A UNICEF-initiated conference focusing on child-friendly local and national budgeting was held last week at the national Parliament here in Kazakhstan’s capital.
The Senate of the Kazakh Parliament, the National Commission for Family and Gender Policy (under the auspices of the President of Kazakhstan), the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection of Population and the Ministry of Economy and Budget Planning jointly organized the international event. The conference was the first of its kind to be held in Kazakhstan.
Around 200 participants representing legislative and executive authorities, educational and research institutes, public associations, international organizations and embassies – as well as leading foreign experts on social and economic policies – gathered in the Senate to discuss issues of budget planning in the best interests of children and families.
Tackling social and economic issues
“I would like to emphasize the role of UNICEF, who not only initiated the conference but also mobilized considerable intellectual resources from its offices around the world and leading international research centres,” said Senate Chairman Kassim-Jomart Tokaev at the opening session.
Mr. Tokaev also expressed hopes that the meeting’s recommendations would contribute to the realization of Kazakh social policy aimed at improving the situation of the children and families in the country.
“UNICEF strongly believes that the best investments any society can make should be in the protection and development of children,” said UNICEF’s Regional Director for Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States and Baltic States, Maria Calivis, in her opening speech. “This is the strongest and the most viable political agenda and one which always enjoys broad public support,” she added.
“In our view, this is the most cost-effective way of using public resources and guaranteeing future economic growth, human development and, as a consequence, social stability and prosperity,” Ms. Calivis continued.
The aim of the conference was to review the methodologies and practices of programme budget planning, and the implementation of state programmes, in the social sectors of health care, education and social protection for children and families. Experts from Italy, the United Kingdom and Russia took part in the conference, along with the UNICEF Representatives in Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria, Columbia, Russia and Uzbekistan.
Participants were responsible as well for the immediate adoption of specific recommendations on ways to improve child-friendly budget planning and legislation.
During the conference, Mr. Tokaev and Ms. Calivis met separately with UNICEF Representative in Kazakhstan Alexandre Zouev to discuss the continued partnership between the Kazakh Government and UNICEF. Mr. Tokaev praised UNICEF’s activities in the country and said he hoped their mutual cooperation would grow.
Country office opened
Ms. Calivis, with the help of Kazakh Deputy Foreign Minister Erzhan Kazykhanov, took the opportunity during the conference to inaugurate the new premises of UNICEF’s Country Office in Kazakhstan.
“In 1992, UNICEF and the World Health Organization launched their first mission to Kazakhstan to asses the situation for delivering the first humanitarian aid to the young republic,” she noted. “Fifteen years later, we concluded the budget conference in the Senate of Parliament, and today we are also opening a new country office in Kazakhstan’s new capital.
“Cooperation between UNICEF and Kazakhstan is deepening and, in particular, contributing to the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in the country,” concluded Ms. Calivis.