Transfer Programme, will come from donors.

This leaves the ministry with K4 billion which is expected to be spread across its four departments— gender, children, disability and social welfare— apart from other recurrent transactions.

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And, according to Kainja, the gender department is going to be the most affected as it has been allocated only about K70 million despite that it has several vacancies and has to tackle several recurrent issues including gender based violence (GBV).

She said this in an interview on the sidelines of a budget analysis public hearing that took place in Lilongwe on Monday.

“The ministry in general is grossly underfunded. The distribution of the k4 billion within the budget is also not very rational because there are other sectors or departments that have been grossly underfunded,” Kainja said.

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The PS added that the ‘gross’ underfunding for the gender department is coming at a time the ministry is planning to set up an economic empowerment fund for addressing issues such as GBV, “yet the fund has not been considered”.

“These are critical issues and we hope that they will be looked into as Parliament will be discussing the budget; otherwise, there will be many challenges,” she said.

While admitting that not all departments have been allocated the funds they had prayed for, Budget Director, Peterson Ponderani, insisted that the Treasury had attempted to balance between funds inflow and expenditure.

He added that, with the limited resources, budget implementers should start looking at ways of cutting expenditure.

Meanwhile, Kainja has also complained about inadequate funding for child protection and disability interventions, which, she said, are other key components in the ministry.

She said, while various stakeholders are making strides in reducing cases of child marriage, interventions to help those who are saved from such unions when they want to go back to school have not been fully supported in the budget.

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