Office of the Senior Coordinator for International Women's Issues
February 14, 2005
U.S. Commitment to Women in Europe and Eurasia
"I believe with all my power, when I go back to Kosovo, I will make a change in my government."
-- Kosovar woman working in the municipal government after completing
The United States carries out and/or sponsors programs for women in the region’s new and emerging democracies in the following key areas: political participation and leadership training; promoting economic opportunity through entrepreneurial training, microenterprise development and access to credit; reducing domestic violence and human trafficking by educating law enforcement officials, teachers, social workers and the general public; and supporting healthcare with training of healthcare workers and increasing women’s access to health education and athletics. Some of the projects the U.S. has implemented for women in the region include:
Political Participation and Civil Society
Legal Reform. With U.S. support, the Women's Consortium of Non-Governmental Associations (made up of more than 110 organizations from 42 regions of Russia) worked in close collaboration with the State Duma Committees to develop the draft law "On State Guarantees of Equal Rights and Equal Opportunities for Women and Men in the Russian Federation," which had its first reading in the Duma in April 2003.
Women in Politics. Three women parliamentarians from Turkey participated in a three week International Visitor Leadership Program on "Women in U.S. Politics," September 2004. The program was designed to broaden their understanding of 1) how women can enter politics from the business sector, education, grassroots organizations, and volunteerism; and 2) the role of women’s organizations in shaping political dialogue and developing and electing candidates.
Networking. In 2003, with help from the United States, more than 100 women in the Radusa community of The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia organized their own first-ever meeting to voice their concerns and identify priorities for their community. Their efforts resulted in an agreement to reconstruct a pedestrian bridge leading to the village's only elementary school.
Entrepreneurial Training. With U.S. funding, the Public Organization on Support of Entrepreneurship, Women of Vision, and the Non-Commercial Partnership Siberian Educational Consulting Center are building a network of women across the Russian Far East to advocate for women’s rights. The project will create awareness of women’s issues, develop leadership skills, and foster regional, inter-cultural, and international exchanges. In October 2003, the United States made it possible for eight women from the Women’s Training Center in Estonia to attend an international conference in St. Petersburg that helped women formulate strategies for achieving equality in practice. In Bulgaria, the United States funded 8 courses in shoe-making and sewing for 80 socially disadvantaged Roma women from the town of Dupnitsa and the suburb of Krainitsi. Each graduate will receive job placement in local factories.
Microenterprise Development. For several decades, the United States has been helping the poor--who depend on microenterprises for their survival--to gain access to capital, information, inputs, technologies, and markets. Women are major beneficiaries of microloans. In Azerbaijan, Mercy Corps is raising the incomes of rural women microentrepreneurs by making available high quality and reasonably priced veterinary and animal husbandry services for livestock and poultry. Such programs also help veterinarians expand their client base and improve their ability to diagnose and treat.
Credit Access. Sponsored by ECA, Elmir Ismayilov of Azerbaijan is a "Contemporary Issues Fellow" at the University of Michigan. In Azerbaijan, he helped develop local credit mechanisms for women. Today, in his work as a community development officer with a nonprofit agency, Ismayilov has helped financial institutions to revise lending methodologies, conduct outreach to women, and implement post loan trainings to minimize delinquency and business failure among women. The establishment of creditworthiness among women has laid a foundation for future access to funding and services from commercial financial institutions.
Business Development. Eight women business leaders and entrepreneurs from Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Latvia, Norway, Romania, and Switzerland participated in a 3-week European Regional International Visitor Leadership Program on "Business Development Issues for Women Business Leaders" in June 2004. Their program provided practical insights into initiatives that promote the development of women business owners; introduced federal, state, and local policies designed to advance women's prominence in business leadership; and provided opportunities for visitors to meet with women business leaders and owners in a variety of contexts throughout the United States, and who shared personal success stories and challenges.
Trafficking Prevention Centers. In Ukraine, the United States funded seven women’s trafficking prevention centers (TPC). The TPCs have hotlines and offer referral services for health, legal, and psychological counseling. The Trafficking Prevention Program works with Ukrainian women’s NGOs to provide job skills training, legal consulting services, and a public education campaign. Since 1998, 44,850 women have received consultations or job skills training; 5,040 women have found work or received a promotion due to the training program; 176 businesses have been created; and 26,149 women completed trafficking prevention or domestic violence awareness training.
Law Enforcement/Training. With U.S. support, the Women’s Rights Center in Yerevan, Armenia, conducted 16 training sessions on domestic violence and 14 sessions on trafficking in women for 225 professionals from law-enforcement, government, NGOs, teachers, doctors, journalists, and psychologists between October 2002 and June 2003. The Center publishes a newsletter on women's issues and broadcasts TV and radio programs on the prevention of trafficking in persons and domestic violence against women. Two members of the Armenian Government’s Interagency Group To Combat Trafficking visited the United States for further training; they had an opportunity to develop concrete approaches to combating trafficking. In Romania, the Regional Anti-Trafficking Best Practice Manual is the culmination of an intensive 2-year cooperation among the U.S., the UN Development Program (UNDP), and Romania’s Ministry of Administration and the Interior. Written for border police officers, specialized police units, and prosecutors, the manual was officially adopted by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime at the regional law enforcement senior officials meeting in Vienna in December 2003.
Legal Reform. In July 2004, five representatives from the Finnish Parliament, Ministries, and NGO's participated in a 1-week Voluntary Visitor Program in Washington, DC, and Atlanta, Georgia, focusing on U.S. Governmental and non-governmental efforts in combating trafficking and assisting victims. The program gave the participants the opportunity to learn about U.S. legislation and strategies and NGOs' efforts in victim identification and assistance. It prepared them with models and ideas to help implement Finland's new anti-trafficking program. ECA also awarded grants in FY 2003 for anti-trafficking programs in Albania, Bulgaria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Romania, and Serbia and Montenegro. These exchanges targeted representatives from NGOs and government agencies and their efforts to draft new laws and legislation to address anti-trafficking efforts in their countries.
Training. In 2003, the United States brought maternal and child healthcare experts from Russia to demonstrate how the U.S. healthcare system in works to assure a healthy pregnancies, deliveries, and early childhoods. Participants became familiar with models of healthy lifestyles, childbirth education, and family-centered maternity care. The United States also helped train volunteers from the blind female community in Vladivostok, so they could provide psychological support to other visually impaired women and programs aimed at integrating blind women into community life. In addition, the project worked to create networks between organizations serving the blind and other women’s NGOs in Vladivostok.
Education and Information. As part of a series of events on breast cancer, Kathy Pardew, wife of the U.S. Ambassador, hosted a book launch at the U.S. Embassy in Sofia, Bulgaria, in October 2003. The book, "Ask the Doctor: Breast Cancer" by Dr. V. Friedewald and Dr. A.U. Buzdar, was translated into Bulgarian by the embassy. Several dozen Bulgarian physicians, breast cancer survivors, and breast cancer activists attended the event, which was covered by the Bulgarian press. Speakers highlighted the changing public attitudes toward cancer and the importance of building networks among patient groups, women leaders, journalists, and doctors.