Events in 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
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.
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 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.
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.
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 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.