Media are encouraged to spread information and raise awareness of gender issues, said experts in women issues at the conclusion of a workshop held at the UN House, Beirut, by ESCWA and the National Commission of Lebanese Women (NCLW). Experts in the workshop on “Integrating a Gender Perspective into National Budgets” also urged governments to draw up empowerment programs to integrate gender perspectives into national budgets.
Opening statements were delivered by Head of the ESCWA Centre for Women a.i Fatima Sbaity-Kassem, and Head of the Economy and Labour Committee at NCLW Hind Soufi.
In her statement, Kassem considered that drawing up budgets is no longer a specialization confined to ministries of finance, but it has now become a part of development policies and plans, which should be gender sensitive. It is necessary to use all available resources with transparency, efficiency, competency, and fairness, she said. By doing this, Kassem added, the aspired development goals can be achieved, which would allow for empowering women, integrating gender issues into plans, programs and policies, and eliminating discrimination against women. Kassem expressed hope that the workshop experience would be transmitted to other ESCWA member countries as a success story in achieving full equality to ensure sustainable human development.
For her part, Soufi said that the workshop comes within the context of the national strategy established by NCLW and adopted by civil society. She noted that over 50 world states have integrated a gender perspective into their national budgets to improve living conditions, reduce poverty and advance the status of women. This does not mean drawing up a separate budget for women, she said, but rather one that uses resources with efficiency to achieve equality. The budget would be based on identifying gaps in public resource distribution between men and women.
ESCWA Regional Advisor on Gender issues Aida Abu Ras tackled the concept of gender-sensitive budgets; goals and results in this matter and issues considered within budgets. Also participating was Technical Expert in Gender and Social Justice Budget Management in Egpyt Ayat Abdel Mohti, who laid out her country’s experience in balancing budgets and gender-responsive management. In her intervention, Budget and Expenditure Manager at the Lebanese Ministry of Finance Josiane Saad spoke of the process and stages of drawing up public budgets in Lebanon, and the role of the budget department and the ministry of finance.
On the other hand, Lamia El-Mobayed, Head of “Institut des Finances Basil Fuleihan”, highlighted the possibilities available for the adoption of a gender perspective in the preparation of budgets. She stressed the need to initiate an action plan, reform programs and strategic objectives aiming at encouraging awareness and involvement in women’s socio-economic rights and their effective presence in the community. Media figure Bariaa Al Ahmar focused in her presentation on the right social circles to support gender issues, and how to determine the employees’ needs, women and men alike, in the workplace.