Round Table of Donors Organizations, supporting Gender projects
(Moscow, Canadian Embassy, November 1, 2000, 11 a.m. -14 p.m.)

[Summary]  [Program]  ["Gender Equality in Canada"]  ["First year of Canadian Gender Equality Fund operation"] 


Canadian Cooperation Program hosted a round table of Moscow representatives of donors organizations addressing women's interests and gender equality issues. It was the first in Russia meeting of donors working in the field of gender equality. The round table presented an excellent chance to share information on ongoing and future projects and strategies, and to look for future cooperation. All participants appreciated the initiative of the Canadian Cooperation program for bringing together such a comprehensive group working in this area.

The roundtable attracted 22 participants of major donors organizations represented in Russia. Macarthur Foundation, UNDP and MATRA small grants program were not available but expressed interest in the event and provided information on their programs.

The CIDA program in Russia was rather high profile at the meeting: Eric Yendall, Gabrielle Constant, Irina Grishanova and Yevgenia Issraelian touched upon CIDA priorities and programming, and gave some highlights of CIDA 's policy on Gender Equality .Gender Fund provided hand-outs for the round-table attendants: Gender Fund brochure, list of projects funded in 1999-2000 and in 2000-2001, and information on 3d round grants competition.

16 participants made 5-10 minutes presentations at the roundtable discussion, and distributed their organizations facts sheets, brochures or lists of gender-related projects. During an animated question/answers period several suggestions for follow-up activities were made.

Suggestions for a follow-up:

  1. All the attendants shared the view that the group had a very fruitful mainstreaming of ideas related to gender , and that it should meet again, tentatively twice a year. Next meeting was scheduled for the end of the fiscal year.
  2. It was suggested that the agendas of the meetings should focus on separate issues (crisis centers, decision or policy-making, micro crediting, etc).Working in small groups at the meetings could also be an option.
  3. An idea of gender listserve, for easy networking, was strongly appreciated by the donors representatives. Network Women's Program, Soros Foundation came up with a proposal to subscribe initially to the Russia Donors' Forum, which is an informal coalition of private and public grant-makers working in Russia, and later on to create a separate gender listserve. It was agreed that other opportunities for a gender listserve will also be considered, for example, a listserve on the Open Women Line.
  4. A short summary of the meeting and list of participants with E-Mail addresses will be forwarded to the participants as the first follow-up activity.



Mr. Eric Yendall, Head, Canadian Cooperation Program.
     Opening remarks

Ms. Gabrielle Constant, Third Secretary, Canadian Cooperation Program
     "Gender Equality in Canada"

Ms. Yevgenia Issraelyan, Consultant, Canadian Gender Equality Fund
     "First year of Canadian Gender Equality Fund operation"

Round table discussion. Presentations of donor organizations.

    American Bar Association. Ms. Ludmila Zavadskaya, Director, Gender Program

    Britain-Russia Development Partnership. Mr. William Pryor, Project Officer, Civil Society and Human Rights

    Canadian Cooperation Program. Ms. Irina Grishanova, Senior Project Officer

    Canadian Embassy. Mrs. Penelope Irvin

    Embassy of Sweden. Ms. Marianne Hultberg, Cultural Coordinator

    Ford Foundation. Ms. Mary McAuley, Director of Moscow office

    International Women’s Club, Embassy of Iceland. Mrs. Inga Lis Hauksdottir, Chairperson of Charity Group

    IREX. Ms. Rebecca S. Bryan, Director, Partnerships and Training Divisions

    Open Society Institute - Soros Foundation. Mr. Viacheslav Bakhmin, Director of Program Activities Coordination

    Raisa Gorbacheva’s Club. Ms. Olga Zdravomyslova, vice-president

    European Union. Delegation of the European Commission in Russia. Ms. Tatiana Bokareva, European Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights

    University of Calgary - Gorbachev Foundation. Mr.Yuri Krasin, Coordinator; Ms. Yulia Rozanova, manager

    USAID. Ms. Inna Lukovenko, Project Management Specialist for NGO Support Program; Ms. Marina Grigorieva, Civil Society Development Assistance Specialist; Ms. Tracey Thoman, Gender Advisor, Program/Project Development Officer

    US EMBASSY in Russia. Ms. Connie Phlipot, Coordinator, Women's Program, Deputy of Economic Section.

    Network Women's Program, Soros Foundation. Ms. Elena Kochkina, Director; Ms.Larisa Fedorova, Coordinator

    World Bank. Ms. ELena Zotova, Gender Focal Point for Russia

Wrap up. Closing Remarks

"Gender Equality in Canada"

Room for improvement...

My name is Gabrielle Constant , third secretary, the new member of the CIDA team. I am replacing my colleague Solveig Schuster whom most of you may have already met before.

I am pleased to be here with you as one of those whose interest for gender issues is special.

The permanent need to address this issue in all countries not only in Russia, and efforts have been made, in different ways, to improve the status of women, to raise there awareness regarding there rights, as citizens, as voters, as persons with strong intellectual potential, entrepreneurial skill, capable to be leaders, decision-making factors.

It is not easy as well all know and it takes time to reach to than kind of awareness within societies.

I wanted, shortly, to share with you the findings of a recent study conducted in Canada entitled "Women and corporate directorship in Canada, trends and issues". Written by Karen Hughes professor of women's studies and of sociology at the University of Alberta.

Funded by the Canadian pacific charitable foundation, following interviews with experts in Board and Director recruitment, and through search of the academic and business literature - the study shows that in Canada there is an enormous scope for improving both the presence and the contribution of women on boards of directors.

  1. There is need for better corporate governance and more professional board practice help, but it takes for change to happen.
  2. The report uncovers several barriers to the advancement of women.
  3. Traditional recruitment practices and selection criteria often unintentionally favour men.
  4. The predominance of men can lead to undervaluing the contribution of women.
  5. There is a failure to mentor potential women candidates.

Among the initiative proposed for improving the presence of women on boards are:

Developing female directors through education, experience and mentoring.

Identifying and promoting best practices to encourage more professional board recruiting.

Educating boards, shareholders and other stakeholders on the value of women directors.

There is a growing pressure from informed customers and advocacy by companies with already successful women directors to help bring a change that will benefit not only women but also the companies they serve.

The study provides a practical road map to help bridge the gap between the board in search of good talents and women in search of a place at the board table.


(Presentation given by Yevgenia Issraelyan, Gender Fund Consultant, on the donors meeting, Nov.1, 2000, Canadian Embassy in Moscow)

My purpose is to share some general observations regarding the Canadian Gender Equality Fund activities since its launch last October. The Fund is a 3 year CIDA project to support Russia organizations working in the area of gender equality. The project provides sub-project funding that: a). Assist with institutional capacity building; b). Strengthen civil society through the support of networks of organizations addressing gender inequalities and c). Provide awareness raising in the regions with regard to human/women's rights. The project is intended to support organizations such as NGOs, academic institutions, advocacy and policy groups, as well as government bodies. Individual sub-projects funding is between $20,000CDN to 50,000.00$

The first year of the GEF operation has shown that the initiative has been correctly timed in terms of the challenges confronting Russian women, and that the demand for funding is higher than expected. While there is a strong provision of gender equality in Russian Constitution, in practice discrimination against women is growing. These trends may be reinforced after elections 1999-2000, due to the increased gender disproportion in the State Duma and the government, which are not able to take into consideration either political or social interests of Russian women, or their specific social experience. Consequently, there is a tremendous unfulfilled need in this area.

To my mind, the first year of the Gender Fund undertakings has proved that it is s a good concept and vehicle for aid delivery. Gender Fund became known and visible in Russia as a donor fund specifically addressing gender issues, and as a proactive mechanism for networking and information-sharing on gender issues, including information on Canadian experiences. Mentioning of Canadian experiences, let me tell you that a booklet on Gender based Analysis, a publication of Human Resources Development Canada has been translated and is on the web site of GEF. In addition, we are planning to translate CIDA Gender Sensitive Indicators material and distribute it and place on the web.

The first rounds of project proposals contests (first - December 1999-January, 2000, and second- April-May, 2000), beyond rendering support to the recipient organizations, were aimed at collecting data on the sensitive issues in terms of gender inequality, and areas where assistance is mostly needed, in terms of systemic change and strategic interests of the Russian women. At that stage, priority was given to proposals coming from the regions, and to organizations which had had no grants or had few of them. Most were pilot projects, creating models for future replications. Consequently, none of the 19 approved projects received top level funding ($50,000.00 CDN), average Fund contribution range from 20 to 25,000.00 CDN$.

At this stage, two main types of activities were funded: a). mainstreaming gender perspectives into various sectors in Russia: legislation, programs and policies and b). Actions specifically targeting women as key to achievement of gender equality . The first generation of the projects approved reflects regional diversity (from Murmansk to Pyatigorsk) and was aimed at integrating various social groups into promoting gender equality issues. The sub-projects targeted various social groups, including most vulnerable, such as women-invalids, aboriginal women, women kept in detention houses, refugees, unemployed, women with breast cancer. 8 projects out of 19 approved outreach both men and women.

Though the major part of the projects is underway, and it is too early to talk about outcomes and impacts, some positive trends can be detected as a result of monitoring and analysis of project activities. First, the projects funding strengthens the capacity and assists in the work of organization itself. As a result of project activities, organizations become visible and instrumental, hold networking activities and establish contacts in Russia and abroad, improve skills in advocacy and communications activities (Women-voters of Kaliningrad established contacts with a counterpart in Poland,), new organizations appear (Women-Lawyers in Tula), and receive good media coverage (in regional newspapers and TV interviews or programs - Krasnodar, Irkutsk, Syktyvkar).

The 2nd group of results of projects activities is measured by awareness raised regarding gender equality and women's rights, contributing to changing societal attitudes with regard to gender equality. Yesterday I got an encouraging information with this regard: recipient organization INTERNEWS held a TV seminar in Moscow in June, and as a follow-up 4 TV journalists from the regional TV companies were producing films on women's status. These films were shown in Surgut (Sibiria), and during a talk-show on violence against women 1300 phone calls were received, with questions and comments. The program was strongly appreciated and asked to be shown again. This reveals growing interest to women's/gender issues in the society. And the last, but the most encouraging example deals with legislative changes as a measurement of changes of societal attitudes: in Tula a law on reproductive rights and health was adopted in the third reading.

And the 3 trend to be identified with regard to projects funded is establishing/developing linkages with regional or local authorities. This seems mostly important, considering that the liaison between the state authorities and NGO sector is one of the main problems in Russia. Though authorities are still reticent to fully consider gender issues, every contact in this regard is important. For example, certain governors attended the launch of the sub-projects (in Ivanovo, in Starya Russa), in Saratov Governor Ayatskov supported the project proposal of Saratov NGO to develop the conceptual framework of gender equality legislation and hosted, as a part of the project, the Assembly of women-parliamentarians of the FSU countries; in Kalinigrad and Tula local authorities provided premises and materials for seminars, etc. Though it is too early to record it as an impact of Fund activities, this trend should be identified and developed in the future. To support dialogue between government and civil society, the Canadian Cooperation program held in June a round table, with participation of the Head of Department on women, family and Youth of the Ministry of Labour M.Gordeeva, Duma Deputy Lakhova, key experts on gender from the Moscow Government and the State Duma, UNDP, ILO and the project recipients. It was a good exchange of views and sharing of experiences valuable for authorities and legislators, on one side, and civil society sector on the other. These meetings should be continued.

Now I would like to say a few words about the lessons learned. 1. Gender stereotypes are very strong in the society and gender education is strongly needed on various levels, especially for the government officials and top managers. Let me give you some examples: GEF has supported a project of training for government officials in 3 Central Russian regions, and it revealed ignorance of the officials of gender issues and strong reluctance to deal with them in their practical work Another thing in Tula an NGO was holding seminars on gender issues at the enterprises, and out of 8 directors 2 did not let them hold seminars (one was a woman, by the way); Therefore, gender education for this group is strongly needed. The other lesson learned is the importance of gender education for the children and youth, of integration of gender perspectives in University courses, pre-school and high school education. Let me draw your attention to an operational project which intends to integrate gender approach into preschool pedagogy, through teaching specialists in teaching methods for pre-school up-bringing and publishing a manual "Gender pedagogy for the day-care centres". The third lesson is lack of networking and communications among various NGOs groups, necessity to facilitate contacts. And I am glad that the round table of recipients had a follow-up with regard to networking through sharing of information and contacts, exchange of experts, and joint actions. And the last lesson is an obvious demand for coordination of donors efforts, not to duplicate or overlap each other. Drawn on the lessons learned from the first generation of projects, we are now working at the new strategic directions for GF activities and looking for future cooperation and partnership with other donors.

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