VGIF provides grants globally to fund locally generated projects that advance
the rights of women and girls.
NEWS AND UPDATES
Reflections on “2015 and Beyond”
By Shannon Morrall
I recently attended a Town Hall Conference at the United Nations organized by the Department of Public Information’s NGO Relations (DPI/NGO). This meeting was designed to follow up on the success of the 65th Annual UN DPI/NGO Conference in August entitled “2015 and Beyond: Our Action Agenda.”
The DPI/NGO Conference is one of the largest assembly of NGOs, bringing together over 1,500 representatives from all over the world. This year’s theme was “the role of civil society in the post-2015 development agenda.” As such, the general goal of the conference was to provide a space for civil society to network and share strategies and objectives. To achieve this goal, participating NGOs had the opportunity to attend workshops, participate in discussions, and view exhibits. There were thematic roundtables on sustainable development, human rights, and climate change, and workshops centered on topics such as fostering women’s entrepreneurship, ending violence against children, and survivors struggling to end sex trafficking. Reflecting on this year’s meeting, lead expert on gender equality, Anna Keye, reviewed some of the agreed upon priorities for achieving gender equality. Among these were the guarantee of women’s human rights, including reproductive health rights, and the removal of structural barriers for women’s economic capacities. These topics will continue to be incredibly important throughout the next year, especially in discussions around the Post-2015 development agenda.
Throughout the DPI/NGO conference, NGO representatives collaborated on the Conference Outcome Document, which calls for governments to take action on human rights and to create better systems of accountability. This document included the priorities for gender equality, mentioned above. Once finalized, the Conference Outcome Document was circulated throughout civil society globally, as well as among UN Member States with the goal of impacting the priorities included in the Post-2015 agenda. The next conference will be incredibly important as well, and therefore the DPI/NGO team has already begun planning, taking into account the aspects of this year’s event that attendees felt were most beneficial, like the networking opportunities with other NGOs and discussions around the Post-2015 process. Attendees recommended that the next DPI/NGO meeting next year include workshops on advocacy at the community level. While many details of the next conference are still undecided, it promises to be incredibly valuable, impacting not only the NGOs in attendance, but their partners, supporters and beneficiaries around the world.
VGIF was among the many NGOs taking part in the DPI/NGO event. Representatives attended meetings on topics such as women and natural resources, women’s and girls’ inclusion in the Post-2015 agenda, and the need to fight multiple levels of inequality. After the event, staff and representatives discussed what they had learned, shared their own thoughts, and discussed how information gained at these meetings may be useful in VGIF’s grantmaking processes. VGIF collaborates with other organizations to discuss important issues and priorities, as well as strategies for bringing the voices of women at the grassroots to the UN. Working together in these spaces allows NGOs and community-based groups to better prepare a united front when entering into negotiations on the Post-2015 development agenda and other important discussions around issues that impact grassroots groups.
On today's #WorldToiletDay, VGIF would like to commend the work of our past and present grantees in increasing access to sanitation facilitates, clean water, and hygiene programs in communities around the globe. For example, Rural Organization for Social Education (ROSE), a 2013 grantee, focused their project on improving access to water in two coastal villages in India. By project's end, households reported spending less on medical services, increased access to safe water for drinking, sanitation, and livestock, and the group had positively engaged with the government to address water scarcity in the area. Photo Credit: ROSE
Many of VGIF's grants support projects that address a myriad of issues affecting the rights of women and girls around the world. Through their 'Poverty Alleviation through Sewing Program’, the Women’s Section of the Association of Concentration-camp Detainees of Bosnia and Herzegovina provided counseling and group support to 64 women, many who were victims of torture during the Bosnian War, while teaching them sewing skills so they could develop economic sustainability. One participant said, "This sewing education is the most powerful weapon for me as a torture survivor which I can use to change my life." Photo Credit: Women's Section of the Association of Concentration-camp Detainees of Bosnia and Herzegovina