The Project “To facilitate strengthened coordination between civil society organizations working on women’s issues and gender equality” was implemented by International Advisory Centre for Education of Women (IACEW) in partnership with three Georgian NGOs: Women Political Recourse Center; Peoples Harmonious Development Society and Caucasus Development Group who are members of the South Caucasus Women Political Platform and in Georgia represent a Board of the Platform.
In December 2013 the platform elaborated the 3C policy (coordination, cooperation and consolidation) for the purpose to consolidate these valuable resources the women NGOs and experts have and outline a policy for future coordinated and organised activities through consolidation and cooperation. The project proposal was developed called ‘Facilitate strengthened coordination between civil society organisations working on women’s issues and gender equality” and submitted to UNDP which soon was financed within the framework of their “Joint Program to Enhance Gender Equality in Georgia”.
The goal of the project was to facilitate strengthened cooperation and coordination between civil society organizations working on women’s issues and gender equality in order to consolidate the efforts and resources of these organizations for better gender sensitive policies and practices and more effective public benefit. It was also planned to map new recently emerged organizations in order to bring all ongoing projects and programs into one unified registry so that the stakeholders and public at large get access to all necessary information about gender sensitive programs, policies and activities. Besides, this activity would help strengthen the links between women`s NGO, government and donor organizations for dialogue, debate, and exchange from a pluralistic and participatory perspective, for building consensus and developing agendas to enable women’s organizations to communicate, interact, and join forces to achieve legal equality and the full exercise of women’s rights. The Final output was identified as well: to organize country wide conference to bring together the organizations and experts working on women’s issues and gender equality and create one united forum for better coordination, cooperation and consolidation.
In particular the project’s overall goal was to facilitate strengthened coordination between civil society organizations working on women’s issues and gender equality. The projects specific objectives were to:
1. Map CSOs working on women’s issues and gender equality including new recently emerged organization active in Georgia in order to bring all ongoing projects and programs into one unified registry
2. Create platform for coordination and creation of unified effective mechanisms for better coordination, cooperation and consolidation of resources and efforts (3 C).This report represents the project’s final report for the period of December 2013 to May 2013 and describes the activities and outputs per set goals and objectives, as well as the impact and the outcomes the project was able to attain during this period of time of the project implementation.
6 Focus Groups meetings were organized in the city of Tbilisi (2 meetings), Kutaisi, Gori, Marneuli and Telavi; the regions and other cities beyond Tbilisi were selected specifically in order to meet grass-root organization who actually are marginalized although obtain high quality capacity to elicit information on their needs for better cooperation, coordination and consolidation (3 C). The target groups were (i) the women's NGOs with many years of experience; (ii) NGOs that work on gender issues only episodically; (iii) Newly created NGOs working on gender issues; (iv) The experts working on women's and gender issues.
Overall, 90 NGO leaders and experts were interviewed during the face-to-face meetings and at focus-group discussions. The focus group meetings were organized in Tbilisi on 8 and 14 February 2014; in Kutaisi – on 21 February 2014 ; in Marneuli – on 23 February 2014 and in Gori – on 28 February 2014.
As mentioned above, the immediate goal of the research was to underscore the role of women's organizations and women experts in the developmental process of Georgia and identify the impediments and challenges women’s organizations face during this process; also to identify the prospects of advancing women’s movement and develop a systemic and comprehensive strategy to support women’s organizations to deliver gender equality messages and turn these organizations into powerful force to increase the social capital in the country.
The completed survey is attached to the report. Here the extract of the final conclusion of the survey is cited: “During the research, the major aspects for promotion and advancement of women’s organizations have been revealed that these organizations need to strengthen the unity and consolidation of the women's movement in the country, strengthen cooperation not only with women's organizations but with all interested parties. For this Women’s NGOs need to develop a strategy for enhancing women's movement that will be based on a principle of coalition between the organizations; coordination, consolidation and cooperation of various interest groups in the society is extremely important in order to identify the most important and acute problems of the society and to joint efforts to adress the needs and requirements of both women and men and all members of the society equally – the research participants all agree unanimously. The research participants consider it very important to develop one unified and comprehensive plan and by means of proper co-ordination and consolidation of women's organizations to resolve the problems and challenges facing the society. Improving communication and coordination with donor organizations is considered by respondents as one of the key issues especially when identifying common problems and priorities for future actions. It is also very important to stimulate mass-media for the promotion of women's political activism and formation of public opinion. Lobbying and gender advocacy is named also as of primary importance for ensuring women’s rights protection and gender equality… Only through the state’s and civil society’s joint efforts and strong cooperation it will be possible to exert influence over the public opinion, restoring confidence and trust of the society, which will increase the gender equality in the society’’ .
As a concluding activity and the major output the national conference was envisaged in the project in order to reveal the existing gaps and challenges, discuss the ongoing issues and future perspectives and to facilitate 3C development for better gender sensitive policy and practices development in the country.For the conference preparation number of technical, administrative and logistics issues were addressed. Number of working meetings and 2 special preparatory meetings for working out relevant documents such as joint declaration, code of ethic, agenda and topics for discussion, discussants and moderators, etc. were organized among the team members as well as women NGO representatives and experts. List of conference participants was elaborated and all stakeholders contacted; representatives from local/grass-root levels were invited and their travel costs covered so that they manage to come to the conference.
The national Conference was convened on 6 June 2014. 80 experts and NGO representatives, Parliamentarians, members of the gender national mechanism and UNDP representative were present at the conference.
The Conference was divided into discussion panels which contained various topics for discussion : Panel 1: Presentation of the qualitative research of civil society organizations working on women’s issues and gender equality had its sub-topic on Systematic empowerment of NGOs ; Deepen cooperation of NGOs; Consolidation of activities of NGOs. Panel 2: Challenges and perspectives of Women NGOs came with subtopics on Social Justice and Peace Philanthropy; New level of women’s organizations development; Panel 3: Gender Equality – what was done in Georgia?; Women’s organizations needs and perspectives; Integration of gender perspectives in different civil societies organizations; Panel 4: European Integration – Gender Perspective with its respective topics for discussion such as Importance of EU-Georgia Association Agreement and women`s involvement; Session 4 was the final session on Foundation of the Forum of Civil Society Organizations Working on Women’s Issues and Gender Equality which was followed by presentation of strategic documents such as Special Declaration of the organizations ready to enter the Forum, Code of Ethics, etc. 9all documents are enclosed to the report). By now around 20 organizations declared about their readiness and decision to unite under the Forum.
All work performed within the Project framework and the idea of 3C will be permanently advocate at various meetings and social media including websites of relevant women’s organizations. The work is ongoing – the Forum is yet to establish and prove itself a viable and effective mechanism for betterment of women’s situation in the country and for the achievement of gender equality in the society. The basis has been already put by the project supported by UNDP.
Impact and outcomes
The following Outputs were achieved during the project implementation: output 1 - Number of CSOs working on women’s issues and gender equality including recently emerged organizations and the projects and programs currently implemented in Georgia were identified and are being consolidated in one unified registry which will be uploaded in number of websites for wider access and information sharing, for more advocacy possibility; Output 2 - The coordination mechanisms for better cooperation and consolidation was identified in the form of the FORUM which was established at the national conference. 20 organizations already expressed their will to join the Forum; it’s is expected that the list may increase in times; meanwhile the cooperation framework is being elaborated to consolidate the resources and information that may allow for better coordination and joint activities.
The impact of the project was considerable, as the project participants/the survey participants and conference attendees all unanimously acknowledged that irrespective some achievements a serious progress in women’s issues and gender equality is not achieved in the country because the resources of local women NGOs and experts are not fully utilized, they are scattered and sporadic actions show low effectiveness. All acknowledged that this is due to limited access to information on who is doing what and how, limited access to one common platform where coordination and cooperation is possible and joint actions are feasible; the result was that all agreed that irrespective several Networks of women NGOs, still the field requires strong coordination mechanism. The outcome of the project was the National Conference that offered not only the space for discussions but also the chance to unite into one common platform –The Forum of future 3C was offered, and the documents also shared how to join this Forum that has a lot of interesting plans and objectives. Next step is to formalize the structure of the forum; agree upon the common goals and objectives to effectively utilize joint efforts of the organizations united in the Forum to achieve more balanced and equal society.