Sunday, September 19, 2010

Non Negotiable Guidelines proposed by South Asia Network on Women’s Rights in Disasters

1.        Recognition: Officials of both state and non state agencies working with disaster affected must recognize and address gender specific and special needs of women.
2.   Health: Health concerns of pregnant and lactating women must be addressed.
3.  Protection: Protection of women and girls from gender based violence and abuse in all camps and relocated communities must be ensured.
4.  Security: Care givers must be given protection and all available assistance by the authorities.
5.  Decision Making: Governments must involve women in consultative and decision making processes.
6.  Inclusion: Special attention must be paid to marginalized groups of women
7.  Anti-discriminatory practices: Governments must ensure that disaster affected receive assistance without discrimination.
8.  Rebuilding: Facilitate rebuilding and capacity building of women’s organizations.
9.  Livelihood Restoration: Facilitate immediate restoration of livelihoods for employment generation.
10. Adherence to International Standards: Ensure women have equal rights to adequate housing and land, and relocation efforts in consistent with international human rights standards.


In a meeting held in Sri Lanka in 2006, the ‘Charter on Violence against Women Post-Tsunami’ was passed by a group of women representatives from the South Asia and South East Asian countries – Thailand, Nepal, Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Maldives, Sri Lanka, India and other countries funded by Action Aid International. Care Society, Maldives was one of the initiators of the VAW network. The Charter on Violence Against Women revealed that violence against women increased after the disaster in all the countries affected by Tsunami including the Maldivian women. The Charter on VAW as the basis inspired the Women representatives to support the formation of a Network on Violence Against Women. Further discussions were held at the regional level and translated into the national level where women development committees, likeminded organizations formed a network to work for the cause of women’s development. The national level women representatives from Maldives were pushing for this linkage. MNVAW is affiliated with the South Asian Network on Violence against Women in disaster.
Exco Members
The Exco members are elected representative of organizations and women representatives at the General Assembly of MNVAW held in 2007 at K. Villingili. Exco members are the governing body that implements the programs approved by GA. The current Exco Members are as follows:
  1. Care Society
  2. MANFAA aging centre
  3. Mahchangolhi Women Ward committee
  4. Society for Women Against Drugs (SWAD)
  5. Villingilli Women Ward committee
  6. HAWI
  7. Maafannu Women Ward Committee
Expansion of MNVAW
Since the inception of MNVAW, the network has been steadily progressing, gaining political recognition and support for its activities carried out in the past two years.
Recommendable Activities by MNVAW from 2007 to 2009
  • Translation of country VAW Report
After the Tsunami, Action Aid International funded Care Society, local NGO to support the Tsunami survivors. One of the focus areas of the Tsunami Rehabilitation and Reconstruction program with the budget of MRF 97,000 million focused on provision of specific services to women such as provision of psychological assistance, livelihood support, addressing social evil like sexual abuse, domestic violence and family development. Additionally, other programs included providing training on women leadership, economic development of women, raising awareness of women to politically and economically participate and establishment of women’s social groups in the Islands. The multi-country rehabilitation and reconstruction programme by Action Aid International in the five countries Sri Lanka, India, Thailand, Maldives and Somali Land pushed the social activists in the national programs of these countries to study the situation of women during disasters. The result was the publication of the Violence Against Women during post-tsunami in the five countries which was later compiled into an International Violence Against Women report in 2007. MNVAW has adopted the report and translated VAW Maldives report into local language Dhivehi. The report was officially launched by Care Society in the islands on 25 October 2007. This event was covered in the local mass media (news papers, radio and TV).
  • Finalization of National Constitution
The first two years of MNVAW has been a challenging time to introduce the network to the policymakers, NGOs and other stakeholders. It was a period where MNVAW held countless Exco meetings to organize and plan the MNVAW activities. One of the first steps was to formalizing the network with finalization of MNVAW Constitution. This process was lengthy and time-consuming as it involved various stakeholders input. However, it is a milestone to have finalized the MNVAW Constitution in 2009.
  • Formation of 8 Social groups
Another recommendable effort by MNVAW has been the formation of 8 Social groups in the Atolls. According to 2006 census, the Maldives populace comprises of 48 % of women. Out of the 300,000 population, 1/3 lives in outer Atolls. As the small population of women is spread across 200 inhabited islands, it is crucial to have a women’s network across the country that will promote the rights of women and children. It is MNVAW’s plan in the future to expand its network across the country, which will enable a forum for local women to lobby for women rights issues, voice gender policy issues and empower women to politically and economically participate in the development of Maldives.