United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM)

UNIFEM South Asia Office

Events in 2005

Setting up of a SAARC Gender Database:

Kathmandu, December, 2005: The journey towards a gender database, which began at Beijing and which, in South Asia has continued through the SAARC Summits, the MDGs, and the Beijing Biennial Regional Review meetings, is now poised to become a reality. Acknowledging the importance of sex disaggregated data and gender sensitive analysis, the Islamabad Declaration, which emerged from the Fifth South Asia Ministerial Conference held in Islamabad in May 2005, calls for the operationalisation of the SAARC Gender Database at the SAARC Secretariat – a database that addresses the full range of challenges on sex disaggregated data and in a position to share best practices from the region on gender equality. This will be projected as a G-Data Shop to facilitate engendered planning, advocacy and the identification of gaps and challenges.

UNIFEM took another step toward this by supporting an Expert Group Meeting. Hosted by the SAARC Secretariat in Kathmandu in December 2005, the meeting discussed the modalities of setting up and taking forward the SAARC Gender Database. Currently, the three areas that have been identified are, violence against women, especially trafficking, feminization of poverty and health, including HIV/AIDS. The prototype that is being developed will include quantitative and qualitative information, as well as traditional and non-traditional indicators.   

This is an important step forward, as the Database is a key component of the MoU between UNIFEM and the SAARC Secretariat. To guide the process, a Core Committee has been constituted by the SAARC Secretariat and a prototype, supported by UNIFEM, is being developed, to act as the anchor for all data and information storage and retrieval. This will be finalized and launched after being shared and endorsed by the seven countries, who have committed to setting up a national committee and identifying a national agency to take the initiative forward in the respective countries.

 

Gender & HIV/AIDs

A Study Tour of the Chinese Railways to the UNIFEM and Indian Railways collaborative intervention in Vijayawada, December 2005: A high-level delegation of the Chinese Railway, UNFPA and UNIFEM Beijing undertook a study tour of the joint UNIFEM and Indian Railways project in Andhra Pradesh. The initiative, which seeks to institutionalize gender focused strategies to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS in India, is a collaboration of the South Central Railways, through the Railway Women’s Empowerment and AIDs Prevention Society (REAPS) and UNIFEM. It provides a model for a gender focused public sector HIV/AIDs intervention - with prevention, care and support, interwoven into a seamless package. Counselling through peer educators, information on a range of subjects is covered – including HIV/AIDs, reproductive health, gender training, human rights and legal literacy. Empowering women economically and promoting gender sensitivity in the sex education curriculum in railway schools, dialogue is facilitated between policy-makers and trade unions in developing gender responsive policies and practices towards increasing prevention and treatment.

Acknowledging some similarities between the Indian and the Chinese Railway systems, the leader of the delegation, informed that China did not have an established infrastructure of institutions, such as schools, hospitals, trade unions, training institutes and mahila samitis, that have served as crucial entry points for this multi-sectoral and gender sensitive response to the epidemic, in India. This was a concept that could be adopted in China, he said. Inspired by the work being done by the peer counselors, the Chinese team is keen to use this model in their country.  

 

Engendering the National AIDS Control Programme (NACP) Phase III: UNIFEM led the engendering process during the planning phase of the NACP III in 2005, getting inputs from women’s groups, positive women’s networks, research and academic institutions and UN agencies. A consultative group on gender was put together by UNIFEM as part of the working group on women, adolescents and children. The concept paper with recommendations prepared by UNIFEM as an outcome of the consultation was accepted by the NACP III Planning Team, and gender has been addressed in substantive terms into the final NACP III Policy Document.

 

Beginning 24th November 2005 - 16 Days of Activism and Beyond

In Goa, in collaboration with local groups, a Regional Alternative Media Workshop on EVAW/C (eliminating violence against women/children) especially HIV/AIDS, trafficking and sex tourism (GOA), was organized. Theatre was used as a means of interacting with the community leading to raised awareness, particularly of men and boys, on issues of violence, trafficking, HIV/AIDS and gender. Information on the importance and meaning of the white ribbon was highlighted, with members of the theatre group wearing and distributing it. Along with the white ribbon, brochures, posters, graffiti, fact sheets from the region and the mental health tool kit were used as advocacy tools.

 

30th November 2005 and beyond

In the Eastern Himalayan Region, UNIFEM collaborated with I-land Informatics, ATSEC-India (Action against Trafficking & Sexual Exploitation of Children) and CNI (Church of Northern India) to undertake theatre based research on people’s perceptions of and knowledge about VAW/C (violence against women/children). It focused particularly on trafficking, domestic violence and HIV/AIDS and its gender dimensions. Theatre was used to interact with the community to raise awareness on these issues, particularly among boys and men, and to enlist their support to combat VAW/C.

 

White Ribbon Campaign (WRC) in partnership with Save the Children

The WRC is the largest effort in the world of men working to end men's violence against women. Wearing a white ribbon is a personal pledge never to commit, condone nor remain silent about violence against women. Each year, the campaign urges men and boys to wear a ribbon for one or two weeks, beginning on 25th November, the International Day for the Eradication of Violence against Women.                                                                     

Source: http://www.whiteribbon.ca/about_us/#1

 

25th November 2005 and beyond with Save the Children, in Bangladesh, India and Nepal: Varied awareness raising and advocacy tools were disseminated. These included:

  • A brochure on the white ribbon campaign and EVAW

  • Fact sheets on VAW/C, making linkages with HIV/AIDs, trafficking, sex selective abortion and HIV/AIDS

  • A compilation of good practices, and

  • The Inter Religious Priests' Forum’s training tool kit on VAW/C and trafficking

     

Nepal, Women for Human Rights - Single Women Groups

UNIFEM partnered with the Single Women's Group-Women for Human Rights, collaborating with various stakeholders, including government authorities, NGO's, INGO's, UN agencies, and representatives from the corporate sector and community leaders, to organize a public hearing. This enabled internally displaced women from the conflict affected areas to share their issues and concerns. 

 

5th – 7th December 2005, Shining Through An international film festival on violence against women and children (VAW/C) focusing on trafficking and HIV/AIDS, was organized in collaboration with ATSEC/West Bengal and DRIK India in Kolkata, West Bengal. Inaugurated by Mr. Mrinal Sen the eminent filmmaker, awareness was raised on diverse women’s rights issues. By highlighting the stories of survivors, their resilience and the potential for change, the films featured offered positive and hopeful messages. There was also a public forum, a press conference, as well as posters, an information kit on the films being screened, graffiti and white ribbon, during the festival.

 

New Delhi, 13th - 14th November 2005:

Consultation on Women’s Right to Land and other Resources: Organized by the Consult for Women on Land Rights (CWLR), with support from Action Aid India, UNDP, India and UNIFEM South Asia, the initiative sought to bring together groups and individuals from NGOs, GOs, CBOs and international support agencies working on issues of women’s right to land, resource base, property and inheritance. 

Participants included different stake holders, which included representatives of civil society, the Government of India, select UN agencies, women from the community and people working on the issue at the policy and law reform level. It provided a platform for discussions on (1) strategies across contexts to respond to issues of women’s right to land, inheritance, livelihood and various economic resource bases (2) issues on land and economic resources in relation to the MDGs, CEDAW and the BPFA (3) recommendations on how to make the MDGs responsive to women’s needs for land and economic resources, and (4) how to carry the issue of land rights for women forward.

The consultation concluded with a set of recommendations and strategies, identifying possible areas of intervention. These included (a) enhancing women’s ownership and control over assets (b) enhancing women’s productivity and livelihood security (c) enhancing social acceptability and legitimacy of women’s claims (d) improving data, research and translation on women and land rights.

 

 

Bangalore, 19th - 20th October 2005:

Fifth Regional Workshop on Gender Responsive Budgeting: In partnership with the Singamma Sreenivasan Foundation, Bangalore, the workshop was organized to bring together experts, analysts and decision makers, in order to build on the gender budgeting work undertaken so far and to determine the direction of future initiatives. Participants included, senior officials from the Governments of Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan, as well as the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy, and partner NGOs.

 

Mr M.V. Rajasekharan, the Minister of State for Planning was the chief guest. Sharing experiences and best practices, the recommendations that emerged vis-à-vis moving forward, included:

  • Providing an enabling environment for women to participate (timings of meetings to suit women/places where meeting are held/announcements)

  • Building awareness and capacity on issues of RTI (Right to Information) and GRB (Gender Responsive Budgeting)

  • Taking key decisions in women’s gram sabhas/ village meetings/local bodies

  • Consolidation of self help groups and micro credit groups

  • Local level politics and women’s participation

Recommendations were also made on how to improve tracking of the budget performance by different stakeholders, for example by (a) developing gender sensitive indicators in consultation with women stakeholders (academia, practitioners etc) (b) creating user friendly and easily retrievable sex disaggregated databases and making sure they are regularly updated (c) setting up of regular and effective monitoring and evaluation systems by government and civil society (especially women’s groups) (d) increasing interaction and consultation with Governments, pre budget and post budget, both at the state and central levels.

It was proposed that a regional advisory committee be set up, comprising of government representatives from the ministries of finance and women’s affairs and two representatives from civil society from each country. The latter would be responsible for sharing information and guiding the process.

 

New Delhi, 18th August 2005:

MoU signed between UNIFEM South Asia and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII): UNIFEM South Asia and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) signed a MoU to promote Gender Equality in Industry on 18th August 2005. The MoU was signed during a special function by Dr Sudhir Kapur, Member, CII National Council & Chairman, CII Sub-Committee on Technical Education & Training (NR) and Ms. Firoza Mehrotra, Deputy Regional Programme Director, UNIFEM South Asia Regional Office. Representing the UN system, the UN Resident Coordinator, Dr. Maxine Olson was present, along with the visiting Chief of the Asia Pacific and Arab States Section of UNIFEM, Ms. Socorro Reyes, members of both the organizations, representatives of industry, development practitioners and the media.     

The MoU mirrors the quality of partnership shared by the two organizations over a period of eight years, reflecting a convergence of interests between women's empowerment and industry. Grounded on the guiding principles and values of the CII Social Code and the mandate of UNIFEM and its role and mission, it spells an agreement of cooperation between the two, based on furthering the goals of gender equality in CII with reference to CEDAW, the BPFA, the Beijing + Ten Document and the MDGs.

According to the MoU, efforts will be made to advance gender equality through technical assistance to develop an engendered response to sexual harassment at the work place; feminization of poverty and of HIV/AIDS; implications of trade agreements for women’s livelihoods in the context of reshaping globalization, through perspective development, capacity building, sharing knowledge products and piloting good practices. Both organizations will mutually work towards establishing a South Asia Forum for Women’s Empowerment, as well as a National Association of Women Entrepreneurs.

 

New Delhi, 18th August 2005:

Launch of Self-help Kit for Victims of Violence by Ms. Socorro Reyes, Chief of the Asia Pacific and Arab States Section, UNIFEM: Ms. Socorro Reyes, Chief of the Asia Pacific and Arab States Section of UNIFEM, launched a self-help kit for victims of violence, developed by the mental health specialist NGO, SAARTHAK, in the course of the evening that the MoU between the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and UNIFEM South Asia was signed. An immediate outcome was evident in CII offering to assist in the dissemination of the Kit.

Developed both in English and Hindi, the cassettes, which explore suggestions for outgrowing the pain of violence and surviving, are called “Dare to Dream” and “Sahas Ka Safar” respectively. A series of six self help cassettes, they aim to empower consumers of the mental health services with information, normalize the impacts, de-stigmatize the process of seeking help and facilitate the person to be able to help herself at a primary level. They can also be used by front line workers as well as by people who cannot read.

The first cassette - “I Dare” helps in recognizing various forms of violence, their impact on thoughts and feelings, challenging myths. The next step in the journey is the cassette entitled “I Survive”. This is designed towards ending self-blame and taking steps to break way from violence. The third cassette, “I Live”, focuses on a method, whereby the person begins to take control of her life.  In, “I believe”, the person concentrates on learning to challenge negative thoughts and cope with negative feelings. The fifth cassette in the programme, “I Grow”, focuses on planning for the future, rebuilding relationships and discovering the ability to sustain oneself. The final cassette, “I Dream” helps rediscover the ability to enjoy and celebrate life as well as help others.

 

New Delhi, 10th August 2005:

Launch of “Walking Wisdom”: Justice A.M. Ahmadi, former Chief Justice of India launched the Binder – “Walking Wisdom” – A Creative Manual for Equality Education, in New Delhi. The Binder is a result of the Gender and Judges initiative, conceptualized and implemented by SAKSHI, an activist NGO committed to gender justice. Eloquently documented by K. Geetha of SAKSHI, it traces the unique journey undertaken by distinguished members of the judiciary from South Asia, activists and members of the Law faculty, local NGOs and UNIFEM, to engender those parts of the judicial system that particularly impact on prosecuting cases on violence against women. Justice Ahmadi has played a leading and a guiding role in the initiative, right through the journey from its inception.

The Judge-NGO partnership has worked remarkably well, leading to change and actual transformation, which can be seen in the many sensitive judgments that have emerged recently in South Asia.  Crossing boundaries, the initiative is active in India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The Asia Pacific Advisory Forum on Judicial Education on Equality Issues, born through the process, has proven to be an extremely effective vehicle for Judges, reverberations of which, are reaching the police and prosecutors, and the health and education sectors. Stepping beyond the ‘Formal Equality’ framework, which is generally followed by the region’s criminal and civil justice structures, the initiative has served to sharpen the focus from ‘formal equality’ to ‘substantive equality’. The Binder provides tools, which though developed for and by the judiciary, can be used by all stakeholders in changing stereotypical perceptions and mind-sets.

 

Regional Conference on Development Effectiveness through Gender Mainstreaming: Lessons Learnt from South Asia, 10th – 12th May 2005, New Delhi: The Conference was organized by IFAD, UNIFEM and IDRC through the IFAD-UNIFEM Gender Mainstreaming Programme in Asia. It was inaugurated by Shri Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Deputy Chairperson, Planning Commission, Government of India, and the keynote address delivered by Dr. Noeleen Heyzer, Executive Director UNIFEM. Dr Syeda Hameed, Member, Planning Commission, Government of India closed the Conference. It sought to advocate for a more effective implementation of development policies and programmes designed to reduce gender inequality and rural poverty in South Asian countries.

One hundred and twenty policy makers, practitioners, researchers, community leaders from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, Fiji, India, Kyrgystan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka emphasized the need to build lives free from want, fear and discrimination. The conference focused on a gamut of issues, which included: effectiveness of financial services, micro-finance and beyond and women’s role as leaders and agents of transformation; human security and social cost of gender-specific violence; the existing marginal representation of women in community management, in local and national governance;  women’s right to land, assets, and other productive resources and its impact on gender relations and increased productivity; role of women in conflict prevention and their agency in building peace; and gender indicators of equality, inclusion and poverty reduction.

 

Some of the key recommendations, which emerged from the Conference, called for: 

  • Addressing women’s land, property and inheritance rights in the context of the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW)

  • Providing conditions of ‘decent work’ for women in the formal and informal sectors by reducing women’s vulnerabilities, especially structural violence against women

  • Expanding the existing indicators of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to capture the different dimensions of gender equality, such as poverty reduction.

  • Using a rights-based framework, transforming the ways in which adequate resources are provided, capacities built and women inclusive institutions promoted

  • Ensuring access of women to empowering tools, including all technologies and ICT

  • Enhancing livelihoods and strengthening assets beyond income and savings to areas such as insurance, capabilities, security and social inclusion

  • Promoting women’s human security through diverse partnerships, including with men to address masculinity and its links to violence

  • Increasing investment in capacity building, referral services and support structures for women affected by violence and reducing risks to forced migration, trafficking and HIV/AIDS

  • Promoting affirmative action on the basis of substantive equality for gender responsive governance

  • Strengthening access and benefit sharing rights of indigenous peoples

  • Allocating resources to improve labour conditions and social security for formal and informal workers

  • Developing gender sensitive indicators for appropriate monitoring and evaluation frameworks

  • Recognizing and implementing UN Security Council Resolution 1325

  • Ensuring women remain integral to peace negotiations, building, and reconstruction processes

     

The Fifth South Asia Regional Ministerial Conference, 3rd -5th May 2005, Islamabad, Pakistan: Dr. Noeleen Heyzer, Executive Director UNIFEM was a State Guest of the Government of Pakistan for the Fifth South Asia Regional Ministerial Conference celebrating Beijing + 10, which was jointly hosted by the Government of Pakistan and the South Asia Regional Office of UNIFEM. H.E. Mr. Shaukat Aziz, the Prime Minister of Pakistan inaugurated the Conference and Dr. Noeleen Heyzer delivered the keynote address. The SAARC Secretary General, Ministers, Secretaries and Senior Officers of the Governments and SAARC Secretariat, women’s groups, NGOs, and researchers from – Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka participated in the three-day discussions. Participants from Afghanistan attended as observers.

The meeting focused on appraising the progress made by SAARC countries on the 12 Areas of Critical Concern and the Forward Moving Strategies, which had emerged at the last biennial review. It dwelt on the gaps, challenges and opportunities, formulating an action plan for a more effective implementation of the Beijing PFA. In addition it paid special attention to the issues of:

Gender, livelihoods and resources; violence against women; women’s representation, leadership and effectiveness; and engendering MDGs, PRSPs processes and linking BPFA, MDG & CEDAW indicators, which had been identified as critical priorities for this Conference.

The Conference deliberations culminated in the formulation of the ‘Islamabad Declaration: Review and Future Action’. Governments and civil society agreed to direct their efforts and actions on a two-year plan, focusing on the following areas, which were identified as priorities:

  • Violence against women

  • Economic empowerment of women

  • Political empowerment of women

  • Disaster preparedness and management

  • Health and Education

Delegates agreed upon specific actions to address the above and to develop and strengthen institutional mechanisms for gender equity and equality, which includes:

Ensuring sufficient resource allocations and authority for national machineries for women; ensuring the integration of women’s human rights and gender concerns by mainstream institutions into their policies and programmes; repealing/amending discriminatory laws against women and initiating integrated efforts to implement laws; ensuring gender analysis of budgets to support women’s advancement; promoting men and boys’ participation in creating a gender just society; enhancing corporate social responsibility; strengthening partnerships with women’s groups and civil society organizations; promoting a gender sensitive media; acknowledging the positive contribution of the UNIFEM in carrying forward the Beijing process and lobbying for sufficient resource allocations for the organization and appropriate status for it within the UN system. 

There was consensus towards ensuring linkages between Beijing Platform for Action, CEDAW and MDGS as mutually complementary processes. Recommendations were made to integrate the “Islamabad Declaration: Review and Future Action” at appropriate multilateral forums, emphasizing the integration of gender perspectives in the high level plenary meeting to review the Millennium Declaration and Goals. It was also recommended that CEDAW and BPFA are integrated into national indicators and other processes, including the medium term development framework (MTDF) to monitor achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.

Regional coordination and cooperation on issues of gender equality and women’s empowerment was promoted, the process of regional sharing and learning continued, regional priorities of key concerns drawn up and an action plan adopted to address these.  

 

Exhibition Eye Reveal, 26th April 2005, Gallerie Romain Rolland, Alliance Francaise, New Delhi: Mrs. Gursharan Kaur Singh, wife of the Prime Minister of India, released the Catalogue and inaugurated the Exhibition, ‘Eye Reveal’ on 26th April at the Gallerie Romain Rolland of the Alliance Francaise of Delhi. UNIFEM was also privileged to have the presence of Mrs Nane Annan, wife of the UN Secretary General, who was in India at that time. From the Gallerie Romain Rolland, the Exhibition later traveled to the art gallery at the Lalit Kala Akademi.  

The initiative ‘Eye Reveal’ has sought to sensitize young people on issues of gender based violence, masculinities and HIV/AIDS using the power and potential of art, the photographic medium and the written word to communicate and create appropriate messages. It has been a collective journey of discovery, involving special partnerships. These include: eminent artist, Mr. Probir Gupta, who conceptualized and guided the whole process; 150 university students of colleges of Delhi University, which include, Jamia Milia Islamia University, Indra Prastha University, Jawaharlal Nehru University and Rai University; resource persons from specialized agencies, focusing on violence against women, including trafficking and HIV/AIDs, and a journalist, who provided perspectives on the articulation of such issues in the media; expert NGOs, who facilitated exchanges with survivors of violence to deepen understanding on violence, and with wrestlers, dancers, chefs and singers, to explore masculinities and its interplay between gender and violence.

The ‘Eye Reveal’ Exhibition and Catalogue captures the entire process and experience of the initiative. It is a culmination of a process, which began during the global campaign, “16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence”, which UNIFEM has been spearheading since 1998. The process of working in partnership with young people is linked to UNIFEM’s belief that young adolescents and adults, if informed and engaged with, can become very strong ambassadors of social change.

 

Beijing + 10 and Beyond:

New Delhi, 22nd – 23rd March: Reporting Back on B+10 at the National Level: UNIFEM co-funded a two-day workshop by All India Women’s Education Fund Association, to facilitate a country-level reporting back of the B + 10 among NGOs.  Focusing on the MDGs and the BPFA, the workshop focused on improving the quality of life for women with inputs from Science and Technology. An exhibition on various drudgery reducing technologies for women, focusing upon improving their quality of life in the areas of habitat, energy, nutrition and health complemented it. Compendiums on the achievements/issues relating to women on the 12 critical areas of the BPFA and MDGs, as well as on drudgery reducing technologies for women were produced.

 

New York, 1st March, 2005:

At the CSW, as part of the Beijing + 10 Review process, UNIFEM South Asia organized a Community of Practice Session on ‘Enabling Accountability Mechanism: Voices from South Asia’. Through a panel discussion, the session sought to: share the tools that it has developed in the region to foster accountability enabling mechanisms; provide insights into the diverse dimensions of the unique process, which has been  effectively deployed by Governments and the women’s movement, to follow-up on commitments made in the BPFA and CEDAW; accelerate progress in their implementation; and link the obligations and commitments embodied in the BPFA and CEDAW to the achievement of the MDGs. It also served to spotlight the key role that UNIFEM plays in South Asia, in bringing different partners together and in carrying voices from the ground to the highest levels of policy and decision-making.

In her opening remarks, Dr. Noeleen Heyzer, Executive Director, UNIFEM, highlighted the importance of having accountability mechanisms like the one in South Asia. She also dwelt on the importance of carrying along all stakeholders, including governments, the women’s movement, other development partners and the private sector.

Ms. Chandni Joshi, RPD South Asia chaired the session and welcomed the distinguished panelists. These included: H.E. Ms. Nilofar Bakhtiar, Advisor to the Prime Minister, Ministry of Women Development, Government of Pakistan, who said, “It is UNIFEM that has given commitment and direction to BPFA and CEDAW in the SAARC region. There would be no B+10 without UNIFEM’s vision to support the process.” She referred to the biennial review meetings especially the last one at Paro, Bhutan which she had attended, as well as the Jaipur sharing meeting on CEDAW.

Ms. Salma Khan, CEDAW Committee Member, referred to UNIFEM’s role in South Asia, as significant and crucial, in facilitating implementation of the CEDAW and BPFA. She said, “the most remarkable achievement of South Asian regional meetings was the creation of increased awareness among governments and NGOs on the meaning and scope of the Convention and the significance of the reporting process…….some specific outcomes of the process include the Government of India replicating the Government of Nepal’s experience of setting up inter-ministerial task force on CEDAW; the sharing of the draft CEDAW report with the NGOs by the Government of Pakistan; and the development of indicators for monitoring and implementation of CEDAW in South Asia, which was a pioneering effort.” She concluded by saying she found her own participation at these meetings to be most rewarding and stimulating.   

Speaking of the biennial review mechanism, instituted by UNIFEM South Asia to track progress on the implementation of the BPFA in the region, Mr. Shyam Sunder Sharma, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Women, Children & Social Welfare, His Majesty’s Government of Nepal, said that this helped countries to fulfill their responsibilities and accountability to the BPFA. It also assisted in developing common understanding, sharing the best practices and critical experiences…..UNIFEM, he felt, plays a very crucial and key role as facilitator and technical and financial supporter. “There is a need to extend and elaborate / enhance the role and effort of UNIFEM in South Asia”, he said.

The other panelists included, Professor Pam Rajput, Member, International NGO Planning Committee and Convenor, India Women’s Watch and Ms. Bandana Rana, Director, Sancharika Samuha, representing the civil society in Nepal. Their presentations highlighted the dynamism and the peer learning that the accountability processes promote, as also the learning enabled through the exchange of best practices. Panelists drew attention to the linkages that exist between Beijing, CEDAW and MDGs, stressing their inter-dependence and their mutual advancement for the achievement of any or all of them. There was a strong recommendation on the need to give more status, visibility and resources to UNIFEM. 

A handbook, “Translating the Beijing Commitments into Action in South Asia” was produced. Capturing the translation of rhetoric into transformative action, through the accountability mechanism of the Biennial Regional Reviews, the book traces the reviews that have taken place so far, enumerating the recommendations that emerged from each. Listing the salient features of the Biennial Review, it links the process with implementation of CEDAW. 

A visual narrative, “The Power of Doing” showcasing UNIFEM’s work in the South Asia region was screened. Using excerpts from interviews with UNIFEM partners, footage of events and films, the ten-minute production brought alive, not only the mechanism devised, but also the strategic way that UNIFEM works.

 

New Delhi, 25th - 26th February 2005:

The Founding Convention of Women Power Connect (WPC), a forum for promoting women’s rights through legislative action was held in New Delhi. It brought into existence, a member organization of women’s coalitions and NGOs, comprising major coalitions of women’s groups. UNIFEM is a member of the Executive Committee. With the overall goal of lobbying parliament and attempting to influence legislations /gender friendly budgets / adoption or rejection of regulations on women’s issues, WPC provides a bridge between women organizations, the non profit sector, women activists and the elected representatives in the National Parliament and State Legislatures. It initiates a formal process of legislative coordination by women’s groups on women’s issues in India. The current three areas of priority that have been identified by WPC are the pending Domestic Violence Bill, Gender Just Budgeting, and 33% Reservation for women in Parliament. Panels were organized to strategize on each of these issues.

Ms. Sheila Dikshit, the Honourable Chief Minister of Delhi and also the Chief Guest and Ms. Kirsti Kolthoff, President of the European’s Women’s Lobby unfurled the WPC banner. Dr. Girija Vyas, Chairperson National Commission for Women was the Guest of Honour. Dr. Ranjana Kumari, President WPC, Ms. Chandni Joshi, RPD UNIFEM and Dr. Kiran Bedi of the Indian Police Service, also addressed the gathering.

 

New Delhi, 21st February, 2005:

UNIFEM and the Department of Women and Child Development, Government of India joined hands to support All India Women’s Conference (AIWC) release their report, “Whose Media? A Women’s Space”. Timed to coincide with the Beijing + 10 consultations, this comparative study of the national and regional press was designed to input into a national level report for the global review of the BPFA. Covering the five states of Uttaranchal, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Jammu and Kashmir and Uttar Pradesh, the report is an analysis of the representation of women in 20 newspapers in these states. Showing a decline in the role of English language newspapers in reporting women’s development needs, the report illustrates that regional language newspapers are playing a greater role, in the states scrutinized. Though not necessarily more gender sensitive, regional newspapers demonstrate a closer link with the development needs of women, by focusing on local issues, such as, health and educational facilities in rural areas, lack of safe drinking water, sanitation and other ground realities.  

The workshop was inaugurated by the Honourable Ms. Sheila Dikshit, Chief Minister of Delhi, and the keynote address delivered by Ms. Girija Vyas, Chairperson, National Commission for Women.