By Jennifer O’Riordan

Six new grants from Counterpart International will support women’s rights and promote women’s leadership in Azerbaijan.

Six NGO coalitions received the grants from Counterpart earlier this month. The coalitions comprise 14 organizations, among them the Women’s Association for Rational Development, Women Leaders, Tomris, Solidarity Among Women, Clean World and Women for Development of Municipalities.

The grants were awarded as part of Counterpart’s Women Participation Program, which is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development. The program aims to improve implementation of the United Nations Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijan ratified the CEDAW convention at the Beijing Women’s Forum in 1995 but has not yet reached its goals in improving the status of women in such critical areas as education, employment, health care and domestic violence.

In its most recent review, in 2009, CEDAW concluded that although Azerbaijan had made significant progress, it still had work to do.

“The situation for women here has improved but it could still get better,” says Ilgar Agasibeyli, Counterpart’s Chief of Party for the program in Azerbaijan. “The grants will give these organizations the extra help they need to do their work and continue to raise the status of women in Azerbaijan.”

Grantees were selected through an open and transparent five-step process overseen by a Grants Selection Committee that included representatives from international organizations, embassies and the government of Azerbaijan.

Upon selection, the grantees participated in a compliance workshop, where all of the forms, regulations and details were clearly explained to them.

Counterpart’s approach is based on empowering local organizations to create and implement initiatives. The idea is that the coalitions’ work will not only improve the status of women in Azerbaijan, but that that change will be sustainable as the organizations grow stronger and have the knowledge and skills to continue their work for many years to come.

The two-year Women’s Participation Program (WPP) is funded by USAID and made possible through the Global Civil Society Strengthening Leader with Associates award (GCSS LWA).