UN Women South Asia Office

Press Release






New Global Initiative to Make Cities Safer for Women 


As cities grow, stopping threats to women and girls must be central to municipal development and safety. Cities that are safe for women and girls are safe for all.

New Delhi, 22 November 2010— UN Women today is launching an innovative Safe Cities programme in five cities around the world. Each will test new strategies to stop epidemic rates of violence against women and girls in urban areas.

An unprecedented 3.4 billion people now live in cities  worldwide. Crime rates are high, but municipal development and safety plans frequently overlook specific threats to women and girls. The Global Safe Cities Free of Violence Against Women and Girls Programme is the first cross- regional initiative dedicated to making cities safer for them, while improving the quality of life for all city dwellers.

“Every day, women and adolescent girls face sexual harassment and violence as they go about their  daily routines—whether on city streets, on buses and trains,  or in their own neighborhoods,” said UN Women Executive Director Inés Alberdi. “This limits their freedom and rights to education, work, recreation and participation in political life.”

Alberdi introduced the Safe Cities programme at  the Third  International Conference on Women’s Safety, which opened here today. She emphasized that violence against women in private domains such as the home is increasingly recognized as  a human rights violation.  But violence against women in public spaces remains a largely neglected issue.

The Safe Cities programme will focus on slum areas and the poorest urban dwellers in Quito (Ecuador), Cairo (Egypt), New Delhi (India), Port Moresby (Papua New Guinea) and Kigali (Rwanda). Each city will contribute to developing a comprehensive model for stopping the diverse forms of violence against women and girls. The model will be offered for adaptation by other cities around the world.

Separate launches of the programme will take place in each city. As an initial show of support for stopping sexual harassment and violence in public spaces, hundreds of people today gathered at the launch site to light candles symbolizing the end of impunity.

All five cities have strong support from local authorities, the  potential for far-reaching engagement of civil society groups, and partnerships with agencies involved in ending gender- based violence, community safety, urban planning and development. They have committed to rigorous evaluations to demonstrate what works best.

Potential measures may include stronger laws and policies against violence in public spaces; training for urban planners, grass-roots women’s groups and police; special audits to identify unsafe areas; mass media campaigns on “zero tolerance” for violence against women; activities to engage local communities, men and adolescents of both sexes; and reviews of public sector budgets so that adequate resources are spent on making public areas safe for women and girls. Collecting reliable data will be an important aspect of the Safe Cities programme, because the current lack of  reliable and specific information on violence against women and girls in public space hides the problem and hampers the development of solutions.

The Safe Cities programme was inspired by a successful UN Women initiative in  Latin  America,  which  began  with  an  experimental  grant  from  the  UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women in 2004. Projects in seven countries subsequently raised a much higher level of awareness of urban violence against women and girls, and generated knowledge on how to stop it. This has encouraged municipalities to take actions such as improving lighting on streets and designing new municipal safety plans that focus on women and girls.

Globally, the Safe Cities programme contributes to the UN Secretary-General’s UNiTE to End violence against  women campaign and the Millennium Development Goals on gender equality and the rights of over 900 million slum dwellers.

MEDIA ARRANGEMENTS: For media enquiries or interviews please contact:

In New Delhi:
Nuria Felipe, UN Women press officer,
+ 1 917 288 0524
In New York: Gretchen Luchsinger, tel: +1. 212.906. 6506,
e-mail: gretchen.luchsinger@unifem.org

UN Women is the women’s fund at the United Nations. It provides financial and technical assistance to innovative programmes and strategies to foster women’s empowerment and gender equality. Placing the advancement of women’s human rights at the centre of all of its efforts, UN Women focuses its activities on reducing feminized poverty; ending violence against women; reversing the spread of HIV/AIDS among women and girls; and achieving gender equality in democratic governance in times of peace as well as war. For more information, visit www.unifem.org UN Women, 304 East 45th Street, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10017. Tel: +1 212 906-6400. Fax: +1 212 906-6705.


Press Release

For immediate release

Date: 20 September 2010


Media Inquiries

Oisika Chakrabarti, Media Specialist

UN Women Headquarters

+1 212 906-6506, oisika.chakrabarti [at] unifem.org

United Nations, New York — Despite promising progress on many of the Millennium Development Goal targets, national averages mask large disparities in terms of gender, income and location, with large numbers of women and girls being left behind, especially in rural areas. Coinciding with the UN High-level Summit on Millennium Development Goals, data from the forthcoming Progress of the World’s Women 2010/2011, Access to Justice, released by the United Nations Development Fund for Women UN Women today, spotlights how many women and girls, particularly in rural areas, continue to live in exclusion and poverty.

“Ending discrimination against women and enhancing gender justice are at the heart of meeting the MDGs,” said Ms. Inés Alberdi, Executive Director, UN Women. “With five years remaining to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, this Summit challenges world leaders to commit to actions to accelerate progress. There is no shortage of promising practices to end inequalities between women and men, but there remains a critical shortage of resources to scale up investment of best practices that work.”

The findings and analysis calls for urgent action in four areas that are critical to gender justice and the MDGs:

1. Women-friendly public services to meet women and girls’ rights to education, health and food —

  • Education: Secondary education is especially important for girls because it enables them to access jobs, lowers their chance of getting HIV and gives them more of a say in decisions within the household. For example, in Nicaragua, while nearly three-quarters of rich urban girls go to secondary school, for poor girls in rural areas, that figure is only 6 percent.

  • Abolishing user fees and introducing cash incentives make a difference. In Malawi, a conditional cash transfer programme not only increased girls’ school attendance but also reduced HIV prevalence rates among programme beneficiaries by 60 percent compared to non-beneficiaries, attributed to girls engaging in less “transactional sex” with older men.

  • Reproductive health: Data shows that poor women in rural areas are particularly unlikely to have access to skilled health personnel at the birth of their children. In Nepal, while nearly 70 percent of rich urban women have access to skilled attendance, only 5 percent of poor rural women do.

  • Female service providers help to improve access for women and girls. Indonesia’s “midwife in every village” programme, in which 54,000 midwives have been trained over seven years, has halved the maternal mortality rate.

2. Land and jobs for women ensuring the right to decent livelihood, through access to economic assets —

  • In Tajikistan, the government has taken important steps to increase women’s control over land, through providing them with practical support to make land claims, including legal aid, and awareness raising among officials and religious leaders. Between 2002 and 2008, the proportion of farms headed by women rose from 2 percent to 14 percent.

  • Although female farmers play a critical role in food security in developing countries, OECD statistics show that of the US$18.4 billion spent on agricultural aid between 2002 and 2008, donors reported that just 5.6 percent included a focus on gender.

3. Increasing women’s voice in decision-making — more women in leadership positions from the community to the global level —

  • Women’s lack of voice in the public sphere starts in the home. Early marriages have the biggest impact, leading to disempowerment of girls throughout their lives. In Colombia, women who married before the age of 18 are 47 percent more likely to report having no say in household decisions, compared to women who married later.

  • Positive action or special temporary measures work. They have shown to rapidly increase female representation in corporate decision-making as well as politics from Rwanda to Norway. Globally, women make up only 18.6 percent of parliamentarians. However, 29 countries have now reached or exceeded the 30-percent mark. Of these, 24 have used quotas.

  • In the United States of America across 10 key sectors, including politics, business, law, the media, and the military, women make up an average of just 18 percent of leaders.

4. Ending violence against women and girls, which too many women and girls face daily, stunting their opportunities, curtailing their mobility and denying them rights —

  • Violence against women is widely regarded as a missing MDG target, undermining efforts to reach all the goals. For example, one in four women experience physical or sexual violence during pregnancy.

  • The UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women (UN Trust Fund), managed by UN Women on behalf of UN System, is the only multilateral grant-making mechanism exclusively devoted to supporting efforts to end violence against women and girls. Since 1996, it has supported 304 programmes in 121 countries and territories with more than US$50 million in grants. In 2009 alone, more than 1,600 applications were received, but the Fund could meet less than 4 percent of the demand. One of the goals of the UN Secretary-General’s Campaign UNiTE to End Violence against Women is to raise US$100 million dollars by 2015, and it is imperative to reach this target.

The Gender Justice and the MDGs brief will be launched at a high-level side event on 20 September 2010, 5–7 p.m., during the MDG Summit, co-hosted by the Permanent Mission of Denmark to the UN, the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Senegal to the UN, and UN Women. Speakers include: Mr. Søren Pind, Minister for Development Cooperation, Denmark; Ms. Awa Ndiaye, Minister of State, Minister of Gender and Relations with African and Foreign Women’s Associations, Republic of Senegal; Ms. Navanethem Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR); Ms. Inés Alberdi, Executive Director, UN Women; and Ms. Geena Davis, Academy Award–winning Actor and Founder, See Jane.

The event will be webcast live at www.un.org/webcast.

UN Women  is the women's fund at the United Nations. It provides financial and technical assistance to innovative programmes and strategies to foster women's empowerment and gender equality. Placing the advancement of women's human rights at the centre of all of its efforts, UN Women focuses its activities on reducing feminized poverty; ending violence against women; reversing the spread of HIV/AIDS among women and girls; and achieving gender equality in democratic governance in times of peace as well as war. For more information, visit www.unifem.org. UN Women, 304 East 45th Street, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10017. Tel: +1 212 906-6400. Fax: +1 212 906-6705


GoI-UN Women MoU on safety of women migrants signed

NEW DELHI, August 25: The Government of India today signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the UN Women on protecting and empowering women migrant workers who are exposed to vulnerabilities as a result of migration. The women include the ones who migrate themselves as well as those who stay behind. The MoU was signed by the Chief Executive Officer of the Indian Council of Overseas Employment and Joint Secretary to the Government of India, Mr. G. Gurucharan, and Ms. Anne F. Stenhammer, Regional Programme Director of UN Women on Wednesday. The ceremony took place during the ‘Regional Conference on Empowering Women for Asia and Arab States’ that was organised in New Delhi on August 25. The countries that participated in the conference included Bangladesh, Cambodia, Lao PDR, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Nepal, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam. 

While addressing the gathering, Ms. Stenhammer said that globally, women constituted 49.6 per cent of 190 million migrants. “In the last few years, the trend has been that women are fast becoming ‘economic actors’ than ‘dependent’ migrants. “It is more important than ever before that the governments acknowledge these changing patterns and ensure that their policies and implementing agencies protect women, who are particularly vulnerable,” said Ms. Stenhammer. The wider definition of migrant women would include both women who migrate and the ones who stayed behind while their spouses migrated for work, she said, adding that in both situations women had vulnerabilities and needed special provisions for their protection and support. 

Mr. G. Gurucharan emphasised the need to check irregular migration and said that protecting the rights of women migrants was extremely important. The MoU states that the main areas of UN Women and the Indian Council of Overseas Employment “is in protecting and promoting the rights of women migrant workers for facilitating safe and legal migration, reintegration of returnees and other broader issues of economic security and rights, gender equality, and women’s empowerment. A pilot project will be started in “source” (two states in India) and “destination” countries as part of the MoU. At the same time, it includes documentation, engendering of programmes, policies, budgets, issues of regular and irregular migration, among others. The MoU is a three-year agreement between the Government of India and UN Women. 

Describing the Conference and the signing of MoU as “very positive steps” towards advancing the rights of women migrants, UN Women’s Global Migration Advisor Dr. Jean D’Cunha said women were increasingly part of the global workforce. “They are moving independently as temporary workers and being recruited to the informal and formal sectors. They are contributing significantly to economies and their remittances are significant,” she said. She said liberation of transnational barriers and restrictive migration policies, especially that which discriminate against women, should be changed. 

The consultation envisages bringing about strategic synergies among different stakeholders, namely governments from East and South East Asia, South Asia & Arab States, civil society institutions, technical experts, donors, and representatives from Embassies and Consular offices, UN and other International agencies for advancing a program across regions. The regional approach linking source and receiving countries (destination) would take into account cross-border linkages, bringing a common approach in areas of capacity building, research & advocacy, developing and sharing of knowledge products, best practices and learning’s from other programmes. 

The 11 participating countries presented the issues they were facing and the measures that had been taken or were underway. In Nepal, for instance, UN Women has a partnership with the Ministry of Labour to collaborate on policy issues concerning women and migration. One of the issues in Nepal is migration through ‘irregular’ channels, which puts women at a risk. While a number of provisions for the protection of migrating women have been put in place in Nepal, UN Women is also working with the government to engender the migration policy so that due attention is given to women’s issues. UN Women has also supported the formation of a women migrant workers’ collective which has the capacity to engage in advocate for the rights of women migrants. Likewise, many provisions have been put in place for the protection of the rights of women migrants in Jordan. Experts say that in a globalising world, legal migration is becoming scarce which is forcing women (and men) to migrate illegally and at great risk of exploitation. 

Some of the recommendations made today at the Conference include gathering gender-disaggregated data (data on migration is still scarce and is generally not gender-specific), provision of laws which protect migrants and their interests, the implementation of these laws, building the capacity of policy-makers to respond to challenges which arise as a result of migration, raising awareness with the support of media on the rights of migrants, provision of legal assistance to migrants and working with recruiting agencies to ensure that the employers do not exploit the migrants, among others.


Press Release


UN Creates New Structure for Empowerment of Women
Date : 10 August 2010  

Mr. Robert Piper, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, Nepal and Ms. Sangeeta Thapa, Programme Coordinator, UN Women Programme Office, Nepal

Dr. Socorro Reyes, Chief of Asia Pacific and Arab States, UN Women

read more
News Clip - The Rising Nepal
News Clip - The Himalayan Times


PRESS NOTE: July 8th 2010

Safe City Free of Violence against Women and Girls Initiative:

A collaboration of Delhi Government, UN Women, and JAGORI and UN HABITAT

NEW DELHI: Women in the national capital of Delhi feel unsafe in many public spaces, and at all times of the day and night. Cutting across class, profession, they face continuous and different forms of sexual harassment in crowded as well as secluded places, including public transport, cars, markets, roads, public toilets and parks. School and college students are most vulnerable to harassment, particularly rampant in public transport, particularly buses.

To address the issue, a joint action research initiative was undertaken by the Department of Women and Child Development, Government of Delhi, JAGORI, UN Women South Asia Regional Office and UN Habitat. Titled Safe City Free of Violence for Women and Girls, this baseline survey is based on a sample of 5010 women and men, undertaken during the period January - March 2010 by New Concept Information Systems, New Delhi and JAGORI to identify factors that create greater safety and inclusion for women in public spaces around the city. 

The survey gathered and analyzed information about the nature and forms of gender-based violence and/or harassment faced by women, role of governing agencies and the police in safeguarding women’s rights, and societal perceptions and attitudes to sexual harassment. 

Survey methodology 

The study used purposive sampling methods to collect information from respondents belonging to diverse occupational categories spread across public places such as bus stops, markets and shopping malls in all nine districts of Delhi. The survey covered a total of 23 areas and 50 interview sites. The total sample of 5,010 included 3,816 women, 944 men and 250 common witnesses (see below). Men and women above 16 years of age were part of the sample group.  

In the report, the term ‘common witness’ refers to men and women who, by virtue of being located physically closer to public places, have a high probability of witnessing acts of sexual harassment on women, like bus conductors, shopkeepers, auto drivers, etc. Each of the respondent categories was further divided into groups, broadly based on their occupation and nature of work, such as senior and mid-level workers, factory workers, home makers, students and others. 

The study is unique in eliciting the perception and experience of men regarding the issue.  Men felt very strongly that women are unsafe in the city and reported witnessing incidents in all parts of the city.  

Major highlights   

  • Women of all classes have to contend with harassment as part of their daily lives. School and college students in the 15-19 age-group and women workers in the unorganized sectors are particularly vulnerable.

  • Harassment occurs during day and night and in all kinds of public spaces, both secluded and crowded.

  • Public transport, buses and roadsides are reported as spaces where women and girls face high levels of sexual harassment.

  • The most common form of harassment reported is verbal (passing comments) and visual (staring and leering) and physical (touching/groping, leaning over etc.) This view was shared by women, men and ‘common witnesses’.

  • Almost two out of every three women reported facing incidents of sexual harassment between 2-5 times in the past year.

  • Three out of every five women reported facing sexual harassment not only after dark but through the day time as well.

  • Higher proportion of men and ‘common witnesses’ – that is almost nine out of every 10 respondents – have witnessed incidents of sexual harassment of women after dark and during the day time. 

  • Poor infrastructure (including poor or absent streetlights), unusable pavements, lack of public toilets, open usage of drugs and alcohol are major reasons behind the lack of safety.

  • The burden of ensuring safety remains upon women. They try to ensure their own safety by not visiting certain places, staying indoors after dark, maintaining a dress code, and carrying pepper spray and safety pins etc.

  • A high percentage of women, around 68 % dealt with harassment in some way ; such as: confronting the perpetrator, seeking help from family and friends.

  • Concerted efforts to sensitize people including the youth as partners in creating safer cities and conducive environments.

Strategic Framework

The findings of the survey and its recommendations, and stakeholder dialogues are part of the Strategic Framework that will guide interventions to make Delhi a safer city for women, especially those from vulnerable groups. A large number of stakeholders have been consulted in the process of preparation of the strategic framework to date, and many more are planned. This includes the Departments of Education and Transport of the Government of Delhi, DTC, the Bhagidari cell, DDA (UTTIPEC) and the Delhi Police. In addition, civil society organizations involved in education and gender issues, men’s groups, legal and human rights groups, and other urban organizations have also been consulted.

The outcome of the study is expected to feed into further dialogue and planning for improved gender-sensitive infrastructure, mechanisms and programming. 

The key areas of the strategic framework include:

  • Urban planning and design of public spaces: While urban planning and design interventions can help in developing women-friendly spaces, better maintenance of infrastructure can improve women’s mobility, access and perception of safety, as well as deter perpetrators.
  • Provision and maintenance of public infrastructure and services: this includes effective lighting and walk-able pavements, accessible to all including the aged and the disabled.
  • Public transport (including modes of transportation as well as waiting areas) can be improved through design, installation of CCTV cameras, increased monitoring and wiith safety measures such as helplines for passengers, immediate response by the crew and a system in cases of distress and support within the buses. Training of transport crew to respond and support victims is essential. JAGORI has undertaken training of more than 3600 DTC crew in 2007 and recently of 50 DTC Instructors, with the aim of reaching out extensively to thousands of the DTC staff.
  • Civic awareness and educational campaigns can help in building an understanding of women’s safety concerns. Special focus on the youth and students is needed.
  • Improving trust in the police and effective gender sensitive responses to calls for assistance and support.  
  • Effective implementation of Legislations and speedy access to justice and support to victims/survivors.


UNDP Press Release: March 8, 2010


Press Release

(For immediate release)

1st February, 2010

For further information, please contact:

Anindit Roy-Chowdhury, anindit.roy-chowdhury@unwomen.org

Or Gita Gupta, gita.gupta@unwomen.org

Tel: 24646471/ 24698297 

UN Women South Asia Sub-regional Office and the National Commission for Women Sign MoU on Anti-trafficking and HIV and AIDS Prevention Work 

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

This gives a boost to anti-trafficking and HIV and AIDS prevention work and marks a deepening of the partnership between UN Women and NCW.

It may be noted that:

  • Women are primarily trafficked from the rural areas, whereas there is a dearth of institutionalized prevention mechanisms in these source areas. This program is an attempt to bridge that gap and make prevention services accessible and eventually institutionalized at the Zilla and Panchayat level. 

  • Though a great deal of work has been done on anti-human trafficking over the years, stereotypical attitudes that exacerbate gender inequalities within communities and societal institutions of protection have not been addressed. This programme seeks to get to the root of changing these attitudes so that communities act as change agents and bridge the gender gap and gender based violence of women.

  • This programme aims at addressing HIV and AIDS prevention together with anti-trafficking efforts and in this way generates a synergy to reduce women’s vulnerabilities to both of them and targets women and girls before they get infected with HIV.

  • Today, with 10 years of work done by UN Women and its partners, one message that is coming loud and clear is that unless women’s vulnerability in the source areas, in the context of gender and power relations, is addressed – all other efforts will not be effective as they are planned to be. As one expert says, “it is like mopping the floor with the tap on.”

Another lesson that is coming out is that by the time support reaches out to a woman – she is already in the destination area. She has possibly already contracted HIV and AIDS and has already burned her bridges with the community that was meant to protect her.



Senior bureaucrats from the governments of the SAARC nations come together on inter-governmental peer learning on CEDAW reporting and implementation in South Asia 

26th – 28th August 2009, Katmandu, Nepal 

Co-hosted by the Government of Nepal and UN Women – United Nations Development Fund for Women, distinguished government officials from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal and Pakistan came together and convened on inter-governmental peer learning on CEDAW reporting and implementation in the region.

The Honorable Deputy Prime Minister, Shri Bijaya Kumar Gacchedar, was present at the inaugural session of the workshop and amongst other things mentioned, that in the present time in Nepal, the greatest opportunity is provided by the ongoing constitution making process; and incorporation of gender equality and women’s rights provisions into the new constitution is very high on the national agenda.    

This workshop is a part of an ongoing process of regional inter-governmental peer learning and sharing commenced by the governments of South Asian states in partnership with UN Women South Asia Regional Office (SARO) since 1999. The mechanism helps identify key concerns and requirements of South Asian governments for technical support, towards fulfillment of state obligation to secure gender equality and women’s empowerment in the region.

Shrimati Bindra Hada Bhattarai, Secretary, Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare, complimented the initiative and said that this workshop will provide a true platform for learning and exchange of experiences on CEDAW implementation, monitoring as well as reporting.

Ms. Anne F. Stenhammer, Regional Program Director of UN Women, South Asia Regional Office, mentioned that as a former Deputy Minister for International Development for Norway, she has been involved two times in Norway’s reporting on CEDAW. She said, “What I learnt from that experience was that, for an effective implementation of the Convention, it is important to have CEDAW mainstreamed in national policies, plans and laws as far as possible”.

For UN Women, CEDAW and the Beijing Platform for Action are the two pivotal guideposts for its work. And its ultimate goal is to promote the realization of national priorities in relation to women’s rights and security. This workshop is an example of true South Asia programming as all the governments convene to share strategies and challenges faced by their individual countries. The structure, framework and the agenda of this meeting were all developed in a manner that was consultative and participatory.

This workshop was also attended by present and previous CEDAW Committee Members, Ms. Ferdous Ara Begum, Ms. Mary Shanthi Dairiam and Prof. Savitri Goonesekere amongst other dignitaries.

This workshop is not an end in itself, but is the means to the end of mainstreaming national policies, plans and laws thereby empowering women and attaining substantive gender equality.

For more information please contact Ms. Gita Gupta, Information Officer, UN Women, SARO at gita.gupta@unwomen.org








UN Women takes this opportunity to express its deepest appreciation and gratitude to the Government of Nepal and members of the Constituent Assembly for this historic achievement. The Domestic Violence (Crime and Punishment) Act 2009 was passed by the legislative house of the Constituent Assembly on 19 April 2009. 

This is indeed a testimony of the government’s commitment to promote and protect the rights of women and girls in particular and the whole society in general in the letter and spirit of CEDAW, BPFA and all other human rights instruments ratified by Nepal.


UN Women on this occasion would also like to congratulate the following principal agencies/organisations for pioneering and contributing to the ultimate realization of the Domestic Violence (Crime and Punishment) Act 2009 of the Government of Nepal. Our special appreciation goes to the members of the Drafting Committee: 

  1. Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare

  2. Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs


  4. Forum for Women, Law and Development ( FWLD )

  5. Women for Rehabilitation Centre (WOREC)

  6. OHCHR

  7. UN Women Programme Office in Nepal

UN Women also expresses its appreciation to other UN agencies, the donor community, NGOs, Networks, Civil Society Organisations, Media and individuals who extended unstinted support to the process. 

UN Women as the lead agency of the UN in promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment is privileged to have been very closely associated with the drafting and finalization of this Act. UN Women stands committed to continue to support the operationalisation of this Act in the coming days.


Press Release: Lawyers Collective Women’s Rights Initiative

Release of Handbook on Law of Domestic Violence by Hon’ble Chief Justice of India and Presentation of Ending Domestic Violence through Non-Violence: A Manual for Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act Protection Officers on 29th March 2009 at Gulmohar Hall, India Habitat Centre.  

The books have been authored by Lawyers Collective Women’s Rights Initiative (LCWRI) and supported by United National Trust Fund to End Violence against Women/UN Women. 

The Handbook on Law of Domestic Violence, which is aimed at assisting the judiciary, was released by the Hon’ble Chief Justice of India, Justice K. G. Balakrishnan. The copy of the book was presented to Prof. Lotika Sarkar, an eminent academician and women’s rights activist.

Ms. Indira Jaising, Senior Supreme Court Advocate and the Director of LCWRI gave the welcome address. The invitees were also addressed by Hon’ble Chief Justice of Delhi High Court, Justice A.P. Shah. The programme was attended by Hon’ble judges of Supreme Court and High Courts across the country in addition to civil society groups, nodal department and police representatives and legal professionals. 

Ms Indira Jaising pointed out that in 1990, at a similar conference the question that was asked by everyone was “what is domestic violence” and the answer at that point in time was that it is an invisible crime. The newly enacted law has made domestic violence in India visible. It is an acknowledgment of the fact that domestic Violence is not just a social issue but has assumed epidemic proportions. The British Journal, Lancet in a recent study on violence against women in India has revealed that on an average, around 130,000 married women aged 15-35 yrs become victims of bride burning. Are these natural deaths? If the rule of law has any meaning for women, there should be no domestic violence and women should not die in their matrimonial home of burn injuries. Ms Jaising reiterated the emphasis of the law on preventive reliefs like right to residence, ex-parte and interim reliefs, and restraining injunctions, in an attempt to move away from criminal law remedies.

The PWDVA 2005 has empowered judges and magistrates to effectively enforce this law. Although pending a detailed assessment of the effectiveness of PWDVA, an immediate conclusion cannot be reached but perhaps an important indicator of its success has been the fact that more than 9000 cases were filed in its very first year. Again, in states like Andhra Pradesh, the number of cases under Section 498A IPC seems to have gone down with increase in number of cases initiated under PWDVA, which is a reflection of the fact that women are choosing to exercise the civil remedy.

Ms Jaising also pointed out that the PWDVA has been cited in Philippines and in various other forums the world over, to argue for and support violence against women legislations. Reference was also made to the annual process of Monitoring and Evaluation of the law that’s has been initiated by the Lawyers Collective with support from the United Nations Trust Fund/UN Women and in collaboration with the Ministry of Women & Child Development and the National Commission for Women. In this context, the support provided by the office of the Hon’ble Chief Justice of India has been crucial, through which a detailed analysis of orders passed by Magistrate courts from all over India was undertaken. It is acknowledged that like any other legislation, there are gaps within this law but it is now the role of the judiciary to iron out the creases in the law.  In fact, it should be rightly recognised that the interpretation of law is the key towards its effective implementation. 

Justice A.P. Shah, the Hon’ble Chief Justice of Delhi High Court in the valedictory address emphasised on the need for judicial training for effective implementation of PWDVA. It was reiterated that the issue of domestic violence is an international issue and the most common form of violence against women. Not only this, but he categorised domestic violence as an act that affects the national economy and the development of a nation and employment of women. What begins as an assault from one person to another reverberates throughout family. India’s National Family Health Survey of 2005 stated that 37.2 % experience violence after marriage. This law is the 1st substantial step towards emancipation of women in India.

Justice Shah agreed that it is the responsibility of judges and Magistrates to understand and interpret the law on domestic violence in its right spirit. He reiterated that the Handbook on Law of Domestic Violence includes good practices adopted under the PWDVA and will set a benchmark and be of great assistance to the judges and other legal practitioners to understand and implement the law effectively.

On this occasion, the Keynote address was made by the Hon’ble Chief Justice of India, Justice K. G. Balakrishnan, who referred to PWDVA 2005 as an interpretative legislation on the rights of women. The Hon’ble Chief Justice also reiterated that judges should be periodically sensitised as they are the actual authority implementing the provisions of this law. In the light of the same, the National and State Judicial Academies are trying to organise training for judges regarding the provisions and interpretations of the PWDVA. At the same time, he emphasised on the need to sensitize police and other functionaries as they also provide the support structure in implementation of the law. He mentioned the fact that often, it is the police who fail to or do not register cases. The increasing urgency of setting up Family Courts in all states to deal with disputes that arise from and within matrimonial relationships was also mentioned as an instance of non-implementation or ineffective implementation of laws. He also stated that four Family Courts are going to be established in Delhi at the earliest.

The CJI emphasised on the fact that the PWDVA is a rights based legislation and not a criminal law. The roots of the law can in fact, be identified in the promise made under the framework of Protection of Human Rights Act of 1998. He said that behind every case of violence against women, there is a human story and it is agonising to hear how women are treated in a marriage.  The role of civil society groups and women’s organisations in conveying the manner in which the rights provided under the PWDVA should be enforced was reiterated by the Hon’ble Chief Justice of India.


National Commission for Women and Lawyers Collective (Women’s Rights Initiative)

“Staying Alive”

2nd National Conference on Implementing

The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005

Supported by UN Women South Asia Office 

Press Release

The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 (PWDVA) was brought into force on October 26th, 2006. From then on the Lawyers Collective in collaboration with the National Commission for Women, and support by the South Asia Office of UN Women, has been compiling annual monitoring and evaluation reports on the manner in which this law is being implemented. “Staying Alive: Second Monitoring and Evaluation Report, 2008 on the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005” is a second in this series.

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20th August, 2008: The Ministry of Women and Child Development launched its National Media Campaign on the Girl Child, Nutrition and Domestic Violence  

The nationwide media campaign on the Girl Child, Nutrition and Domestic Violence was launched by the Honourable Minister, Ms. Renuka Chowdhury, Ministry of Women and Child Development (Independent Charge) Government of India, at a press conference at Shastri Bhawan, New Delhi on 20 August 2008. Mr. Anil Kumar, Secretary, Ministry of Women and Child Development, Dr. Mrs. Kiran Chadha, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Women and Child Development, the Director General of the Press Information Bureau, partners in the campaign, such as the Directorate of Advertising & Visual Publicity (DAVP), National Institute for Public Cooperation and Child Development (NIPCCID), MMTC, Tuner International India Pvt. Ltd, UFO Moviez India Ltd, the Breakthrough Trust, UNICEF, UNFPA and UN Women, and members from the media, were present at the launch.  

UN Women provided the Ministry with two TV ads, one poster and pamphlets in four languages (English, Hindi, Kannada and Marathi). These materials form part of the “Bell Bajao” campaign seeking to end domestic violence and call upon society - including men – to ensure women live a violence-free life. “Bell Bajao” (Hindi, for the ring the bell) is an awareness and intervention campaign developed by our partner, the Breakthrough Trust, an international human rights organization that uses media, education and popular culture to promote values of equality and justice. The 360 degree media campaign - created pro bono by Ogilvy& Mather - uses TV, radio, print, mobile video vans and the Internet to get its powerful message across: to stop domestic violence and urge men and women to speak out against domestic violence. 

This Campaign has been developed as part of the UN Trust Fund grant - the Trust Fund in Support of Actions to Eliminate Violence against Women being a multilateral grant-making mechanism established by the UN General Assembly in 1996 to support local, national and regional efforts to end violence against women.

The Trust Fund, administered by UN Women, approved a grant to Breakthrough to use media and education as tools to reduce violence against women and build knowledge of women about their right to safe sex and residence in three states of India (UP, Maharashtra and Karnataka). This program aims to address the lack of awareness among women about the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005.  

For more information on the “Bell Bajao” campaign and to see the TV spots, visit http://www.bellbajao.org/index.php


Sixth South Asia Regional Ministerial Conference, “Commemorating Beijing”

17 – 19 January 2008, New Delhi, India  

v      In 1995 the Fourth World Conference on Women was held in Beijing where world leaders from 189 countries promised equality and gender justice to the world’s women, making a commitment to undertake concrete actions towards it. Over 40,000 women and men from around the world worked together to develop a global action plan - the Beijing Platform for Action, which has become the base document, for measuring progress on gender justice and women’s empowerment.

v      The South Asia region has been witness to a unique accountability mechanism. Governments and civil society have very successfully deployed regional review mechanisms, as a strategy to address the BPFA and CEDAW. These participatory and transparent review meetings between Governments and women’s groups have entailed a process of cross regional peer learning and sharing of best practices, introspection, gap identification, addressing challenges and developing a common South Asia agenda of priorities for action.

v     In an effort to keep the spirit and momentum of Beijing alive as also to review progress in the region, UN Women-South Asia Regional Office in collaboration with the host governments has been organizing South Asia Regional Ministerial conferences to commemorate Beijing. So far 5 such conferences have been held - in Delhi in September 1996, in Kathmandu in 1998, in Bandos Island, in Madives in 2000, in Paro, Bhutan in 2003, and in Islamabad, Pakistan in 2005.



v      Sixth South Asia Regional Ministerial Conference, “Commemorating Beijing” is being co-hosted by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India and UN Women South Asia Regional Office, from 17th – 19th January, 2008.

v     The meeting will be inaugurated by the Hon’ble President of India, Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil, at Vigyan Bhawan, in New Delhi

v     Ms. Renuka Choudhury , Honourable Minister, Ministry of Women and Child Development (Independent Charge) will deliver the Welcome Address

v      Remarks will be made by H.E.  Mr. Lyonpo Chenkyab Dorji, SAARC Secretary General 

v      Remarks will be made by Ms. Chandni Joshi, Regional Programme Director, UN Women South Asia

v      Vote of thanks will be delivered by Hon Dr. Arfa Sayeda Zehra, Chairperson, National Commission on the Status of Women Government of Pakistan

v      The following five areas had been identified as areas of priority at the last Conference in Islamabad. Progress towards these will be focused upon at this meeting

        o        Violence against women

o        Economic empowerment of women

o        Political empowerment of women

o        Disaster preparedness and management

o        Health and Education

v      This Conference acquires special significance since 2008 marks the sixtieth anniversary of the historic UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights  

v      The SAARC Gender Database will be launched at this Conference by the SAARC Secretary General

v      Endorsed and supported by countries of the region, the SAARC Gender Database is one of the key goals of the MoU between the SAARC and UN Women 

v      Responding to key priorities of the region, the Gender Database is being seeded with data on VAW, especially trafficking, women’s overall health, including women and HIV/AIDS and feminization of poverty. It aims towards being a single data pool on gender issues – a comprehensive Gender Data Shop.

v      The prototype of the Database has been finalized based on the inputs of Member States; indicators have been standardized based on indicators provided by Member States; Round Table meetings have taken place in all Member Countries to assist the national committees to prepare for this Meeting

v      At the end of the Conference, delegates will draft and adopt recommendations / forward moving plan and strategies on crucial gender issues affecting women across countries in the region for the next two years. This declaration will be one of the guiding principles of UN Women’s work for the next two years.

v      The delegates will be from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The Ministers in charge of Women’s Development from will be leading their delegations from some countries. The SAARC Secretary General will also be attending the Conference. Other delegates include Secretaries of the Ministries of Women’s Affairs, senior officers, civil society through women’s organizations from the region and gender experts. 

For more details contact Ms. Gita Gupta, Information Officer, UN Women South Asia at gita.gupta@unwomen.org




Sixth South Asia Regional Ministerial Conference, “Commemorating Beijing”

17 – 19 January 2008, New Delhi, India

The Sixth South Asia Regional Ministerial Conference: Commemorating Beijing, co-hosted by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India and UN Women South Asia Office concluded today with the India Forward Moving Strategies for Gender Equality 2008.  The meeting was inaugurated by the Hon’ble President of India, Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil. Ms. Renuka Choudhury, Honourable Minister, Ministry of Women and Child Development (Independent Charge) delivered the Welcome Address followed by remarks by H.E.  Mr. Lyonpo Chenkyab Dorji, SAARC Secretary General, and Ms. Chandni Joshi, Regional Programme Director, UN Women South Asia. Hon Dr. Arfa Sayeda Zehra, Chairperson of the National Commission on the Status of Women Government of Pakistan, gave the vote of thanks.

The declaration that emerged is the result of deliberations that have taken place over the last two and half days among Ministers and senior government officials from the SAARC region along with civil society representatives.  

This declaration has identified the following areas as priority for the next two years. 

v     To introduce mechanisms to ensure follow-up on the CEDAW Concluding Comments

v     To prevent violence against women and pursue gender sensitive enactments/amendments and implementation of existing end violence against women legislations (EVAW)

v     To strengthen women’s participation and leadership capacity in decision making at all levels

v     To promote  women’s economic security and rights

v     To ensure that women have the right to pass their nationality to their children

v     To protect the human rights of women in conflict and disaster situations and ensure the participation of women in peace and conflict resolution processes 

This Ministerial level meeting is an effort to keep the spirit and momentum of 4th World Conference on Women in Beijing (1995) alive, to review progress in the region, assess gaps and identify key priorities to move forward. These meetings are being organized jointly every two years- a process facilitated by UN Women in collaboration with regional governments 

During this meeting the active participation from the governments and the civil society and SAARC Secretariat highlighted the issues of violence against women including trafficking and female foeticide, political and economic empowerment of women, disaster preparedness, issues of peace and security during reconstruction, health and education, as areas demanding critical attention.  

Here are some of the highlights:  

Hon. Minister, Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India, said that female foeticide is being taken up as a silent national emergency.  She informed about the two new schemes Ujjwala and Ananya launched by her ministry in 2007/08.  She elaborated on the proactive role of her Ministry on gender budgeting. She said 53 ministries already have gender budgeting cells and the others are following. 

The Hon. Minister of Afghanistan shared that the condition of women in the country has been very difficult with violence against women being the prime impediment. However, 22.3% women are working as civil servants and holding 28% seats in the national assembly.  Afghanistan targets to ensure 30% women are represented in all government institutions by 2020.  

Bangladesh highlighted the importance of security of women and marginalization of the women’s ministry.  

Bhutan underlined that this time in the national councils in 15 districts, 20% of the elected representatives were women. The civil society stressed on the need of reservation in higher education and the need for a domestic violence bill to enhance the position of women.  

Nepal informed about the 12 point programme signed by seven party alliance and CPNM in 2006. The interim Parliament has passed 33% reservations of women at all levels of Parliament. Reducing violence against women is one of the goals of the seven party alliance. Some of the positive steps taken by the government include: Equal rights on inheritance of property for women; tax rebate in registration of land in the name of women. 

Maldives passed the National Gender Policy in 2006. A study conducted showed that the employment of women has gone up from 37% in 2000 to 52% in 2006. Violence against women is on the rise and new challenges include prostitution, teenage pregnancy and drug abuse.   

Civil society from Pakistan pointed that the Ministry of Women’s Development is marginalized within the national bureaucracy and needs additional resources. The National Commission on the Status of Women exists but does not enjoy independence and has limited influence to make a difference.  

In Sri Lanka the National Plan of Action was updated in 2007. The 2006 figures show that 89.9 per cent women are literate. Yet, there is just 5 per cent female representation in governance.  

The Government of Afghanistan has proposed to host the seventh Biennial Ministerial Conference in 2010.  

For more details contact Ms. Gita Gupta, Information Officer, UN Women South Asia – gita.gupta@unwomen.org


Kathmandu, Nepal, 18 December 2007:

Press Statement on the Occasion of International Migrants Day

Today, 18th of December 2007, we, the National Network on Safe Migration and United Nations Development Fund for Women, UN Women join hands to celebrate the International Migrants Day.  

It has been a proven fact that remittances have played a vital role in keeping the Nepalese economy afloat during the decade long armed conflict and have made vital contributions to the nation's economic well-being. There are about two million Nepali people that are now employed in the foreign labour market, and increasingly women have also started opting for foreign employment. Annually, Nepal receives about 100 billion Nepalese rupees as remittances, and the contributions of women make up approximately 11% of this figure. In this context, it becomes the responsibility of all to protect the rights of migrant workers, especially women migrant workers, who become vulnerable in the process due to their biological and gender makeup. It is important to ensure that foreign employment be perceived as something that is simple, safe and respectable. 

The United Nations has marked December 18 as International Migrants Day. Nepal has been observing this day with various activities to raise awareness on the rights of migrants and highlighting their contribution. On the occasion of International Migrants Day, we would like to draw the attention of the government, civil society, human rights community, professionals, media, donors, political parties and the general public to issues of Nepalese migrant workers engaged in foreign employment, all over the globe. We would like to appeal to all concerned stakeholders to affirm their commitment in this campaign to protect the rights of migrant workers.


Two-Day National Meet To Initiate NGOs in CR for Local Participation

5,000 Community Radio Stations in Two Years Possible, says Government

New Delhi, 6 March, 2007: 

The Government of India expects over 5,000 community radio stations to start functioning in the next two years as a result of the new policy that allows the voluntary sector to set up radio stations, said S K Arora, Secretary, Information and Broadcasting, Government of India, here today. 

“This is just the beginning,”  he said in his inaugural address at the two-day National Consultation for Practising and Potential Community Radio ointly organized by the I&B Ministry and the United Nations in India. 

The new community radio policy approved by the Government of India in 2006 provides NGOs with the platform to use this media tool to widen the scope of their work at the grassroots level in the areas of human development, poverty reduction, social justice and social action.   

“For years the NGOs have seen limited impact of their work in the absence of a medium that could enhance the effectiveness of their work”, he said. The secretary said that unlike most parts of the world, India provided a unique example where the non-governmental sector was working in tandem with the Government on common social objectives rather than occupy an adversarial space. “Such efforts will be further enhanced as community radio stations are set up across the country”, the secretary observed.   

Speaking on the occasion, the UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative, Dr. Maxine Olson, said the, “Radio as a medium of community communications reflects the responsiveness of the government to the voices of those who believe passionately in the power of community radio, she said. 

The UN system is finalizing its 5-year plan of support, the UN Development Assistance Framework. The central objective of UNDAF is  social, economic and political empowerment, and for this community radio is a powerful medium to reach the unreached. “Mass media is a powerful agent of public service and social change. The demand by communities currently using the radio as an autonomous medium is to be understood as a claim to manage and control their own communication medium,” Dr. Olson said. 

Community radio will be an important part of the UN strategy in the years to come, just as it has supported initiatives in India in the past. It has also supported the Government in drawing on the experience of those working at the grassroots to shape the new policy and make it more inclusive, Dr. Olson said. 

In his keynote address, Mr. W. Jayaweera, Director Development Communication, UNESCO emphasized the importance of community ownership and control if community radio has to truly emerge as an agent of social change at the grassroots level. Drawing attention to the various models of community radio functioning in other countries, Mr. Jayaweera said community radio is about harnessing the tremendous potential media can offer to engage people and change their lives. It is about ordinary people having a stake in the vast broadcasting landscape and becoming and accountable citizens. “Community broadcasters are like barefoot doctors. They have not taken the oath of Hippocrates but they won’t change any of the rules.” 

In her message, Ms. Jocelyne Josiah, Officer-in-Charge, UNESCO, Delhi, said the effectiveness of community radio stations and quality of interaction with listeners are improving continuously. Community radio and ICTs have exposed people to cyberspace through the Community Multimedia Centres that promote community empowerment and address issues related to the digital divide. 

UNESCO, Ms. Josiah said, has supported the establishment of community radio stations as a tool of development for more than 30 years. “This has resulted in the creation of community radio stations across the developing world.” 

Over 150 NGOs partners from various parts of the country are participating in the national consultation. Community Radio operators and experts from different parts of India, Philippines, Nepal and South Africa will share experiences on models of ownership and participation, community radio programming, social and financial sustainability, low cost solutions and informing sharing and capacity development for community radio. Senior representatives from UNESCO, UNDP, UN Women, UNICEF have played an important role in this two-day consultation.



13-15 November 2006, Kathmandu, Nepal

Building Positive Partnerships: Regional Interfaith Leaders’ Meeting and Partners’ Learning/Planning Workshop on Anti-Trafficking, Safe Migration, Gender Based Violence (GBV) and HIV

A South  Asia Level Consultation on Building Positive partnerships: Regional Interfaith Leaders Meeting and Partners' Learning/ Planning Workshop on Anti trafficking, Safe Migration, Gender based Violence (GBV) and HIV was inaugurated by the Honourable Minister Urmila Aryal, Ministry of Women and Children Social Welfare.

This meeting brought together 90 participants representing Bangladesh, Pakistan, India and Nepal from various NGOs, networks, research organizations, media, and representatives of different faith based organizations. Participants shared their journey towards ending gender based violence with particular reference to trafficking, safe migration and HIV/AIDS.

Honourable Urmila Aryal, Minister, Ministry for Women and Children and Social Welfare in her Inaugural address said that “The religious lessons are always for the welfare of humans. She said that “Nepal is in a transitional phase, we are on the path to making a new Nepal. The issue of gender equality is very important and these things should be included in the new constitution”. She said that Nepal is in the process of drafting the New Constitution and said that the new constitution should address religious issues, and gender issues with much importance and should not leave anything out. The issue of trafficking – we are in the process of drafting the bill of trafficking of women and children which is in the Ministry of law for approval. We should have our bill passed from the parliament in the near future.

Ms Sangeeta Thapa, UN Women Programme Coordinator, UN Women Nepal welcomed the gathering by saying that the meeting was organized to share our six years of work on eliminating gender based violence focusing on trafficking, and  HIV/AIDS, and unsafe migration that has brought in new partnerships, innovative practices, amazing and unique networks, renewed enthusiasm and much more that we are proud of.

The Chairperson of the National Inter Religious Priest Forum Maulana Nawazish Ali, addressed the gathering by saying that people were born to help and serve each other and make a positive change. We are all making efforts to make a positive change. He said that the IRPF was established in Bihar and then Nepal adopted it and then in UP, Hastinapur. We are all people and we should have love within ourselves. Allah sent us for the welfare of human being.

Shri Manbendra Mandal, National Coordinator, ATSEC said that “IRPF is one of those activities/movements; where it has done a lot of applaud able work all over India, Nepal, Bangladesh and partly in Pakistan which is growing as a regional forum and in a few years it should be in all the countries of south Asia

Ms. Chandini Joshi, Regional Director, UN Women South Asia Sub Regional Office said “This is a unique moment in our history, where we have the leaders from various faiths and religions, media, Civil Society Organizations and stakeholders from across the spectrum gathered together on a common platform for the cause of women’s Human Rights and Human Security.”

She said that “UN Women has long realized the importance of working with several stakeholders, facilitating networks and alliances as issues concerning human rights and human security have multiple layers, multiple facets, multiple dimensions and multiple accountabilities. With this realization, we have felt the significance of faith in the lives of women and men.  The realm of faith reaches the very essence of existence.  It has the power to positively shape cultures, identities, mindsets and attitudes.  We believe that the reach of the faith fraternity amidst people, especially women, is something that will progressively create the sense of positive personhood thus contributing towards social learning, positive human relations, empathy and mutual awareness.” 

Ms Archana Tamang, Chief, Women’s Human Rights and Human Security Unit, UN Women South Asia Sub -Regional Office thanked all the participants for coming to Nepal and wished that in the coming three days the Consultation will discuss issues like Trafficking, gender based violence, HIV, safe migration, existing laws and policies, the inter-linkages between issues and come up with recommendations to take our Journey a Step ahead.

The three day consultation ended with the recommendation to Sensitize/influence policy reflecting gender based concerns of trafficking , safe migration, VAW , HIV; Orientation and capacity enhancement of media as opinion makers; Regional cross sharing of experience and skill development; Formation/ Strengthening of Regional, National and State/ District level inter-Religious Priests’ Forum (IRPFs); Networking and creation of linkages to different Stakeholders; Building and strengthening institutions for providing effective care and services for prevention of trafficking and reintegration of survivors; developing alternative options with proper market linkages.



New Delhi, August 29 - We, the voices of women united through the process of ‘Engendering the 11th Five-Year Plan’, are pleased to share our collective concerns, recommendations and deliberations with the Planning Commission members who we met with this morning of 29th August 2006. 

The Five-year planning process is the most critical policymaking instrument. It is the Five-Year Plan, which sets the development agenda, gives broad directions and defines priority areas. Therefore, it is essential that the policy documents and plans reflect the voices, concerns and perspectives of both women and men. Hence, engendering plans is critical. 

Women are major contributors to India’s economy. Their empowerment is essential for distributive justice as well as for the nation’s growth. Women are a major constituent of development. 

Engendering the nation’s development plan and processes means recognising that women and men are socialised differently. And, as gender is a macroeconomic variable, it needs to be incorporated into the growth model.  

Engendering the growth model means that women be perceived first, as producers of economic goods and second, of non-economic goods that contribute to development. The first implies recognition of women as producers of market goods and services and requires integrating male-female differences in their constraints and potential to development policies.  The second implies incorporating unpaid work as a macro economic variable, as it contributes to the well being of the population and in the formation of human capital. 

An engendered Plan would include a gender dimension in all macro policies – fiscal, trade, agriculture, industry, infrastructure, labour and employment. This can be achieved by incorporating the specific needs of women and men in policy design, implementation, and impact of these policies on them. 

Gender equality and gender justice must be articulated as a central goal of the 11th Five-Year Plan. The ultimate goal in gender equality is to ensure that women and men have equitable access to, and benefit from society’s resources, opportunities and rewards. And, as part of this, women need to have equal participation in defining what is valued and how this can be achieved.



Education Fund Association Baha’i Office for Advancement of Women United Nations Development Fund for Women

For immediate release
Date: 10th March 2006

 Local Women Honoured for Making Outstanding Contributions at an International Women’s Day Function organized by UN Women, AIWEFA and BOAW

New Delhi, 10 March 2006 — UN Women, All India Women’s Education Fund Association (AIWEFA) and the Baha’i Office for the Advancement of Women (BOAW) joined hands on 10th March to observe International Women’s Day. The Honourable Minister of State for the Ministry of Women and Child Development, Ms. Renuka Chowdhury, was the Chief Guest.


The function included a Panel Discussion on the theme of the day, ‘women in decision-making: meeting challenges, creating change’, chaired by Dr. Sarala Gopalan, former Secretary, Ministry of Women and Child Development and Vice President, AIWEFA. Eminent panelists included, Ms. Zena Sorabjee, Chairman, BOAW, Dr. Rita Sarin, Country Director, The Hunger Project, Ms. Neena Khatri, CDPO Farrukhnagar, and Ms. Lata Yadav Grassroots Representative from the tribal area of Chhatisgarh.  

The highlight of the function was the presentation of the AIWEFA STREE RATNA AWARDs by the Honourable Minister, Ms. Renuka Chowdhury. Introducing the awards, Ms. Ranjini Sen, President of AIWEFA informed that AIWEFA instituted this award in recognition of the commitment of visionaries who have devoted their lives for the cause of freedom and justice. The award honours outstanding achievers for their advocacy in empowerment through education, health, nutrition and economic independence. 

The recipients of this award for 2005 are Smt Satya Rani Chadha and Mrs. Shahjahan Begum, known affectionately as Appa, both mothers of dowry victims, who came together in 1987 to set up Shakti Shalini. This is an organization, which supports women in crisis situations. They have set up a shelter home, mobilized public opinions against violence through morchas and rallies and have been instrumental, in not only in bringing about changes in the laws against dowry deaths, but also in setting up the "Crimes Against Women Cell".


Smt. Shahjahan Appa also raised the issue of atrocities against women at the UN Fourth World Conference on Women at Beijing in1995.            

In 2001 Smt. Satya Rani Chaddha, received the "Kannagi Stree Shakti Puraskar" for raising public consciousness against dowry torture and death. 

AIWEFA recognizes the effort of these two strong women who have led this march against atrocities despite their own lack of education, background of a conservative society and inadequate economic means. 

Smt. Suvidha Yadav, Sarpanch in Aklimpur Panchayat, Nimrana Panchayat Samiti District Alwar in the state of Rajasthan received the award for 2006. In her role as Sarpanch, Smt. Suvidha has been able to streamline the functions of the Panchayat and introduce accountability and time management in its day to day activities. Every facet of village life has received her attention. She has crusaded against child marriage, dowry system, sati pratha, mrityu – bhoj and alcoholism. She has encouraged schemes for drinking water availability, formation of self help groups and general promotion of health and housing. Her dedication to the community has won her the trust and confidence of the entire village and reaffirmed the people’s faith in the Panchayati Raj. 

The recipients of the award for previous years are:

2004: Ms.P. Kousalaya, President, Positive Women Network

2003: Dr.Seema Sakhare, Nagpur University

2002: Smt. Prema Narendra Purao, Annapurna Mahila Mandal 

All India Women’s Education Fund Association (AIWEFA) was established in 1929 by a group of visionary women, who realized that the only route to Indian women’s emancipation was through education. These visionaries were Lady Dorothy Irwin, Raj Kumari Amrit Kaur, Sarojini Naidu, Aruna Asaf Ali and others. They comprehended the vast distance and disparity in their lives and those of millions of average Indian women who led a subjugated life. Education and employment were recognized as the catalytic tools for empowerment. In 1932 with the establishment of the Home Science College, Lady Irwin College, AIWEFA sought to inculcate a ‘scientific outlook’ in the women, develop their inherent capacities and enable them to apply the science of living to the individual, the home and the community. 

The Baha’I Office for the Advancement of Women in India, is an Agency of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of India. Equality between men and women, entailing full and equal participation of women in “all fields of human endeavour” is a cardinal principle of Bahá’í belief. Consequently, the Bahá’í community throughout the world is constantly striving to improve the status of women at all levels of society. The Bahá'í office for the Advancement of Women was established in 1995.  

UN Women is the women's fund at the United Nations. Established in 1976, it provides financial and technical assistance to innovative approaches aimed at fostering women's empowerment and gender equality. UN Women also helps make the voices of women heard at the United Nations — to highlight critical issues and advocate for the implementation of existing commitments made to women. 

Media Contacts

UN Women: Gita Gupta                  24604351/24698297; Fax: 24622136

Email : gita.gupta@unwomen.org

AIWEFA: Asha Chandra             23318376, Telefax: 23736922     

Email: aiwefa@nda.vsnl.net.in 

BOAW: Nalina Jiwnani               23389326, Telefax: 23070513

Email: opi@bahaindia.org



12th May 2005

                          Press Release

The three-day regional conference, ‘Development Effectiveness through Gender Mainstreaming: Lessons Learnt in South Asia’, concluded today in the capital. Jointly organized by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the UN Women and Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC), the conference sought to advocate for a more effective implementation of development policies and programmes designed to reduce gender inequality and rural poverty in South Asian countries. The conference was inaugurated by Shri Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Deputy Chairperson, Planning Commission, Government of India and was closed by Dr Syeda Hameed, Member, Planning Commission.

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

Key recommendations from the Conference called for:

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

·       Providing conditions of ‘decent work’ for women in the formal and informal sectors by reducing women’s vulnerabilities especially structural violence against women and enhancing women’s individual and collective empowerment, political voice and representation

·       Expanding the existing indicators of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to capture the different dimensions of gender equality, such as poverty reduction.  For example, the indicators for gender are limited to maternal health and education

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

·      Encouraging men to redefine masculinity and power relations and influencing cultural norms in order to ensure women’s rights.

·      Providing health, education and other public facilities, particularly, in remote and marginal areas

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

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

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

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

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

·      Strengthening political voice and citizenship rights of all women

·      Strengthening access and benefit sharing rights of indigenous peoples, especially women of bio-diverse resources

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

·      Developing gender sensitive indicators for appropriate monitoring and evaluation frameworks

·       Recognizing and implementing UN Security Council Resolution 1325

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

·      Using and monitoring early warning systems.


10th May 2005 

                          PRESS RELEASE  

“Gender needs to be embedded in policies and programmes”, said Shri Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Deputy Chairperson Planning Commission, Government of India, in his special address today, at the inaugural of the three-day Regional Conference on Development Effectiveness through Gender Mainstreaming’. A conference jointly hosted by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the UN Women and Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC), it is being held at the Le Meridien Hotel, in New Delhi.

Shri Ahluwalia emphasized that gender balancing is not sufficiently mainstreamed and that the issue of gender goes beyond poverty. “It is generally recognized that there is a serious problem with regard to gender equality,” he said. He put a great deal of weight on the institutionalization of the Panchayati Raj Institutions and said that statistical evidence showed that Panchayats headed by women are more effective. Lauding innovations like self help groups, he said they are like a movement, which are creating social change and leading to transformation in terms of empowerment and taking life into their own hands. Attitudinal transformation, he commented, was more important than economic returns.

Dr. Noeleen Heyzer, Executive Director, UN Women, delivering the keynote address at the Conference, said that 2005 is a year for reflection and moving forward….and that there is a need to accelerate change. Highlighting the importance of gender equality, Dr. Heyzer stated, “The costs of gender inequality are far too high to ignore. By not addressing gender inequality, we are re-generating poverty”.  Advocating the need for going beyond the micro-credit framework, she emphasized the need to focus on how the macro-economic frameworks address the issue of the poorest women.

Touching on the area of responsibilities in development, Dr. Heyzer felt that gender equality is the responsibility of all partners, including the private sector. “The development effectiveness framework needs to address inclusion and marginalization and link human security and rights”. Focusing on the agency of women and girls, she said that there is a need to build a community of gender advocates, as well as a need to build partnerships and leadership at the highest level, focusing on action and the implementation of policies and programmes. “Development effectiveness is an act of transformation to end violence, poverty and discrimination”, she said.

Dr. Lennart Bage, President, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), in his inaugural address said that when there is gender inequality, women do not reach their full potential. This, he commented, led to persistent poverty. Speaking

about the Conference, he said it was both timely and topical, and that there was a need to work together with different mandates and experiences. “The Beijing Platform for Action (BPFA) is a milestone in recent history. This was reconfirmed at the 10 year review of the BPFA at the meeting of the Committee on the Status of Women (CSW) in New York. The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are also re-enforcing this vision.” For poverty reduction, promoting the empowerment of women is critical, he stressed.

In his address at the inauguration, Dr. Rohinton Medhora, Vice President, IDRC, pointed out that growth in itself did not guarantee gender equality. In fact, according to him, changes in technology and structures of society impact women, with negative impacts some times, as in the case of technological advances, which have contributed to ‘missing women’.

Commenting on the theme of the Conference, Dr Medhora stated that there were traditionally two reasons: the utilitarian and the ethical humanist reason. The strength of the capabilities approach, he said, is that it does not separate these two. In the region, which has practically invented it, it is important to further flesh it out, in order to take the development effectiveness a step further. As a development research organization, IDRC is especially interested in these issues and is in the process of strengthening its gender programming. 

Commenting on the joint initiative, Ms. Chandni Joshi, Regional Programme Director, UN Women, said that the Conference “reflects not only an excellent partnership between the agencies but also a common and shared concern, as well as commitment towards reducing gender inequality and poverty.” She highlighted the fact that there was a need to learn lessons from practices, which have worked and which have not, and upscaling successful modules. The Conference, she said, was in response to the concerns of rural women, who face poverty and inequality on a daily basis.

Dr. Ganesh Thapa, Regional Economist, Asia and Pacific Division of IFAD gave the vote of thanks.

Over the next three days, the Conference will focus on diverse issues. These include: effectiveness of financial services, micro-finance, women’s agency and beyond micro-finance; human security and social cost of gender-specific violence; the existing marginal representation of women in community management, in local and national governance;  women’s right to land, assets, and other productive resources and its impact on gender relations and increased productivity; role of women in conflict prevention and their agency in building peace; and gender indicators of equality, inclusion and poverty reduction.

9th May 2005

                                               PRESS RELEASE

The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the UN Women and Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) are jointly organizing a three-day conference in New Delhi, beginning tomorrow at the Le Meridien Hotel.

The regional conference, entitled ‘Development Effectiveness through Gender Mainstreaming’, will take place on 10th -12th May. The major goal of the conference is to contribute to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which were adopted by 189 nations at the Millennium Summit in New York in 2000. It seeks to advocate for a more effective implementation of development policies and programmes designed to reduce gender inequality and rural poverty in South Asian countries.

The majority of states in South Asia have not been effective in giving operational value to their policy initiatives/ changes and sectoral strategies. South Asian countries have an HDI value of 0.584 and GDI value of 0.535, which is 99 points lower than the average for developing countries (UN/HDR 2002). This is exacerbated in most cases by unequal allocation of food, lower wage rates, and lack of property/ inheritance rights of women and token or at best marginal representation in national parliaments and administrative bodies of governance. Despite numerous cases of success in managing the village level governance and micro-finance or self-help groups (SHGs), rural women of South Asia have significantly less access than men to livelihood resources, assets, health care, education, technology and community management. The most extreme form of gender inequality is the fact that over 79 million women are “missing” in South Asia, largely due to familial neglect of girls, sex-selective abortions, social practices like dowry, property related murders, ‘honour killings’, acid throwing and trafficking in women and girls.

The main objectives of the Conference are:


  • To assess progress towards gender equality and rural poverty reduction, based on case studies and analysis of experiences of rural women (and men) in the projects/ programmes of IFAD, UN Women, IDRC, other multilateral or bilateral agencies, women's organizations, NGOs, community-based organizations in South Asian countries;
  • To strengthen advocacy networks, local and regional partnerships of policy makers, practitioners, and scholars for promotion and implementation of gender equality and poverty reduction in rural areas; and
  • To identify policy options which governments can consider in mainstreaming gender in development programmes for the achievement of MDGs.


Participants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka will be attending the Conference. Observers from China, Kyrgyztan and Fiji Islands will also be present. Delegates to the Conference include political leaders, parliamentarians, senior policy makers, representatives of civil society and academic institutions, heads of international and donor agencies, outstanding indigenous women and women peace activists from the eight South Asian countries.



PRESS NOTE – 2 May 2005


The Fifth South Asia Regional Ministerial Conference

3-5 May 2005, Islamabad, Pakistan


v In 1995 the Fourth World Conference on Women was held in Beijing where world leaders from 189 countries promised equality and gender justice to the world’s women, making a commitment to undertake concrete actions towards it. Over 40,000 women and men from around the world worked together to develop a global action plan - the Beijing Platform for Action, which has become the base document for measuring progress on gender justice and women’s empowerment.

v The South Asia region has been witness to a unique accountability mechanism. Governments and civil society have very successfully deployed regional review mechanisms, as a strategy to address the BPFA and CEDAW. These participatory and transparent review meetings between Governments and women’s groups have entailed a process of cross regional peer learning and sharing of best practices, introspection, gap identification, addressing challenges and developing a common South Asia agenda of priorities for action.

v In an effort to keep the spirit and momentum of Beijing alive as also to review progress in the region, UN Women-South Asia Regional Office in collaboration with the host governments has been organizing South Asia Regional Ministerial conferences to commemorate Beijing. So far 4 such conferences have been held in Delhi in September 1996, in Kathmandu in 1998, in Bandos Island, Madives in 2000 and in Paro Bhutan in 2003.

v “Celebrating Beijing Plus Ten”- the Fifth South Asia Regional Ministerial Conference, is being co-hosted by the Ministry of Women’s Development, Government of Pakistan and UN Women South Asia Regional Office, from the 3-5 May 2005, at the Marriott Hotel, in Islamabad.

v This Conference acquires special significance since 2005 marks the tenth anniversary of the historic Fourth World Conference on Women at Beijing.

v This conference will review progress and strategize on some critical concerns related to gender equality namely: Gender, livelihoods and resources; The varied contours of violence against women in South Asia; and Women’s representation, leadership and effectiveness. The conference will also share best practices on Engendering MDGs, PRSPs and linking BPFA, MDG & CEDAW.

v At the end of the Conference, delegates will draft and adopt recommendations / forward moving plan and strategies on crucial gender issues affecting women across countries in the region for the next two years. This declaration will be shared in the ECOSOC process and through it into the five-year review of the MDGs in September 2005.

v The delegates will be from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The Ministers in charge of Women’s Development from each of these countries will be leading their delegations. The SAARC Secretary General will also be attending the Conference. Other delegates include Secretaries of the Ministries of Women’s Affairs, senior officers, civil society through women’s organizations from the region, elected women’s representatives and gender experts.

v On the 2nd May 2005, the Ministry of Women Development, Government of Pakistan and The UN Women signed a Memorandum of Understanding, in keeping with the spirit of cooperation between the Government of Pakistan and UN Women South Asia Regional Office over the years and recognizing the Ministry of Women Development as the national machinery for the advancement of women within the Government of Pakistan and the role of UN Women as a catalytic agent for promoting gender equality within the United Nations.

To achieve the goals set out in the MOU, UN Women will set up an office in Islamabad, Pakistan and provide technical assistance and support through innovative initiatives to mainstream gender across sectors, plans, policies and programmes, with a view to reducing feminized poverty and exclusion through the realization of women’s human rights and human security.




‘16 days of Activism Against Gender Based  Violence’ –

Campaign to be launched 25 November


New Delhi 21 November 2003 : The ‘16 days of Activism Against Gender  Based Violence’, is a global campaign that UN Women, South Asia , has been spearheading since 1998. Five years later, in 2003, UN Women has globally and regionally taken stock of the response of governments and other institutions to this mounting concern.

A South Asian Report called ‘Say No to Gender-Based Violence’ has revealed that no country in South Asia has successfully legislated on the concern of domestic violence. “It has been perceived by lawmakers to be a private matter that must be left alone,” says the report.

In the South Asian region the picture is stark, with the prevalence of domestic violence ranging from 50 per cent in India to 80 per cent in Pakistan. Even more disturbing are the culture-specific forms of violence peculiar to this region such as honour killings, acid attacks, stove burning and sati.

Ms. Chandni Joshi, Regional Programme Director, UN Women, South Asia, stated that “In today’s context, when the world is witnessing unprecedented violence and strife, we see the Campaign as an opportunity to collectively reflect, take stock, extend our solidarity to the many women and men who have been caught in the crossfire of violence, conflict and marginalisation and renew our commitment to building a civil society where women and men are equal.”

The Campaign is aimed at mobilising and drawing attention to the disturbing fall-out and linkage with issues such as trafficking of women, mental health, HIV/AIDS, the socialisation of men and its day-to-day impact on the increasing and unacceptable levels of violence experienced by women across communities and strata. According to Sunita from Shaktishalini, “My association with the Campaign goes back to the days when I was recovering from the trauma of violence. It has a deep personal meaning for me. Today, I have become a survivor with a cause. I support many women in the community who are going through a similar ordeal.”

The fortnight-long Campaign, from 25 November to 10 December, is marked by a series of events including launch of publications and posters, photo-exhibitions and film screenings.  The highlight of the Campaign is ‘Project Touch’ a day-long workshop where children from about 20 Delhi schools will play with different mediums and art forms to depict violence. To be held on 6 December at the Crafts Museum, the workshop is aimed at sensitising adolescents towards elimination of gender-based violence.

Four publications including a study on human rights violations against women living with HIV/AIDS will be launched on 25 November. A panel discussion that follows will be chaired by Dr Poornima Advani, Chairperson, National Commission for Women. On 28 November, films exploring different forms of violence against women and changing gender identities in the family against the backdrop of globalisation are being screened. The panel discussion that follows the screenings will be chaired by Ms Kasturi Gupta Menon, Secretary, Department of Women and Child Development. A photo-exhibition on masculinity norms is also being organised.

For more information please contact Gita Gupta, Information Officer, UN Women, at 24698297, 24604351; Sandhya Mohan, CFAR, at 26229631, 26430133, 9891317777.


Contact:         Sandhya Menon, Deepa, Rizwan Parwez at nos. 011-26292787, 26430133, 26229631, Mobile 9891317777, 9810415066


Combating Violence Against Women

Voices from the Ground

New Delhi , 25 November 2003 : Speaking on the event Information is Power, Ms. Chandni Joshi, Regional Programme Director, UN Women, spoke about the “invisible human cost of gender-based violence”. The key challenge, she stated, is to “move the issue from awareness that it is a human rights violation and a crime, to making it socially unacceptable and counter to community norms”.  

As part of the 16 Days’ of Activism Campaign, UN Women today released five publications and posters, part of the Information is Power, on Violence Against Women (VAW) and related issues. The books and posters explore various facets of violence, the mechanisms at the regional, national and personal level to deal with violence and help women to overcome it.

1.   Say NO to gender based violence: Responses from South Asia, Anuradha Rajan

2.   The Sounds of Silence, A Manual For Forming Therapeutic Relationships, Dr. Achal Bhagat, Saarthak

3.   My Voice Shall Be Heard: Muslim Women in India 2003, Syeda Saiyidain Hameed, Muslim Women’s Forum

4.   Positive Speaking: Voices of Women Living with HIV/AIDS, Positive Women’s Network and Centre for Advocacy and Research

5.   From Violence to Supportive Practices: Family, Gender and Masculinities in India , Department of Sociology, Delhi University


Violence Against Women in South Asia

      In the report Say NO to gender based violence: Responses from South Asia , Anuradha Rajan, highlights that the Constitutions of Pakistan, India , Nepal and Bangladesh recognise women as equal citizens and uphold equal protection before the law. However, these are yet to translate into gender-just laws and policies.

 ·    Legislation on VAW reflects the strong patriarchal bias in the region. For instance, the issue of domestic violence is not addressed, as it is perceived by lawmakers to be a “private matter”.

 ·    Issues like dowry, cruelty to married women, trafficking, polygamy, rape of minors have been addressed through legislations. Statutory women’s commissions in India and Pakistan have reviewed discriminatory laws and suggested changes to make them gender-just. All the countries, except Nepal , have ratified CEDAW, with reservations.

·    “The legal systems are plagued by inaccessibility and strong gender biases.” A study on judicial attitudes to women in India found that 48 percent of judges agreed that it was justifiable for a man to slap his wife on certain occasions; 74 percent endorsed that preservation of family should be the primary concern for women, even within a violent marriage.

·    Women’s networks on VAW have been formed to combat cross-border trafficking. UN Women has initiated two regional networks, South Asia Forum Against Human Trafficking (SAFAHT) and South Asia Professionals Against Trafficking (SAPAT).

Trauma Care: Coping with Adolescent Concerns

A disturbing trend in trafficking in recent years has been the fact that the young, vulnerable adolescent girls are falling prey to traffickers. Saarthak, in its manual for forming therapeutic relationships The Sounds of Silence, outlines skills for people interacting with survivors of trafficking.

This tool outlines the framework and skills for establishing a rapport with the survivor and enabling her to make choices on her own. The manual deals with “the four different and parallel responses of anger, anxiety, understanding and detachment”.

The manual points out the main components as:

  • Create safe boundaries, as it is difficult for a survivor to trust a stranger.

  • Enable the victim to understand that what happened was not her fault.

  • Listen to the survivor.

  • Enable them to regain control over their lives and learn strategies to deal with anxiety-provoking thoughts.

Public Hearing: Voices of Muslim Women

 At a public hearing in Kozhikode , Kerala, Noorjahan-Nilambur speaks out:

“I was married nine years ago and have two children. When I was pregnant with my second child my husband left me. I filed a case but he did not appear in court. The police arrested him but released him the second day. He was fined Rs. 4,500 and he agreed to look after the family. But he did not return. To date none of my dowry has been returned.”

Noorjahan is one of the 65 million Muslim women in the country who face the “double disadvantage”. Like women from other communities, they face problems of livelihood, education, health care, housing and poverty. Due to the biased interpretation of the Muslim Personal Law by sections of their own community, they face problems of polygamy, triple Talaq among other practices

under the Shariat law, which discriminate against gender.

Based on public hearings at Chennai, Kozhikode, Kolkata, Tezpur, Bijnore and Delhi, the Muslim Women’s Forum has brought out the report My Voice Shall Be Heard: Muslim Women in India 2003. The Report also compares women’s rights under Shariat to those under CEDAW.

 Positive Speaking: Voices of Women Living with HIV/AIDS

I have decided to take my life in my own hands and earn to feed myself. I have also decided not to let my brothers and sisters take away what is my share. I have been doing self disclosure counselling at the hospital ... because I want to help others like me,” 28 year old Sindhu, a woman living with HIV.

The study on Positive Speaking: Voices of women living with HIV/AIDS documents powerful voices of women like Sindhu fighting against the burden of stigma and discrimination, caring for their families and contending with life after widowhood.

I also suffered a lot of discrimination in the government hospital. The sweepers and ward boys wore extra gloves when they had to do anything for me and kept staring at me. Even the doctors and nurses from other departments came and looked at me. They talked in English and I knew it was because of my status. My case file also had HIV written on it and I was kept in a separate room. “”My parents also mentioned my status to his family and told them their son was responsible. They said - we know exactly what is wrong with out son and we have got the right medicines for him. He is going to be okay.”

Shobha 28

The Positive Women’s Network in collaboration with the Centre for Advocacy and Research (CFAR) documented  21 testimonies of women living with HIV/AIDS in Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. It also obtains key inputs from 55 stakeholders who are managing the response at the ground level.

The individual testimonies reflect four dominant concerns:

1.         Unacceptable levels of gender disparity and acute deprivation and discrimination as a girl child.

2.         Denial of the basic right to live a life of dignity, subjected to domestic violence and abuse.

3.         No guaranteed access to services in the area of information, counselling and health care.

4.         Denial of legal rights such as right to property, lack of right to entitlements and benefits.

“When my son tested positive, they asked us to leave the hospital.” Sarswati, a 35 year old woman living with HIV.

Partnering with Men to End Violence

In this vicious cycle of violence, it would be wrong to premise that men are always perpetrators. In fact, it is increasingly becoming evident that to break this cycle of violence against women, men have to be made equal partners in the process and as part of the solution.

As part of this debate, UN Women led an Inter-agency Campaign to eliminate gender-based violence in the South Asia region in 1998 focussed on the behaviour and attitudes that enhances violence.

A research initiative, From Violence to Supportive Practices: Family, Gender and Masculinities in India in partnership with the Department of Sociology, University of Delhi, explored supportive practices of men directed towards other men, their families and the larger community. The exhibition on Men and Masculinities was organised using the written text of the research project and its visual documentation.

The Research indicates that

1.   Within the family, the process of fathering is not limited to the biological father, but is also transferred to other male kin like uncles, brothers.

Idrees Ahmad who runs a business in Old Delhi acted like a father to his younger brothers, helping them establish their shops and setting up business (karobaar jamaana). Farhan, Idrees Ahmed’s nephew replicates neither the father nor the father’s elder brother’s work but rather takes after his mother’s brother and established a saadekaari workshop.

 2.   Men employed as male domestic workers are willing to take up even ‘woman’s work’ for the sake of the family.

“Yeh to aurat ka kaam hai. Ladki ka kaam. Aadmi ka nahin. Kya karna ... majboori mein karna padta hai.” (This is a woman’s work. A girl’s, not a man’s … But what to do, under compulsion one has to do it.)

3.   Some men who are employed as male beauty parlour workers express their desire to perform work that extends care through the skill of their hands.

“I am a good shoemaker (like my father) and I still do some shoemaking. But my real “shauk” or desire is to be able to look in the mirror,” says Mustaqque, male beautician.

The focus of the research is made visible in the photographs. It conveys through the dialogue of the text, the quote and the photograph the different social, cultural and economic process through which masculinities and maleness are constructed.


                                               Press Release

Project Touch

Date: December 6, 2003 

Time:  9.30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.    

Venue: Crafts Museum, Bhairon Road, New Delhi

Project Touch is an effort to sensitise and create awareness and consciousness among school going children on different forms of violence against women. Students from eighteen schools in Delhi will be involved in executing art work based on a series of interactions and experiences. The project will focus on the following forms of violence against women:

  •    Trafficking in women and children,

  •    Domestic violence

  •    Violence against women in public spaces


Why sensitise adolescents?

Because they are confident, articulate and are individuals who are sensitive to the socio-political context and are capable of bringing social changes. We need to hear their voices. They have all the potential of influencing government polices towards such crime and injustice.

Project Touch is part of the global campaign - Sixteen Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence – that is observed from November 25 to December 10 (Human Rights Day).

UN Women through a series of events in collaboration with partners, allies and supporters has tried to focus attention to the urgent need to continue the struggle to free women from violence.

UN Women is organising the workshop TOUCH with children in collaboration with Mr. Probir Gupta, an eminent artist from Delhi. Mr. Gupta whose works have focused mainly on human rights violations, has conducted five consecutive workshops on visual arts. These have mainly dealt with designing, drawing, painting, sculpture and collage.

Participating schools:

The following schools are participating in the workshop:

Apeejay School 

Birla Vidya Niketan

Blue Bells School

Cambridge School

Delhi Public School

Fr. Agnel School

G.D. Goenka Public School

Kendriya Vidyalaya, JNU

KendriyaVidyalaya, Tuglakabad


Mother’s International school


Rai School

Ryan International School

Sanskriti School

Sardar Patel Vidyalaya

Shri Ram School

St. Mary School

Vasant Valley


Prominent groups like Alarippu and Anhad will be performing street plays during the course of the day.


For Immediate Release

10th December 2003 – UN Women wins AGFUND’s international prize

- Women migrant workers’ issues get recognized

UN Women, Delhi – The UN Women Regional Programme on Empowering Women Migrant Workers in Asia is the recipient of the International prize (first category) for Pioneering Development Projects of the Arab Gulf Programme for United Nations Development Organizations (AGFUND). 

His Royal Highness Prince Talal Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, President of AGFUND presented the international prize to Ms. Chandni Joshi, Regional Programme Director, UN Women South Asia Regional Office, at a formal ceremony today in New Delhi.  Ms. Joshi was receiving the prize on behalf of Dr. Noeleen Heyzer, Executive Director of UN Women.

While accepting the honour, Ms. Joshi complimented AGFUND and the patronage of His Royal Highness, in promoting people centred development. In her acceptance speech, Ms. Joshi traced UN Women’s journey on its work on Migrant Women Workers in the Asia Pacific region, highlighting the factors that catalyzed the project and the features that have contributed to its strengths. She dedicated the prize to Migrant Women Workers of the region, attributing the success of the programme to the committed team of partners in various government departments, research institutions, media groups, non-governmental and civil society organizations.  These, she said, have been instrumental, in not only visibilizing critical human rights issues of migrant women workers, but also in facilitating policy and programmatic changes. Delineating other factors, which have contributed to its success, Ms. Joshi noted that the programme was formulated through a consultative and participatory process involving all stakeholders, using an integrated and holistic approach.  The program, she said, sought to view the whole issue, not from a vulnerability perspective, but from a rights-based one, using an empowerment approach.

In Asia, women’s economic migration has exceeded the numbers of male migrants. Yet, despite their economic and social contribution to their home and host countries, women face discrimination at every stage of the migration cycle and are vulnerable to multiple human rights violations.

UN Women’s intra-regional programme, Empowering Women Migrant Workers, is active in the Philippines, Indonesia, Jordan and Nepal. It has focused on policy advocacy to develop new and strengthen existing legal protections for women migrant workers.  

In Nepal, a major breakthrough was achieved through His Majesty’s Government of Nepal incorporating the concerns of women migrant workers into the country’s Tenth National Plan. Most significantly, the Government lifted the ban on female migration to the Gulf countries, in the organized sector. Early this year, the Minister of Labour and the Cabinet made a public commitment to promote safe migration through various measures. These include, making pre-departure orientation mandatory, creating a migrant worker welfare fund, establishing embassies in countries which have large numbers of Nepali migrant workers, classifying foreign employment as a service industry, establishing a labour desk at the Kathmandu Airport, and making efforts to arrive at bi-lateral agreements with receiving countries in the Gulf region.  The Government has recently initiated efforts to review their Foreign Employment Act and develop a sex disaggregated national migration database.

In Jordan, focusing on women’s rights, UN Women has facilitated efforts by the Ministry of Labour and NGOs to develop a Minimum Standard Contract for Migrant Domestic Workers. The contract, which is the first of its kind in Jordan, and a model for other countries in the region, was endorsed by the Ministry of Labour in January this year. The contract covers migrant worker’s rights to life insurance, medical care, rest days, timely payment of wages, employers bearing the travel and work permit costs, end of service agreements, and the right to be treated in a humane way in compliance with international human rights standards. In addition, Jordan has amended the labour law to reformulate regulations for recruitment agencies with an emphasis on their obligations to the government, the employer and worker.  

In Indonesia, where most migrant workers are women, UN Women is facilitating the incorporation of gender and rights-based inputs into the country’s draft Migrant Workers Bill.

In the Philippines, UN Women is supporting a pilot project that highlights the importance of secure and productive investment by migrant workers, and facilitates the channelling of their savings into more lucrative and safe investments.

At the global level, UN Women is lobbying for a more effective application of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) to address the concerns of women migrant workers. To promote regional learning and cooperation on safe migration, UN Women, in collaboration with the Government of Indonesia has organized a high level meeting in Jakarta. Representatives of government and non-government organizations from Bahrain, Bangladesh, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Jordan, Nepal, the Philippines and Sri Lanka are attending this meeting.

UN Women will continue its work to promote safe migration for women migrant workers. It appeals to all sending and receiving countries to strengthen their efforts to promote and protect the rights of women migrant workers and to ratify the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.

For further information on the conference and story/interview opportunities relating to the conference please contact: Chandni Joshi, Regional Program Director, UN Women,  E-mail:mailto:E-mail:chandni.joshi@undp.org