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National budgets must address women's needs, UN development official says

National budgets must address women's needs, UN development official says

A senior United Nations official today urged policy makers meeting in Brussels to ensure that women's concerns are taken into account in national budgets.

Addressing the opening of a two-day meeting on "gender-responsive budgeting," Noeleen Heyzer, the Executive Director of the UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), sought to enlist commitments from countries to link gender equality and women's human rights to the distribution, use and generation of public resources.

Ms. Heyzer pointed out that budgets determine how governments mobilize and allocate public resources. "They are used to shape policies, set priorities and provide the means to meet the social and economic needs of all citizens," she said. "Budgets matter to women because they are an indicator of government commitment to address women's specific needs."

Gender-responsive budget analysis refers to the study of actual government expenditure and revenue on women and girls as compared to men and boys, according to UNIFEM, which estimates that there are currently over 40 such initiatives worldwide.

Over the past five years, UNIFEM has helped to support gender budget initiatives in a number of countries, including Barbados, Fiji, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Tanzania and Uganda.

The Brussels conference is being hosted jointly by UNIFEM, the Belgian Secretary of State for Development Cooperation, the Nordic Council of Ministers, and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Participants include experts, members of parliament, senior policy makers and representatives of bilateral and multilateral donors.