Training Workshop for NGOs [Archives:2000/26/Reportage]

June 26 2000

Jalal Al-Shar’abi,
Yemen Times
A Training Workshop was held for NGOs by the Post Beijing II Operations, Unifem between 19-21 June, 2000. 20 NGOs were covered and the training was undertaken by a National Consultant contracted by the National Project Management Unit. According to Ms. Samira Ali Bin Daair, the National Manager, this was a step towards the direction of building up a national resource of trainers who can be called upon whenever the need arises to conduct such training.
The training materials were also compiled locally in close coordination with the NPU obtained from various sources and tailor made for the NGO Network in various areas like Advocacy, Lobbying, Networking, gender mainstreaming as well as approaches to formulation, monitoring and evaluation of projects and communication and presentation skills which is important in terms of relations with funders in terms of presentation, accountability and reporting.
The PBII Operations Project is funded by the European Union and Executed by UNIFEM. The main objective of the project is to build up the capacity of national women’s machineries in Yemen, both governmental and non-governmental to enable them to implement the Yemeni Women’s National Strategy adopted by the government in March 1997. This implies the formulation of gender sensitive policies, programs and plans in close coordination with women’s national machineries.
The Beijing Platform of Action had formulated 12 main areas of concern. However, the National Women’s Committee in Yemen, the official national body overseeing their implementation has set out three priority areas, education, health and poverty reduction (through economic empowerment of women). the PBII project has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Women’s National Committee to help build their capacity and assist in implementing their mandate.
A different training workshop was conducted by the PBII project for the gender focal points in the line ministries in April, 2000. It is hoped that building the capacity of these focal points will lead to strengthening the national policies and affect gender mainstreaming into the different sectors. This is done in close coordination with the Women’s National Committee.
This is the second training workshop held for the NGOs and it is hoped that a strong NGO Coalition concerned with women’s issues will be formed which is going to be working closely with the Women’s National Committee for the advancement of women, one representing the official view and the other that of the civil society.
The training used the participatory approach with a practical focus and with an attempt to give the participants the skills for a critical analysis of programs and policies and also skills in communication, media messages and advocacy, as well as networking and working together, which will give the NGOs more credibility. This will include a gender analysis of their own programs as well as those at the national level.

Concluding remarks from the Program Manager:
Needless to say, gender mainstreaming is high on the agenda not only of the international organizations but that of the government of Yemen. All studies have indicated that development cannot take place without the integration of women who constitute the larger segment of the population. However, it is the how and what which is more crucial. So far there have been good programs as well as a lot of lip service which makes it difficult to separate the rice from the chaff. The whole idea of gender mainstreaming into national policies needs to take into account the real needs of the different strata of Yemeni women in the different sectors. Poverty is very high on the agenda and economic empowerment needs to be taken seriously not only at the micro level in terms of access to income generation but that of the macro level in terms of creating conditions that will be conducive to women’s access to livelihoods. It also implies better facilities for the Yemeni citizen, in terms of the basics like fresh drinking water, livelihoods, health and education. This will lead to a slow but sure upward mobility of society as a whole. That is real development in keeping with the concept of gender.
As someone who is working with the mandate of gender mainstreaming, I am trying to keep my head above water, and avoid living in an ivory tower turning gender into an academic debate which revolves around itself as so often happens in the development world. As a Yemeni, I would like to raise my voice as high as possible and say that as we sit here engaging in debates, we should not forget that women are still dying every day from the lack of simple medical interventions; girls in villages cannot go to school due to the inadequate provision of the right facilities, and those who have managed to make it finally do not have access to a livelihood. Without being pessimistic we need to look at changing needs and avoid urbanizing the whole business of gender, even as we struggle of formulate our won national discourse on the matter.