UN Women South Asia Office

Events in 2010

31 December, 2010, Kathmandu, Nepal: The UNIFEM Programme Office in Nepal organized a press briefing at the UN Conference room on 31 December 2010 to announce the establishment of UN Women, the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women.

36 media persons representing various national dailies and media houses were present at the briefing. Ms. Sangeeta Thapa, Programme Coordinator, UN Women in Nepal welcomed and briefed them on UN Women, informing them that this was the result of four different UN entities, DAW, INSTRAW, OSAGI and UNIFEM being merged.

Ms. Thapa highlighted the significance of UN Women as the lead driver to accelerate progress in meeting the needs of women and girls worldwide. Presenting a background to how it came about, Ms. Thapa informed that it was a result of years of negotiations between UN Member States, advocacy by the global women’s movement and by the fact that it was a part of the UN Reform Agenda. 2 July and 14 September 2010 were, she said, historical days for women. The former, because the General Assembly announced the creation of UN Women to step up progress on women’s rights; and the latter, because, Ms. Michelle Bachelet, former President of Chile was appointed Executive Director and Under Secretary General of the organization. Responding to a media query, Ms. Thapa assured them that UNIFEM’s ongoing efforts for gender equality and the empowerment of women would continue through UN Women.

Ms. Sharu Joshi Shrestha, Regional Programme Manager for Migration extended her appreciation to all partners for their continued support and cooperation to UNIFEM. She mentioned the women’s movement, the Government of Nepal, civil society, media and the UN Country Team. She reiterated that UN Women in Nepal would continue to work closely with all concerned stakeholders to address diverse issues affecting the lives of women and girls. She said that she was confident that UN Women would continue to receive their encouragement, cooperation and support.

Press brief on UN Women english and nepali


9th December, 2010, Kathmandu, Nepal: UN Women in collaboration with the Nepalese Army, organized and celebrated International Human Rights Day on 9th December 2010, on their premises “Sahba Griha”. The Nepalese Army pledged to “never commit, condone or remain silent about violence against women and girls”. Brigadier General Nirendra Prasad Aryal, Director of the Human Rights Directorate, stated that the celebration of International Human Rights Day focused on women’s rights as human rights.  He said that this was the first time that the Nepalese Army had participated to support the campaign to end violence against women. They symbolized this by putting on the white ribbon. 

UN Women expressed its gratitude and appreciation to the Nepalese Army for their commitment to ending violence against women and for coming forward through a historic partnership for the implementation of the SCRs 1325 and 1820. 

Dr. Chandra Bhadra, the resource person for the day, made a presentation on women’s rights, making linkages with CEDAW, the Beijing Platform for Action, UNSCR 1325 and 1820 and the White Ribbon Campaign. This was a significant formal beginning of UN Women’s partnership with the Nepal Army.

29th November 2010, New Delhi: The Report, “Dimensions of Deprivation” focusing on the poverty levels of the Widows of Vrindavan by the Guild of Service, supported by UN Women was launched on 29th November 2010 by Mr. D.K Sikri, Secretary, Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India. Present on dais with him were Dr. Mohini Giri, Chairperson of the Guild of Service, Ms. Anne F. Stenhammer, Regional Programme Director, UN Women South Asia, Ms. Madhubala Nath, Regional Policy Advisor, UN Women South Asia, Ms. Meera Khanna of the Guild of Service and Ms. Usha Rai, Principal Investigator of the Report. 

To be successful, governmental policies and NGO interventions need to be supported by solid evidence. In order to successfully lobby for governmental re-thinking on policies, to review present pension schemes, to broaden the deprivation indices, very firm factual information is necessary. Keeping this in mind, the Guild of Service, supported by UN Women, did a deprivation Study of the widows of Vrindavan.

Why widowhood matters as a social problem in the developing world:

  • Many more women than men face the likelihood of being widowed for a significant portion of their lives
  • Many women are widowed when they are young and remain widowed the rest of their lives
  • Most widows face customary rules, which restrict their options regarding residence, inheritance, employment and social interactions
  • Many widows cannot depend on support from their in-laws, parents, brothers, or even daughters
  • Given that adult sons are the most reliable source of family support, young widows are economically and socially more vulnerable on average than older widows
  • Every fourth household in India has a widow
  • The numbers are only increasing due to armed conflicts, natural disasters, communal riots and the traditional marriage patterns
  • 50% of the widows are over 50 years of age
  • In the age group of over 60+, 54% are widows
  • In the age group of over 70, 23% of men are widowers, while the corresponding figure for women was 92%



Asia-Pacific UNiTE – Launch of the regional component of the United Nations Secretary-General’s Campaign UNiTE to End Violence against Women

The Asia Pacific Regional Component of the United Nations Secretary-General's Campaign UNiTE to End Violence against Women was launched in Bangkok on 25th November 2010.

Asia-Pacific UNiTE aims to raise public awareness and increase political commitment and action to end violence against women and girls in the Asia-Pacific region. UNiTE calls on Governments, civil society, women’s organisations, young people, the private sector, the media and the entire UN system to join forces in addressing the global pandemic of violence against women and girls. The launch will be followed by a programme of activities at the regional and national levels aimed at mobilising support and ensuring that the campaign succeeds in making the social change to which we are all committed.
The official launch event, which coincides with the annual observance of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women was organised by the United Nations Asia-Pacific Regional Coordination Mechanism Thematic Working Group on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment, co-chaired by UN Women and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) in Bangkok, Thailand. Guest Speakers at the launch included Her Royal Highness Princess Bajrakitiyabha delivered the keynote address, and His Excellency Mr. Abhisit Vejjajiva, the Prime Minister of Thailand.
Besides Asia-Pacific UNiTE, Latin America UNiTE was launched in Guatemala on 25 November 2009, with a series of activities that included an official launch ceremony featuring the President of Guatemala, a knowledge fair and a concert attended by over 5,000 people.

Click here to read the complete strategy document


A Boost for Women in Local Politics

A  new programme launched by the Government of India and the United Nations will empower elected women representatives in India and south Asia.

Paras Kanwar had never imagined that one day she would become a Sarpanch. Thanks to several trainings, Paras was able to find the confidence to speak up and contest in the local elections. As a first time Sarpanch from Rajasthan’s Sirohi district, Paras was amongst 32 women leaders present at the launch of a new programme by the Government of India in collaboration with the Government of Norway and UN Women.

Titled “Promoting Women’s Political Leadership and Gender Responsive Governance in India and South Asia,” the programme will help to empower many more women like Paras in Bihar, Orissa, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. Soon it will be expanded to other countries in the region.

Speaking at the launch of the programme, the Honorable Minister for Panchayati Raj and Rural Development, Shri. C.P. Joshi said: “We have 10 lakh elected women representatives in the country so we have already achieved a lot in terms of the quantity. Now we need to learn about quality from Norway.” He added that reservation for women is showing results as they are now becoming decision makers. He pointed out that new areas for reservation are needed such as that for women in company boards. 

Norway’s Minister for International Development and Environment, Mr Erik Solheim, lauded India’s very progressive law that guarantees 33% reservation for women in local government. The Royal Government of Norway has committed over USD 10 million to the programme, apart from offering their expertise and sharing their experiences in local governance and regional development.

Through training and awareness, local elected women representatives will be able to assert themselves and take action at the local level. Eventually, this will also make policies, programmes and budgets more responsive to the social and economic rights of women.

The presence of women in local politics is clearly a reality today. As in the case of Paras, there is clear evidence of empowerment. She has been in power for less than a year but already has many achievements under her belt. Besides issuing Below Poverty Line (BPL) cards to poor people, she has already tackled child marriage and is confident of doing much more. “Earlier we used to be scared and used to be in a veil and then slowly, I started to have the courage. We now feel we can make a change,” says Paras. (Ends)


22nd October 2010, Kathmandu, Nepal: The agenda of peace and security of women was highlighted to coincide with the decadal anniversary of the UN Security Council Resolution 1325, the 2010 Year of Youth and the 65th celebration of UN Day.

The Rt. Hon’ble Prime Minister Mr. Madav Kumar Nepal, Deputy Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister Ms. Sujata Koirala, Head of UN Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) Ms. Karin Landgren and UN Resident Coordinator Mr. Robert Piper, spoke on the occasion.  

The UN Heads of Agencies, Diplomatic Missions, Government Officials and former and the present UN staff members were present at the celebration. In his speech, Mr. Robert Piper, the UN Resident Coordinator mentioned the announcement of UN Women which would build on the existing work of UN Women and continue contributing to issues of women migrant workers, gender responsive budgets, engendering the Census and peace related activities.

Ms. Karin Landgren, Head of UNMIN, appreciated the progress made so far on peace building and constitution building. She expressed commitment to supporting the peace process until its tenure and urged leaders to bring the process to a logical conclusion. The Right Hon’ble Prime Minister Mr. Madav Kumar Nepal, in his address, appreciated the contribution of the UN to Nepal. He said that Nepal is capable and willing to take the responsibility in making the UN more effective and efficient and is committed to the peace and constitution making processes. The Prime Minister visited the stalls set up by UN Women and said that there is a need to work more on the issue of migration.


3 – 5 October 2010, Dhaka: The Seventh South Asia Regional Ministerial Conference: Commemorating Beijing was co-hosted by the Government of Bangladesh and UN Women. The meeting was inaugurated by the Honourable Prime Minister of the Peoples’ Republic of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina, who was the Chief Guest.

The session commenced with recitations from The Holy Qu’ran, The Gita, The Bible and The Tripitok, followed by dance snapshots from the different countries. Remarks were made by Mr. Tariq-ul-Islam, Secretary-in-Charge, Ministry of Women and Child Affairs, Government of Bangladesh, followed by welcome remarks by Ms. Anne F. Stenhammer, Regional Programme Director, UN Women South Asia Sub-Regional Office. Ms. Stenhammer prefaced her remarks with an audio-visual film, presenting a collage of progress on women’s issues, particularly violence against women and women’s economic security. The story is told through captioned photographs and music from different countries. Dr. Shirin Sharmin Chowdhury, Honourable State Minister for Women and Child Affairs delivered her remarks as the Special Guest, followed by remarks by the Chief Guest, Sheikh Hasina, Honourable Prime Minister, Government of the Peoples’ Republic of Bangladesh.

The participating delegates were from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Ministers and Secretaries in charge of Women’s Development led the delegations. Other members of the delegation included senior officers of governments of the region, representatives of women’s organizations and gender experts. 


The meeting provided a forum for countries of the South Asia region to take stock of the commitments made at Beijing, share experiences and ideas, identify gaps and strategize for the future. It also provided the opportunity to assess the progress made on the implementation of the India Forward Moving Strategies for Gender Equality 2008 adopted at the last biennial meeting. It also offered the possibility of continuing the process of sharing and learning and prioritizing key concerns in the region. In particular, the meeting focused on economic security and rights and violence against women, as critical challenges to gender equality in the region.






The Conference drew up and adopted the Dhaka Resolution on gender-based violence and economic security and rights, providing guiding principles of work for the next two years.    



31st July 2010, New Delhi: The National Workshop on Gender Mainstreaming in the Census 2011
was jointly organized by the Office of the Registrar General of India (ORGI) and UN Women. This was a part of a larger collaboration of UNFPA, UNICEF, UNDP and UN Women with the ORGI, who came together through a MoU in 2008, to work on the 2011 Census exercise.

Dr. C. Chandramouli, Registrar General & Census Commissioner of India delivering the keynote address. Also seen in the photograph are (L to R) Ms. Suman Prashar, Gender Consultant, UN Women, Ms. Sushma Kapoor, DRPD, UN Women and Mr. D.K. Sikri, Secretary, Ministry of Women and Child Development


Mr. D.K. Sikri, Secretary, Ministry of Women and Child Development, who inaugurated the meeting, delivered the inaugural address. Dr. C. Chandramouli, Registrar General & Census Commissioner of India, delivered the keynote address. Ms. Sushma Kapoor, Deputy Regional Programme Director of UN Women addressed the gathering on behalf of UN Women and Mr. R. C. Sethi, Additional Registrar General welcomed the participants.  

The Directors of Census Operations from different states and union territories of India presented a strategy and an action plan for gender sensitization required for their states, keeping in view local conditions. Other participants included gender experts from renowned institutes, line ministries, UN Agencies, a representative of Training Alliance, the partner agency involved in preparing gender training modules as well as communication experts, working on formulating effective publicity and outreach on the gender aspects of the exercise. 

Ms.  Sushma Kapoor, DRPD, UN Women delivering the address on behalf of UN Women. Also seen in the photograph are (L to R) Mr. D.K. Sikri, Secretary, Ministry of Women and Child Development and Dr. C. Chandramouli, Registrar General & Census Commissioner of India


Some of the key gender issues that were focused upon were: sex ratio including the declining child sex ratio, child marriage, female-headed households, female work participation and basic issues of inclusion of vulnerable groups and population and their characteristics. 

The National Workshop was useful in presenting the need and scope of gender mainstreaming of Census 2011, the gender gaps in official statistics, as well as the role of different stakeholders, especially directorates in addressing these during training, and publicity in the population enumeration phase. The sharing of experiences and interactions were helpful in guiding the direction that future strategies of census organizations would need to take to mainstream gender in response to local realities.


5-7 April 2010, New Delhi: The Joint SAARC-UN Women Fourth Review Meeting on the SAARC Gender Information Base (SGIB) was organized in New Delhi on 5-7 April 2010. This was hosted by the SAARC Secretariat and co-hosted by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India, in collaboration with UN Women.

The Fourth Review Meeting sought to review and endorse recommendations made during the Male' Review Meeting (March 2009) and Dhaka Focal Points Meeting (December 2009) such as: 

·        Review and endorsement of the Terms of Reference of the Review Meeting, National Committee and the Focal Point;

·        Review and endorsement of the 'glossary of terms', emerging gender issues and prioritized themes worked out during the Fourth Core Committee Meeting on 11-12 February 2010;

·        Review of the SGIB On-line component and assessment of the status of data/information uploading; and need assessment for further assistance.            

The meeting was inaugurated by Mr. D. K. Sikri, Secretary, Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD), who was the Chief Guest. His inaugural address was preceded by welcome remarks by Mr. Subrata Dhar, Joint Secretary and Statistical Advisor, MWCD. Ms. Hassan Shifau, Director SAARC Secretariat delivered the introductory remarks, followed by remarks by Ms. Anne F. Stenhammer, Regional Programme Director, UN Women South Asia Regional Office. Ms. Sangeeta Thapa, Programme Coordinator, UN Women Programme Office gave the vote of thanks. 

Country presentations were made by Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

PROGRAMME of 4th Review Meeting

Inaugural Programme


UN Women and Beijing + 15 

One of UN Women’s key roles is to facilitate, support and lead processes to track progress on commitments already made. Processes such as the Beijing + 5, Beijing + 10 and now, Beijing + 15 provide critical opportunities to further push and add to the momentum of demanding action and accountability with regard to women’s rights and gender equality. 

UN Women, as has been its tradition, has been facilitating national and regional processes to feed into the upcoming international review on Beijing + 15 at the 54th Session of the CSW. In 2009 UN Women supported civil society participation at the Asia Pacific NGO Forum (October 22nd -24th 2009) and the UN ESCAP High Level Inter-Governmental Review meeting (16th – 18th November 2009); it supported the National Alliance of Women and South Asia Women’s Watch to organize a South Asia Consultation on Beijing Plus 15 (17th – 18th December, 2009), making available a platform for women’s groups to prioritize their concerns and develop a consensus lobby document on key gender concerns in preparation for the forthcoming global reviews in New York. This led to a declaration that will feed into the global Beijing +15 processes. Please find attached the South Asia Statement, the consensus lobby document.  

South Asia Statement on Beijing +15

UN Women South Asia has facilitated the participation of 19 gender advocates from civil society to the Global NGO Forum and the 54th Session on the Commission on the Status of Women, which will review progress on the Beijing Platform for Action, 15 years since it was adopted by 189 countries 

The South Asia Regional Ministerial Conferences, organized biennially since 1996 by UN Women SARO in collaboration with a host government provide the guiding principles for UN Women’s work in the region. The participants at these meetings include Ministers, Secretaries of the participating countries, and representatives of women’s groups, the SAARC Secretariat, experts and research organizations. They facilitate the formation of a common South Asian agenda, listing current priorities for the region specifically addressing the BPfA. 

Please find the link to publications sections of the last two declarations from the UN Women South Asia website - http://www.unifem.org.in/publications.html  

The Sixth South Asia Regional Ministerial Conference, “Commemorating Beijing”, was co-hosted by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India and UN Women South Asia Sub-Regional Office from the 17-19 January 2008, in New Delhi at the Le Meridian Hotel. 

The South Asia regions performance on gender related issues has been mixed.  Despite substantial progress on some social indicators the regions’ performance on other indicators of women’s capabilities and opportunities is “off track”. Gender discrimination remains pervasive in the region despite many formal commitments. In view of this, the Ministerial Conference offered a unique opportunity for the discussion of political commitment and the building of fruitful partnerships within the region. It furthermore promoted coordination and regional cooperation of the different national initiatives and programmes related to gender equality, gender justice and women’s empowerment.  

This meeting continued the process of regional sharing and learning along with a regional prioritization of key concerns, drawing upon regional trends and analysis. In pursuance of the Islamabad Declaration: Review and Future Action, this meeting sought to brainstorm and strategize on some critical concerns related to gender equality especially ‘Substantive Equality and Gender Justice in South Asia’. 

At the end of the Conference, delegates drafted and adopted a series of recommendations / forward moving strategies on crucial gender issues affecting women across countries in the region. 

Linking the global to the local, the outcomes of the global reviews will be unpacked in the regional and national context at the Seventh Biennial Regional Ministerial Meeting, scheduled to take place in 2010 in collaboration with the Government of Bangladesh.  

CSW 2010 and International Women’s Day 

The 54th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) will be held 1–12 March 2010.


In accordance with its multi-year programme of work for 2010–2014, this year the Commission will review implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action and the outcome of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly, emphasizing the sharing of experiences and good practices, with a view to overcoming remaining obstacles and new challenges, including those related to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The review will also focus on how the implementation of the Platform for Action contributes to the full achievement of the MDGs. 

About the CSW 

The CSW was established in 1946 by United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) resolution 11(II) with the objective of promoting the principle that men and women shall have equal rights. Originally a 15-member body, it now consists of 45 members elected by ECOSOC for a period of four years. The Commission recommends and reports to ECOSOC on the promotion of women’s rights in the political, economic, civil, social and educational fields and also addresses problems affecting women that require immediate attention.


Since 1996, the main focus of work of the CSW has been to monitor the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. At its twenty-third special session in June 2000, the UN General Assembly adopted a Political Declaration and Further Actions and Initiatives to Implement the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (the Outcome Document). The commission’s current work, as determined by its multi-year programme of work 2010–2014, focuses on continued implementation of both the Platform for Action and the outcome document. 

International Women’s Day 

International Women’s Day will be observed at the United Nations on 8 March 2010. This year’s theme is “Equal Rights, Equal Opportunities: Progress for All.”  

In 1977 the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution inviting Member States to proclaim a United Nations Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace — International Women’s Day to be observed on any day of the year in accordance with their historical and national traditions. Since then, the United Nations Organization has observed March 8th as International Women’s Day. The purpose of this day is to recognize the fact that securing peace and social progress and the full enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms require the active participation, equality and development of women; and to acknowledge the contribution of women to the strengthening of international peace and security. 

For the women of the world, the symbolism of International Women’s Day has a wider meaning: It is an occasion to review how far women have come in their struggle for equality, peace and development. It is also an opportunity to unite, network and mobilize for meaningful change.



On 1st February, 2010, Ms. Anne F. Stenhammer, Regional Programme Director, UN Women South Asia and Dr. Girija Vyas, Chairperson, National Commission for Women (NCW) signed a Memorandum of Understanding to combat the increased trafficking of women and girls as well as feminization of the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

The MoU has been signed for a period of three years, beginning on February 1, 2010, broadly covering the following actions: 

  • Development of strategies to reduce all forms of violence against women, including organization of policy dialogues to end trafficking of women in India

  • Organization of policy dialogues on CEDAW, which includes creating public awareness and reviewing progress made by the Government of India on implementing the Convention

  • Rendition of all possible assistance to the complaints relating to women abandoned by their NRI spouses, including networking with NGOs, community organizations in India and abroad; and making recommendations to the Government on any policy or issue relating to the NRI marriages

  • Organization of consultations and workshops on any issue of concern relating to women

The anti trafficking programme to be implemented by UN Women and NCW: 

  • Proposes to reach out to and address the vulnerability of women in the source areas

  • Work in partnership on prevention, protection, rehabilitation and reintegration of trafficked victims in the States of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal

The overarching goal is that by 2015, the Government of India’s efforts at creating institutionalized prevention mechanisms to stop trafficking at the source areas is supported by community action at the Panchayat level.

It is hoped that this programme will lead to:

  • Establishment of three panchayat level community-owned centres of action against trafficking and HIV/AIDS at the district level in the target states

  • Skill development of at least 600 women and girls preparing them for entrepreneurship and offering choices of employment and livelihoods

  • Enhanced and productive use of common property resources that are owned by the Panchayat, by survivors of trafficking

An integrated Plan of Action to combat trafficking in human beings, formulated by the National Commission for Women, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), the Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD) and select UN agencies, is being finalized by the MWCD. Areas of action will be identified for implementation.


13th – 15th January, 2010, New Delhi: UN Women in partnership with the UN Democracy Fund (UNDEF) and the Department of Political Affairs (DPA) organized a global Workshop on Gender and Democracy in New Delhi from 13th to 15th of January 2010. The Workshop brought together 22 leaders of innovative civil society projects from around the world who have utilized grants from UNDEF, in partnership with UN Women, to support women’s qualitative engagement in democracy.

In addition to the grant recipients, several influential Indian civil society organizations, international academics and media figures took part to provide a global contextual analysis of democracies, speaking on emerging challenges and opportunities for democratic deepening, particularly with reference to female constituents and politicians.  

The purpose of the workshop was to discuss innovations in the field of Gender and Democracy in select countries. All of them are working, in various ways, on overcoming obstacles to women’s political participation and on supporting public authorities to engage women in decision-making so as to produce better results for women from public policy and legislation. The individual projects are across Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Pacific and the Caribbean and address the inclusion of women in a wide range of democratic governance processes.

The conference sought to learn from innovations in supporting women’s engagement in decision-making, and to generate recommendations for international actors (such as the UN) aiming to support gender-equal democratization.  

The workshop was officially opened by Honourable Dr. Girija Vyas, Chairperson of the National Commission for Women, Government of India. Honourable Brinda Karat, Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha and Polit Bureau Member of the Communist Party of India (M) delivered the keynote address. Dr. Anne-Marie Goetz, Chief Advisor, Governance Peace and Security, UN Women New York provided an overview of the issues that would be discussed. Ms. Anne F. Stenhammer, Regional Programme Director, UN Women South Asia welcomed the delegates and chaired the session.