Evaluation of ODIHR gender programme work in Kyrgyzstan, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) Gender Programme has operated since 2000 in the South Caucasus and Central Asia with the goal of promoting gender equality, women’s leadership and participation in the decision-making process, the use of gender expertise to inform decisions, and efforts to combat domestic violence. In difficult conditions, the programme has had a powerful impact in increasing the role of women in public life, helping to stimulate coalition building among women’s groups, contributing to awareness raising on gender equality through gender education and improving the response to violence against women.

This summary overview provides a synopsis of these achievements, along with cross-cutting recommendations on next steps, while the full text of the evaluation spells out our observations and recommendations in greater detail, country by country. The ODIHR Gender Programme became operational in the countries of Central Asia and the South Caucasus (Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Georgia) in 2000, following the decision by the ODIHR management to engage actively in promoting democratization initiatives in these countries. Given the political situation in Central Asia in 2000, Kyrgyzstan was the logical choice for the ODIHR Gender Programme’s activities because it was the most democratic country in the region. Additionally, Kyrgyzstan provided a base from which it was possible to reach out to other Central Asian countries, if an opportunity for such an activity would arise. All three of the Caucasus countries provided substantial opportunities for the ODIHR’s engagement. At that time, the only OSCE country mission was in Georgia, with no programme activities related to gender equality or women’s participation. With regard to the countries of the Balkan region, it was deemed that the ODIHR’s added value would not be considerable given the role and resources that the OSCE’s large field missions had in each of these countries.