Centre harps on gender-responsive budgeting for Nigeria correctional service

The Center for Gender Economics in Africa (CGE Africa) has reemphasised the need to address the pressing issue of gender responsive budgeting, shedding light on the disparities in funding for female inmates within correctional facilities in the country.

Its Executive-Director, Uchenna Idoko, stated this in Abuja, during a one day workshop on gender-responsive budgeting for the Nigeria Correctional Service (NCoS) officers, organised by CGE with support from the MacArthur foundation.

According to Idoko, the workshop aimed to bridge the gap between policy and practice in allocating resources for gender-specific needs to enhance the welfare of female inmates and their children in custodial centers nationwide.

She highlighted the benefits of tailoring the budgets of the NCoS to effectively address crucial aspects such as healthcare, mental health, and the segregation of male and female inmates.

She also emphasised the necessity of aligning NCoS budgets with the requirements stipulated in the 2019 Act aimed at bridging the gender gap in Correctional Service Centers, while stressing the importance of allocating adequate funds to ensure the implementation of policies outlined in the Act.

She maintained that understanding gender responsive budgeting is not merely a matter of creating separate budgets for women, but as a means of prioritising resources to address gender disparities.

“Government need to move away from traditional budgeting practices towards a more nuanced approach that considers the diverse needs of both men and women within correctional facilities.

“Our mainstream budget allocations should prioritize gender-specific needs, such as mental health support and access to menstrual hygiene products.,” she stated.

“By addressing the gender disparities in funding and advocating for rehabilitation and societal acceptance, their can be successful reintegration of individuals into society.

“The only way to ensure that the policies are implemented is to put funding behind the promises or the Act. You have to be sure that the budget is responsive to that Act. We need to begin to create an awareness that the style of budgeting needs to change for these to be achieved.

“So we are asking government to be responsive, to be responsible and put money behind the promises because we are seeing the policies as the promises from the government. So that that dream that the act of 2019 will come to fruition,” she added.

The core discussions at the workshop centered on the findings of a consultant’s research presentation titled “Gender Analysis of the Federal Government budget for Prisons/Correctional Centres 2018 – 2024.

The research consultant, Dr. Terfa Abraham, an economist and public policy analyst, during his presentation revealed that current budget allocations still fail to adequately address gender disparities, instead of relying on outdated budgeting methods that treat genders homogeneously rather than acknowledging the unique needs of individuals.

Abraham, while underscoring the significance of sufficient budgetary allocation for the NCoS to fulfill its rehabilitation and reintegration mandate stressed the importance of gender inclusivity in the budgeting process for all government agencies, particularly Correctional Services, to cater to the distinct needs of male and female inmates.

“Ensuring gender inclusivity in budgeting is paramount, especially for institutions like Correctional Services,” he said.

In her remarks, the deputy controller in-charge of Gender Unit at NCoS, Hadiza Aminu, said gender-responsive budgeting would be difficult to implement without a gender policy.

She requested CGE Africa’s support in developing the NCoS Gender Policy.

Participants at the workshop included representatives from the account, health, planning, and welfare departments of the NCoS nationwide.