United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM)

UNIFEM South Asia Office

Events in 2007

19th December, 2007, New Delhi: The Manual, ‘Enabling Environments: For Effective and Engendered Work Places’, developed and produced by SAARTHAK, led by Dr. Achal Bhagat, in collaboration with UNIFEM and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), was released by the Hon’ble Ms. Renuka Choudhury, Minster of State (Independent Charge), Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India, on 19th December, 2007, at the CII Conference on Women as Catalysts for India's Transformation.  

Speaking on the occasion and in relation to gender-based violence, the Hon’ble Ms. Renuka Choudhury, said that men cannot afford to be a part of the problem; they now need to be a part of the solution. Emphasizing the necessity of changing mindsets, the Hon’ble Minister, detailed some of the government programmes and schemes that were underway to promote gender equality. Suggesting that CII could be involved in training programmes on management at district levels, she stressed the importance of public-private partnerships. “Self-reliance is the only dowry that we should give our girls,” she stated.     

Ms. Manju Bharat Ram, Chairperson, Shri Ram School and one of the key organizers of the CII Conference, emphasized that transformation can only happen in collaboration rather than in isolation.   

Ms. Chandni Joshi, Regional Programme Director of UNIFEM South Asia Sub-regional Office, paid tribute to the partnership with CII and SAARTHAK and said she looked forward to working together again. Retracing the journey with CII, which led to a MoU, she said, this reflected a convergence of interests between women's empowerment and industries. The MoU created an opportunity as well as a mechanism to deepen the understanding and practice of gender equality and gender equity. The Manual, she informed is anchored in the MoU, and is a part of the induction package on promoting gender equality at the workplace and creating a healthy workplace environment. She hoped that it would be a useful tool, particularly for corporate and business associations. Stressing the importance of partnerships at all levels, Ms Joshi, said that systemic change is needed, in order to achieve gender equality and women's empowerment – “Today's globalized world, calls for diverse partnerships” she said, “and that applies to all of us”.   


18th December 2007, Kathmandu, Nepal:
The 17th International Migrants Day was celebrated in Nepal on 18th December. This was a joint effort of UNIFEM and the National Network on Safe Migration, which comprises 35 organizations working on safe migration.  

To mark this day, an immense Rally was organized in Kathmandu. The Hon’ble Minister Mr. Ramesh Lekhak, Ministry of Labour and Transport Management participated as did a range of diverse stakeholders. The main message of the Rally focused on the protection of the rights of migrant workers and ratification of the 1990 UN Convention on Migration.

Pourakhi, an organization of returnee women migrant workers, Nepal Association of Recruiting Agencies, Association of Foreign Employment Orientation Center on Nepal, Akhil Nepal Women's Association representing the political sisters organization, Youth Action representing various youth organizations, GEFONT representing the Trade Union, Sancharika Samuha, representing the organization of Women Journalists,  Nepal Institute of Development Studies, People's Forum, Civic Concern, and WOREC, were some of the many organizations within the network, that participated. The rally concluded at the Maiti Ghar Mandela where an exhibition on safe migration had been organized.

At the Exhibition, the Hon’ble Minister read out from the poster, produced jointly by UNIFEM and NAFEA, giving information on the new Foreign Employment Act. He commended both the organizations for a timely initiative. The Signature Campaign was collected to create pressure to ratify the UN Convention on Migration, to send labour attachés to countries where there are large numbers of women migrant workers, and to ensure the voting rights of migrants in the forthcoming Constituent Assembly Election. The Hon’ble Minister reaffirmed the commitments made by the Government of Nepal to ensure the protection of the rights of migrant workers and called upon all stakeholders to make this sector safe, simple and reliable for migrant workers. In his speech, the Minister acknowledged UNIFEM’s proactive work to promote the rights of women migrant workers. Media was present in a big way and included representation from daily vernaculars as well as television channels. A joint Press Statement from UNIFEM and the Network was taken out in both Nepali and English in the Kathmandu Post and the Kantipur Daily, reaffirming commitment to protecting the rights of migrant workers.


16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence (2007)


.....



26th -27th October 2007, New Delhi:
UNIFEM  with funds raised from PONDs India Limited supported The Lawyers Collective (Women’s Rights Initiative) (“LCWRI”) to organize a “National Conference to Commemorate the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act (PWDVA) in the Gulmohur Hall of the India Habitat Center, New Delhi. The Conference was organized in collaboration with the Ministry of Women and Child Development, the National Commission for Women, and the Bureau of Police Research & Development. The Conference brought together representatives of state agencies (such as Departments of Women and Child Development, State Commissions for Women, Protection Officers, police, Legal Services Authorities, etc.) as well as women’s groups to share their experiences of working with the law and provide their suggestions for its effective implementation. Participants were drawn from all states and union territories in the country.

One of the highlights of the Conference was the Keynote Address by Judge Navanethem (Navi) Pillay. Born in South Africa, Judge Pillay has been both a symbol and a standard-bearer for human rights in her country, and throughout the world. She is currently serving as one of the 18 Judges of the International Criminal Court (ICC) based in The Hague, and the only woman judge in its Appeals Division. 


The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 (“PWDVA”) notified on the 26th of October 2007, attempts to equalize unequal relationships within the home, by recognizing a woman’s right to reside in a violence free home and her entitlement to civil reliefs in cases of breach of this right. Domestic violence has been defined to include all acts of omission and commission that cause injury to a woman’s physical or mental health, and includes specific forms of violence such as physical, sexual, verbal / emotional and economic abuse. The PWDVA provides for the appointment of Protection Officers who are meant to facilitate a woman’s access to court in order to obtain reliefs under the law as well as assist the court while dealing with complaints of domestic violence. The PWDVA also recognizes the role of Service Providers in providing support to women in distress and provides for their registration under the law. In addition, the State Governments are obligated to notify medical facilities and shelter homes that are duty bound to provide services to women facing violence within the home.

At the conference a national report, entitled “Staying Alive – First Monitoring and Evaluation Report 2007 on the PWDVA 2005”, was released and discussed. This report has been compiled by the LCWRI by analyzing data collected from the Office of the Chief Justice of India, the Ministry of Women and Child Development and from individuals/ organizations working on the issue of domestic violence from across the country. This report attempts to indicate emerging trends observed in the implementation of the law and highlight best practices adopted in different states. The compilation of the report and the conference is to be regarded as a first step towards evaluation and monitoring which should become an integral component in the implementation of this law. 

The broad findings of the report are as follows:  

1. All states, except 5 (Haryana, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Punjab and Rajasthan), have appointed Protection Officers. In most states the appointments have been made at the district level. However, except in NCT Delhi and Andhra Pradesh, none of the appointments have been made on a full time basis. Adequate infrastructure and training are yet to be made available to Protection Officers. A glimpse of some of the information collected in the Report is provided in Table 1. 

Table 1

Appointment of Protection Officers in States 


Name of state




Andhra Pradesh



Project Directors (WCD)

Arunachal Pradesh



ICDS officers in 2 dist and CDPO in 10 dist




District Social Welfare Officers








Women and Child Welfare Officers and/or program officers




Police (Superintendent of Police)




District Social Defense Officer





Himachal Pradesh


Some below block level

ICDS Supervisors

Jammu and Kashmir







Block Development Officers



185 - taluk level and  27 - Dist level 

(185) CDPO and ICDS officers and 27 (Deputy Directors ,WCD)




Probation Officers

Madhya Pradesh


48 District and 313 Block





CDPO, Tehsildar,Nayab Tehsildar



District (7) +2 (State)









Dist Child Development Officer + Dist Social Welfare Officer

















Asst Director (Nutrition)

Tamil Nadu



Social Welfare Officer





Uttaranchal Pradesh*




Uttar Pradesh



Probation Officers

West Bengal



Social Welfare Officer

NCT Delhi*



Protection Officer (contractual basis) MSW Degree

 2. Only 5 states (Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Tamil Nadu, Tripura and Uttar Pradesh) have registered service providers and only 12 have notified medical facilities and shelter homes. In these states, it is the existing shelter homes and medical facilities that have been notified under the Act. Government sponsored support facilities are not adequate in meeting the need.

3. Despite the enactment of the Legal Service Authorities Act in 1987, much needs to be done to ensure a woman’s access to legal aid.

4. Though this law is civil in nature, the police have been assisting the court during the course of the proceedings and in the enforcement of orders. However, there is a need to provide trainings to police on providing information to women approaching them with complaints of domestic violence on the rights available to women under the Act.

5. There is need for coordination between different government departments, particularly the departments of women and child development/ social welfare, home and law and legislative affairs in order to build a multi-agency response that is uniform across the country in the manner it offers relief to women facing violence.

6. There is need to create public awareness on the law and provide trainings to authorities vested with the charge of implementation.

7. There needs to be adequate budgetary allocations made by the Central and State Governments to ensure the effective implementation of the law.

8. The best existing model of infrastructure put in place under the law is the state of Andhra Pradesh. In this state, the police, legal services authorities and Protection Officers have been functioning in coordination to facilitate the provision of reliefs to women complaining against domestic violence.

9. A total of 7913 applications have been filed under the PWDVA in the period ending 31st July 2007.  Most of these proceedings are pending in court. The highest number of cases has been filed in Rajasthan (3440) followed by Kerala (1028). Less than 50 cases have been filed in 10 states (Assam, Chhatisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Manipur, Orissa, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, Tripura and West Bengal (54)). No cases have been filed in 4 states (Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Nagaland).

10. The primary users of the law are married women. There are also a number of cases wherein reliefs have been granted to widows and daughters.

11. The most commonly granted relief is for maintenance. The second most commonly are residence orders and protection orders.

12. Delays in court proceedings have been reduced due to the availability of the Protection Officer and the time limit of 90 days for disposing off applications, stipulated in the law (even if the time line is not mandatory in nature).

13. There is wide variation in the practices adopted across the states and the number of applications filed. This may be due to the varying levels of awareness on the law in the states.

14. Finally, there appears to be some confusion over the role of the Protection Officers in proceedings before the court. Clarifications must be issued to ensure a woman’s direct access to courts. Clarifications must be issued to ensure that children are also able to access court directed reliefs.

Key Recommendations from the report are as follows:

Efforts must be made to find ways and means of sensitizing society to the right to live with dignity for women, which includes the right to live a life free from violence. This understanding must inform the decision making process at all levels. It is a pre-condition for the success of the law, which was premised on an understanding of women’s rights as human rights in both the public and the private domain. Law must effectively regulate the violence of the non state actors.

The following section has specific recommendations for authorities involved in the implementation of the PWDVA. 

I Central and State Governments

1. Public awareness: The Central and State Governments are duty bound to build awareness on the law, in the public domain, under Section 11. This can be done through media campaigns in the print and electronic media and other means. 

2. Trainings on the law- Under Section 11, it is the duty of the Central and State Governments to provide trainings to various functionaries under the law ,on a regular basis, for them to discharge their functions in an effective and sensitive manner. It is recommended that both the Central and State Governments increase their efforts in this regard. 

3. Putting in place infrastructure: Adequate infrastructure and appropriate budgetary allocations are needed in all states for the effective implementation of this law. Infrastructure, budgets and the number of courts should be enhanced to meet the demands of the law. This may be done through gender budgeting, which is now an accepted tool of budgeting. In light of the high incidence of domestic violence, there should be separate allocations for the implementation of laws relating to domestic violence. 

Though the responsibility of putting in place infrastructure has been vested with State Governments, one cannot lose sight of the fact that the PWDVA is a Central law. The Center has a duty in the federal structure to make an adequate budget available to the states for the purposes of implementation of this law. 

4. Appointment of Protection Officers: Focus must be placed on the appointment of Protection Officers. All Protection Officers should be appropriately qualified, trained on the law, and appointments must be made on a full time basis. The role of the Protection Officer must be understood as being akin to ‘outreach officers’ of the court. Their duty is to facilitate access to courts. They also are part of the infrastructure of the court inasmuch as they assist courts in fact finding and in the implementation of court orders. 

5. Registration of service providers: The registration of service providers must be commenced in earnestness as not only will women be able to access them better, but because the Protection Officer will be able to rely on them for guidance. In all states there are women’s groups with long standing experience of dealing with issues of women’s rights. Such organizations shall play a valuable role in supporting and guiding Protection Officers in the discharge of their duties. It is however, clarified that only those private service providers who volunteer should be registered. 

6. Identification of qualified counselors: Also important is the need to identify qualified counselors, particularly keeping mind the high rates of referrals to counseling ordered by the Magistrates. Counselors may be identified from service providers providing such services. 

7. Building a multi-agency response: There is need to build a multi-agency response between the Protection Officers, police, Legal Services Authorities, service providers, counselors, etc. to aid women facing domestic violence. This response requires coordination amongst the different departments of the government as well as partnerships with civil society organizations. 

8. Collection of data with the objective of reviewing the functioning of the law: Monitoring of a law is an integral part of implementation. The Central and State governments should put in place a system of collating and computerizing data on domestic violence, including court orders and Direct Information Reports (DIR) filed. The compilation of the data in order to evaluate the functioning of the law should be done on an annual basis. 

9. Appointing ‘domestic violence rapporteurs’- a national level rapporteur (see footnote below) should be appointed to collate data on violence in the manner discussed above. This authority should be vested with the responsibility of submitting annual reports on the incidence of violence and on measures to be taken for its prevention. 

10. Bringing children within the ambit of the PWDVA: Having regard to the fact that the child is disadvantaged in matters of access to court and it was never the intention to exclude children from the ambit of the law, it is recommended that the definition of “aggrieved person” be amended to include children within its ambit. 

11. Direct access to courts: Finally, none of the provisions of the law should be interpreted to deny women access to court directed reliefs. Hence an amendment should be effected to the proviso to Section 12 (1) clarifying that neither a DIR nor a home study report is mandatory before passing any order under the Act. Whether or not they are required is a matter of judicial discretion and may be called for by the judge. 

II Legal Services Authorities

The Legal Services Authorities have an important role to play in facilitating access to justice, particularly for those women who cannot afford lawyers. The National and State Legal Services Authorities must identify panel lawyers for women filing cases under this Act. These lawyers should be adequately trained and paid to encourage the provision of legal aid. 

III The Police

For most women, the police remains the first port of call, having regard to their vast infrastructure. Police personnel, across the states should be trained in providing information on the PWDVA as per the mandate provided in Section 5. They should be in a position to refer women, opting to pursue civil action, to the Protection Officers available in the jurisdiction. They should also be aware of the provisions of the PWDVA in order to facilitate a woman’s access to service providers, medical facilities, shelter homes and other support services. It is imperative that the police work closely with Protection Officer to ensure that women are provided protection against acts of domestic violence. As is evident from the report, the support of the police is crucial in discharging court directed duties, particularly in the service of notice and in the enforcement of orders granted by the courts. 

Further, in cases where the complaint of the aggrieved woman reveals the commission of an offence under Section 498A, the police should initiate appropriate action under criminal law, instead of adopting a ‘hands off’ approach and passing the responsibility on to a Protection Officer or any other authority. 

IV Judiciary

1. Having regard to the wide variations in the manner of implementation the Supreme Court of India and the High Courts may issue guidelines as protocols for dealing with all procedural and substantive issues, including the manner and method of conducting hearings on applications filed under Section 12 and trials under Section 31.

 2. The PWDVA is a civil law and was never intended to prevent direct access to court. Hence no provisions, rule or procedure should be interpreted to deny or obstruct direct access or in any way impede proceedings in court. A clarification may be issued that with regard to the proviso to Section 12 (1), that DIR’s are not mandatory. 

3. On the substantive law a clarification in a protocol must be issued that the law can be used in addition to other sections and in pending proceedings. 

4. On issues of substantive law- the judgment in the Batra case requires review by the Supreme Court of India. 

5. As the breach of the protection order can lead to an offence, guidelines may be issued to all Magistrates that a protection order should be written with clarity indicating clearly to the respondent what acts are being prohibited so that compliance is made possible. 

6. Having regard to the fact that the law stipulated time lines Magistrates should adhere to the time lines stipulated and dispose cases in a speedy manner. 


Footnote: The LCWRI draft bill had suggested the appointment of national and state coordinators on violence as being part of the duties of the government. This suggestion was not accepted. The manner of appointment and duties of coordinators were provided as follows: 

(1) The Government of India and the State Governments shall respectively appoint an eminent person as the National and State Coordinator for the prevention of domestic violence who shall submit annual reports to the Government of India or to the State Government respectively on the incidence of domestic violence in India and the State and on the implementation of this Act which report shall be laid before both houses of Parliament and before the State Legislature, as the case may be.

(2)The Coordinator for the Prevention of Domestic Violence, appointed under sub-section (1) of this section shall have the powers to perform all or any of the following:

i) powers to investigate and examine all matters relating to Prevention of Domestic Violence generally

ii) Make in its annual reports to the Government of India, recommendations for the effective implementation of the provisions of this bill

iii) Review, from time to time, the existing provisions of the law on domestic violence

iv)Look into complaints and take suo-moto notice of matters relating to domestic violence and the non-implementation of the law on domestic violence

v) Call for special studies or investigations into specific incidence of domestic violence

vi)Participate and advise on the planning process for securing a safe environment free of domestic violence

vii) Evaluate the progress of the development of women under the law on domestic violence.

Domestic Violence Study (PDF)


4th – 6th September 2007, Male, Maldives: UNIFEM supported the Ministry of Family and Gender to organize an interagency workshop on CEDAW, in an effort develop a draft Action Plan to implement the CEDAW Committee’s Concluding Comments to the Government of Maldives. The workshop was attended by representatives from the Ministry of Higher Education, Employment and Social Security; Health; Planning and National Development;  Information and Arts; Fisheries and Agriculture; the Attorney General’s Office;  the Supreme Council of Islam; the NGO HamaJamiyya, Care Society and UNFPA. Professor Savitri Goonesekere, former CEDAW Committee member, was the key resource person. The workshop format included panel presentations, plenary, discussion sessions and group work.  

The Minister H.E. Ms. Aishath Mohamed Didi in her opening remarks emphasized that it is critical to have a multi-sectoral team, and that CEDAW cannot be implemented by the Ministry of Gender and Family alone – commitments and partnerships are essential. A challenge for the Maldives has been access to information and weak follow up procedures. Maldives is witnessing the emergence of NGOs who have become very active and are being heard. It is the right time to mobilize civil society to be involved in this process. It is imperative to use the freedom of the media to work productively to improve the lives of women and children 

The key expectations of the participants were to better understand Maldives’s obligations under CEDAW; develop a realistic action plan that takes into account critical issues such as cultural relativism, limitation with regard to implementation; link CEDAW, BPfA and MDGs; develop partnerships at multi-sectoral levels – state-civil society (NGOs/Media) and the UN system. 

The draft action plan is currently being reviewed by various sectoral ministries and should be finalized by the end of the year after further deliberations and discussions. It details the following across key areas identified in the CEDAW Committees Concluding Comments – legislations (achieving substantive equality through constitutional/legislative reform across sectors) violence against women; health; education and economic opportunities





  • TIME FRAME Year1; Year 2; Year 3


  • RESOURCES (Financial; technical expertize; human)


 UNIFEM support to CEDAW in Pakistan: UNIFEM supported the Aurat Foundation to initiate CEDAW implementation through lobbying and advocacy with CEDAW Committee members at the UN and National Stakeholders in Pakistan. The initiative sought to mobilize known women activists as committee members for lobbying and advocacy on crucial issues/concern of UN CEDAW Committee members and to intervene through active participation in the 38th Session on CEDAW on 21st – 22nd May.   

It was envisaged that the process would build the capacity of NGOs delegation with regard the CEDAW review process and promote a sharing of experiences and observations of the reporting process. This would enable a planning of future strategies and follow-up activities upon their return to Pakistan with more skills, knowledge and confidence.   

The First National Meeting was held on 3rd April 2007 in Islamabad with about 15 participants. The meeting sought to review and discuss the Shadow Reports prepared by Shirkat Gah and the Pakistan Commission for Justice and Peace; discuss participation in the 38th CEDAW session; and input into the Shirkat Gah Shadow Report. Ms Firdos Ara Begum, a member of the UN CEDAW Committee from Bangladesh briefed them on the process of the Review Committee, giving tips on lobbying with the CEDAW Committee Members, in an effort to help them during the 38th Session.  

Participation in the 38th Session of the CEDAW Committee at the United Nations:

A delegation of Pakistan NGOs participated in the session with the active support of UNIFEM and IWRAW Asia Pacific. The Pakistan delegation comprised of Ms. Rukhshanda Naz, Mr. Naeem Mirza, Ms. Zubaida Noor, Ms. Fareeda Shaheed, Ms. Ayesha Mir, Mr. Peter Jacob and Ms. Shahnaz Iqbal.  

Provincial Meetings: The Pakistani delegation that attended the CEDAW Committee Review process in New York, shared their experiences through debriefing meetings with the representatives of Civil Society Organizations, donor agencies, public representatives, and bar associations. The meetings were organized by the Aurat Foundation in Peshawar, Lahore, Quetta, and Karachi to:.

  • Share Pakistan NGOs statement made at CEDAW Committee at UN.
  • Share concluding remarks by the CEDAW Committee at UN
  • Identify / finalize strategies for critical issues of concern to women.

The 2nd National meeting was held in Islamabad, organized by the Aurat Foundation and supported by UNIFEM, on 22nd August, 2007. The main purpose was to brief NGOs on the proceedings of the 38th session of the Committee held at the United Nations. The five main speakers, representing both the Civil Society and the Government were: Ms Rukhshanda Naz, Resident Director of Aurat Foundation in Peshawar, Mr Naeem Mirza, Project Director, Legislative Watch Programme, Aurat Foundation, Islamabad, Ms Zubaida Noor, Noor Education Trust Chairperson, Ms Fareeda Shaheed, Executive Director, Shirkat Gah Resource Center, Lahore, and Mr Zaffar, Additional Secretary, Government of Pakistan. The meeting ended with a formulation of the way ahead: 

Some of the strategies recommended for the future were:

  • Greater collaboration between the Government and NGOs for the next periodic report.

  • The CEDAW Committee’s concluding remarks should be translated into Urdu and disseminated widely. 

  • Woman parliamentarians and councilors should be taken on board while making the subsequent report in view of the multifarious challenges.

  • The Government should develop an Action Plan to implement the CEDAW Committee’s Concluding Comments. 

  • Proper funds should be allocated for the Women Division to attract government servants whose present preferences are the Economic and Finance fields. 

  • Civil society organizations should have a role in taking the issue forward.

  • Mechanism for the CEDAW Committee working in Pakistan should be in all provinces and the provincial teams comprising of representative of civil society organizations should meet occasionally to share the workings of the Committee.

  • Any relevant news relating to the CEDAW should be shared with all the members including the media.

  • The National Commission on the Status of Women should be made an autonomous body to enable it to work independently.

  • CEDAW should be used as an instrument of law and people should move courts against discriminatory practices faced by women.

  • The judiciary must be sensitized on CEDAW


6th August, UNIFEM Premises, New Delhi: Inter-Regional Sharing on Gender Budgeting

Round Table with the Korean Delegation on Gender Responsive Budgeting

A high level delegation from the Korean Women’s Development Institute, visited UNIFEM in early August 2007, as part of their research on gender budgeting initiatives. Keen to learn from other countries who have made more advances on it, they were referred to UNIFEM by the Government. Their mission was to gather information and materials on the subject and build a relationship with experts. This was facilitated by UNIFEM, who put them in touch with the Government, and with partners in Delhi and in different states of India.   

The meeting was one of mutual learning and sharing. An eight member delegation, it was headed by Dr. Young-Ock, Director of Gender Budget Research Centre of the Korean Women’s Development Institute. In an effort to enable the delegation to get an overall perspective of gender budgeting initiatives in India, UNIFEM arranged a small Round Table discussion, which included participation from representatives from the Government of India, including the Ministry of Women and Child Development, some gender budget experts and researchers

The Delegation informed that Korea is making rapid progress in the gender budget initiative and has been inscribed in the National Finance Act in 2006. This calls for every ministry in Korea to submit a gender budget report and a gender budget balance sheet from the fiscal year 2010. This field trip, they informed, was pivotal for their research, which was important, not only for gender budgeting and also for gender equality. Because progress of gender mainstreaming was realized within a comparatively very short time in Korea, it was important to learn from countries, who had made progress, so that a thorough analysis on foreign countries gender budget initiatives could be accomplished soon. The Government of India gave a comprehensive overview of their work, as did UNIFEM. Materials, publications and research were shared.


27th – 28th July, New Delhi: Workshop for Protection Officers by Lawyers Collective at the Vishwa Yuvak Kendra

The Lawyers Collective organized a two-day workshop, with support from UNIFEM, to test run the Training Manual, developed by them for Protection Officers and Service Providers. This was one of the commitments, under the grant received from UNIFEM in the 11th Cycle of the UNIFEM managed, UN Trust Fund to Eliminate Violence against Women; and a part of the larger initiative to enable a standardized response to the implementation of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005 (PWDVA). Essentially, it seeks to facilitate the creation of a cadre of sensitized agencies, including judicial officers, implementing officers, service providers, and others, to implement the PWDVA, in a manner that is most beneficial to women.  

The Manual incorporates comprehensive guidelines on providing support to women facing violence in accordance with the provisions of the PWDVA.  

15 Protection Officers (POs) and 5 Service Providers along with advocates, members of the Department of Social Welfare and a representative of the Crime against Women Cells in Delhi, participated in the workshop. It sought to assess the workability of the Manual and to collate inputs from the participants on their experiences from the field, for incorporation into the Manual. Both these activities were conducted in collaboration with the Tata Institute of Social Sciences. The structure of the Manual, as envisaged by the Lawyers Collective was discussed; their understanding of the role of the Protection Officers and Service Providers under the Act was shared; and the situation in the field apropos the implementation of the Act, was reviewed.  

The sessions were conducted by Ms Indira Jaising, the host, a prominent lawyer and the director of Lawyers Collective (Women’s Rights Initiative); Ms Ammu Abraham, a well-known activist and the managing trustee and coordinator of the Women’s Centre in Mumbai; Dr. Anjali Dave, who works, teaches and researches in the field of women’s issues and is the project director of the Special Cell for Women and Children, whose work was the inspiration for the formulation of a part of the role of POs, and who is a partner of Lawyers Collective in this endeavour; Mr Ashutosh Kumbhakoni, the assistant advocate general of Maharashtra who has been involved in many socio-legal issues especially in context of women; and Mr Umapathi who is an Inspector General of Police in Andhra Pradesh in charge of  the Crime Against Women.   

Group exercises and problem solving with case studies were used to bring out different issues and different aspects of the Act, when implementing the Act on the ground. The key points that were brought out by the Protection Officers during the discussions, concentrated mostly on the performance and dimensions of their roles in practical terms. It also focused on the cooperation and collaborations that were expected from other agencies in the field, as well as the complexities of various legal issues. Legalities and concerns about the dimensions of this new law were the hub of multifaceted deliberations, such as, the coverage of minors, widows, divorcees and other women in special circumstances. Discussions were carried out on how the new law and roles of functionaries appointed under the new law overlaps with the pre-existing laws and structures; as well as on the processes and the performance of various procedures initiated under the law.  

The question and answer sessions that followed each session, were extremely useful, in clarifying doubts and in spelling out the specifics involved in implementing and monitoring the Act.  

Some examples:

Q. How do these laws link with each other?

A. There is a need to learn the synergy among these laws. This law is in addition to all other existing laws and the IPC as well as the cases under the Children’s Act (violence against children was being discussed at this point). An application can be made to the magistrate in such cases under the Children’s Act to give temporary relief under PWDVA. It was also noted that this law mentioned marital rape, which under Indian law was not an offence. Sexual violence takes place within the 4 walls of the home and when a woman comes to make a complaint like this it won’t normally be that she wants to make a complaint against only forced intercourse. It will be accompanied by other forms of violence too. It is never a standalone complaint of one form of violence. What’s important is that the POs have to learn to capture the history, pattern of violence, and how to record it. 

Q. Often women are encouraged to reconcile, what is the law’s stand on this?

A. Reconciliation is the choice of the woman. If the reconciliation does happen it should be free from violence. Many women want both reconciliation and an absence of violence. 

Q. Can the judges ask/direct the POs what to include in the DIR/report?

A. Nobody can interfere with the contents of the report. It has to be a faithful record. The PO is not supposed to be neutral, they are pro-woman and they are supposed to guide the woman to reveal all of the history of the violence, she/he must empathize and bring out all of the information.  

Q. What about the rights of women in bigamous marriages? When there is a contest between two women and then proofs become more relevant...?

A. At any given time in a given household only 1 woman can be in a conjugal relationship. For the other issues appropriate legal proceedings need to be carried out. The PWDVA is in addition to other laws.  

Clarification on role of POs

Q. How does the lawyer and the PO work together? Where does the role of the PO begin and end vis-à-vis the lawyer?

A. The PO is the trigger for this law. After the case reaches the court, it is advisable to enlist the assistance of a lawyer because there are many intricacies of the law & the fact is that the respondent will have a lawyer of his own. The task of the PO is then to continue to guide the lawyer and work in coordination with and for the assistance of the lawyer. There has to be a link between the aggrieved person represented by her lawyer, the PO and the court. Thus the PO must assist not only the court but also the woman. 

Q. How would one separate a domestic violence case from a property dispute?

A. Where a property dispute is being sought to be converted into a domestic violence case, the POs should not assist in abusing the law in this manner. In case, after self-assessment of the complaint the PO feels that the intention is to abuse the law then they should desist from the same. They should submit clear reports regarding the case. 

Q. How is the issue of title of the property to be dealt with?

A. The Act does not provide for any adjudication of any dispute regarding title of the property. It is essential to add that in case the woman has a share in the property which is a joint family property, she can however, apply under this Act asking the court to restrain the respondent from alienating the property.  

The need to monitor all the activities being carried out in the implementation of the Act was emphasized. Thus there has to be a State level Committee to set up mechanisms and rules for functioning: drawn from Departments of Law and Judiciary, WCD, Home-Police, Socio-legal Women’s Organizations and Activists, Academic Institutions for Social work and Law. 

A number of suggestions emerged. Some of these were:

  • Creating a National Protection Officer’s directory so that they can stay in touch with each other in different states while providing data for others to contact them

  • Appointing Chief POs who may be able to act as liaison officers with other systems and take care of administrative duties

  • Appointing Assistant POs who could attend to routine duties, leaving the POs, free to work on other pressing matters of helping women

  • Attaching POs with Police stations and Service Providers

In addition, POs made suggestions regarding procedural problems faced by them. The workshop has enabled all of them to be looked into, for incorporation into the Manual that is being formulated for them.

 July 2007

27th July 2007, New Delhi: The Study - “Spirituality, Poverty, Charity brings Widows to Vrindavan”, by Ms. Usha Rai, for the Guild of Service, supported by UNIFEM, was launched by Ms. Malini Bhattacharya, Member, National Commission for Women and Ms. Usha Boumik and Ms. Shanti Devi, two widows, who had come from the Guild of Service home at Vrindavan. Ms. Usha Rai, the principal investigator and author of the Study was assisted in the endeavor by Dr. Deepali Bhanot and Ms. Kusum Nautiyal. The book “Deprived Devis”, written by Dr. V. Mohini Giri, was released by Ms. Krishna Tirath, Chairperson of the Empowerment Committee of the Parliament.

In a function attended by policy-makers, which included, Dr. Syeda Hameed, Member Planning Commission of India, and other members of civil society, NGOs, representatives of women’s groups, and the media, the issue of widows, which has so far been in the shadows, was spotlighted. For the Guild of Service and UNIFEM, this was a continuation of a journey, begun in 2002, when they joined hands to organize the South Asian Conference on Widows. Dr. Mohini Giri, former Chairperson of the National Commission for Women and presently Chairperson of the Guild of Service (GoS), which works for the development, empowerment and rehabilitation of widows, delivered the welcome address.  

Highlighting the situation of widows in India, Dr. Giri presented a snapshot of the initiatives undertaken by the GoS, to ameliorate their condition. She spoke of the homes that the GoS has set up for widows and destitute women at Vrindavan and how vocational training is being used to empower them at these homes. Dr. Giri spoke about the new home “Ma-Dham”, which has been built to accommodate more widows. At this centre, the GoS is planning to set up vocational training for them, through a Gowshala and milk parlor, along with health care through a medical centre.  

Ms. Chandni Joshi, Regional Programme Director of UNIFEM South Asia, in her opening remarks, applauded the Study for having a human face and for being anchored in solid evidence. She said it is important to link the issues of widows with other groups and issues, such as land and property rights, rights of inheritance, access to employment opportunities, and pensions, among others. She emphasized the need to facilitate a change in socialization processes that foster discriminatory practices and stem the reproduction of patriarchy in diverse institutions, of both the State and civil society. She called for a sharper reflection of widows in the CEDAW reporting process and the need to address their rights in policies and laws. Stressing on synergy in the work of diverse stakeholders, she said that adequate resources were a necessary pre-requisite.  


In her keynote address, Dr. Syeda Hameed commended the Study for listing recommendations, which were all practical and doable. She spotlighted the discrimination and exploitation that widows inevitably face, due mainly to societies inheriting age-old patriarchal values. Sharing images, she spoke of husbands lost to starvation, to debt, to animal mauling; she spoke of the widows of weavers and farmers; of the paltry pensions and schemes available, which few know of; of the cultural ostracization and economic deprivation; of the quotas of pensions that each state has – wherein someone has to die for the slot to go to someone else; and of increased vulnerabilities to diverse human rights abuses, including trafficking. She called for special pilots and targeted interventions, emphasizing the urgent need to secure adequate allocations for women in the vulnerable category, especially widows, in the 11th Plan – in which gender equity is a cross cutting theme across the Plan.  

The Presentation on the Study by Ms. Usha Rai highlighted the following:

Some reasons why widows of West Bengal prefer to come to Vrindavan  

  • 41 per cent said they came to the city because it was a place of God
  • 20 per cent said they were alone in the village and had no one to help them
  • 14 per cent said they had problems with people at home
  • 8 per cent said they were in Vrindavan because of poverty
  • Just one woman said she had come to Vrindavan to escape poverty as well as sexual abuse

Nothing to go back to

  • 82 per cent said their husbands had left no savings
  • 65 per cent said they did not have property
  • Only 50 per cent of those who had property, which in most cases was a hut, were able to access it
  • The majority of those who did have property gave it to their children or it was grabbed by their children
  • 14 per cent said the property had been taken by their in-laws. Most came to Vrindavan as paupers
  • 30 per cent travelled to Vrindavan without a ticket
  • 90 per cent said they did not wish to go back to their villages in West Bengal

Some key recommendations made by the Study:

  • Set up more rehabilitation homes in Vrindavan and West Bengal with food, medical care and other facilities
  • Make available information on widow’s pension, amount of pension and how to access it in West Bengal
  • Issue photo identity cards to all widows in Vrindavan and Brajdham
  • Encourage religious leaders to support widow remarriage
  • Set up special health care facilities in Vrindavan and Brajdham for widows and destitute women
  • Facilitate skill training for young widows in West Bengal to make them independent
  • Make registration of marriage compulsory in order to check child marriages in Bengal

The launch was followed by a screening of a film on widows in Vrindavan, entitled, “The White Rainbow”, directed by Mr. Dharan Mandrayar. So named because a life that was once of many colours, changes so drastically into one, which has none…. a white rainbow, due to a singular event over which one has no control. This is a film, which has won several awards, including the best feature film at the Sedona film festival in 2005; it was the official selection for several film festivals; and was the Opening Night Film at the Reel Women International Film Festival in Hollywood in March 2005. TEMPT It traces the story of four remarkable women and their journey from the depths of despair to the spires of hope. White Rainbow challenges the myths and traditions that relegate India’s widows to lives of servitude and poverty. The story is both moving and inspiring, portraying faithfully the realities on the ground. With excellent acting and photography, the film conveys a powerful message.

You can get more information on the film from www.whiterainbow.com


May 2007

30th – 31st May, 2007, New Delhi: CEDAW & Gender Responsive Budgeting Orientation by the Government of India

On 30th – 31st May, 2007, the Ministry for Women and Child Development (MWCD), Government of India took the initiative of taking forward the CEDAW Committee’s Concluding Comments to the Government, by organizing the first orientation workshop on “CEDAW: Reporting and Implementation and Gender Responsive Budgeting”, with technical support from UNIFEM.

Nine state governments from the northern region – Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan, Jammu & Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh, Chandigarh, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Uttrakhand, participated at the workshop held at the National Institute of Public Cooperation and Child Development (NIPCCD) in New Delhi. Aware that the Concluding Comments embrace departments and ministries other than the MWCD, officials representing various government departments had been invited and were present. These included Labour and Employment, Social Welfare, Planning, Finance, Mahila Kalyan, Family Welfare, Women and Child Development and Social Justice and Empowerment. A two-pronged initiative, it sought to build capacity at the State Government level, as well as to empower diverse stakeholders with the tool of gender responsive budgeting, which is acknowledged to be one of the most effective tools to promote gender equality.  

Recommendations to facilitate implementation of the CEDAW Concluding Comments (CC) included: the setting of mechanisms, such as an interdepartmental committee which would meet regularly, reporting annually to the MWCD; increasing awareness, outreach and use of the Convention and the Concluding Comments by translating them into the local language and sharing them with legislatures, the media and civil society; using the media creatively to disseminate messages on substantive equality and non discrimination; and organizing interaction with interfaith religious/opinion leaders. The regular collation and updation of sex disaggregated data at the district and block level; the development of a reporting format for State governments on CEDAW by the MWCD, the inclusion of gender sensitive indicators, formed an important part of the recommendations.  

With regard to promoting gender responsive budgeting as a tool for gender equality, it was recommended that mechanisms, such as a state level Gender Budgeting Co-ordination Committee, be set up, comprising all Secretaries as members – and that perhaps, it could be the same committee as the one for monitoring CEDAW; appointment of a gender focal point /gender budget cell in each department for gender budget work, which would coordinate gender budgeting initiatives within respective departments; the conduction of a proper gender analysis of select key programmes; identification of shortcomings and gaps in existing programmes/ budget heads which stand in the way of smooth flow of funds/ benefits to women; and the reprioritization of budgetary allocation to address these gaps. It was also suggested that a gender budget aware statement be introduced in the next budget of the participating State Government, demonstrating government commitment. As in the case of CEDAW, the stress was on capacity building, at all levels, including the district level. The identification of nodal training institutes for gender budgeting by respective States; the setting up of a gender impact assessment committee for all new large programmes and schemes/development projects; as well as a   review of data collection systems by all departments, leading to a revision of monitoring formats to include sex disaggregated data, were other important suggestions made.

In an effort to facilitate the implementation and reporting process of CEDAW in India, UNIFEM supported the National Alliance of Women (NAWO) to:

  • Coordinate an NGO delegation of experts, who had contributed to the NGO CEDAW Alternative Report, to attend the 37th UN Session of the CEDAW Committee in January 2007

  • Facilitate a lobby training for the NGO delegation lead by NAWO, to actively interact with the  UN CEDAW Committee, and share concerns raised by women in India

  • Disseminate widely the CEDAW Committee’s Concluding Comments to the Government of India

  • Organize a national level meeting with women’s groups and other civil society organizations, to share the CEDAW reporting experience and gains made by the NGO process on CEDAW implementation in India

  • Develop a strategy paper for civil society groups to take forward the implementation of the CEDAW Concluding Comments in the coming two years


April 2007

5th – 6th April 2007, Islamabad: UNIFEM facilitated a peer learning meeting for the Ministries of Women’s Affairs on CEDAW reporting and implementation at the request of the Government of Pakistan. The meeting was held in Islamabad, prior to the 38th session of the CEDAW Committee. Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka were the participating countries.

The meeting was inaugurated by H.E. Ms. Sumaira Malik, Honourable Federal Minister of the Ministry of Women Development, Government of Pakistan. Ms. Ferdaus Ara Begum, CEDAW Committee member and Ms. Sapana Pradhan Malla from Forum for Women Law & Development (FWLD) were the two resource persons.

Programme for CEDAW Peer Learning Meeting 2007



March 2007

31st March, Vishwa Yuvak Kendra, New Delhi: National NGO Consultation to Discuss and Disseminate the CEDAW Committee’s Concluding Comments to the Government of India

400 participants attended the National Alliance of Women (NAWO) National Consultation to share the NGO CEDAW Process and the Concluding Comments of the UN CEDAW Committee to the Government of India’s CEDAW report 2006. This meet was held back to back with the Seventh National Convention of the National Federation of Dalit Women (NFDW) on 31st March at the Vishwa Yuvak Kendra in New Delhi. Present at the meeting were Dr. Mohini Giri, former Chairperson of the National Commission for Women, Dr. Syeda Hameed, Member Planning Commission, Prof. Malini Bhattacharya, Member, National Commission for Women, Ms.Indira Jaising, Senior Advocate Supreme Court, Dr. Ruth Manorama, President of NAWO, Ms. Sheba George, Ms. Sharda Sathe, Ms. Koely Roy, Ms. Gouri Choudhary, Ms. Sheila Jayaprakash, Ms. Sharifa Khannum, Ms. Neelam Chaturvedi, Ms. Christy Samy and many other women’s rights activists from Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Orissa, West Bengal, Uttaranchal, Himacahal Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Arunachal Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Delhi. 

The delegates discussed the Concluding Comments at length and reiterated and endorsed that CEDAW was a very important human rights treaty for women with immense scope for enabling women to access all their rights. 

The following strategies were identified as the next steps with regard to the implementation of the CEDAW Committee’s Concluding Comments in India

  • Urgent need for NGOs to link up with their State Governments and disseminate the Concluding Comments (CC) of the UN CEDAW Committee on a large and wide scale

  • Continue conducting workshops and trainings to further understanding and propagate the key principles of CEDAW in all Governmental departments and ministries, so that officials are aware of its existence and are also under State obligation to take the recommendations of the Concluding Comments forward

  • Commitment by the NAWO network participants to translate the Concluding Comments into their regional language

  • Agreement by NAWO focal point members and all members of different networks like the National Federation of Dalit Women, Tribal Women’s Network and the Muslim Women’s Network, to begin the campaign and advocacy work for signing the Optional Protocol to CEDAW

  • Continue to work with the Ministry of Women and Child Development on CEDAW, maintaining an interface for future cooperation in fulfilling the Concluding Comments

  • Continue to strengthen the women’s commissions, especially the National Commission for Women (NCW) at different levels, in taking forward the Concluding Comments, as the NCW has been cited as the nodal agency with whom the Ministry of Women and Child Development works to formulate  gender just laws

  • Moving of the National Alliance of Women (NAWO) into its next phase of propagation and education on CEDAW and human rights. This would involve the training of grassroots activists (women and men) and district level lawyers and law enforcing agencies

  • At its level, NAWO would also be exploring the use of other human rights treaties, and applying them to the regional development work of its different members, working on diverse issues covered under these HR treaties. They would be participating and giving inputs at the UN level on other treaties/conventions as well, from 2007 onwards

  • As NAWO is in the core working group on CEDAW in South Asia, there will be a need for it to strengthen its regional alliances with other groups working on the Convention, as well as share human and technical resources for trainings and workshops within the South Asia region.

    Concluding Comments - Point number 61: The Committee has requested India to involve Parliament, Ministries and public bodies in a discussion before it submits its next CEDAW report. 

    NAWO Strategy:

    NAWO endorses this request of the Committee. Strategically this will mean that apart from the Government taking forward this matter at their level, NAWO as a resource group on CEDAW will also have a critical role to play in terms of dissemination of information, updating civil society groups and government officials, capacity building of government departments etc. So we plan too utilize this opportunity to strategically interface with the Ministry of Women and Child, Parliament, and State government departments and engage in a consultative process in implementation of the Concluding Comments. 

    Participant List

    Strategy Paper

    8th March 2007

    International Women's Day '07

    Message by Noeleen Heyzer, Executive Director, UNIFEM....

    .....


    February 2007

    Second National Women's Conference

    18 - 20th February, 2007, New Delhi

    UNIFEM partially supported the NGO Action India to organize a national consultation bringing together key stakeholders from various states to discuss the implementation of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act (PWDVA). The meeting was held on 19-20 February 2007 at the Vishwa Yuvak Kendra in New Delhi. The goal of this Second National Women’s Conference was to discuss, share and consolidate strategies for 22 state level interventions with regard to implementation of the PWDVA to ensure that the stakeholders are responsible and accountable to fulfil their roles as stipulated under the law.



    Post Conference & Roadmap

    Feedback_List of Participants


January 2007

18th – 20th January 2007, New Delhi: UNIFEM and Ahmedabad-based Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) jointly organized a three-day Policy Conference on Home-Based Workers of South Asia. Focusing on “Women, Work & Poverty”, the High-Level Conference was inaugurated by the Honourable Prime Minister of India, H.E. Dr. Manmohan Singh, and closed by Mr. B.K. Chaturvedi, Cabinet Secretary of India. Delegates included eminent experts from Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Philippines, Geneva and the UK. Senior representatives from the Ministries of Women Development, Trade, and Labour from the South Asian countries participated. Over 250 home-based workers (HBWs) from all over India also were also present on the occasion. 

In his inaugural address, the Honourable Prime Minister of India, H.E. Dr. Manmohan Singh, recommended the inclusion of the issues of home-based workers in the forthcoming SAARC Summit in New Delhi. Acknowledging the many vulnerabilities that encompass them, including very low levels of income, he said it was important that the SAARC member governments identify the products of home-based workers and ensure that they benefit directly from regional and international trade. Promising his support to the cause of women home-based workers, the Indian Prime Minister said, “I do believe that women's empowerment should be a major objective of our social, political and economic policy in our region as a whole.” 

Home-based workers form a section of the workforce, who are most exposed to exploitation, whose work is invisible, who have no voice, and who remain excluded from the benefits of economic growth, despite their contributions to the national economies. In a journey spanning over a decade, UNIFEM South Asia has worked with governments, home-based women workers and organizations working with them, as well as research organizations, to address their concerns and promote their rights. For UNIFEM and SEWA, who in 2000 facilitated the formation of HomeNet South Asia at the Regional Policy Seminar in Kathmandu, a vibrant network of 600 organizations representing over 3,00,000 home based workers from the five countries, this Conference marked a very special milestone. HomeNet South Asia (HNSA), which has evolved as the collective voice of HBWs, carrying their voices to the highest levels to influence legislation, policies and programmes, was formally launched by the Cabinet Secretary of India.

The Conference concluded with a Regional Strategic Action Plan for Home-based Workers of South Asia, which was endorsed by participating ministers, secretaries, and senior officers of the Governments, networks of home-based workers, trade unions, NGOs and researchers from all South Asian countries.


Key Features of the Strategic Action Plan

  • Include the rights and concerns of home-based workers mentioned in the Strategic Action Plan, as priissues in the upcoming SAARC Summit in April 200

  • Ratify ILO Convention 177

  • Formulate National Policies for Home Based Workers

  • Collect statistics on home-based workers and support development of the SAARC Gender Database to include data on Home-based Workers

  • Increase Trade Opportunities for Home Based Workers by exclusive retail platforms and trade promotion initiatives

  • Recognize HomeNet South Asia as a representational body of home based workers


Links for more information on Home-based workers' event:

The curtain raiser

Inaugural release

Valedictory - Press Release

Plan of Action

RCHBW 2007 Report



COMING UP...........

Celebrating Beijing


The Sixth South Asia Ministerial Conference - Commemorating Beijing is scheduled to be held in September 2007 in New Delhi. It will be co-hosted by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India and UNIFEM South Asia. It will follow-up on the Islamabad Declaration – Review and Future Action, which was the outcome of the last such meeting, the Fifth South Asia Regional Ministerial Conference, Celebrating Beijing + 10, which was held in Islamabad in collaboration with the Government of Pakistan.


Always co-hosted by a government of the region, these ministerial level meetings are held on a biennial basis. They are a collective journey undertaken by governments, the SAARC Secretariat, civil society, research organizations and women’s groups to track progress on the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action. Promoting cross regional peer learning and cooperation, they also facilitate the development of a regional plan of action.