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Today’s blog was written by Emily Death, Deputy Director at GPG. She reflects on GPG’s work on women’s political participation in Lebanon, and how recent international crises have shone a light on the need for women’s leadership.
What’s next for our Parliamentary project in Sudan?
Despite the long delay in establishing the transitional Parliament in Sudan, over the past year the team has been able to work
with various key groups that are set to participate in the assembly, including civil society, professionals unions, and rebel groups on the preparation needed to form an effective institution. This month we continue this work and aim to have discussions with women’s groups and grassroots community groups (aka resistance committees).
In addition, at the end of this month, our associate Alistair Burt, Greg, and Sue are delivering a session to the Sudan British Embassy/DFID on the importance of parliaments in transition, and lessons learned from Libya, Egypt, and Iraq.
Sadly, the funding for this project is coming to an end this month, and we are waiting to hear news from the FCO on the potential for continuation, however, there have been delays due to the economic impact of COVID on the UK economy and the DFID/FCO merger. We are also exploring options with other potential funders.
Skills Development Training Sessions to the Women Committee’s MPs
After almost four months in office, Mustafa Al Kadhimi’s government is still facing challenges in several areas. Besides the continuous rise in COVID-19 cases as well as the current economic crisis, the government is facing its worst confrontation with Iran-backed militias, especially with Kata’ib Hezbollah Group which is continuing its attacks in the country, following the arrest of some of its members earlier in an attempt to curb their power in Iraq. Moreover, the Iraqi Prime Minister has called for early elec
tions to take place by June 2021, a year ahead of the originally planned date of May 2022, thus marking some progress in responding to key demands of the mass protests that erupted in October 2019. The Parliament must still ratify the election date and there are concerns that the Iran-backed groups’ parliamentary allies may not allow this to happen.
The GPG Iraq team is in the process of launching its work with the Parliamentary Directorate. We are finalising the Health and Environment Committee’s Inquiry Report on Water Pollution and its Impact on Public Health. We provided the Finance Committee with an Issues Paper on Banking Reforms in support of their proposals to the Iraqi government on its Economic Reform Programme, and will be following up with a series of consultations between the Iraqi Finance Committee and international experts on banking reforms. We are well underway with some exciting research work on ‘Economic Drivers of Youth Political Discontent in Iraq’ which is due to be published towards the end of September. For the project’s women strand, we are planning a series of skills development training sessions with around 20 women MPs which aims to empower them and support them for a more effective parliamentary role. Last week, Iraqi cabinet approved the draft of the domestic violence law and sent the draft to the women committee for their review. GPG will work closely with the committee to address any challenges they might face at this crucial stage.
GPG’s project under the Modern Slavery Innovation Fund has now been evaluated and we are expecting to hear something soon. For now, the Home Office has asked us to provide additional case studies about our project to potentially portray in the external document that will be shared on the back of the evaluation. The Home Office is trying to make a case to the Government that MSIF is a fund worth keeping and we take the request for case studies about our project as a sign that they appreciate and see the value in our progress so far. GPG has received confirmation that our funds for this project are secured until the end of FY 20/21, as planned. This comes after a request from the Home Office to offer up some of the budget back to them, to avoid harsher cuts to the fund to respond to the pandemic.
GPG continues to build on the relationship with the National Committee to Counter Trafficking (NCCT) and particularly, with the Chair of the NCCT and Undersecretary of the Ministry of Justice (MOJ), Siham Osman. GPG is still waiting to sign an MOU with the NCCT as recent Eid holidays and Covid-19 impact have delayed the process somewhat. However, partners are still moving forward providing feedback for the final version.
New Projects and New Opportunities
Lebanon – GPG submitted an Expression of Interest to the World Bank’s Consultancy for a Market Study and Positioning Strategy for Lebanese Women Entrepreneurs in Lebanon, partnering with Expectation State. Expectation State has experience in investment and market analysis across emerging states and the global private sector, and operates in countries of mutual interest with GPG, such as Tunisia and Jordan. We are hoping this will be the start of further collaboration with them.
Armenia – GPG also submitted a tender to the UNDP for Consultancy on Innovative Techniques and Strategies for the National Assembly of Armenia. Although the tender was republished after not initially receiving enough proposals, we are confident that we stand a strong chance in being selected for this work.
GPG are also delighted to announce approval of a small piece of work with the International Republican Institute on engaging male allies to support women’s participation in political parties. The project has just been awarded so more information will follow, but we are excited to build on our work in this crucial field and to draw on the experience of our Associates from party backgrounds.
GPG’s new not-for-profit sister organisation
As some of you may be aware, GPG has long been looking to extend our work into projects in the not-for-profit sphere. So as to position ourselves more broadly, earlier this year GPG founded the Global Partners Governance Foundation (GPGF). GPGF, a not-for-profit company will enable the Global Partners brand to work across a broader range of political, development, and reform programmes and to better respond to the challenges and needs of the current donor climate. GPGF will build on the work of GPG in some of the world’s most complex political environments, working closely with senior politicians, ministers, and officials – in national, regional and local government – to help them identify and implement their own reforms. Whilst GPGF and GPG share the common principles that politics matters, and that it is individuals before institutions who are the true drivers for sustainable change, the two entities are separate.
GPGF had its inaugural Board meeting on 22 July. Along with Greg and Sue, the other Directors are longtime GPG associates Peter Millett, Sarah Hayward and Archy Kirkwood. This initial Board meeting covered the approval of GPGF’s relationship with GPG, agreement on internal processes and procedures, and a very robust conversation about organisational strategy and finances.
We are delighted to announce that in August 2020, GPGF has had its first two projects approved!
New Porticus Project
GPGF has also been awarded a grant from the private philanthropic organisation Porticus, to enable us to continue a significant part of our planned work in Lebanon despite UK government fund reallocation meaning our original project has been practically suspended. At such a critical time in Lebanon, we are very keen to continue and extend our work there to support future women political leaders. We are in the very early phases of this project, but are agreeing actions and activities with the funder in this volatile political landscape and look forward to keeping you informed about how the project progresses.
We are also very glad to be able to inform you that GPG staff and partners in Lebanon are all well after the recent tragic events in Beirut.
Establishing a Parliamentary Human Rights Committee in Oliy Majlis, Uzbekistan
GPG will support the Parliament of Uzbekistan (Oliy Majlis) in establishing a Parliamentary Human Rights Committee based on the model of the UK’s Joint Committee on Human Rights (from July 2020 – March 2021). It will build the capacity of MPs and Committee staff in their role and support them in undertaking their first scrutiny activities through direct advice from Global Partners Governance Foundation’s (GPGF) international experts, based upon and referring to international best practice.
There is senior level interest within the Parliament and wider government of Uzbekistan in creating a Parliamentary Human Rights Committee in order to consolidate scrutiny and oversight of executive functions, as well as examining legislation more consistently for its human rights implications. Although the Parliament experience is limited in relation to the Human Rights issues, the Deputy Speaker of Parliament, who is also Head of the National Human Rights Centre and is committed to developing Human Rights capabilities. Besides, the country has recently taken significant steps to improve monitoring and reporting on human rights, and cooperation with international bodies.
On the 12-13th of August GPG Staff and Associates attended the Samarkand Web-Forum on Human Right. The event was co-organised by the Government of Uzbekistan represented by the National Human Rights Centre of Uzbekistan, the UN Country Team and Friedrich Ebert Stiftung.
A vivid discussion was dedicated to today’s struggles and challenges of young people and to their inclusion in global sustainable development. It was great to witness the common efforts and desire of the experts from different organizations and fields, especially the younger generation with their drive and passion, to contribute to the adaptation of the new International Convention on the Rights of Youth, proposed by the President of Uzbekistan, Shavkat Mirziyoyev during the 72nd United Nations General Assembly.