The Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) in partnership with the Commission on Audit (COA) conducted the 2017 Gender and Development (GAD) Budget Fora for two different sets of audiences on 9 and 10 November 2017 at the COA Sports and Cultural Center Commonwealth Avenue, Quezon City.

The forum reoriented budget officers on the Revised Guidelines on the Preparation of the Annual GAD Plans and Budgets and Accomplishment Reports, clarified issues and concerns encountered by agencies in the preparation and implementation of their annual GAD Plans and Budgets; and presented the guidelines in the audit of GAD Funds and activities.

An estimated 470 representatives from national government agencies, attached agencies, bureaus, state universities and colleges and government-owned-and-controlled corporations participated. Also present were representatives from the Department of Budget Management (DBM) and members of the PCW Gender Resource Pool.

COA Assistant Commissioner Elizabeth S. Zosa expressed her hope that the Forum would provide more opportunities for women’s empowerment and contribute to the reduction and eradication of all forms of violence against women.

“The ultimate goal [of the GAD Budget] is to equalize; and when you equalize, you give more to those who have less,” she stressed.

PCW Deputy Directors Maria Kristine Josefina G. Balmes and Cecile B. Gutierrez likewise emphasized that Gender Mainstreaming of which GAD Planning and Budgeting is included should be implemented not merely for compliance but as a strategy ingrained within the organization’s system to address gender issues relevant to the agency mandate. COA was cited as the first agency to reach level four in PCW’s Gender Mainstreaming and Evaluation Framework Assessment Tool.

COA Director and GAD Focal Point System Secretariat Chairperson Fortunata M. Rubico and COA Professional Development Office Assistant Director Susana S. Medez shared the new audit approach and audit areas based on the Revised Guidelines in the Audit of GAD Funds and activities in government agencies (COA Circular 2014-01).

Speakers from the PCW led the series of lecture-discussions which provided the attendees with a brief background of the GAD Planning and Budgeting, with a specific focus on its legal foundations and the procedures for its preparation; an overview of the Gender Mainstreaming Monitoring System and how the online system facilitates the submission, review and endorsement of GAD Plans and Accomplishment Reports as well as status and trends in agency submission of the said documents.

Aside from the lecture-discussions, technical officers from the PCW conducted one-on-one consultations with agency representatives who wished to seek advice regarding the status of their FY 2018 GPBs.

The program culminated with an Open Forum with the panel composed of Ms. Anita E. Baleda, Mr. Robert Matthew C. Romero, and Mr. Macario T. Jusayan of the PCW; Ms. Rubico and Ms. Medez of the COA; and Ms. Ida Arciaga and M r. Omar Castañar of the DBM.

Among the pertinent issues raised by the agencies were clarifications regarding the types of programs and activities which can be charged to the GAD Budget; and the inclusion of work leaves, especially for mothers of children with special concerns, and medical check-up for women in the GAD Budget allocation.

At the end of the forum, the attendees heeded the call of the PCW and resolved to commit to uphold gender mainstreaming within their programs of their respective agencies. #- sourced from the Philippine Commission on Women