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News author: Lois A Herman
Source of news: WUNRN NEWS
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2006-10-23 14:45:39 / News read 2447 reading
EU GENDER WATCH - Project implemented by the Network of East-West Women, funded by the Presidency Fund - described at WOMEN'S UN REPORT NETWORK(WUNRN) web site.

Project Description
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.

Network of East-West Women’s (NEWW) concern recently has been centered on a growing divide between the New Member States 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.

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. It is also building the capacity of women organizations in the region concerning the EU financial instruments and development policy.

Principal Objective
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 aims 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.

What does it mean in practice?
Network of East-West women was granted by Presidency Fund[1] in April 2006 for EU Gender Watch project. 15 members[2] were selected for the network - according to criteria: knowledge of development issues, knowledge of economic issues, knowledge of gender issues, experience in academic/research work, experience in NGO work, experience in lobbying and advocacy, general impression, fluency in English, availability, recommendations – out from 35 applications sent[3]. After the two – days training, that took place in Gdansk in June 26-27th – prepared together with Social Watch[4] and EEPA[5], 3 Focal Points and 3 Researchers were selected. They were afterwards contracted for developing the reports about new and old EU development aid instruments and their influence on MDGs realization. Reports will be prepared for the countries which represent three subregions: Georgia (the Caucasus), Ukraine (the Neighbouring Countries) and Tajikistan (Central Asia) and finished at the end of November 2006.

When the Social Watch report “Impossible Architecture” was launched in Sofia in September 2006 – the Social Watch experts agreed that for the final report of EU Gender Watch their Gender Equality Index can be used – for the mentioned countries: Georgia, Ukraine and Tajikistan, so the data will be comparable and analyzed in a better way. The final EU Gender Watch report will be launched in January 2007.

After the analysis of new EU development instruments and consultations with EEPA - EU Gender Watch started its lobbying for gender inclusion in priorities of European Neighborhood Partnership Instrument. EU Gender Watch took part in new instrument consultations as well as tried to influence the DG External Relations and EC Delegations in mentioned countries - to assure gender equality issues are included in Country Strategy Papers. This action had to be taken before all the documents are finalized – then until 2009 (mid-term review) they won’t be changed anyhow.

Finally - as a result of the project a source of information on the development issues in CEE/CIS will be developed and widely available (on the website). 5 MPs and 2 MEPs will be committed to amend/influence development policy/funding distribution on the official hearing in Brussels in spring 2007. Thankfully to the EU Gender Watch network – women NGOs will be able to provide further research in their countries, using the money of ENPI for development and equality issues. All procedures on how to get support and factual usage of grants will be published on the NEWW website to make it more available and transparent. At the moment NEWW through the EU Gender Watch Project is devoted to build capacity of women NGOs in three sub-regions of CEE/CIS.

Official site of EU Gender Watch:
www.neww.org.pl/en.php/conference/

In case you would have any questions - please contact: Zofia Lapniewska: zofia@neww.org

[1] www.presidencyfund.org
[2] www.neww.org.pl/en.php/conference/bios/
[3] www.neww.org.pl/en.php/news/news/
[4] www.socialwatch.org
[5] www.eepa.be
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