[ International Development Cooperation ]
Positive Action on Behalf of
Women in International Development Cooperation
Recent UN conferences, such as the Human Rights Conference
in Vienna, the Conference on Population and Development in Cairo and the
World Social Summit in Copenhagen, have demonstrated how important it is
that women should participate as equals in the economic, social and societal
developments of their countries. Focal points at the World Women's Conference
in Beijing in September 1995 have been the war on want, education and more
involvement of women in socio-political decisions.
The key role of women in the development process is also illustrated by
the experiences of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung in the projects for and
with women which the Foundation has implemented in numerous countries since
the middle of the 80s.
The gender specific projects of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung aim at improving
the socio-political framework conditions, to ensure equal participation
of women in political, economic and social developments. Special promotion
of women and gender specific topics are integrated into all areas of activity,
be it socio-political consulting, economic and social development or media
In order to facilitate the integration of positive action programmes for women in the design of projects and to identify areas where more has to be done, guidelines on positive action have been elaborated in a dialogue between members of staff in Germany and the Foundation's offices abroad. They are to be used as tools to indicate how the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung can contribute to improving the status of women in the countries of the Third World with the instruments and financial means at its disposal.
Examples of women-specific activities of FES are:
legal situation of women by providing legal advice, public relations activities,
and drafting legislative proposals;
Project activities are accompanied by an extensive programme
at the Foundation's head office, including in-coming programmes which deal,
for example, with efforts to ensure equal opportunities in the Federal
Republic of Germany, and international women's conferences which promote
the exchange of experience and networking between women from the developing
world and Germany.
Preparation for the World Women's Conference
The Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung has contributed to the preparations
for the World Women's Conference by holding an international women's conference
in Bonn in June 1994 entitled "Women Acting for Change". Apart
from numerous German women participants, 16 women from developing countries
took part, representing governments, political parties, trade unions and
The aim of the FES project which was started in 1989 for
"the promotion of self-help activities amongst marginalized groups
in India" has been to improve the economic, social and political situation
of women. The following topics have been identified as priorities:
More women may get a chance to get involved in local politics as a result
of the reform of Indian local self-government, which introduces a 33% quota
for women from the lower castes and indigenous groups. In the coming years,
it will enable roughly one million women to be elected to local and city
councils. Apart from supporting a self-help organization in training women
candidates for the local elections in the State of Haryana in the North
of India, the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung co-organized a number of seminars
with the National Commission for Women regarding, in particular, the question
of implementation and training of women candidates. A workshop in Delhi
evaluated the first local elections held under the new law and the initial
experience of women with the new quota system; its conclusions were later
Activities in India are supplemented by international measures. For example, women participants from different Asian countries were invited to a regional workshop of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung in Bangkok for an exchange of experience. The discussion centred on the kind of strategies which would be most helpful in achieving more participation of women in politics.
FES organized national seminars on "Social Security for Women" or "Inclusion of the Informal Sector in Social Security" in cooperation, for example, with the National Commission for Women, the Social Security Association of India and the ILO. A study examined in particular the role of NGOs in developing innovative systems of social security in the context of state development programmes.
The experience gained in setting up the savings and loans programme is shared with other NGOs in a brochure "Guidelines for Field Workers on Management of Self-help Savings and Credit Groups".
Analyzing the news and information programmes of the electronic
media has played a central role in the cooperation activities with the
Media Advocacy Group, a group of professional journalists, representatives
of women's organizations and media workers. Their conclusions were later
followed up by discussions in a number of seminars. Until then feminist
media research in India had dealt predominantly with the way women were
presented in the media. As a result of the various studies and seminars,
the Media Advocacy Group has been able to contribute significantly to India's
country report on media policy for the World Women's Conference.
At present the Media Advocacy Group is advising the state-owned
station Doordashan in preparing a new news programme "Drishti"
which will focus on women's affairs and will be broadcast as of January
The study "Gender Differences in Employment Patterns of Doordashan and All India Radio", which has been compiled with the support of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, the National Commission for Women and the Media Advocacy Group, is part of a worldwide UNESCO study about women and decision-making power in the media.
©Friedrich Ebert Stiftung | technical support | net edition mv&ola | August 1997