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Support to CSOs in Councils on G RB

REPORT OF SUPPORT GIVEN TO CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANIZATIONS OPERATING IN THE PILOT COUNCILS WHERE THE PROJECT ON PROMOTING GENDER RESPONSIVE BUDGETING (GRB) SPONSORED BY THE EUROPEAN UNION (PASOC) PROGRAM WAS IMPLEMENTED IN THE SOUTH REGION OF CAMEROON IN 2011

PRESENTED BY:

MUNICIPAL DEVELOPMENT COUNSELLING (MUDEC) GROUP-BUEA

SOUTH WEST REGION OF CAMEROON

 

 

                                                                                        DATE: 19/07/2013    

 

The Introduction:

The project on promoting the institution of Gender Responsive Budgeting (GRB) in Councils of the South West Region was sponsored in 2011 by the European Union Program known by its French acronym as PASOC.  During the implementation of this project, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in pilot Councils where this project was realized received institutional strengthening support from the implementing organizations. These organizations were led by Municipal Development Counseling (MUDEC) Group and also included the Youth Alliance for Democracy and Development (YADD), the Nguti Women Foundation for Change (NWOFOC) and the Center for development (CADEV). This support included directives on identifying an issue and how to bring about change in policy in their Council areas and communities by standing for that issue. The various steps in mobilizing the public, networking and engaging the authorities to bring about change were analyzed. Women CSOs in the pilot Councils targeted were the main beneficiaries of this. The following report presents the different support the CSOs received and the advocacy actions by the CSOs in the various Council areas and the outcomes of their actions.

The Objectives of the Support:

  • To promote the institution of gender responsive budgeting in Councils of the South West  Region of Cameroon
  • To improve on the situation of women and other marginalized gender groups.
  • To put in place focal persons to relate with the project promoters ,different development actors and women groupings

 

Expected Results:

  •  A Municipal Order is developed and in place engendering Council budgets
  •  The lots of women and other gender groups are improved through various financial schemes in place to support their endeavors
  •  Access to proper public facilities (markets, public toilets, etc. ) increases the wellbeing of women, ensure good health and involvement in local Council and economic activities by women.
  •  Vibrant networks of women associations, promoting information sharing and pursuing the interest and needs of women are in all pilot Councils targeted.
  •  Councils start benefiting from vibrant gender operations in their Municipalities

 Participants of the Support:

The participants were principally women group leaders, who represented their different CSOs. They were of age between forty and mid fifty years old. They were mostly school teachers, business persons and a few health practitioners-nurses. The implementing team also reached out to Secretary Generals of various Councils, Committee Chairpersons of Councils, and Councilors. Also targeted were Treasurers, finance Officers and other Council collaborators including: Women Empowerment Centre and the Family (MINPROFF), Ministry of Planning and the Family (MINEPAT), Ministry of Women Affair (MIWAS), local authorities etc. The press was also involved.

Methodology:

The project was implemented using an advocacy approach. First the implementing team used research assistants to do findings in targeted Councils on the major focus of the project. Specifically the objectives of the findings were:

  • To ascertain the degree of implementation of Municipal Decisions bearing on Gender Responsive Budgeting in pilot Councils
  • To determine the challenges encountered by Councils in engendering their budgets.
  • To proposed solutions for the identified gaps.

Questionnaires were used to conduct interviews. While on the field, observations were also made as well.

Some Findings Made:

The project team noted the following:

That women in Councils targeted do not participate in Council decision-making and are not aware of their role or that of the Councils in promoting development efforts.

That the female councilors and senior female Council staff do not attempt to question gender issues during Council budgetary sessions.

That majority of the grassroots female elected leaders are gender insensitive.

v Grassroots women are very suspicious of their leaders and MINPROFF authorities.

Because of these reasons the project promoters decided to put in place a Municipal wide women organization to increase the participation of women. The project team helped the women networks put in place to developed adequate gender messages and to organize advocacy campaigns in the pilot Councils. These campaigns were led by the women networks and joint by other groups.

The Advocacy Campaigns in the Pilot Councils:

Lot I: Councils in Fako Division:

The Councils targeted under this lot included the Buea, Limbe I, Limbe II, Tiko and Muyuka Councils. In the Buea Municipality, the project team visited various women CSOs to sensitize them about the project and the action to take. The CSOs were guided to develop an action plan. The Buea Women Forum, and other women group leaders took part in the advocacy March .This was organized in front of the Buea Council during a Council budgetary session. A similar march was organized in Limbe I and II, Tiko and the Muyuka Councils in 2011.

During the above actions, the project implementation team supported the CSOs with T-Shirts, placards and banners. First Aid tips, water and transport facilities were provided to them. Over 100 women participated in each march. The women also marched on popular market days

Lot II: Councils in Meme, Ndian and Kupe Muanenguba Divisions:

The Councils targeted here included the Kumba I and II, Mbonge, Ekondo Titi, Mundemba, Nguti and Bangem Councils. In these Councils MUDEC Group, YADD, WOFOC and CADEV representatives visited various women group representatives in the council areas. In the Kumba Municipality, a women forum called the Kumba Association for Women Groups (KAWG) was put in place by the project team. Similar forums were put in place in the other Council areas here. Action plans were also developed with all the CSOs. After much coaching by the project team, the various women forums in place carried out advocacy campaigns in their various Council areas.

The project team also supplied CSOs in their campaigns with T-shirts, placards, banners, first Aid tips and transport to ease their actions. Over 100 women took part in each march here. To further caused attention, they blow whistles at midnights of popular days.

Lot III: Councils in Manyu and Lebialem Divisions:

The Councils under this lot included the Menji Council in Lebialem and the Mamfe, Tinto and Eyumajock Councils in Manyu division. In all the above Councils, workshops were health with identified women CSOs on Gender Responsive Budgeting (GRB) and the indicators to major the success elaborated as well. In Menji, Lebialem division, the Menji Women Foundation for Changed (MWFC) was formed. Similar organizations of women CSOs were formed in the other Council areas as well. After the coaching from MUDEC Group and partners, the women CSOs embarked on advocacy campaigns in their various Municipalities.

The women teams were supplied with T-shirts, placards, banners, water, First Aid and transport facilities to ease their actions. The T-shirts and placards carried messages on different women issues that needed to be addressed.  The various advocacy marches were as well in front of Council premises. About 90 women took part in each march.  There was maximum press coverage here. Announcements were even made in churches about the campaigns.

The Action Plans:

In the course of developing action plans with the CSOs, the project promoters ensured that the following were included:

  1.        I.            The main problem
  2.      II.            The objectives of the advocacy work
  3.   III.            A list of those capable of changing the situation- the targets
  4.   IV.            The appropriate methods and activities that will be used in the exact situation
  5.     V.            Possible risks in the case of an action or no action
  6.   VI.            Responsibilities
  7. How to build links with other support groups
  8. The intervention calendar
  9.   IX.            Success measures: how are you going to evaluate the results?

In developing the various implementation plans, the table below was also presented and participants were guided in using it:

 

  What will we do?

Planned Activities

Why are we doing it? Target Objectives How are we going to do it?

Strategy for Intervention

What are we going to use to do it? Necessary Recourses

 

 

Who are we going to use to do it? Partners Where are we going to do it? Place of Actions

 

 

 

In my Organization            

 

 

             
My Regional Network            

 

 

Some Observations During the campaigns:

  • In all the Council areas, Municipal authorities and local administrators gave tacit acceptance to authorize popular manifestations only after discussions with MINPROFF.
  • Some Mayors decline to respond to unrehearsed Questions/Answers from women groups.
  • The project promoters had to immensely sensitize women before they participated.
  • The efforts of these women called for a lot of attention from authorities and the public as these were open and organized during Council Sessions.

The Out-Come of the Advocacy Actions and Support:

  • The Women Foundation for Change (WOFOC) remain in place as the focal team in Council areas and were introduced to all Municipal Council  authorities
  • A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was developed and signed between Councils and the different Women Foundation for Change.
  • Proposed action plans facilitated by MUDEC and partners, for the women CSOs were validated
  • The different women CSOs stated holding meetings without MUDEC and partners.
  • The spirit of advocacy was developed in various gender groups and their confidences were built.

Apart from the above, this project opened new doors for hard work and group action among women; the need for care for the physically challenged, for equality among gender groups and participatory development in Council areas.

Conclusion:

As viewed above, the support to CSOs was great! It also had a positive split over to other Councils that copied the actions. The identified leaders of Women Foundation for Change (WOFOC) put in place were expected to continue relating with the project promoters and different actors. However, for a sustain effort from WOFOC and the Council authorities, the following suggestions have been made.

 

Proposed Suggestions:

1)    The Women Foundations for Change (WOFOC) need regular support to be proactive in order to influence Council Budgetary process in all municipalities in the region. Supporting them regularly will also ensure that these foundations will sustain the sensitization of the population and maintain regular advocacy for GRB in Councils.

2)    There is need to hold regular consultations (may be quarterly) between the Council executive, SG, MT, and executives of Women Foundation for Change. The objectives will center on planning, review and evaluation of GRB.

3)    Create & maintain a data base on Council Funding for Gender Equality.

4)    The involvement of MINPROFF officials are critical for success.

5)    Develop a Draft Gender Policy for Local Councils & submit to competent organizations such as UN Women, MINPROFF, for deliberations and ultimate submission to the House of Senate for adoption.

Done by:

Eugene Atabong Atem

Coordinator of YADD, P.O Box 191 Buea

South West Region Republic of Cameroon

Tel: (+237) 74 50 59 95. Email: atematabong@yahoo.com/

youthcollaboration@yahoo.com


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