NAMA promotes gender responsive budgeting for equality equality – Arab News
Under its recently launched Irtiqa initiative, NAMA Women Advancement organized a high-profile panel at Women’s Pavilion in Expo 2020 Dubai recently addressing the important question of why gender responsive budgeting  is crucial to ensure women’s equal access to economic and financial resources.
Titled “Is Gender Budgeting the Solution to Inclusion,” the discussion aimed to introduce leaders and decision-makers in both public and private sectors in the UAE and the wider region to gender responsive budgeting, focusing on the importance of viewing organizational budgets through a gender lens in order to achieve the collective objectives of growth, employment and social cohesion. The discussion also spotlighted the experiences of nations which have been successfully implementing gender responsive budgeting over the years.
Eminent members on the panel included Carolina Renteria Rodrigez, International Monetary Fund, division chief, PFM Europe; Maja Bosnic, international gender responsive budgeting expert, NIRAS International Consulting; Hajar Ben Ameur, head of budget performance and  gender responsive budgeting, Morocco Ministry of Economy and Finance; Romawaty Sinaga, public sector specialist, World Bank Indonesia; and Dr. Rosanna Duncan, chief diversity officer, Palladium. The discussion’s moderator was Ermira Lubani, gender responsive budgeting’s program specialist, UN Women Europe Central Asia.
In her welcome address, Reem bin Karam, director of NAMA, said that the UAE had institutionalized gender budgeting in 2015 by establishing the Gender Balance Council. “The council’s objectives to reduce the gender gap across all government sectors has led to the UAE becoming the benchmark for gender balance legislation in the region. The nation’s experience in gender-informed resource allocation has demonstrated that with this powerful tool the benefits of development can reach women equally as their male counterparts.
“Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al-Qasimi, chairperson of NAMA Women Advancement Establishment, and wife of the ruler of Sharjah, believes that inclusive and equitable economic growth can only be possible with women’s full economic empowerment.”
“Today there are more than 100 countries worldwide which are implementing different  gender responsive budgeting  initiatives. This implies proper legal and policy framework in both gender equality and in budgetary processes. Gender responsive budgeting serves to connect the dots by linking government policy and budget together, which are often considered to be two separate islands. It therefore increases social accountability and transparency, and ensures that no one is left behind,” said Lubani.
Outlining the importance of gender responsive budgeting in times of crisis, Rodrigez, said: “The IMF sees women’s empowerment as critical to economic progress. With the right policies to ensure women’s participation in the economy, a country’s GDP would increase substantially. It is of utmost importance that government policies for economic recovery pay greater attention to women in order to ensure sustainable results. Recent IMF studies show that in countries with low female labor market participation, closing the gender gap could raise the GDP by an average of 35 percent.”
Bosnic said: “We have for long been hearing that gender responsive budgeting  is good budgeting. However, I would say it is better budgeting. It should be the only way to budget. I will share an experience from Ukraine as an example. I was leading the  gender responsive budgeting project launched in 2013 in collaboration with the Ukrainian Ministry of Finance and supported by the Swedish government for seven years.”
The question was where the funds are being deployed and who is really benefitting to close the gender and social gaps. Ukraine took it further to analyze the impact of budget allocations on women and men in different socio-economic groups. To date, Ukraine has analyzed over 300 budget programs in all the sectors. We discovered gender gaps in all of them. This was because gender equality had not been considered while designing those programs. We analyzed the cause and consequences of this. I am happy to say, that most of the programs have been improved though there is still a lot left to be done. However, the program has resulted to increased women participation in the economy and other spheres in Ukraine.”
Ben Ameur outlined the long history of  gender responsive budgeting  in Morocco beginning from the early 2000s when the country began to consider the reforms needed to promote women’s empowerment. Around the same period, Morocco introduced a project to modernize its budgetary systems to improve the performance of public service. The two came together to create a successful  gender responsive budgeting model for Morocco. She said: “Over the years we have learnt how to obtain better results on the ground. When it comes to national education, a large percentage of girls drop out of school when they reach primary level, especially in rural areas, due to financial constraints. We created social support networks and mechanisms, including the provision of direct financial aid to families, to make it possible for girls to complete their education.
Speaking about Indonesia’s experience, Sinaga, said: “Indonesia has been mainstreaming gender in its national budget processes using several public financial management tools to understand the impact of budget policies on different groups of beneficiaries. In 2019, Indonesia undertook a gender responsive budgeting assessment in cooperation with the World Bank to track progress and further strengthen gender mainstreaming in budgetary processes.”
Duncan noted that the equity, diversity and inclusion functions are usually compartmentalized into a HR activity, when in fact, they should be championed and pursued as part of broader organizational goals. Leaders should be held to account and create a culture where embedding equity, diversity and inclusion is ‘everybody’s responsibility, she said.
HealthKey Technologies’ CovidPass and National Aviation Services joined hands to offer safer travel solutions. Operational since April 2020, CovidPass is a digital solution for health status certification by European health tech company HealthKey. The MUNA solution developed by National Aviation Services is based on block chain technologies, connects audited labs for PCR testing in 744 cities across the world. 
With this wide network of easy to access and reliable PCR testing labs, travelers simply choose a lab or location nearest to their city of departure to complete the mandatory PCR test. The key advantage of the PCR certificates issued by these labs is credibility and authenticity with easy access to test results.
In this partnership, HealthKey Technologies has provided NAS’s MUNA network with access to its global labs network in Europe, USA, MENA and Asia. This partnership offers more than 1800 testing locations around the world.  Passengers can access labs or swab collection locations through specially built travel platforms developed by NAS to reopen safer travel. Over 1,100,000 passengers have travelled through the platforms since August 2020.
Hassan El-Houry, group CEO said: “The pandemic posed several challenges for travel – both from a perspective of safety as well as passenger confidence. As a major airport services provider, we continued to drive efforts to deliver digital solutions that offer peace of mind to travelers, airline employees, airport authorities and the local governments. Utilizing our knowledge of ground operations, passenger handling and our technology capabilities, NAS partnered with local authorities to help reopen travel more safely and securely. With HealthKey’s CovidPass lab network, we offer a wider selection of PCR testing labs for passengers to have easier access in any of the countries they are departing from. This is especially crucial in countries where there is a high incidence of forged results or fake certificates.” 
CovidPass offers simple, incorruptible, traceable and secure, digital as well as interoperable health access to laboratory test results and vaccine credentials that help facilitate global travel. Developed by global tech leaders and health tech professionals, with teams in Europe and in the GCC, CovidPass’ unique platform certifies test results and vaccine status in partnership with several global laboratories. These include Eurofins, one of the global market leaders in clinical diagnostics. The certifications are fully compliant with EU data privacy laws and GDPR and are displayed as machine-readable QR codes.
Mustapha Mokass, co-founder of HealthKey Technologies, said: “Through CovidPass’s technology and operational corridors, our mission is to contribute to the end of the health crisis by creating a straightforward solution capable of quickly and easily re-enabling travel between nations while guaranteeing the security of the population and the privacy of consumer information. This crisis has revealed numerous problems in international coordination, but it has also demonstrated the resilience of every country. We should now hold on to science, and the use of technology to develop such pragmatic solutions, easing and unifying the travelers experience to go back to a nearly normal life, starting today.”
The First National Company announced the appointment of Eng. Ayed bin Jaber Al-Mahan as vice-chairman of the board of directors at First National Company and as general manager of cloud for information technology in Saudi Arabia.
This step comes from the cloud company’s desire to keep pace with the rapid technological advances in the field of information technology, by taking advantage of his extensive experience in the IT industry and the digital world.
Recently, Al-Mahan held the position of the executive manager of information technology at a Spanish company TYPSA in the Middle East. Al-Mahan is a graduate of the British Anglia Ruskin University, and was among the top 100 graduates from 2013.
RIYADH:  Italian Embassy deputy head of mission Valerio De Parolis inaugurated the “Let’s Eatalian” food promotion at the LuLu Hypermarket in Atyaf Mall, Yarmouk, Riyadh. The inauguration was held in the presence of LuLu Hypermarkets Saudi Arabia director Shehim Mohammed, LuLu officials and management, and Italian trade commissioner Enrico Barbieri and other senior embassy officials.
The Italian food festival, supported by the Italian Embassy and the Italian Trade Agency, kicked off on Dec. 8 and will continue until Dec. 22. 
“We are particularly happy to showcase a wide range of top-quality Italian food products through LuLu Hypermarket’s ‘Let’s Eatalian’ promotion to discerning culinary shoppers in Saudi Arabia,” said De Parolis. 
“We thank the Lulu group for opening up this window into what Italy has best to offer: The tradition of high-quality food, the diversity of each region’s specialties, all of which are central to our identity and culture,” he added.  
Replete with the goodness and gourmet taste of Italian food and health benefits of a Mediterranean diet, the ‘Let’s Eatalian’ promotion puts top-quality food and ingredients in the spotlight. Excellent cheeses, Italian chocolate, fruit jams, sugar-topped puff pastry from well-known brands and Italian apples are available at special prices. Italian kitchen staples such as balsamic vinegar, olive oil, organic pasta and even novelty treats such as a range of vegetable-based burgers, condiments like ready-to-go pesto pasta sauce are also on fare. 
“Globally, Italian cuisine enjoys enormous popularity. This is the time to fill your trolley with all things Italian!” said Mohammed.
Leading independent communications agency W7Worldwide is the only homegrown Saudi agency to enter and win 3 Middle East Public Relations Association Awards, after competing with the region’s other leading agencies.
W7Worldwide succeeded in being shortlisted in 13 of the 56 categories, with more than 88 agencies and in-house communications teams participating in the prestigious awards. W7Worldwide swept up the Best Crisis Communications & Issues Management Campaign, Best Professional Services Campaign, and Best Energy & Natural Resources Campaign Awards.
This triple award win proves W7Worldwide’s leading position in Saudi Arabia and the GCC region with its business model of a truly homegrown communications agency that operates to the highest international standards and creates the communication leaders of tomorrow. Founded in 2001, Middle East Public Relations Association Awards is a self-governing nonprofit member association, established to set world class standards for public relations and communication industry in the Middle East.
“This year saw the largest ever awards with the caliber of entries higher than ever, demonstrating the brilliant and diverse communications campaigns undertaken in the region,” said Taryam Alsubaihi, chairman of Middle East Public Relations Association Awards.
He added: “We are pleased to see the strong participation from a homegrown Saudi based agency with winning entries, reflecting the high level of skills, creativity and leadership in the PR and communications profession in the Kingdom.”
“We are immensely proud to have excelled again this year with three Middle East Public Relations Association Awards wins, which must be credited to our incredible team’s hard work, dedication, innovation and outstanding abilities,” said Abdulrahman Inayat, co-founder and director of W7Worldwide. “These award wins make us the only independent Saudi agency to have successfully entered and are testament to the achievement of our goal to create the best homegrown agency with exceptional talent that elevates and positively contributes to the growth of the profession in the region.”
With over 300 in-house, agency and individual members, the Middle East Public Relations Association Awards is the voice of the public relations industry committed to setting standards of excellence. Now in its 20th year, the awards are regarded as one of the most important PR and communications awards in the Middle East, driving professional development and promoting the industry.
W7Worldwide participated in the awards to gain industry recognition of its work and commitment to elevate the PR and communications profession in the region and to reinforce its position as Saudi Arabia’s leading independent agency.
stc and Thales have signed a memorandum of understanding for collaboration in various areas, such as ICT, AI, cybersecurity, smart cities, IoT, machine connectivity, identity solutions, payment solutions, and 5G satellite solutions. Through this partnership, stc aims to develop and enhance digital solutions in order to provide its customers with cybersecurity solutions, as well as provide training to enhance digital skills in these technologies through the stc academy.
The memorandum of understanding signed by the two companies includes investing in digital capabilities in the Kingdom through research, development and innovation. Among the areas of cooperation covered by the memorandum of understanding  are eSIM technologies and national security technologies, especially smart new cities and digital identity and payment solutions. The partnership will involve close collaboration between the two companies in relation to ICT training provided by stc academy.
stc chief business officer Riyadh Muawad expressed his delight at the signing of the MoU. He said: “As the digital enabler in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, we are interested in building strategic relationships with strategic partners like Thales and are working together to further our digital transformation leadership goals. Through this partnership, we aspire to leverage Thales Group solutions in the areas of cybersecurity, AI, and other digital innovations.”
Pascal Lesaulnier, chairman and CEO of Thales Saudi Arabia, said: “Thales is a leading global company in the field of advanced technologies and invests in digital innovations and ‘deep technologies’ such as connectivity, big data, AI, cyber security and quantum computing. Over the past 50 years, the Group has had an active presence in the Kingdom in all our areas of expertise. We are very proud of the partnership we have developed with stc over the years. eSim, stcPay and other solutions are a testament to this vital collaboration. This MoU confirms Thales’ commitment to keep integrating and working alongside stc as part of this exciting journey towards digital transformation in Saudi Arabia, in which stc is a key player.”


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