GLOBAL WOMEN FORUM

FIRST ROUND TABLE MEETING HELD ON 16TH APRIL' 2011 AT SINGAPORE.

MINUTES OF THE MEETING

The first Round-Table meeting and networking event of Global Women Forum (GWF)' - a Singapore registered not-for-profit company was held on 16th April’ 2011 at National Voluntary & Philanthropy Centre. Singapore

The following members were present:-

H.E. FAUZIA M SANA. - HIGH COMMISSIONER OF PAKISTAN TO SINGAPORE
H.E.JAYATHRI SAMARAKONE. - HIGH COMMISSIONER OF SRI LANKA TO SINGAPORE
ANDRIA HUTCHINS - C/O AUSTRALIA HIGH COMMISSION
BAREMA MATHI - AWARE
BRIDGET TAN - HOME
DURREEN SHAHNAZ - SOCIAL EXCHANGE
ELEANOR YAP - NVPC.EDITOR
ELIZABETH COSS - NYU
GAYATRI AHUZA - DBS BANK.SR.VICE PRESIDENT.PRIVATE BANKING
KAVITHA IYER
KETNA PATEL - ARTIST
KIRSTEN TROTT - LKY SCHOOL OF PUBLIC POLICY.SR.MANAGER
MICHELLE D.WAN - HUMANEITY ADVISORY BOARD MEMBER
MRINALINI VENKATACHALAM - UNIFEM.PROGRAMME ASSOCIATE
RHEENA M KHERE
SREYASHI SEN - VITHI
SHALINI CHOPRA - MILLENNIUM CAPITAL PTE.LTD.EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

The meeting was hosted by the Global Women’s Forum presented by Shweta Mahesh, Deepa Chatrath and Rekha Mody.

The meeting was inaugurated by H.E.Jayathri Samarakone, High Commissioner of Sri Lanka to Singapore. She emphasized on women networking and also assured her country’s participation.
Eleanor Yap made a presentation about NVPC, the incubator hub 'The Giving Place' which has provided a space to Global Womens’ Forum. Everyone present appreciated the facilities at NVPC.
Deepa Chatrath welcomed the delegates and thanked them for being there, inspite of the short notice. She said that the Global Wonem Forum was an overarching platform that would create a network that connects women across Asean (The Association of South East Asian Nations) & SAARC (The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) countries, across diverse areas of work, across public & private sectors and across cultures.
Rekha Mody made a power point presentation demonstrating how successfully different networks are operating in Europe e.g. Women’s Forum - France and Women International Network. These networks have the support of the corporate world and sponsors. There is a vacuum in Asia and GWF hopes to work in this area.

There are country specific problems and there are common issues to be addressed. Gender budget, policies for aged and political empowerment are three major areas requiring unified actions. The Millennium Development Goal can not be achieved without active participation of Women’s groups.
Dureen Shahnaz aptly commented that while women struggle to make projects successful e.g. Microfinance movement, when it comes to gain recognition, men take over and the women are missing in forefront. There is an immediate need to give women their due and to sensitize men. The glass ceiling will remain unbroken unless vital changes are made.
The Pakistan High Commissioner, emphasized the need for immediate action. The visibility of women to the empowerment of women across Asia remains a big challenge. It was recognized that every religion advocates equal rights for women.
Bridget Tan of HOME enumerated the struggle of HOME and pointed out the lack of sufficient support.
Barema Mathi of AWARE wanted to understand the mandate of GWF and elaborated of reforms required in Singapore.
Ketna Patel emphasized the need for efforts in the area of mental health.
Gender art programme was discussed.
Shreyashi Sen explained her training programme

It was resolved that we will work towards achieving engagement of multi-stakeholders, and towards the end of 2011 a workshop will be arranged.

Note From Deepa Chatrath, Founder Director, Global Women Forum

I want to thank you for taking out time from your schedule to participate in the first steps that 'Global Women Forum Singapore' is taking to build a cross-country network of accomplished women who are ready to contribute to lending their voice to envisioning and creating a future which is just and equitable for all.

Key Feedback From Forum's Kick - Off Meeting

1. Several participants asked for clarity on the 'focus & purpose' of the forum

2. Questions were raised as to how this forum will be different from many existing bodies that work on gender equality.

3. Some questioned why another forum

4. Many saw added value in a creating such a forum which will provide thought leadership, but needed to know more on how it will be distinct from many existing organisations in Asean focusing on women in leadership.

5. Most agreed on the need to engage men in this discussion.

6. There was a suggestion that since all of us are/will be from different sectors with differing passions and hioped to find a way to arrive at 3 areas that cut across geographies and interests and focus on these areas to begin with.

7. Some of the areas of concern raised were - level of political participation, gender budgetting, migrant women, trafficked women, entreprenuerial women, need for more women in law.

8. Discussion around need to standardise and learn from best practices across regions in tackling issues.

9. Initiated by women collectively , however need to involve men in the discussion and the entire process.

10. Conditioning placed on women in differing cultures, need to not look only from victim mentality. Why not flip the issue and look at what has been achieved and then move from there to finding powerful, positive ways to make this change a reality.

11. Need to find that common baseline issues, agree on where we can be useful.

12. Positive relationships & examples - father, daughter relationship.

13. Need for research on women in leadership.

Key take away: Need to articulate and sharpen our reason for being. While we have to respect what will evolve organically as we collectively deliberate on what the Women's Forum means to each of us, I am hoping to also engage a more structured process (Appreciative Inquiry) to guide us through next steps towards making this collective dream a reality.

Key Principles: engagement of multi-stakeholders, whole-systems change to build cooperative capacity. The whole system is an active part of defining the strategy and the action plans and execution. It is inclusive and whole and the focus is on the "inquiry."

Appreciative Inquiry Process

Key tenets of Appreciative Inquiry a process we propose to use to build a 'common ground & common vision' for Global Women Forum:

to study and explore what gives life to human systems when they are at their best
based on an assumption that every living system has a hidden and underutilized core of strengths - it's positive core - which when revealed and tapped, provides a sustainable source of positive energy for both personal and organizational transformation - when joy touches joy, strength touches strength, health touches health and inspiration combines with inspiration, people are liberated and empowered to create ascending spirals of cooperative action.
AI essentially involves the cooperative search for the best in people, their organizations and the world around them
Words make worlds; the world moves in the direction of its inquiry

Global Women Forum - Evolving Vision - Next Steps

1. Introduction to Appreciative Inquiry(AI): Two Hour session with key stakeholders. The best way to learn about AI is to do it. Hence this session will involve appreciative interviews. This introduction will be narrative rich - full of stories and examples of how other organizations have used AI Summits for transformational change. This would include potential sponsors for the AI Summit and members of the Advisory Team.

2. Forming an Advisory Team/ Steering Committee: this is a small group of max 8 people who will provide oversight, direction and resources for the summit. This should ideally represent multiple stakeholder session. ONE DAY meeting with this team to clarify the following:

AI Summit Process on a significant change agenda (agree on the broad strategic focus of the Summit)
Clarify Advisory team roles and responsibilities
Ensure commitment to resources
Plan for communicating the importance of the Summit
Select a Planning Team and empower them

3. Start Planning for the Summit: We plan to host in last quarter 2011 an actual AI summit which will focus on men & women collaborating across ASEAN & SAARC countries to come together for a SUMMIT that will enable us to organically arrive at the 'common ground' and 'shared vision' to move Global women Forum forward. I, once again thank you for taking the time to be with us. I look forward to hearing from you on my proposed 'next steps' and about your interest in becoming part of this journey further on.