UN Women South Asia Regional office (SARO) has entered into an agreement with the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign affairs for “Promoting Women’s Political Leadership and Governance in India and South Asia”. The programme has three main components (i) Capacity building of the Elected Women Representatives; (ii) Evolving a Centre of Excellence and (iii) Building research partnerships.

      In India, the importance of capacity building of women in local bodies, to build women’s political leadership from the grassroots is imperative for enhancing their effective participation in governance. In this context, and in order to achieve results envisaged by the above mentioned program, UN Women SARO has signed a Project Cooperation Agreement (PCA) with the National Institute of Rural Development (NIRD&PR), GoI. The NIRD&PR and the UN Women, South Asian Regional Office have signed an MoU to be partners of a joint venture aiming at gender equality and gender responsive governance in India and South Asia and to set up a South Asian Regional Centre of Excellence . The project on “Promoting Women’s Political Leadership and Gender Responsive Governance in India and South Asia” is an initiative under a major project of Gender Responsive Governance Programme, initiated together with the Royal Governance of Norway and the Govt. of India. The Programme was formally launched by the Honourable Minister for Rural Development and Panchayati Raj, ShriC.P.Joshi on 19th of November 2010. The Director General, NIRD&PR Shri Mathew. C. Kunnumkal participated in the programme and gave an outline of the works that will be carried out from NIRD&PR as part of the project.

      The signing in Ceremony for the project on Promoting Women’s “Political Leadership and Gender Responsive Governance in India and South Asia” between the UN Women and the NIRD&PR was held on 16th November,2010 at NIRD&PR. The signing in Ceremony was chaired by Shri Mathew. C. Kunnumkal, Director General of NIRD&PR. The Standard Letter of Agreement was signed by Ms Anne Stenhammer, Regional Programme Director, UN Women, SARO andDr.M.V.Rao, Deputy Director General, NIRD&PR.

       The activities of NIRD&PR in the coming three years under the UN Women - NIRD&PR partnership will enable and empower women elected representatives to perform more effectively and efficiently as pro-active leaders of local governance. The project proposes to start initially with the interventions of training material development and intensive capacity building in a cascading manner in selected six states- Karnataka, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar. The NIRD&PR will identify the training needs of the elected women representatives and PRIs and build a training team in NIRD&PR and the six states to handle the required capacity building at different levels for strengthening the institutions of local governance. The project further envisages institutionalizing the project gains through the establishment of a South Asian Regional Centre of Excellence for Women in Politics.