Gender Working Group Minutes January 07

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 11, 2007 1:35 pm    Post subject: Gender Working Group Minutes January 07 Reply with quote

ACBAR Gender Working Group
January 8, 2007
Attendees: Jamila Ghairat (Women for Afghan Women); Sajia Sultani (Higher Education Project); Peter Gilles (Higher Education Project); Zarghana (DACAAR); Wazhma Frogh (Counterpart); Rachel Mackintosh (DACAAR); Zubaida Mohsen (SAVE Sweden/Norway); Lida Nadery (Asia Foundation); Najiba Barakzai (UNHCR); Nilofar Samsur (MSI); Dr. S. Nazeer Ghazanfar (Intersos); Sara Buchanan (CARE-Note taker).

I. Purpose of Working Group
The meeting began with a discussion of the purpose of the working group. Over the past few months, there has been a lot of discussion about a possible advocacy initiative; however, support for such a project has declined.

Originally, the redesigned Gender Working Group was meant to:
• Improve gender-related activities through networking and information sharing
• Enhance design of projects and activities to better target women and men
• Calibrate on-going projects to promote gender equity through sharing lessons learned and adjusting monitoring and evaluation practices
• Collaborate on projects and activities with stakeholders at all levels (i.e. beneficiaries, government and other NGOs)
• Make members aware of training and other development activities related to gender
• Advocate to decision-makers on issues related to gender, women’s rights and human rights

In October:

Participants generally agreed that the government needs to express its disapproval of the murder of Safia Amajan and ensure greater protection for women working throughout the country. It is important to identify which decision-makers can have the greatest impact on policy and target them.

The group decided to begin an advocacy campaign with members of parliament and Provincial Councils. The Gender Working Group will talk to other agencies (AWN, AIHRC, Women Lawyers’ Commission, etc.) to garner their support in this campaign. The GWG will ask these decision-makers to form local advocacy groups to talk about women’s security and participation. On October 16, the smaller focus group on this issue will meet after discussing the idea and gathering the opinions of the agencies listed above to develop a more concrete plan and messages.

Some felt that there needed to be a greater understanding of the different approaches of each member of the Working Group for the advocacy initiative to work. Higher Education Project (HEP) representatives pointed out that there needs to be an outcome to the GWG, and a platform for advocacy could be something to which all members could contribute. Overall, members agreed that learning and coordination should be the aim of the group and that lack of coordination remains one of the greatest barriers to efficient development in Afghanistan. It is important for members of the GWG to attend other coordination meetings and provide information to the group.

II. New Chair (discussion, nominations)

The Chair is responsible for:
• Notifying NGO community of monthly meetings;
• Attending meetings and taking notes/assigning note takers;
• Disseminating meeting minutes;
• Following up on actions or issues brought up at meetings;
• General coordination among NGOs and other agencies on gender.

Some attendees felt that the Chair should be rotating so that the responsibilities do not fall on one person. In such an arrangement, the Chair would be selected at the end of each meeting.

Others felt that a designated Chair is better so that there is greater consistency and follow-up. One problem is that because the attendance of the Group always changes, that there needs to be one person who remembers what happened in the past. With a permanent Chair, the note-takers can be assigned at each meeting so that the burden is not always on the Chair.

It was suggested that someone with experience in documentation (e.g. AREU) also take part in the meetings to ensure that actions of the group are recorded and that ideas on implementation are shared. Attendees also pointed out the need to bring training materials and other documents that are being developed to the meetings for feedback and learning.

Both Wazhma Frogh from Counterpart and Tina Singleton from Handicap International expressed interest and will become the new Co-Chairs of the Working Group.


A. Consultative Group Meeting: On December 12, a Consultative Group meeting on Gender was held at the Ministry of Women’s Affairs. Wazhma Frogh from Counterpart attended the meeting, which focused on the ANDS and was attended by Ministry officials, donors and other stakeholders. At the December meeting, there was a discussion of the sector strategy of the MoWA which took up the entire meeting time. At the next meeting, a GWG representative will attend to talk about the Group.
B. Statement from Supreme Court on Early Marriage: SAVE presented the statement condemning early and forced marriages and will distribute it in Dari and English via email. It was requested that participants disseminate this statement to beneficiaries. Attendees suggested that the Afghan Women’s Network can interface with government Ministries on this issue.
C. New Outreach Guide Available: Counterpart has just released an Outreach Guide to Afghan Women. The guide, available at, aims to help NGOs increase the identification of the needs of women and their participation. This guide is particularly valuable for those working in rural areas where even seeing women in public is difficult.
D. Gender Consultancy: DACAAR is preparing for a gender research project to look at barriers to promoting and retaining women within organizations and how to improve the working environment for women. This research will also examine the roles of women in programs such as microfinance, NSP and water, among others. By the end of the month, DACAAR hopes to identify researchers for this project. Any interested individuals should apply for the posts through The positions are also posted at
E. Gender Definition: The Ministry of Women’s Affairs is in the process of identifying a group of people to work on the definition of gender. In November, a one-day meeting was held, but the attendees were lower-level representatives from the government Ministries without gender experience, so there was no decision made. It was decided that gender experts, linguists and individuals with experience in translation should develop the definition while considering similar efforts in Iran and Pakistan to define “gender” (as opposed to “sex”). A Scope of Work is being developed for this group in conjunction with the National Commission on Translation
F. HEP volunteers to present at the March 5 meeting.

Next meeting is February 5, 9:00 at ACBAR
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