Gender Equality Project (GEP II) First Quarter Progress Report 2014
Gender Equality and Women Empowerment Project II (GEP II) is a three-year project implemented by United Nations Development Programme from 2013 - 2015. This report covers achievements in the first quarter of 2014 from January to March.
The primary objective of the first pillar of GEP II is to build the capacity of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs (MoWA) to effectively perform its oversight function on the implementation of the National Action Plan for Women of Afghanistan (NAPWA). During this reporting period, GEP II support to the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and the Ministry of Finance resulted in shaping the sustainability of the process of developing gender sensitive policies and budgets. On one hand, MoWA, 5 line ministries and 1 directorate (Independent Directorate of Legal Governance) could now carry out on their own policy review using a gender lens. On the other hand, GEP II supported a specific instruction pertaining to gender sensitiveness to be inserted in the guidelines for developing Budget Circular 1. Having this specific instruction in the development of Budget Circular 1 will ensure that all line ministries will have to comply and therefore contribute to the sustainability of gender responsive budgeting. In the coming quarters, GEP II will work towards linking the policy review with the budget review to ensure that gender-sensitized policies are translated into budgets thereby guaranteeing implementation of gender responsive policies.
Economic empowerment is GEP II’s second pillar. Between January – March, the project conducted intense negotiations with MoWA to finalize the partnership with local NGO partners that would assist the ministry in delivering support to women entrepreneurs. Five NGO partners will support MoWA in conducting baseline assessments, training on cooperative management, income generation activities, and local and international exposure visits. Meanwhile, GEP II supported women entrepreneurs and parliamentarians to participate in the Business Symposium of Women Entrepreneurs in Central Asia. This was a learning experience for the Afghan women attending the symposium as they had the opportunity to exchange experiences, share challenges in managing business, expand and up-scale their businesses and establish contacts and networks.
The third pillar of GEP II is women’s access to justice and human rights. A key activity under this component is the Legal Help Centers (LHCs). GEP II conducted an assessment of the 24 Legal Help Centers existing across the Bamyan, Balkh, Herat, and Nangarhar. The assessment revealed that the LHCs fill an important gap by providing the much needed judicial institutions for women. However, the assessment noted structural and procedural weaknesses that need to be addressed. The assessment results will be used by GEP II to design interventions that would lead to strengthening the services delivered by the LHCs.
Finally, as the International Women’s Day (IWD) falls in the first quarter of the year, GEP II supported several significant activities leading to increasing awareness of women’s rights. In Afghanistan, IWD was observed in GEP II supported provinces through, art exhibits, sports events and media campaigns. At the international level, high-ranking officials from MoWA including the Minister represented Afghanistan in the 58th Session of the Commission on Status of Women (CSW) in New York. The minister delivered a speech at the conference where she reported that in the past few years, Afghanistan enacted laws that were beneficial to women and girls such as the law on elimination of violence against women and the child guardianship law. Moreover, amendments have been proposed to 22 enacted laws of the country and various policies were designed and approved for the benefit of women and for gaining their rights in areas of political participation, education, health and economic development. She appealed to the international community to continue providing