The transition from a planned economy and authoritarian regimes to democracy and market-driven economy significantly influenced the CEE/CIS 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 especially from The Russian Federation and the eleven Newly Independent States (NIS). 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 have become a serious issue in the recent years.
On the one hand there is a clear distinction between women NGOs in EU New Member States (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 – especially that now among other EU Members NMS pay Official Development Assistance) 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.
By the realization of the EU Gender Watch project in 2006 – NEWW has created the network of organizations
monitoring gender and development issues from both perspectives – the EU and developing countries. 15 experts, members of the EU Gender Watch Network became involved in establishing contacts with European Parliament (EP) and EC Delegations. As a result - 4 reports
describing the effectiveness of old and new EU instruments – were published and hearing in EP on this issues was organized. The continuation of the project and broadening the areas of interest is from our point of view necessary for guaranteeing the further work leading towards achieving transparency in EU development aid and equal chances and democracy for developing countries and societies in transition.
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.
Growing divide between the NMS and the rest of the countries of the region is in the special focus of NEWW’s activities. The Network wants to support further 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 underline the issue of gender concerns of the CEE/CIS region in the attention of the national and European policy makers and continue to provide 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 (in the new instruments as well as in ODA). 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 will continue the EU development policy monitoring and advocacy by organizing workshops and training the trainers session to multiply the knowledge of development aid utilization, 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-CIS Gender Watch” project is enabling women NGOs/networks in NMS, the Caucasus and EU Neighbouring Countries to cooperate in monitoring and lobbying the EU on its development policies as well as monitoring and lobbying the EU national governments in case of ODA - 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 “new EU neighbours” around the development agenda of the EU. By the cooperation we understand also sharing the knowledge about the new geographical instruments with other regional NGOs (through workshops and trainings) and monitoring them from the gender perspective – as a continuation of EU Gender Watch – but with an extended scope (including ODA).
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-CIS Gender Watch would be dedicated to monitoring the EU for its accountability to the promotion of gender equality in the region.
In case of any questions - please contact project coordinator: Zofia Lapniewska: firstname.lastname@example.org