Women’s Institute for Leadership Development (WILD) conducted an online engagement with a group of young women in Bulawayo to deliberate on the ongoing Bulawayo City Council (BCC) 2021 Budget Consultation meetings. The meeting enabled young women to discuss the current state of access to social services in their communities and some of the effects they are faced with as young women which inhibit their ability to access equitable social services.
The engagement was held at a time when the City is battling with the worst water crisis to ever be encountered, with Bulawayo having been on a 144-water shedding scheme since May. During the engagement, a presentation on the importance of gender mainstreaming in local authorities was done so as to raise awareness to women on why they are supposed to be active in local governance processes. It was identified that the absence of young women’s voices does not halt fundamental processes such as the budget making initiative, instead, decisions continue being crafted in their absence and this affects their ability to enjoy the provisions of social services within their respective residential wards.
A suggestion was brought forward regarding the customer service that young women have observed at several Bulawayo City Council (BCC) offices. Delegates present implored City Council to allocate a certain percentage of the 2021 budget on the training of employees particularly on customer care. Young women cited that they fear to approach Council employees, who are unaccommodating towards residents, thus the need for a training to be carried out.
There was apprehension over the method used to capture or take note of women’s concerns during the Council’s Budget Consultations. Young women cited how it would be ideal for issues to be captured in a way that is gender sensitive so that their priorities are not sidelined such as maternal healthcare and access to water.
Young women cited how they are not knowledgeable of the need to be active in budget making processes as these are not transparent as expected. They expressed interest in knowing about the criteria used to monitor the budget cycle in the best way possible and to be in a position to hold their leaders to account in instances where they fail to provide sufficient services.
A presentation on the 2020 Budget Review process probed a debate that questioned the reason for the Council to invest in commercialized entities that do not benefit young people in the City. Young women cited that there was need for the Council to look into the aspect where commercialized entities are placed in the review of the 2020 Budget process.
The meeting enabled young women to identify a priority list to be included in the 2021 Council Budget which was inclusive of the following:
Health (To be merged with Fire and Ambulance)
Public Lighting and Roads
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