The last 15 years have been a time of economic struggle for the region of CEE/CIS. The transition from a planned economy and authoritarian regimes to democracy and market economy significantly influenced the region. Lack of transparency in the actions of the governments, corruption and, in severe cases, military conflicts resulted in extreme poverty for a large number of people. Gender equality was influenced by the bad economic situation, human rights abuses due to military conflicts and/or rising fundamentalism. In CEE/CIS violence against women, abuse of their reproductive rights, discrimination in the labour market and low participation of women in decision-making positions has become a serious issue in the recent years.
On the one hand there is a clear distinction between women NGOs in NMS and in the rest of the CEE/CIS region because of a better economic and more stable political situation in the first group of countries. On the other hand all of the countries in the region share a common history and the legacy of communist rule and a socially painful transition to market economy. Hence, it is important that in the process of EU enlargement the two groups of countries (NMS and the rest of the region) do not become alienated from each other. The Network of East-West Women (NEWW) for years has been playing a role of coordinating the efforts to use the commonalities and common experiences of both groups of countries for a common benefit.
NEWW for more than a decade has been serving as an information sharing, lobbing and advocacy campaigns coordinator because as an NGO with members both in the NMS and the rest of the region that are often gender experts or renowned women NGOs it has been well positioned to play this specific role.
This particular experience makes NEWW capable of serving as an advocacy bridge between the region and the EU development policies and funding.
NEWW's concern recently has been centered on a growing divide between the NMS and the rest of the countries of the region. The Network wants to support the countries in the CEE/CIS region which are eligible for development assistance by using monitoring, lobbying and advocacy to ensure that gender concerns are present in the EU development policy towards this part of the region.
The Network wants to bring the issue of gender concerns of the CEE/CIS region to the attention of the national and European policy makers and become a hub for organizing monitoring, lobbying and advocacy efforts to ensure that EU commitments to advance gender equality and its translation into policy, action, and allocation of resources are reflected in EU development assistance to countries of the region. NEWW is concerned with the fact that the EU commitments to gender equality are disappearing. There is a trend to merge gender equality with non-discrimination, equal opportunities, or human rights themes, which is worrying for its implications on gender equality.
Hence, the Network recognizes a strong need for an EU development policy monitoring and advocacy project which would enable NGOs from the region to engage more effectively with the EU Development Policy Debate and in consequence improve the situation of women in CEE/CIS.
The main objective of the "EU Gender Watch" project consists in enabling women NGOs/networks in NMS, Accession Countries and EU Neighboring Countries to cooperate in monitoring and lobbying the EU on its development policies in order to make the EU commitment to advance gender equality and its translation into policy, action, and allocation of resources reflected in EU assistance to countries of the region.
Its goal is to promote cooperation between NGOs in the new member states and the potential member states in Western Balkans and South East Europe, as well as the "new EU neighbors" around the development agenda of the EU.
The project will aim at coordinating and supporting women NGOs from the region of CEE/CIS in their activities aimed at promotion of such development policies that would promote gender equality and empower women, reduce poverty, and meet the Millennium Development Goals in compliance with the International Development Agenda. EU Gender Watch would be dedicated to monitoring the EU for its accountability to the promotion of gender equality in the region.
In case you would have any questions - please contact project coordinator: Zofia Lapniewska: email@example.com