Study Visit to Fundar and Its Networks, September 2008
Teach your family to have an healthy relationship with food.
Capacity Building / Study Visit
Since 2001, Indonesia has been struggling to implement gender-sensitive budgeting at the national as well as local level. NGOs such as CIBA, PATTIRO, BIGS and WRI have been influencing and working together with the government to carry out the gender-budgeting agenda. The result, however, has not been entirely successful. The gender-sensitive budgeting, for example, has not succeeded in promoting poverty reduction programs for women as a priority. In fact, the government still often skews the process by interpreting ’gender-sensitive budgeting’ as ’budgets for women’, and it leads to the allocation of budget for state-founded middle class women organizations such as PKK and Dharma Wanita. Furthermore, gender-sensitive budgeting advocacy in Indonesia has not been able to produce a policy that guarantees the implementation of gender-sensitive budgets both at the national and local level.
For these reasons, WRI deems it necessary to take into account best practice experiences of the implementation of gender-sensitive budgeting in other countries such as Mexico. Therefore, in 6 to 14 of September 2008 WRI visited Mexico. Within the Mexican context, the implementation of gender-sensitive budgets has been carried out through a synergy between several actors, namely the government (particularly the central government), women activists, and NGOs. This synergy has produced several successes, such as the introduction of policies at the central and state levels that do not only support intensive gender-sensitive budget implementation but also strengthen women’s political participation. The work of Fundar and IBP in pushing for the implementation of gender-sensitive budgets, for example, has increased the political participation of Mexican women in the public sphere, particularly to influence budget allocation for reproductive health.
The success of the promotion of gender-sensitive budgets, particularly in relation to health budget, in Mexico has spurred WRI’s interest in further observing its actual implementation in Mexico. Furthermore, WRI is also interested in learning the extent to which gender-sensitive budget implementation is effective in furthering the empowerment of women in influencing budget allocation for reproductive health.
This visit has several aims:
To study policies, mechanisms, and systems of the implementation of gender-sensitive budgets with regards to health/reproductive health budget in Mexico;
To identify several factors that influence and encourage the implementation of gender-sensitive budgets with regards to the health/reproductive health budget in Mexico;
To identify the various impacts of the implementation of gender-sensitive budgets in Mexico, including the impact on the empowerment and participation of women in influencing the health/reproductive health budget.
WRI’s 5 days visit to Mexico City was organized by Fundar (Center of Analysis and Research). Mainly, Fundar analyzes budgetary processes and conduct advocacy towards the Executive and Legislative. Edriana Noerdin and Sita Aripurnami from WRI had discussions with Fundar and its main network partners from the Executive, Legislative, and NGOs that were members of the Women’s Health Coalition.
During the 5 days visit, WRI met with several important actors in the gender-sensitive budgeting in Mexico:
The NGOs: Fundar (Jorge Romero Leon, Renata Terrazas Tapia, Daniela Diaz Echeverria, Alberto Serdan Rosales, Melissa Ortiz and Andrea De La Barrera Montppellier), The Women’s Health Coalition (Elsa Antonia Perez Paredes from IPAS and Axela Romero Cardenas from SIPAM), and International Budget Partnership (Helena Hofbauer);
The Executive: Claudia Gabriela Rodriguez and Celita T. Alamilla Padron from the Instituto Nacional de las Mujeres; Dr Vidal Uerenas and Dr.Anahely Medrano Buenrostro from the State Secretariat of Finance, Mexico City Government;
The Legislative: Dr Maria de los Angeles Corte Rios from CEAMEG – Centro de Estudios para el Adelanto de las Mujeres y la Equidad de Genero, Dr. Maricela Contreras Julian from Gender Equity Commission.
During the discussions, WRI was guided by three questions:
What were the initial steps of the implementation of gender-sensitive budgeting in Mexico, and how did the NGOs and government develop collaboration to improve budget allocation for maternal health?
What are the obstacles faced by the actors in developing the collaborative work?
What have been achieved by the collaborative works?
Summary of Discussions
As an independent and interdisciplinary institution Fundar aims at enhancing the transition to democracy in Mexico. Through its main area of work, which is applied budget research, Fundar also promotes citizen participation in setting the priorities for the poor, women and children. WRI wanted to learn from Fundar and its networks in how to increase budget for the reduction of maternal mortality and develop multi-stakeholders engagement in Mexico City for improving maternal health.
Since 1997 the Mexican government has implemented a welfare system as part of poverty alleviation programs in Mexico called Oportunidades.
Main objectives of Oportunidades are:
To improve the beneficiaries’ level of education, health and welfare;
To increase beneficiaries’ equality and equal opportunities;
To enhance governmental response capacity in order to improve trust in institutions that are participating in the program;
Through inter-institutional and coordinated actions in education, health, food and social development, the program seeks to enable people living in extreme poverty to make the most of their capacities.
The health components as specific strategies of Oportunidades are:
To freely provide the Guaranteed Basic Health Package (Paquete Básico Garantizado de Salud);
To provide the best nutrition;
To promote family self-care through educative communication;
To reinforce the supply of health services in the 1st level health units where Oportunidades operates.
Some critical points of Oportunidades:
Fundar conducted researches that show that Maternal Mortality in Mexico is concentrated among the most marginal areas and amidst the population that do not have access to social security. It is directly linked to the poor conditions of people that are discriminated socially, economically and politically by society at large.
Therefore, government’s attempts to reduce maternal mortality through the Guaranteed Basic Health Package through Oportunidades is absolutely inoperative and a complete failure because the marginalized, especially indigenous women, are lacking access to information regarding the program.
Oportunidades programs also suffer from problems concerning transparency and accountability since people do not access to monitor improper usages of the programs.
Based on the assumption that:
Marginalized indigenous women that are not covered by social security should have easy access to government health program.
Government should offer quality health services to families who live in extreme poverty;
Government should implement budget transparency that would enable its beneficiaries to help the program reach the targeted beneficiaries and reduce improper usage of the resources;
Government should have an accountability mechanism that would allow citizens to exercise control over public program such as maternal health program.
The Fundar project to increase maternal health budget started as a research project on maternal mortality 6 years ago. The project was funded by a grant from the MacArthur Foundation, a donor agency that focused support on maternal mortality issues. The project had three activity components, namely (1) budget analysis on maternal mortality, (2) field research in 3 poor states (Chiapas, Oaxaca and Guerraro) with the highest maternal mortality where many indigenous people lived; (3) networking to encourage other local NGOs to do similar work in their respective area.
Obstacles During the period of 1997–2002 there were neither specific programs nor budget allocation for maternal mortality reduction. In order to link public policy concerning maternal mortality and budget allocation, firstly first Fundar had to conduct an applied research on maternal health to see the delivery of health services from the start of the pregnancy until post natal care.
Achievements In general,
Fundar has become a reliable resource institution that has succeeded in making budget analysis a common need of the Executive as well as the Legislative in Mexico City;
Fundar has succeeded in increasing the political will of the Government of Mexico City to improve budget allocation for maternal health.
Fundar drew an estimated budget for the provision of emergency assistance to prevent death during delivery. This exercise was very important for the initial advocacy to increase maternal health budget to reduce maternal mortality;
Fundar developed network with the Women Health Coalition to push the Legislative to increase budget allocation for maternal health. By 2003, Fundar had convinced the Legislative to allocate specific amount of budget for maternal health to reduce maternal mortality;
Fundar assisted the Executive, i.e the City Government of Ministry of Finance and the Instituto Nacional de las Mujeres, to figure out the amount of budget that should be allocated for the reduction of maternal health and its supporting regulations and also budget allocation for gender mainstreaming program;
Fundar in collaboration with the Women Health Coalition and the legislative produced a document to support the Law on Budget Allocation, which states the importance of gender budget in the Mexican Financial System. This supporting document prohibits reproductive health budget to be re-allocated for other purposes. The budget allocation for reproductive health should be used only for reproductive health issues. This collaboration currently is lobbying the parliament to push this supporting document to become a Federal Law.
2. The Women’s Health Coalition
IPAS, SIPAM, and Fundar are the three active members of the Women’s Health Coalition that consist of 11 organizations. This coalition was established in March 2007 with the goal of improving budget allocation for women’s health.
IPAS works mainly on the issue of safe abortion and SIPAM works on the issues of safe abortion, contraceptive and youth. Each of the coalition members can use the coalition to put forward their respective issues with full support of the other coalition members. Members of the coalition trust and respect each other’s expertise and network.
Initial Steps There are several steps that the coalition did at the beginning of its work, (1) identifying coalition members that had the capacity to conduct research and advocacy, (2) identifying coalition members that had the best network, including network with parliament members, and (3) identifying the allies, enemies and networks of this coalition. After that, the coalition put together their data into attractive factsheets to be distributed to parliament members. The Coalition lobbied the parliament with the goal of (1) putting women’s health into the national health budget program, and (2) improving the health budget for women. Each coalition members than put one of its staff in the parliament office and worked closely with the identified allies among the parliament members.
Obstacles The coalition works on the issues of reproductive health which does not only cover maternal mortality issues but also the issue of HIV/AIDS, abortion and contraceptive for family planning. Due to the conservative values of the government, there is no enabling policy environment for the efforts to promote reproductive health, especially sexual health. Thus, the Coalition should lobby through the parliament members to improve the policies.
The coalition and parliament members have developed good relationship. The parliament members understand that they have to resolve the problems of reproductive health, i.e. maternal health, and the coalition becomes their allies that provide alternative ways in overcoming the problems. The coalition works closely with the gender equality commission, budget commission and health commission. The coalition produced two basic documents that are used to lobby parliament members. The documents are (1) analysis on health problems that should be addressed by parliament members, and (2) proposal of budget allocations that could be proposed by legislative members. (3) Promote a model of safe abortion. These three documents are supported by research data generated by Coalition members. In relation to the program on save abortion the Coalition is taking significant role in the process of putting the abortion law into practice in Mexico City.
3. Helena Hofbauer (IBP)
Helena Hofbauer is the Manager for Partnership Development of the IBP. She is the former Founding Director of Fundar and known for her works on gender budgeting. When she was with Fundar, she conducted advocacy to increase budget allocation for maternal health in Mexico.
Initial Steps Since gender sensitive budget is a broad concept, it is better to start with some more specific gender issues faced by most women such as maternal health issues. In order to get support from various actors (Executive, Legislative, and Civil society at large) on maternal health budget the first steps should start with (i) defining our goal; (ii) what are we going to overcome and what are we going to ask the government to do to reduce maternal mortality; (iii) mapping out what the government has been doing in term of maternal mortality reduction; (iv) analyzing whether the programs would be able to solve the problem; (v) setting a research plan to get and analyze data and information; and (vi) bundling budget and policy analysis in one package.
Obstacles Due to the lack of information, knowledge and awareness of government officials, they always ask for a recipe. The approach is contrary to the fact that gender perspective does not offer a single recipe. Solutions depend on the context of the construction of gender inequality based on social, political, economic and cultural construction. If we start our program with mainstreaming gender perspective, the Executives would become defensive and most of the time will be self defeating. Therefore, we shouldn’t start with mainstreaming gender into budget and policy. It is better to start with data analysis to show how meager budget allocation has impacted women’s health, i.e. high maternal mortality rate.
The Executives and Legislatives are more opened to inputs from civil society, and they have considered NGOs as allies to improve public policy and budget Budget documents can be easily accessed by the people. The works in the past six years had succeeded in influencing the government to increase budget for maternal health in Mexico. Available data and information regarding maternal health in Mexico.
1. Instituto Nacional de la Mujeres
Instituto Nacional de la Mujeres is a national government body that works to promote gender equality. One of its goals is to improve the quality of women’s health, especially reproductive health.
Initial Steps The Institute started its work by organizing a gender perspective symposium in collaboration with the City Government of Ministry of Finance in Mexico City The purpose was to help the Executives to understand gender perspective and how to mainstream it into government programs. Prior to that, budget allocation based on gender perspective was nowhere to be seen in the Mexican budget system. The Institute learned how to institutionalize gender perspective into the government programs from Fundar. In 2001 the institute started to work in collaboration with the Ministry of Finance and NGOs, including Fundar, to allocate budget for the provision of a whole package of reproductive health budget, which included services to reduce maternal mortality, cervix cancer, and health for young women and indigenous women.
Obstacles Based on the experiences of what happened in the past (1988 – 1994), the Mexican government’s funds were often diverted for election purposes. In order to secure the reproductive health budget, the Institute in collaboration with NGOs and the Ministry of Finance lobbied the government to formulate a regulation to prevent the diversion of reproductive health budget to finance other programs. Until now, the implementation of the regulation is still problematic. It needs a collaborative effort from the Executive, Legislative and NGOs to strictly implement the regulation.
The Institute has gained expertise in lobbying the government.
The Institute also has been invited to participate in the planning process, particularly to provide advice regarding how to mainstream gender perspective into government programs.
Budget allocation for reproductive health increased from 300,000,000 pesos in 2007 to 750,000,000 pesos in 2008.
2. The State Secretariat of Finance of Mexico City
Another government body that WRI met was the State Secretariat of Finance of Mexico City. The meeting was inspiring since the Deputy Minister and the Gender Equality Director of the State Secretariat of Finance have applied gender perspective into the financial system of the city of Mexico City, especially with regards to reproductive health budget.
Initial Steps The State Secretariat of Finance started gender perspective budgeting by making a public statement that the government had a strong political will to implement gender budget in the financial system in Mexico City. In 2007, the Secretariat implemented performance budget system, which criteria matched with gender perspective aims. The Secretariat is planning to socialize to the public the conditions of gender inequality, particularly in the reproductive health services, in order to convince other ministries to accommodate gender budgeting.
Obstacles The challenge is to find committed Decision Makers at the Finance Ministry to allocate budget for reproductive health. Since budget is a public policy instrument, the work of gender budget does not only concern about increasing budget allocation, but also making sure that the money is used to improve certain condition, i.e. reproductive health condition of poor women.
Assisted by NGOs like Fundar, the Secretariat has been monitoring the transparency of budget expenditures and whether the budget has accommodated gender perspective agenda. The Secretariat has also provided reproductive health services to the poor, including safe abortion practices in Mexico City, since last year.
CEAMEG or Centro de Estudios para el Adelanto de las Mujeres y la Equidad de Genero is a research centre that provides Legislative members data needed to produce regulations. The Centre provides statistics and analysis using gender perspective. As stated by the director Dr Maria de los Angeles Corter Rios, the centre is a ‘silent’ institution. The Centre works constantly behind the screen, pushing parliament members to produce enabling regulations and monitor the implementation of the regulations. The Centre also conducts advocacy to increase budget allocation that would improve the quality life of the people, including women.
Initial Steps In 2006 the Centre started the work by measuring public opinion regarding problems in policy implementation and budget spending. The Centre then presented the data to parliament members as inputs for policy improvement.
Obstacles Most parliament members embraced conservative point of views and they did not understand about gender perspective. Therefore, the Centre developed method and protocol of monitoring policy implementation and budget allocation using gender perspective. As stated by Dr Angeles, in order to convince parliament members to produce regulations that promote social justice, the Centre should always work very hard to produce reports that are perfect technically.
A good collaboration with the NGOs such as Fundar and the Women’s Health Coalition. Production of social justice regulations, particularly on the monitoring of reproductive health budget expenditures.
2. Gender Equality Commission
The Gender Equity Commission focuses its work on mainstreaming gender perspective into the works of the parliament. This Commission has the task of monitoring the application of gender perspective in social justice regulations and budget. Dr. Maricela Contreras Julian as the Director of the Gender Equity Commission stated that this Commission has existed since 10 years ago and worked to maintain and enhance the capacity of parliament members in gender mainstreaming.
Initial Steps Due to the change of the administration, the first step that the Commission took was to give gender analysis and gender budget training to the new parliament members. After the training, the Commission set up continuous meetings with the Commission on Budget, the State Secretariat of Finance, the Parliament members and NGOs, i.e. Fundar and the Women’s Health Coalition to monitor budget allocation process and push the deputies of the Commission to pass social justice budget focusing on Reproductive Health.
Obstacles The knowledge on gender perspective and how to mainstream it into the work of the Legislative is still problematic. As Dr Maricela said, the interest of the public officials to mainstream gender into policies and budget allocation is still low. Thus, it needs continuous attempts to convince other parliament members on the importance of applying gender mainstreaming strategy.
The collaboration between the Centre and NGOs, i.e Fundar and the Women Health Coalition, produced a document to support the Law on Budget Allocation, which states the importance of gender budget in the Mexican Financial System. This supporting document prohibits reproductive health budget to be re-allocated for other purposes. The budget allocation for reproductive health should be used only for reproductive health issues. The Centre and NGOs are collaborating to lobby the parliament to push this supporting document to become a Federal Law. The close interaction between the Centre and NGOs, i.e. Fundar and the Women’s Health Coalition, is a good example of a relationship between the Executive and NGOs. The relationship benefits both parties. On the one hand the NGOs can easily get budget document from the parliament through the Centre, and on the other hand the NGOs have easy access to provide inputs to the Centre.
Summary of Learning
Results of the discussions could be grouped into three categories.
Organization It is important for NGOs to assign staffs to sit in the strategic government offices (Executive and Legislative) such as the State Secretariat of Finance of Mexico City, Gender Equality Commission and Health Commission. These liaison persons should always be available in the respective government offices to respond to the need of the public officials for quick information regarding gender budgeting and health issues, and at the same time lobbying them on the issue of, for example, maternal health. Program
It is not enough to just conduct gender training, gender mainstreaming, and planning and budgeting for health issues to the Executives and Legislatives. The training should be combined with presentation of research-based evidence on the state of maternal health conditions. For example, Fundar conducted a research on maternal health in 3 districts in Mexico and used the results to convince public officials regarding the severity of maternal health conditions in the 3 areas in particular and in the Mexico in general.
Network Networking is also a prerequisite to the success and sustainability of supplying data and analysis on maternal health issues as well as maternal health budget the Executive and Legislative. Each member of the Women and Health Coalition contributes to this network by providing their expertise in line with the focus of their organization, i.e. abortion, HIV/AIDS, maternal mortality, budget analysis, etc. Strong networking has contributed to the success of advocacy to prevent reallocation maternal health budget to finance other budgetary posts.
Based on the above learning, WRI draws some concluding remarks regarding what programs it should develop in the future.
WRI thinks that mainstreaming gender in budget and policy (gender budgeting) is too broad of a goal. In order to be more effective, WRI will focus its work on the issue of maternal health, and grounds it on the concrete conditions of the maternal health of poor and marginalized women.
WRI will conduct more field research regarding the concrete conditions of the maternal health of poor and marginalized women, and link the research result to policy and budget analysis on health.
WRI thinks strong networking (coalition) among NGOs, Legislative and Executive is very important especially to advocate the importance of gender budget in the Financial System. The regulation on Budget Allocation, which states prohibits reproductive health budget to be re-allocated for other purposes is very crucial. The networking (coalition) should also advocate that budget allocation for reproductive health should be used only for reproductive health issues. The Coalition would also participate in the control of budget allocation and implementation on maternal health to reduce maternal mortality.
WRI will conduct international conferences to discuss best practices of the promotion of maternal health budget to reduce maternal mortality rate.
By organizing international conferences, WRI would strengthen its international network that can be used to support its effort to set up the National Commission on Maternal Mortality Reduction. The international network would help the Commission and its partners to push the Indonesian government to achieve MDGs goal on maternal health.
WRI and the Commission will develop a mechanism to place liaison officers from NGOs in key government agencies to provide the Executives and Legislatives with data and analysis regarding maternal health issues and to lobby them to improve policy and budget allocation for maternal health. ***