Promoting Women’s Political Leadership and Governance in South Asia
UN Women works with elected women representatives and helps educate them about their rights, so that they can influence justice and public services. With funding from the Government of Norway, UN Women’s Gender Responsive Governance Programme promotes women’s political leadership and governance in Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal and Pakistan.
With very little education and life skills, widows are economically, psychologically and sexually vulnerable. A survey done to gauge the situation of widows in Vrindavan by the Guild of Service and UN Women revealed that the widows are extremely poor monetarily, living well below the poverty line defined by the World Bank and even the Planning Commission. Although 70 percent of the women had heard of the destitute widow’s pension scheme, only a quarter of all widows received pension.
The conflict situation in Nepal has led to many young men losing their lives prematurely, resulting in large numbers of very young widows in the region. There are an estimated 800,000 widows in Nepal; most of them are young and underage making them ineligible for pensions.
A three-year programme, funded jointly by UN Women Swiss National Committee and the Standard Chartered Bank, is being implemented in India, Nepal and Sri Lanka to reduce the social ostracism faced by widows. This will be done by collecting data and evidence to highlight the stigma faced by them, by working with widows’ coalitions so they can speak up and access public services, and finally by guaranteeing that discrimination social practices against widows are reviewed and repealed.
Plans are also afoot to work with local community leaders so they can help to champion the cause of widows. While in India, UN Women will work with widows affected by HIV, the focus will be on young widows in Nepal and widows living in conflict areas in Sri Lanka. The programme will be implemented in partnership with the Guild of Service and Astha Sansthan in India, the Women for Human Rights (WHR) in Nepal and Women’s Education and Research Centre in Sri Lanka.
- Supporting the Government to develop effective policies and guarantee protection of the human rights of widows and their dependents
- Working with Government to ensure access to basic services and resources
- Ensuring access to justice and protection of women from violence
- Ensuring legal protection for safeguarding widow’s rights to inheritance, property and land-ownership
- Building capabilities through training and forming widows’ coalitions to support a process of empowerment.
SAARC Gender InfobaseA repository of information on gender related issues and women empowerment, this Infobase offers quantitative and qualitative data on key priorities of the region –
- Violence against Women (VAW), especially trafficking;
- Health issues, including HIV/AIDS; and
- Feminization of poverty