The systematic violation of women’s rights is by no means an exclusive problem of the Arab Middle Eastern region and should not be rashly attributed to notions of culture or religion. Nevertheless, the extent to which Middle Eastern women are still restricted in their life-choices, subjected to different forms of violence, and excluded from decision-making processes on all levels is alarming.
Although some progress has been made in terms of their empowerment, the improvements have not altered the overall subordinate position of women in the Arab society and gender inequality remains entrenched in all aspects of life.
At the same time there is a lack of awareness and necessary skills amongst elected members of local councils especially in the budgeting process and gender equality issues in general. Also the need to improve good governance and lack of accountability requires much concerted efforts in awareness and advocacy work on the importance of engendering local budgets.
hbf AMEO works together with different NGOs such as MIFTAH, who are dealing with capacity building, economic empowerment, advancing women’s representation in decision-making processes and the assessment of gender issues in budgetary policies. Furthermore, we see gender democracy as a cross cutting issue that needs to be reflected in the overall work and in each of the projects the foundation supports.
One of our joint projects focuses on enhancing the municipality’s members and staff capabilities and empowering their relations with the civil community organizations in order to participate in planning the municipality’s local policy and to contribute in the decision making process in a way that is more responsive to gender issues.
The "Gender Responsive Budget Manual" has the aim to encourage local councils to prepare and develop gender approachable budgets, and was developed duirng our joint pilot project and can be downloaded for free.