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Face to face interview with Doreen Kumwenda - An economist in the Ministry of Transport & Public Works.

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Doreen Kumwenda - EconomistThe Ministry of Transport and Public Works is one of the Government ministries that has demonstrated immense commitment towards gender mainstreaming in partnership with the Gender Equality and Women Empowerment Programme. The Equality Newsletter caught up with one of the Economist within the Ministry of Transport to shed more light on the just ended training on Gender Responsive Budgeting in this exclusive interview.

Q. Please tell us about yourself and how you recently find yourself talking about gender mainstreaming?

My name is Doreen Kumwenda and I work as an Economist in the Ministry of Transport and Public Works. Recently, the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Welfare has been supporting our efforts to mainstream gender in the transport sector mainly through their new programme called Gender Equality and Women Empowerment Programme. One of the key Result Areas for this new programme focuses on enhancing the capacity of various Government Ministries and departments to mainstream gender in their day to day work. Ministry of Transport and Public Works is one of these Ministries and I have been entrusted to coordinate this initiative together with my colleague, Mr. Cedric Njala.

Q. The Ministry of Gender recently organized a training on Gender Responsive Budgeting (GRB) for officers in your ministry. What is it that you find interesting about GRB?

Actually, I found the whole training on GRB enjoyable and interesting. Previously I thought, the only way to mainstream gender in the Transport Sector was by collecting gender disaggregated data where possible. However, the training has enhanced my understanding of gender concepts and their application in our sector.

Q. How relevant is GRB to your work as an economist in the Ministry of Transport?

As an economist, in collaboration with my colleagues in the Transport Planning Department, we coordinate planning of projects and programmes in the Ministry, Monitoring and Evaluation of the programmes and development and review of transport policies. In this regard, the GRB training has empowered me technically to ensure development and implementation of projects, programmes and policies that address the needs of all gender categories.

Q. How do you see the concept of GRB being institutionalized in the transport sector? Do you anticipate any challenges?

To be honest, for this financial year (2013/14), institutionalization will obviously be very partial considering that the timing for the training has not be right (the budgets have already been approved) and also the sub sectors are still learning and getting familiar with the gender concepts. In the long run, much as we appreciate that resources will never be adequate, institutionalization of GRB will be greatly affected by the absence of a comprehensive gender audit report for the Transport Sector. We need this gender audit to identify gender needs and gaps in various transport sub sectors which can inform policy and programming and provide the baseline for the gender sensitive indicators we have just developed in our sector. The gender audit report could also be used as an advocacy tool for increased government commitment towards addressing the identified gaps/needs within our sector and also lobbying financial support from development partners. However, we have been informed that this audit was already done by the GEWE programme and we can’t wait to get hold of the report once it is finalized.

Q. Any lessons that you learnt from the GRB training that you would like to share?

GRB does not necessarily imply sourcing additional funds for implementation of gender related interventions but rather integrating gender issues within our core activities which already have budget lines to ensure that needs of all gender categories are addressed.