United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM)

UNIFEM South Asia Office

Events in 2003

12th June, 2003

Launch of five resources directories on

“Support services to counter violence against women”

in the states of

Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand, Manipur and Meghalaya




10:00 – 10:10    -  Welcome Address – Ms. Chandni Joshi

                              Regional Programme Director

                              UNIFEM South Asia Regional Office


Release of the five directories by Ms. Joanne Sandler

         Deputy Executive Director, UNIFEM, New York


10:10 – 10:20     -    Remarks – Dr. Monisha Behal, North East Network

10:20 – 10:30     -    Remarks – Dr. N.K. Tah, SAMADHAN

10:30 – 10:40     -    Remarks – Ms. Asha Ramesh (formerly with the

                                 National Institute of Advanced Studies)

10:40 – 10:50    -     Remarks – Mr. Soumya Bhaumik

                                  Multiple Action Research Group

10:50 – 11:10    -     Address by Ms. Joanne Sandler

                                  Deputy Executive Director, UNIFEM, New York

11:10 – 11:30    -      Discussion

 11:30 onwards  -     Tea & snacks



New Delhi, 10th December 2003:

UNIFEM receives international AGFUND Prize

On Human Rights Day, His Royal Highness Prince Talal Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, President of Arab Gulf Programme for United Nations Development Organizations (AGFUND) presented the first category international AGFUND prize for Pioneering Development Projects to UNIFEM for its project “UNIFEM Regional Programme on Empowering Women Migrant Workers in Asia”. UNIFEM’s intra-regional programme, Empowering Women Migrant Workers, is active in Nepal, Jordan, the Philippines, Indonesia and Sri Lanka, and focuses on policy advocacy to develop new and strengthen existing legal protections for women migrant workers. It also aims to empower women migrant workers from a gender and rights based perspective by helping create enabling policy, institutional and socio-economic environments to ensure women equality of opportunity, access to resources and benefits at all stages of the migrant process.

AGFUND assigned the first category prize of US$ 150,000.00 to projects implemented by the UN, regional and international organizations, in the field of “Rehabilitation and employment of refugees and displaced people”. To win the prize, UNIFEM competed with eleven other projects. At a formal ceremony in New Delhi, Ms. Chandni Joshi, Regional Programme Director, South Asia Regional Office received the prize on behalf of Dr. Noeleen Heyzer.

16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence

New Delhi, 21st November, 2003: Press Conference: UNIFEM organized a Press Conference at the Press Club of India as a curtain raiser to the 16 Days of Activism, in collaboration with the Centre for Advocacy and Research. Media Kits, containing a history of UNIFEM, recent breakthroughs and best practices, and a list of publications, were distributed to a wide section of journalists from the print and electronic media. Introducing UNIFEM and its work, Ms. Chandni Joshi, Regional Programme Director, UNIFEM, South Asia, invited media persons to its planned activities during the Campaign, highlighting issues of gender-based violence, such as domestic violence, trafficking of women, mental health, HIV/AIDS, and the socialization of men. Bearing testimony to UNIFEM’s work, Sunita from Shakti Shalini, a shelter home for victims of violence, which UNIFEM supports, said, “My association with the Campaign goes back to the days when I was recovering from the trauma of violence. It has a deep personal meaning for me. Today, I have become a survivor with a cause. I support many women in the community who are going through a similar ordeal.” Mr. Rahul Roy from Aakar and one of UNIFEM’s partners in its work on exploring masculinities, described UNIFEM as an effective ‘lean’ machine, which was more effectual than larger organizations in its work.

New Delhi, 25 November 2003: As part of the 16 Days’ of Activism Campaign, and to inaugurate the Campaign, UNIFEM South Asia, organized a function, ‘Information is Power’, the precursor of its three events during this period. Dr. Poornima Advani, Chairperson of the National Commission for Women, released five UNIFEM publications and posters on Violence against Women (VAW) and related issues in the presence of Dr. Maxine Olson, RC UN System and RR UNDP. Invitees to the launch included, NGOs, research institutions, the print and electronic media, and representatives of bilateral and UN agencies. The launch was followed by a panel discussion, which comprised of the authors/lead researchers of the studies/reports published, who shared their findings, methodologies, and experiences.   

 The publications launched were:

‘Say NO to gender based violence: Responses from South Asia’ The scans undertaken in Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan in 2001-2002, to assess the current state of efforts to end violence against women.  

The Sounds of Silence, A Manual For Forming Therapeutic Relationships - an introduction to basic psychotherapeutic skills for forming a relationship with adolescent survivors of commercial sexual exploitation by SAARTHAK.

My Voice Shall Be Heard: Muslim Women in India 2003 - a book based on public hearings conducted in many parts of the country by Muslim Women’s Forum, highlights the biased interpretation of the Muslim Personal Law by sections of their own community, and compares women’s rights under Shariat to those under CEDAW. 

Positive Speaking: Voices of Women Living with HIV/AIDS, by the Positive Women’s Network in collaboration with the Centre for Advocacy and Research, shares the findings of the study on gender and HIV/AIDS in the context of CEDAW, using a rights-based framework. Documenting the experiences of women living with HIV/AIDS in the states of Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu in India, it explores the burden of stigma and discrimination that positive women face.

A Snapshot of the Men and Masculinities Exhibition is based on the Delhi University research “From violence to supportive practice: family gender and masculinities in India”, in partnership with the Department of Sociology. Focusing on the broad theme of the supportive practices of men directed towards other men, their families and the larger community, this is an effort towards engaging men as active partners to end violence against women.

New Delhi, 28 November 2003: UNIFEM screened three films at the Gulmohar Hall of the India Habitat Centre. Present on the occasion were human rights activists, NGOs, representatives of women’s studies, and bilateral and multilateral agencies. Each screening was followed by an interaction between the audience and the directors of the films. 

These included, “Breaking the Silence – A Step Forward”, an interactive training module for law enforcement agencies made by the Navjyoti Delhi Police Foundation, founded by Dr. Kiran Bedi. It used real life case histories on different forms of violence against women for sensitizing police officers at different levels. “City Beautiful” sought to unravel gender processes within working class family situations against the backdrop of globalization, reflecting upon gender re-negotiations and emerging gender identities. Made by Rahul Roy of Aakar, it was the only Indian entry selected for screening at the Leipzig International Documentary Festival in Germany in October 2003. “New Dimension” sought to raise awareness at the community level as a prevention strategy to combat trafficking in women and children. Highlighting the concerns and challenges that survivors of trafficking have to deal with, as well as the support provided by NGO’s and civil society institutions in the rehabilitation of survivors, the film was made by Genesis Media.       

New Delhi, 6th December 2003: UNIFEM organized a day-long workshop called “Project Touch” at the village complex of the Crafts Museum on 6th December. This was an interactive and creative workshop, designed to sensitize adolescents towards the elimination of gender-based violence. Almost 200 children from 18 schools of Delhi participated. In addition parents and teachers, NGO partners, UN colleagues, media, and bilateral donors were present. Using different mediums and art forms the participants used their art work to focus on and explore diverse forms of violations, which included issues of trafficking, domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, psychological and verbal abuse, emotional abuse, infanticide, foeticide, forced abortion, dowry, sati, sexual harassment, forced prostitution, and physical violence. Informal interactions validated the value of Project Touch. Many felt that they now had a personal responsibility to help educate others. As one participant put it, “we must first empower ourselves before we attempt to empower others”. They were keen to replicate the initiative in their respective schools, and catalyze more discussion on the issue. 

Campaign on violence against women in Nepal: A series of activities were organized to raise awareness on violence against women and CEDAW. The campaign activities included street theatre, talk programmes in schools, a media campaign and the development of a poster on Article 9 of CEDAW. The partners involved included SAATHI in collaboration with Central Women Legal Aid Committee (CWLAC); Sancharika Samuha; RUWDUC; Sachetana; ABC Nepal; Samrakshan; and the Student Union of Tribhuvan University.

Mumbai, 27th – 28th November 2003: The Fourth Regional Workshop on Gender Responsive Budgeting led to a consensus for a common South Asia framework on gender analysis of the budget, focusing on areas of priority. The UNIFEM supported studies focusing on poverty alleviation, revealed weakness in implementation and utilization of funds, reaffirming the need to intervene in the budget making and budget implementation process. Guiding the way forward, they showed the importance of using an approach that began at the local level and involved local self government institutions. Concomitantly, the participation of elected persons in understanding as well as designing budgets suited to local needs was required, as well as building their capacity to do so. The findings of all the studies reaffirmed the need to interface and intervene with the macro economic system and respond to the voices from below. Issues of recognizing the value of unpaid care work while formulating macro-economic policies were also discussed. There was agreement that UNIFEM should set up a regional advisory committee on gender analysis of the budget, to guide future work as well as build the capacity of an institution in the region. This could take on the task of training different stakeholders on gender analysis of the budget and linking it to good governance.

UNIFEM launched its six studies on different aspects of Gender Budget Analysis at this regional meeting. They are a part of its “Follow the Money Series”. The studies launched include:  

1.      “Gender Audit in Nepal” by Dr. Meena Acharya of Institute for Integrated Development Studies (IIDS).

2.      “What is Gender Budgeting? Public Policies from Women's Perspectives in the Indian Context” by Professor Nirmala Banerjee of Sachetana. 

3.      A gender analysis of the Swarnajayanti Gram Swarojgar Yogana in West Bengal by Professor Nirmala Banerjee and Ms. Joyanti Sen of Sachetana. 

4.      Study on “Gender Sensitive Analysis of the Employment Guarantee Scheme” by Dr. Maithreyi Krishnaraj, Dr. Divya Pande, and Ms. Aruna Kanchi  of SNDT University in Mumbai.

5.      “Building Budgets from Below” by Ms. Ahalya Bhat of the Singamma Sreenivasan Foundation.

6.       “Gender Budgeting in India” by Dr. Ashok Lahiri, Ms. Lekha Chakraborty and Mr. P.N. Bhattacharyya of the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy.  

The meeting also sought to identify future steps with regard to using these studies, which provide a tool for advocacy. These involve appropriate repackaging to suit and meet different needs, such as those of Parliamentarians, different line ministries, NGOs, National Commission for Women, Women’s Groups, and Panchayati leaders for lobbying and advocacy to promote gender responsive budgeting.

3rd-4th November New Delhi: A Symposium on Trade, Globalisation and Gender was jointly organized by UNIFEM and UNCTAD in New Delhi to assess the latest trends, opportunities and effects of trade liberalisation and globalisation on South Asian women. India’s Union Minister of State for Commerce, Mr. S.B. Mookherjee inaugurated the Symposium and released the UNIFEM-UNCTAD publication entitled Trade, Globalisation and Gender - Evidence from South Asia. A compilation of studies conducted by academics and activists from the South Asian Region, the publication included UNIFEM supported studies in Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka. Attended by over a hundred participants from the South Asia region, these studies were also presented at the Symposium, including the study undertaken in Pakistan. Although globalization is considered to have generated positive employment effects, the studies indicated a significant increase in casualisation. The Symposium highlighted the importance of spreading awareness among women on the growing impact of globalisation and on building their capacity to avert the negative impacts on the most disadvantaged. It presented an opportunity to advocate for the appropriate inclusion of gender concerns in the multilateral/ bilateral trade negotiation process. Co-operation on gender issues at the regional and international level on was stressed, as was the need for gender-disaggregated data on employment in various sectors. Some of the many key recommendations that emerged, included the setting up of a market support network for women producers at the SAARC level, the inclusion of gender interests by G-20 in its negotiating strategies and proposals, engendering trade statistics and including women’s participation in decision-making bodies at all levels.

14th November- 27th November, India International Trade Fair: UNIFEM co-sponsored the women artisans and producers from South Asia to participate in the Trade Fair and facilitated the participation of delegates from Afghanistan. This was coordinated by the Ministry of Commerce in Afghanistan. Promoting market linkages amongst women entrepreneurs of the region, it enabled exposure of women entrepreneurs from South Asia to several markets.

17-18th November, New Delhi: UNIFEM supported Datamation Foundation to organize the South Asian Regional Consultations on “Gender in Information Society”. The deliberations enabled the formulation of recommendations from South Asia for the Gender Caucus of the WSIS Meeting in Geneva.  

9th – 11th December, Jakarta, Indonesia: Regional Workshop on Protecting Women Migrant Workers in Asia - Meeting the Challenges: To promote regional learning and cooperation between countries of origin and destination towards better rights protection and promotion throughout the migration cycle of women migrant workers, UNIFEM East and South East Asia and South Asia, in collaboration with the Ministry of Manpower and Transmigration, Republic of Indonesia, organized a high level meeting in Jakarta. Representatives of government and non-government organizations from Bahrain, Bangladesh, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Jordan, Nepal, the Philippines and Sri Lanka came together to promote safe migration. The meeting also sought to consolidate the gains made under the UNIFEM Regional Programme on Empowering Women Migrant Workers in Asia, and to identify future directions for action by establishing a mechanism to follow up on recommendations for action. 

Achievements, shortfalls and challenges were analyzed through country presentations, resource persons and deliberations. These culminated in the Jakarta Recommendations for Action on Recognizing, Protecting and Empowering Women Migrant Workers in Asia. This includes a framework for strategic action and priority actions by Governments, NGOs and other stakeholders, UN and other international agencies, including the international development community. Certain potential areas of assistance identified by UNIFEM for intervention, included, the development of data bases, the mainstreaming of migration issues into policies plans and legislation, engendering PRSPs and integrating migration into them. Bringing on board more receiving countries, making available best practices, assistance in the development of training manuals as well as facilitating the coming together of sending countries, were other possible areas. Interventions could also include linking the issue with violence against women and facilitating stronger government and NGO ties. The workshop noted that it was critical to enable coordinated links between source and destination sites to promote and protect the rights of women migrant workers at all stages of the migration process, as abuse and violation at any one stage would negatively impact the worker at another stage and on the whole.


Sixteen days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence 

25th November 2003 - 10th December 2003

6th December 2003, New Delhi:

Interactive, creative  workshop "TOUCH" with children from 18 schools of Delhi on their narrative expressions linking art and violence against women at the Village Complex, The Crafts Museum, Bhairon Road, New Delhi 

Street plays by Alarippu and Anhad will be staged during the course of the day. Time of the Event 9:30 AM to 4 PM..

For more details contact : UNIFEM South Asia Regional Office

Tel: 24698297/24604351 or Mr. Probir Gupta at [provbag8@vsnl.net]


25th November 2003, New Delhi: "Information is Power" the launch of 5 Unifem Publications on Violence against Women and Related Issues at the UN Conference Hall, 55, Lodi Estate, New Delhi. Time of the event 9.30 -12.30 PM. Chief Guest : Dr. Poornima Advani Chairperson, National Commission for Women

28th November 2003, New Delhi: Screening of three films on Violence Against Women and Related Issues at the Gulmohar Hall India Habitat Centre, Lodi Road, New Delhi . Time of the event 2.00 - 6.00 PM. Chief Guest : Ms. Kasturi Gupta Menon, Secretary, Department of Women and Child Development (DWCD)

Campaign violence against women in Nepal

SAATHI in collaboration with Central Women Legal Aid Committee (CWLAC); Sancharika Samuha; RUWDUC; Sachetana; SAATHI; ABC Nepal; Samrakshan; Student Union of Tribhuvan University will be organizing a series of activities to raise awareness on violence against women and CEDAW. The campaign activities will include street theatre, talk programmes in schools, a media campaign and the development of a poster on Article 9 of CEDAW.

For more details contact : sangeetathapa@unifem.wlink.com.np


13th August 2003, New Delhi: Consultation on Working towards a Gender Sensitive Policy on HIV/AIDS

The National Commission for Women (NCW), India , in collaboration with UNIFEM and the Centre for Advocacy and Research (CFAR) organized a Consultation on HIV/AIDS to prioritize both tactical and strategic goals, based on recommendations emerging from the study conducted by Positive Women’s Network (PWN) and CFAR. It further sought to collectively dialogue and draft an action plan within the gender rights framework for women living with HIV/AIDS.

The Honourable Minister of State, Mr. K. Raja, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India (GOI), inaugurated the Consultation. The panel included Dr. Poornima Advani, Chairperson, NCW, Dr. Meenakshi Dutta Ghosh, Additional Secretary and Project Director of the National Aids Control Organization (NACO), and Ms. Chandni Joshi, RPD UNIFEM. The participants included women’s organizations, grass root and support groups such as the Positive Networks of women living with HIV/AIDS, human rights organisations, medical practitioners and academic institutions. The meeting provided an opportunity to create a far wider platform on the issue by bringing together representatives from diverse organizations and institutions across the country. They shared their experiences and understanding of how stigma and discrimination against women living with HIV/AIDS was impeding an effective response to HIV/AIDS

By reviewing a specific incident that occurred in the rural area of Andhra Pradesh, where a poor rural women allegedly died of neglect and discrimination, and taking into consideration the recommendations that emerged from the study, as well as experiences of the participants, it was felt that rural women were more vulnerable to stigma and discrimination. Among other drawbacks, they had very little access to any kind of basic information and support services. There was agreement that stigma and discrimination needed to be a core concern and jointly addressed by women’s organizations and other professional associations, to guarantee the rights of women living with HIV/AIDS. It called for taking concerted steps, particularly towards changing attitudes. There was consensus that health care and law enforcing institutions needed to be made more gender sensitive and informed with regard to the manner in which the epidemic was negatively impacting women living with HIV/AIDS. These recommendations will feed into a larger consultation being planned by NCW.

3rd – 7th August 2003, Ahmedabad: Enhancing the capacity of UNIFEM partners to use enterprise development as a tool for empowerment of women in difficult/vulnerable circumstances.

To strengthen skills in enterprise management, SEWA organized a training programme on Women and Trade for regional partner organizations of UNIFEM South Asia. Organizations from Bangladesh , India , Nepal and Pakistan , working on diverse issues, such as trafficking, economic empowerment and violence against women, attended the training. Using the modality of group work, field visits, case studies and games, participants were trained on diverse aspects. These included among others, formulation of strategic business plans, human relations, team building and group relations, negotiations and communication skills purchase and inventory management, accounting, marketing, pricing, value chain analysis in approach and management of micro enterprises and leadership skills. At the close of the workshop, participants were asked to use the learning of the training by formulating their respective business plans and putting them into practice. There was a decision to meet again in the last quarter of the year to review progress and undertake intensive training on select issues.

28th – 29th July 2003, Bangkok: Regional Review Meeting for Home-based Workers

To review progress on HomeNet in South and South East Asia , representatives from UNIFEM New York, UNIFEM South East Asia, UNIFEM South Asia, HomeNet South Asia and HomeNet South East Asia ( Thailand , Philippines and Indonesia ) had a two-day meeting in Bangkok . With each country giving a detailed overview of their activities, gaps were identified and a plan of action for the forthcoming year was discussed. In addition, the focus was on the issue of sustainability of HomeNet. The possibility of merging HomeNet Southeast and South Asia as HomeNet Asia and modalities for the interim period were some of the key issues that were discussed.

Paro , Bhutan, 19th – 21st May 2003: The Fourth South Asia Regional Meeting, ‘Commemorating Beijing’, was held to assess the progress in South Asia on the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action. The Meeting was jointly hosted at Paro by UNIFEM and the Royal Government of Bhutan. His Excellency, Mr. Lyonpo Kinzang Dorji, Hon’ble Prime Minister of the Royal Government of Bhutan inaugurated the meeting. Ministers from Bangladesh , India , Maldives , Nepal and Pakistan ; the SAARC Secretary General and senior government officials, civil society members and women’s groups from all the SAARC countries participated in the meeting.

The meeting in Bhutan focused on appraising the progress made by SAARC countries on the 12 Areas of Critical Concern, identified the gaps, challenges and opportunities and formulated strategies for a more effective implementation of the Beijing PFA. In addition it gave special attention to the areas identified as priorities at the last review meeting held in the Maldives in 2000. These included gender analysis of budgets, knowledge-based advocacy on CEDAW, engendering the census and trafficking of women and girls.

The countries of the region arrived at a consensus through the Bhutan Forward Moving Strategies. All the participants, including governments, and civil society, reaffirmed commitments made on women’s empowerment and gender equality at national, regional and international fora. They unanimously agreed to direct their efforts towards regional priorities, which included:

  • Promoting rights-based policies and programmes to eradicate feminization of poverty and accelerating actions to address elements, which fuel gender inequalities

  • Strengthening national processes and Government-NGO collaboration to review the progress on full implementation of CEDAW, the BPFA and the B+5 Outcome Document, linking it to reporting on Millennium Development Goals ·        Strengthening efforts to combat VAW, focusing on support services for victims of violence and the legal system ·        Increasing national and regional collaboration and cooperation to eliminate trafficking of women and girls and expediting efforts towards the ratification of the SAARC Convention on Trafficking on Women and Children 

  • Supporting processes to engender global trade agreements and promoting policies and institutions, which enable women in the economic sphere

  • Continuing to strengthen the networks of women workers in the informal sector

  • Taking forward the processes of developing and applying tools such as gender analysis of budgets, gender audit and engendered planning and monitoring at the national and local levels

  • Continuing to strengthen processes to increase women’s participation in decision-making and leadership

  • Intensifying efforts to address the gender dimensions of HIV/AIDS

  • Creating mechanisms to increase women’s access to media and communication technology, and supporting processes to engender ICT in all initiatives of BPFA and CEDAW implementation

  • Increasing information and knowledge sharing, particularly in the areas of the development of monitoring indicators, gender analysis of budgets, violence against women, women’s political participation and gender dimensions of HIV/AIDS

  • Continuing the regional bi-annual process of reviewing progress in the implementation of CEDAW and the BPFA, facilitated by UNIFEM

6th – 8th January 2003, Sri Lanka: Meeting on Gender Budgeting with groups in Sri Lanka with Professor Diane Elson as a Resource Person