United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM)

UNIFEM South Asia Office

Events in 2006

October 2006

UN Secretary-General's Study on VAW - In-Depth Study

 

September 2006

25th to 29th September 2006, New Delhi: A South Asia Training of Trainers on CEDAW was organized by Partners for Law and Development (PLD) and UNIFEM. This was part of UNIFEM’s work in facilitating the implementation of and reporting on CEDAW, expanding the available pool of trainers specialized in CEDAW, which could be drawn upon by Governments and civil society groups. A five-day regional training, the persons trained included trainers, activists, NGOs and women’s groups working on the Convention from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. For the first time, there was also representation from Afghanistan.   

The workshop specifically focused upon enabling trainers to assist governments as well as civil society bodies with regard to facilitating strategies, methodologies, data requirements and experiences in implementing the Convention. It sought to raise awareness about the significance of the treaty regime in general and the Convention in particular, as effective instruments to plan development and access rights for women through law and policy reform. Clarity on key concepts and principles pertaining to women’s rights (equality, non-discrimination and State obligation) advocated by the Convention was created. It promoted the exchange of information and experiences on key areas such as the purpose of reporting and essential elements of a CEDAW report; implementation of the Concluding Comments; the Optional Protocol to the Convention; and the role of NGOs in promoting the use of the Convention. 

The resource persons included Ms. Madhu Mehra, Director, Partners for Law in Development (PLD), India, Advocate Sapana Pradhan Malla, Executive Director, Forum for Women Law and Development (FWLD) Nepal, Dr. Deepika Udagama, Head of the Department of Law, University of Colombo, who has also served as the alternate member from Sri Lanka on the UN Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights (1998-2001) and Ms. S.K. Priya, Consultant, PhD. All have experience with regard to the application of CEDAW, preparation of Shadow Reports, lobbying and presentation of Reports before the Committee, with some having served as expert members in the Committee.

Report on South Asia Training of Trainers on CEDAW

Detailed Programme of the CEDAW TOT

TOT List of participants

 

Engendering the 11th Development Plan of India:

UNIFEM’s successful approach to strengthening the gender equality perspective in the Ninth Five-year Plan in India, which was undertaken in 1996 to consolidate the gains made at Beijing, led to the UNDAF initiative, led by UNIFEM, to engender the Tenth Five-year Plan (2002-2007) of India. In 2006, UNIFEM and UNDP worked in partnership with the Ministry of Women and Child Development and the National Alliance of Women (NAWO) to engender the Eleventh Five-year Plan of India, replicating the modality devised to engender the Ninth Plan.   

Through a process of five regional and one national consultation, the objective of this exercise was to enhance women’s influence on national development and bring the voices and concerns of underrepresented and excluded groups, such as HIV+ women, women in the informal sector, indigenous women, women survivors of violence, and rural poor women, into the development process. Efforts were made to use a gender lens and address the gender dimension in all macro policies – fiscal, trade, agriculture, industry, infrastructure, labour and employment, by incorporating the specific needs of women and men in policy design, implementation, and their impact. It was strongly felt that gender equality and gender justice be articulated as a central goal of the 11th Five-Year Plan.  

The recommendations submitted to the Planning Commission by Members of the Think Tank and NAWO have been categorized in three sections. The overall recommendations are for creating an enabling environment for the achievement of development goals; cross–sectoral recommendations are for coordination between various ministries and region specific recommendations are for highlighting the challenges operative at the region level. 

Some of the broad concerns and recommendations presented to the Planning Commission were:

1.  Promote the idea of Women-Governance (W-Governance) to address the issue of low participation of women in various governance structures.

Strengthening of existing machinery like the Women’s Commission needs to be introduced in all states, with a healthy mix of women and men drawn from different walks of life.  

2.   Better accountability and monitoring mechanisms

It is important to ensure that the State respects and implements the laws it makes as well as combats corruption at different levels, making sure that the money spent by the Government reaches the people.  

Sex disaggregated data needs to be generated at all levels and gender budgeting should be made mandatory for all departments at the Centre as well as the States.   

3. Strong enforcement mechanisms should be put in place for effective implementation of all pro – women laws 

4. Reconstruct ‘poverty line’ to reflect reality

The present official definition of poverty does not truly represent the real situation. Care must be taken to include women headed households (single, separated, divorcee, widows, deserted, disabled) in the list. The poverty line should be calculated for each State separately to account for regional differences.   

5. Eliminate all forms of Violence against Women (VAW)

VAW in various forms – female foeticide, custodial, domestic, caste and communal, development related and trafficking, must be addressed and eliminated.   

6. Redefine ‘work’ and ‘recognize’ women in the workforce

Redefine work to include all working women, and women contributing to family resources, into the category of ‘workers’. Otherwise, most women would be denied the benefits of social security and some workers' rights that are likely to be given to informal sector workers.

(Source: Press Release on 29th August by the Think Tank and NAWO)

Recommendations Presentation to the Planning Commission

Press Release

 

 

August 2006

Report of Gender and Trade Workshop - August 28 - 31, 2006

read more....

 

 

June 2006

22nd June – 24th June 2006, Shillong: The Regional North East India Consultation on Engendering the Eleventh Plan was organized by North East Network and NAWO. The groups represented the seven north eastern states of India (Seven Sisters) – Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura. It brought together about 70-75 participants from a region, which has great diversity in terms of land tenure systems, customs and practices. Sessions focused on women and state support services of the North East Region, budget and governance, agricultural growth and food security, regional imbalances in development, and the challenges of public health. 

Issues of migration and displacement, agriculture diversification and economic alternatives, increasing violence against women, gearing up support services, schemes and programmes on women and the ways of integrating women’s issues in the planning process, were discussed. The challenges included inadequacy in support services, including in mental health and disabilities, unequal decision-making between women and men in traditional and constitutional structures, lack of facilities in health, water and sanitation, lack of trained personnel, variance between customary laws and practices and legal rights and lack of, or inefficient allocation of resources.

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15th – 17th June 2006, Kolkata: The Regional East India Consultation on Engendering the Eleventh Plan was organized by the National Alliance of Women (NAWO) and Sachetana. It brought forward the voices of women from Jharkhand, North Bengal and Sikkim, West Bengal, Orissa, Bihar and South Bengal.

Some of the key issues discussed on the inaugural day, included:

Discussions on the recommendations made by women in the Reports of State level Workshops held in Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa, North Bengal, Sikkim and South Bengal. These encompassed the areas of health, education, work and employment and infrastructure. The Panel on Social Security discussed the need for change with regard to women’s social security; change in laws; establishing need based minimum wages; promoting decent conditions of work for working women; setting up women facilitation centres for unorganized labour and creating more jobs for women; promoting higher levels of literacy & further implementation of mid-day meals programmes in schools; combating child marriage; providing a larger role for the Panchayats in the registration of births and deaths; and increasing shelters and facilities for rehabilitation of survivors of trafficking.

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1st – 3rd June 2006, Chandigarh: The Regional North India Consultation on Engendering the Eleventh Plan was organized by Maya Foundation, NAWO North and Mahila Dakshita Samiti, and inaugurated by Mr. B.S. Hooda, Chief Minister Haryana & Guest of Honour, Smt. Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Deputy Chief Minister, Punjab. With about 60 participants, the groups represented the northern states of India, viz. Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, Uttranchal and Uttar Pradesh.

The invisibility of women’s unpaid care work in development plans, the need to have a separate chapter on children in the Plan documents, as well as the lack of coordination between different line ministries, were issues that were highlighted for attention. Discussions focused on issues related to women in the areas of agriculture, health, education, infrastructure and violence against women.

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May 2006

22nd – 24th May 2006, Kathmandu: UNDP Regional Centre in Colombo (UNDP RCC) and UNIFEM South Asia Regional Office jointly organized a High Level Regional Consultation on Trafficking in Persons and HIV/AIDS in Kathmandu. The Consultation was a part of UNIFEM South Asia’s overall effort to provide a common platform for governments and civil society organizations (CSOs), to share and disseminate innovative and ground breaking initiatives and tools on human trafficking and HIV, for cross fertilization of learning and experiences. It provided an opportunity for both to dialogue on issues related to policy making, implementation and furthering of ground level processes. It also provided the chance for good practices and the knowledge base on discriminatory laws in the region to be shared; for the dissemination of the first ever comprehensive study on trafficking in women and children (India and Nepal); and for the presentation and dissemination of the Rapid Assessment Study on Human Trafficking and HIV conducted recently in South Asia (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka) and minimum standards of care and support for victims/survivors of human trafficking and HIV. 

The consultation was an attempt to provide space for dialogue between policy/decision makers and victims/survivors of human trafficking and civil society organizations in building upon gender sensitive and rights based approaches. It was also an effort to provide a platform for inter-regional dialogue and collaboration amongst regional/sub-regional institutions and networks, for information sharing, and for exploration of future collaborative actions on Human Trafficking and HIV within the context of gender and human rights and development. The Consultation was attended by representatives of the government, civil society and UN agencies of the region.

 

April 2006

6th – 8th April 2006, Bangalore: The Regional South India Consultation on Engendering the Eleventh Plan was organized by the National Alliance of Women (NAWO) and Women’s Voice. There were over a hundred participants, which included members of the Think Tank, which are drawn from the women’s movement, representatives from women’s groups as well as individual women, from Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Pondicherry. Members of the Planning Commission, the Ministry of Women and Child Development and the State Government, also participated. The Minister of Planning, Small Savings and Science and Technology, Government of Karnataka graced the occasion. 

Sessions were held to discuss the issues of dalits and adivasis; minorities, especially Muslims; the urban poor; unorganized sector workers; women in local self-government (Panchayati Raj); and women in disaster situations, especially tsunami-affected women.

 

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24th – 25th April 2006, Goa: National Media Persons’ Workshop - “Building Positive Partnerships - Gender Sensitive and Rights-based Reporting”, sought to reduce the vulnerabilities of women and children to violence, trafficking, exploitation and abuse. It was in response to a need expressed by local UNIFEM NGO partners, like Children’s Rights in Goa (CRG), Women’s Institute for Social Education (WISE) and Sangath, to address root causes and explore possibilities to strengthen the social structure that would reduce the vulnerabilities of women and children. Viewing it in the context of a tourism economy, the effort attempted to build positive partnerships with stakeholders across the spectrum.

Fifty-six media persons from the national as well as vernacular press attended the workshop, using it to exchange knowledge and tools for enabling sensitive, responsible journalism, especially in the case of violence against women and children, including trafficking. It was anchored to the premise that the power of the media can play a very positive role, especially when it looks beyond sensational news value and engages with the rest of the systems as responsible opinion formers. Participants also included, NGOs, including UNIFEM’s cross border partners, the police, faith-based organizations, lawyers, academia, government officials, standing committee members, and community representatives, facilitating mutual learning. An interesting component was a Panel Discussion on “My role in reducing vulnerabilities of women and children”.

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March 2006

New Delhi, 7th March 2006: On 7th March, a series of events were launched in partnership with the CHARCA Secretariat (Coordinated HIV/AIDS Response through Capacity Building and Awareness) and UNAIDS, with the Ministry of Women and Child Development, (MWCD) and NACO (National Aids Control Organization) as key partners. The focus was on the youth, including women in colleges, youth leaders from NGOs, youth groups, CBOs, CSOs, NSS, and women’s groups. 

The goal was to facilitate inter-district project networking, information sharing, learning and advocacy at all levels, and to highlight the trend of feminization of the HIV/AIDs epidemic.  

The activities created a momentum for sensitization initiatives around the theme of International Women’s Day, linking its significance in reducing the vulnerability of young women to HIV infection in the six CHARCA states (Udaipur, Guntur, Kishenganj, Kanpur, Bellary and Aizawl) by end 2006, (Website http://www.youandaids.org/charca) Through pledge-signing in colleges, distribution of invitation passes, a slogan competition, radio jingles and press conferences to publicize the theme of the event, the music concert by Euphoria, a leading local band, at a premier auditorium on 7th March, kick-started a campaign that will continue throughout the year. Carrying messages for the youth, efforts will be ongoing to highlight the crucial linkages between gender and HIV/AIDS. It will also spread the message of hope and empowerment, leading women and men to challenge and transform socio-cultural barriers to move towards a just and equal society. Using this tool of advocacy the aim is to emphasize the importance of gender mainstreaming in all HIV/AIDS programmes, policies and strategies of the government and civil society.

This national level concert is going to be followed by a series of events at the state and district level in the CHARCA states. They will culminate in December with the campaign of 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence, which also includes Human Rights Day and World AIDS day.

New Delhi, 10th March 2006 The United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), All India Women’s Education Fund Association (AIWEFA) and the Baha’i Office for the Advancement of Women (BOAW) joined hands on 10th March to observe International Women’s Day.

 

January, 2006

Engendering development planning processes in South Asia: UNIFEM is playing a key role in engendering the planning processes in both India and Nepal, which are in the process of developing their XI Five-year Plans. Using the Think Tank modality, the initiative involves a partnership with the Planning Commission and the Women’s Affairs Ministry. 

In India, in collaboration with the Department of Women and Child Development (DWCD), UNIFEM and UNDP are working, along with the Think Tank group of experts, to provide inputs to engender the XI Plan. On 13th January, 2006, Members of the Think Tank used the Civil Society Window, specifically set up by the Planning Commission, to enable representatives from the civil society to share alternate views on development and grassroots realities with members and officials of the Commission. Presenting the Position Paper/ recommendations of the Think Tank to engender the Approach Paper of the XI Five-year Plan, the following key sectoral issues were highlighted: (1) Survival and Health (2) Employment and Work (3) Education (4) Agriculture and Land Management (5) Agriculture and Land Management (6) Environment, Forests, Energy and Disaster Management (7) Information and Communication Technologies and (8) Reform and Implementation.

Reaching Dalit women and disadvantaged communities, the urban poor and their settlements, women in the North East region, and minority women, finance and budgeting, were identified as special areas of concern. Members of the Planning Commission, the DWCD and UNIFEM attended the meeting. Explaining the process to the Commission, the Think Tank shared their plan to hold five regional consultations, to obtain women’s priorities and concerns, which would form the basis for detailed policy recommendations, which they would return with to the Planning Commission.