This page in:
  • English

FEATURE STORY

Turning Information into Empowerment

March 7, 2013

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • PRAN, since 2010, has been providing practical training, action learning and networking opportunities aimed at developing the capacity of civil society organizations.
  • In Lekhnath Municipality, Western Nepal, women are demanding to be heard and included as a result of the World Bank’s Accountability program.
  • A project implemented by in 2012 sensitized women about their rights initially by informing them about their budgetary entitlement that encouraged them to voice out their concerns.

Lekhnath, Nepal--More than 50 women in Lekhnath came together on a grey, rainy day, despite their busy schedules to discuss the municipal budget. The look on their faces showed they meant business. They wanted involvement in the budget consultation meetings. So far, only men had been involved in such discussions. The women had come to demonstrate that they mattered just as much.

Every year, 10% of the municipal budget of the block grant is allocated to women in Nepal. The main purpose of the block grant is to target investment in women (10%), children (10%), the disadvantaged and the indigenous (15%) towards their development. However, the 10% entitlement does not always reach the women as intended. The Lekhnath women were simply unaware such allocation existed and thus, never had the chance to participate in the municipal budget consultations.

“We were not involved in any of the planning consultations. We did not even know about our own entitlements. Until we were informed by the Community Communication Centre (CCC) last year, we stayed inside our homes, without a clue about the budget specifically for women. We were missing out on the opportunity to develop ourselves but we won’t let this happen anymore,” says 50 year old social worker, Suk Kumari Bishwakarma.

Program for Accountability in Nepal

Community Communication Centre (CCC) implemented the project on the use of Social Accountability tool of Public Expenditure Tracking System (PETS) through the World Bank’s Program for Accountability in Nepal (PRAN).

PRAN, since 2010, has been providing practical training, action learning and networking opportunities aimed at developing the capacity of civil society organizations such as CCC and government actors to promote social accountability in Nepal. It is hoped that the impact of these initiatives, over time, will be to promote more accountable, honest, transparent and responsive government agencies delivering quality public services. The program supports social accountability activities in three focal areas: public financial management, municipal governance and public service delivery.

Open Quotes

We hope to learn and be empowered as much as possible so that we can generate income just as well as men. Close Quotes

Parbati Acharya
Furniture entrepreneur

Public Expenditure Tracking System (PETS)

More than 200 women were interviewed in the process to know about their roles in budget planning and 15 focus group discussions were organised. Among other such activities, CCC organised six citizen awareness campaigns and a public hearing to highlight women’s roles in budgetary planning.

In Lekhnath municipality, the PETS project implemented by the CCC in 2012 sensitized the women about their rights initially by informing them about their budgetary entitlement that encouraged them to voice out their concerns. The PETS tool helps people understand the budget in the programs of government and non-government bodies, how the budget is spent, what has been achieved with the money already spent and why these matters need to be looked into.

Looking ahead to the future

While the scene of women openly discussing might seem ordinary, it took them a year to get to this point. Parbati Acharya, a furniture Entrepreneur, explains how women want to use the fund: “Capacity building trainings are our main priority. We hope to learn and be empowered as much as possible so that we can generate income just as well as men.”

Parbati continues: “Whatever happened in the past has happened but in the future, we will participate in all the planning meetings. We went to the first budgetary planning phase about a month ago. Now that we know what our entitlements are, we will hold the government accountable for it.”

The Lekhnath women want their budget for women-specific programs, such as workshops on embroidery, farming, cash crops etc. They are of the opinion that women can only be equal if they are able to earn just as well as their male counterparts.