Fieldwork Report (Camilla)

                      BUDGET PILOT PROJECT

My study examines the implementation of gender mainstreaming in
Malaysia by focusing on gender budget pilot project. The initiative to
mainstream gender and gender budget was first spoken by Prime Minister
of Malaysia in his speech at the Regional Steering Committee of Women
in Asia Pacific, 2000. However, another two years past before the Cabinet
approved the idea of introducing gender budget in Malaysia. The process
to implement gender budget in this country only begin to emerge in July
2003 when the Economic Planning Unit (EPU) approved the project
document for a pilot gender budget project in Malaysia. The document
stated that the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) shall
provide financial and technical assistance to the Ministry of Women,
Family and Community Development (MWFCD) to take this project

Gender budget work in Malaysia started with a pilot project in four
ministries; namely Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health, Ministry of
Human Resources and Ministry of Rural and Regional Development.
MWFCD statement indicates that gender budget does not only look at
differences between women and men, girls and boys, but it also pays
attention to other forms of disadvantage and difference. Therefore, these
ministries were chosen due to their focus on low-income population since
income is one of the most important determinants of disadvantage.
Within these ministries, gender budget project focused on a few of the
biggest operating and development programmes. The outcomes of this
project will be evaluated and refined before gender responsive budget
will be extended to other ministries.

I have conducted in-depth interview between the periods of November
2004 until June 2005. Basically, these interviews sought to elucidate
respondents’ perception concerning gender mainstreaming activities
concentrating on gender budget pilot project. Several set of interview
guides were prepared to accommodate the different functions and
responsibilities of several government agencies. Nevertheless, all interview
guides contain general questions pertaining to respondents’ knowledge
and opinion on gender mainstreaming concept, it implementation, and
trainings they have undergo to mainstreaming gender especially in term
of gender budget.         As much as possible I tried to synchronize the
questions as to ensure that all interview guides cover important aspect of
gender mainstreaming.

Fieldwork Report (Camilla)

Prior to my fieldwork, I have decided to approach government officers
attach to those ministries involve in gender budget pilot project. I have
also taken the liberty to bring in representatives from Ministry of Finance,
and MWFCD as both ministries act as ‘organizer’ or ‘coordinator’ of the
project. Two central agencies under the Prime Minister’s Department are
also included in this research, the Economic Planning Unit (EPU) and the
Implementation and Coordination Unit (ICU). EPU is in charge of
development planning, whereby every ministry have to submit their
development plans, projects or budget proposal to be examine by EPU
before the plan can be forwarded to Cabinet for approval. The ICU then
has the responsibility to make sure the project was implemented as
approved. I have taken into account the need to interview
representatives from UNDP since as mentioned earlier they are responsible
in providing funding and technical expert to educate government officers
on gender responsive budget. Another agency I have approached for
an interview was National Institute of Public Administration (INTAN) whose
main responsibility is to train government officers or civil servants in every
aspect of management and administration.

How do I get access to these respondents? Since this is a new project, not
all government officers or every department in the pilot ministries
participate in it. I have checked their website as well as made calls to
each ministry in order to identify which department specifically involved in
gender budget pilot project and also persons in charge. Due to the
nature of government bureaucracies, a fax letters requesting for
interviews were forwarded either to the Departmental Director General,
Departmental Secretary General or in case of MWFCM to the Ministry
Secretary General. Those letters specifically stated that I would like to
interviews every officers involved in gender budget pilot project. Phone
calls to check on the progress of gaining permission for an interview were
made a few days after letters were sent out.

Altogether, I managed to secure an interview with 25 respondents from
different ministries and agencies involved in gender budget. These
respondents held a range of position such as Principle Directors, Directors,
Deputy Directors, Principle Assistance Secretaries, and Assistant
Secretaries. With few exceptions, their age range between 25 – 40 years
old. Up until the interview was conducted, most of these ministries only
allocated two or three officers in charge of gender budget. Therefore,
the numbers of respondents are restricted to these officers as well as how
many officers the Head of Department of each ministry have allocated to
participate in my study.

Fieldwork Report (Camilla)

The fieldwork was not without it problems. I have encounter gatekeepers
and potential participants who are unwilling to cooperate in the study.
Among reasons given for not participating is their busy schedules, and do
not have enough knowledge on the subject. Nevertheless, I am quite
satisfied that I manage to interview at least one representative from all
ministries participate in gender budget pilot project. Some of those
respondents are really helpful and willing to elaborate at great length
about gender budget and their participation on gender budget training.
In addition, they provide me with training materials and information about
their proposed gender budget projects. Several participants are worried
and apologetic because they cannot provide adequate information
since it is a new project.

I have come across respondents who did not want to answer any
questions except the ones pertaining to gender budget pilot project. Thus,
I did not manage to get their opinion on issues such as gender and
gender mainstreaming activities. For example, when asked about her
opinion on these matters, one respondent stated that it is not in her power
to answer those types of questions and suggested that I have a talk with
MWFCD on these matters. I am not quite certain of the reasons for her
unwillingness to answer these questions but for sure it is not because of
lack of knowledge since her name always pops up whenever I discuss
gender topic with representatives from other ministries including MWFCD.

On the other hand, other respondents are a bit ‘afraid’ to participate in
the interview. Phone conversation to set up a date for an interview
indicate that they a quite anxious on whether they can answer my
questions or not. Therefore, some of them asked what sort of questions I
will ask and another even request to glance through the questions in
advance. During the interviews I got the impression the reasons for this
anxiety is related to their perception that they do not have adequate
knowledge, understanding and experiences in gender mainstreaming
and gender budget. They also believe government has already provided
countless attention to encourage and incorporate women in
development activities. Therefore, they did not comprehend the need to
mainstream gender or to introduce gender budget.


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