All along, the Department of Women and Children has been helped by many bilateral and international agencies for development. UNICEF, UNFPA, ADB, JICA, UN Women and, more recently, DfID and Save the Children are the well-known names. In the past, IFAD, USAID, SNV, ILO, NORAD, Voluntary Fund for UN Decade for Women, ESCAP and FAO had been equally co-operative. Development Associates provided by SNV, US Peace Corps, UK Voluntary Service Overseas and German Volunteer Service accompanied Women Development Officers in the field and were friends in need. JICA and KOICA continue to support the Department by way of voluntary services even today. Thus the Women's Development Programme may be considered to be a joint venture of many stakeholders – national and international. In terms of project, though, three agencies – DfID, UNICEF and UNFPA – are working together with the Department at present.
DfID Integrated Development of Women's Institutions for Alleviating Gender-based Violence Programme (6 January 2015 – 31 December 2018)
As part of the Integrated Programme for Strengthening Security and Justice (IP – SSJ), this £5.5 million project is designed to reduce violence against women and children by encouraging community-based initiatives and strengthening access-to-justice services. A total of 35 districts are covered under the project in terms of intensive intervention. The project represents a new phase of co-operation between the Department and DfID that began on 27 July 2012 with the agreement on a transition plan to integrate the Para-legal Committee Programme into the Women's Development Programme.
UNICEF Country Programme
Within the framework of its Country Programme Action Plan, UNICEF has been supporting child protection and adolescent girl development activities of the Department. In fiscal 2015/16, UNICEF assistance adds up to Rs. 29.96 million and is used to fund activities in 20 districts, including the 14 districts severely affected by the April 2015 earthquake. Staff development is also an important aspect of co-operation.
UNFPA Country Programme
Co-operation between the Department and UNFPA is also based on the Country Development Assistance Framework. Reproductive health care, prevention of gender-based violence and empowerment of adolescent girls are shared priorities. Another focus of attention is staff development. UNFPA-assisted activities spread over 18 districts.
In budgetary terms, UNFPA contribution amounts to Rs. 5.6 million for fiscal 2015/16. But that excludes finances being channeled to districts through the District Development Fund.
In a bid to live up to social expectations, the Department intends furthering development co-operation. The following are some of the current priorities:
- bridging the current resource gap of some Rs. 500 million in terms of programme expenditure;
- investing in developing the professional expertise of the departmental staff, especially to:
- facilitate participatory problem solving given the changing needs of women's federations;
- do action research for informed social mobilisation; and
- indentify emerging issues, and advocate action to address them;
- ensuring that both economic and social aspects of women's empowerment go together;
- expanding the adolescent girl development, men's involvement and other strategic components of the programme; and
- bringing knowledge to bear on practical problems as well as creating own knowledge base.