SWAN Special Conference in Partnership with the Development Alternatives TARAgram Yatra 2012

South Asia Women’s Network (SWAN)
SWAN’s Orchha Document :
Summary of Discussions and Decisions on the sidelines of the
TARAgram Yatra 2012 held in New Delhi and Orchha (Madhya Pradesh, India) on 22-25 November 2012

SWAN’s Kathmandu Declaration, issued on 18th July 2012 at the end of its Fourth Annual Conference, initiated work on the Roadmap for Sustainable Development for the Women of South Asia (referred to below as the Roadmap), with the objective of empowering the women of South Asia to lead the transition to sustainability.

The Rio + 20 outcome document ‘The Future we Want’ has failed to recognize and accept the centrality of gender equity in the context of sustainable development. Gender equality, women’s rights and women’s empowerment have proven to be accelerators in the process of development and inclusive growth, accepted as such in the evaluation by UNDP of the progress (or lack of it) in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). These should be included as cross-cutting priority issues in all future development goals, and be recognized as a stand-alone priority issue as well. There should be a combined focus on the social, economic and political empowerment of women.

In all societies, women and children are the most seriously affected by domestic violence, discrimination in access to and control over resources and services, and the negative impact of all conflict situations, whether national, regional or international. Women’s rights must be supported, including CEDAW and the relevant Security Council resolutions (especially 1325). The rights based approach should place women at the centre of development and conflict resolution, and recognize their role as agents of change.

During discussions in Orchha on the post-2015 agenda, it was agreed that rather than settling for rehashed, generalized MDGs, SWAN will work towards developing a new paradigm of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which will recognize the centrality of women’s role in every aspect of sustainability and accept the need for a rights based approach in finalizing the post-2015 SDGs. Sustainable development must be recognized as the fundamental basis for the post-2015 development framework. Structural changes are needed, together with a comprehensive set of SDGs, to overcome poverty and deprivation, inequality and insecurity, and the multiple converging crises of food, fuel, finance and climate change caused by the current development model that is rooted in unsustainable production and consumption patterns, combined with the foisting of inappropriate technologies on developing economies. There should be corporate accountability, redress for damage and independent assessment of risks and damages from new and old technologies and corporate activities.

 These structural changes must recognize and bring on board concepts of sustainable livelihood like Gross National Happiness, inclusive growth and welfare in harmonious balance with the ecological limits of planet Earth. Many such concepts are embedded in the traditions and cultures of South Asia, practiced by indigenous communities for millennia. The post-2015 agenda should build upon, support and enhance the resilience of such traditional practices. In formulating SDGs, regional diversities and needs should be accepted and accommodated within the overarching universal goals.

SWAN’s strategic approach to developing the Roadmap, as enshrined in the Kathmandu Declaration, is based on partnership (including through institutional networks) for advocacy, leadership development and capacity building for change at all levels. The structure for implementation is through a series of workshops in identified areas covering each of the eight sectoral SWANs. These workshops are not ends in themselves : rather, they are the chosen methodology for creating consensus among the women of South Asia on policy recommendations, and on capacity building through the train the trainers approach. An important objective of each workshop is to conceptualize its link with the SDG relevant to the theme of the workshop. These workshops are the building blocks towards developing the Roadmap and agreeing upon the SDGs for the women of South Asia. Among the targets that has been discussed is for SWAN, through these Workshops held over the next three years, to train 100,000 women across South Asia on SDGs and how to attain them, as relevant to their respective areas of activity.

Careful identification of the participants in each workshop is essential to its success. Each workshop should have representation from each of the nine SWAN nations. The workshop-coordinators could consult with the sectoral coordinators and the SWAN country representatives to identify participants, at least one each for the policy and SDG discussions, and one or maximum two for the capacity building programme. The SWAN team from each country should carefully identify suitable and responsible participants as per the requirement of every workshop. Exact numbers of participants and duration of workshop should be carefully finalized since this has direct financial implications for the cost of each workshop.

SWAN is a shared aspiration. The success of our future work will depend on our coordination and interaction with each other in the coming weeks and months as we prepare for and convene these workshops. An important  suggestion has been made to inform and involve women Parliamentarians from each SWAN nation in our activities.

Based on the above, the following were the major points of agreement during the SWAN discussions held on the sidelines of TARAgram Yatra 2012. The Workshops listed below are the ones on which broad agreement has been arrived at regarding venue, date and coordination. Others will be added to this list as and when further decisions are forthcoming :

  1. There was unanimity on the need for more frequent interaction and exchange of views among the members of SWAN. Initiated by Kesang Chuki Dorjee (Bhutan) with Madiha Kazi (Pakistan), Saba Azeem (Pakistan) and Archana Dwivedi (India) will  coordinate to create the SWAN Facebook page, Google Group and Twitter account as part of the effort towards greater coordination and visibility. The facebook group will not be an open group for now : the 61 signatories of the Kathmandu Declaration, the SWAN sector coordinators and the SWAN attendees of the Orchha workshop will be invited to join. This task should be completed by 15th December 2012. Overall coordination for the social media is with Veena Sikri (SWAN Convener) and Nandini Sahai (Coordinator, SWAN on Women in Media).
  2. The Way Ahead – Finalization of the Concept Notes

The most immediate task at hand is for the project leads for each workshop to finalize their respective Concept Notes based on the discussions in Orchha, and in consultation with the SWAN sectoral coordinators and members of each SWAN sectoral group. The Concept Note for each proposed Workshop should include a detailed statement of objectives and expected outcomes In the areas of advocacy, leadership development and capacity building. If country papers are required, this should be stated, as should be any other requirements for convening and conducting the Workshop. The proposed venue and date for each workshop should be indicated. The indicative number and names of participants should be included. Based on all this, the estimated cost of the workshop should also be indicated. It is requested that all the project leads finalize their Concept Notes, and send them to me by 20th December, 2012.

  1. The SWAN Strategic Planning workshop will be held in the Maldives in March 2013. Fathimath Afiya (Maldives) has graciously volunteered to host this workshop, with Veena Sikri (SWAN Convener) as the overall coordinator. This Workshop will seek to develop SWAN’s Mission and Vision statement. This Workshop will be combined with a panel discussion between SWAN representatives and eminent representatives from the Maldives on Handicrafts, Livelihood and Enterprise.
  2. Workshop on Education and Skills Development : Learning from Neighbours in Dhaka, Bangladesh in March/ April 2013 to be coordinated by Shaheen Anam (Manusher Jonno Foundation, Bangladesh) and Tasneem Athar (CAMPE, Bangladesh) along with Archana Dwivedi (Nirantar, India) and Hasina Safi (AWEC, Afghanistan).
  3. Workshop on Livelihood Development and Entrepreneurship in Kabul, Afghanistan in May 2013, to be coordinated by Mina Sherzoy Afghanistan) and Shinkai Zahine Karokhail (Afghanistan) with the support of Shaheen Anam (Bangladesh) and Achla Savyasachi (India).
  4. Workshop on Women’s Leadership and Inclusive Democracy for Sustainable Development in South Asia tentatively scheduled for May 2013, either in Kalimpong (West Bengal, India) or in Pokhara, (Nepal), coordinated by Deepak Dorje Tamang (Search Nepal) and Indira Shrestha (Shtrii Shakti, Nepal).
  5. Workshop on Women in Media : Building Linkages towards Sustainable Development in South Asia in June-July, 2013, in Goa (India) to be coordinated by Nandini Sahai (India) with the support of Mariana Baabar (Pakistan).
  6. Workshop on SDGs for the post-2015 Agenda : the Next Steps for Women of South Asia coordinated by Uchita de Zoysa (Sri Lanka), Hina Lotia (Pakistan) and Zeenat Niazi (India), to be held in Colombo in August 2013 on the eve of SWAN’s Fifth Annual Conference. Each sectoral SWAN coordinator and project lead will be requested for their inputs. Each country will have a representative speaking about the status and the work done in the context of SDGs with respect to their countries.
  7. Workshop on Product Development and Capacity Building in Crafts and Textiles coordinated by Jaya Jaitly (India) with the support of the National Crafts Council of Sri Lanka, to be held in Colombo in August 2013 on the eve of SWAN’s Fifth Annual Conference.
  8. Workshop on Sustainable Energy for All to be coordinated by Vishaka Hidellage (Sri Lanka) in Colombo on the eve of SWAN’s Fifth Annual Conference.
  9.  SWAN’s Fifth Annual Conference on the theme of “Sustainability, Equity and Peace for the Women of South Asia” in Colombo on 23-24 August, 2013 to be coordinated by the Women’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry (WCCI), Sri Lanka, in partnership with the South Asia Foundation.
  10.  Workshop on Impact of Eco-Tourism on the Empowerment of South Asian Women coordinated by Chimmy Pem (Tourism Council of Bhutan) and Yankila Sherpa (Trans Himalayan Women for Environment and Livelihoods, T-HELP, Nepal), scheduled for Thimphu, Bhutan, tentatively in November 2013.
  11. Workshop on Training the Trainers for Gender and Education, coordinated by Archana Dwivedi (Nirantar, India), tentatively scheduled for December 2013.

Veena Sikri
Convener, SWAN
New Delh
29th November 2012

[1] SWAN partnered Development Alternatives in their TARAgram Yatra 2012, held this year on the theme “Sustainable Development in South Asia : Women Driving Change”