A task force formed to support China's rural women’s participation in local politics convened in Shaanxi province in November 2011, as part of an UNDEF-funded project to empower women in areas where patriarchal values still dominate village governance. The group brought together representatives from Shaanxi, Heilongjiang and Hebei as well as Huazhong Normal University to discuss strategies and best practices. A few weeks earlier, the project held extensive training sessions in survey and interviewing techniques in Heibei Province.
Asia and Pacific
An UNDEF-funded project in Rajasthan, India, completed its work in 2011 to strengthen the leadership of women elected to Gram Panchayats, or village councils. The project provided training to more than 2,000 elected women and raised the profile of women's political leadership by engaging with the Ministry of Rural Development, media, the state election commission, and civil society. In addition to strengthening the knowledge and confidence of elected women, the programme addressed practical concerns, misinformation, and women's legal rights.
In the 25 years since Vietnam introduced the doi moi programme of reforms, citizens have come to participate far more actively in politics at both commune and village levels. But government is still not fully accountable, especially on issues impacting the environment.
In eight countries of Central Asia and South Caucasus, UNDEF funds a project to increase public participation and make governance more accountable through independent monitoring of public policy-making and implementation. The initiative relies on expertise from independent policy centres with experience of democratic transformation. Through mentoring, training, regional networking and exchange of know-how, civil society organizations are learning to build new channels of dialogue with governments at the national and local levels.
In Azerbaijan, a transitional society shaped by vast oil and gas resources, UNDEF funds a new project to create the country's first women's parliament. The initiative will serve as tool to give more meaning to women’s rights in Azerbaijan, while strengthening efforts to improve governance in the country as a whole. Two decades after independence, the country faces challenges related to both its post-Soviet legacy and the male-dominated culture of traditional Islam.
India has the largest tribal population in the world, with more than 460 tribes comprising some 85 million people. Almost one third are in the Himalayan region. They face a range of challenges, from displacement and exclusion to poverty and illiteracy. An UNDEF-funded project works to strengthen civic participation among high-altitude tribes in Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Sikkim, Uttarakhand and West Bengal.
How can civil society in Russia work more effectively with the authorities to achieve positive change? UNDEF funds an initiative to build skills among Russian NGOs that lack experience in interacting with officialdom and in communicating their message effectively.
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In Palestine, UNDEF funds a project to build leadership capacity among youth and establish forums for them to participate in democratic processes and promote democratic principles in their communities.