Thursday, February 10, 2011

Background Information on UNIFEM

So, what is UNIFEM? And what do they do?

UNIFEM (United Nations Development Funds for Women) was created by a UN General Assembly resolution in 1976, following a call from women's organisations attending the 1975 UN First World Conference on Women in Mexico City.

UNIFEM promotes women's empowerment, rights and gender equality globally, and through 15 regional offices and two country programme offices that support programmes within and among 
individual countries.

UNIFEM is the women's fund at the United Nations. It provides financial and technical assistance to innovative programmes and strategies to foster women's empowerment and gender equality. Placing the advancement of women's human rights at the centre of all of its efforts, UNIFEM focuses its activities on four strategic areas:

1)      1)  Reducing feminized poverty
2)      2) Ending violence against women
3)      3)  Reversing the spread of HIV/AIDS among women and girls
4)      4)  Achieving gender equality in democratic governance in times of peace as well as war

UNIFEM’s Mission:

We support the general mission of UNIFEM in developing nations throughout the region by 
providing funds and support for:

Economic Empowerment Programmes - to enable women to develop business and entrepreneurial skills to access local, national and global markets. Projects also assist women in gaining access to finance, technology and information.

Governance and Leadership Programmes – to give women a voice and visibility by encouraging their leadership in decision making processes that shape their lives.

Conflict Area Programmes - to provide services for women violated during war and armed conflict. These projects also promote the role of women in peace building.

UNIFEM Trust Fund - which helps to support actions to eliminate violence against women, including projects in the areas of: HIV/AIDS, female infanticide, trafficking, forced prostitution, domestic violence, sexual abuse and rape.

In order to achieve this mission, we undertake a wide range of fundraising activities, membership drives and public education programs and events.

For more information, you may visit the UNIFEM website at

Problems faced...

  1. Finding of videos to be screened on the video night event.

We discussed on 2 main sources form which we would like to find our videos from, the library and the internet. We tried going to the National Library to source for the videos. But to our dismay, we realised that that videos were only for reference and we could not borrow them. We resolved this problem by copying down the title and searching for the videos online instead. Thus in the end, we got most of the videos from the internet. The internet is very broad and there are many different videos regarding the issue of domestic violence. It is really not an easy task to find and filter out the videos to be added to our video list. Our mentor had indeed provided us with much help by giving out many pointers to take note of when we are searching for the videos. We have to make sure that the videos that we find are rich and unique in content so as to attract the attention of the viewers. Not only it must be interesting, we have make sure the content is neutral, making sure that it is not all in black and white, allowing the viewers to have a freedom of choice whether they want to take action and take a stand. We had put in videos that show the perspectives of the victims of domestic violence and the abusers themselves. It is so that the viewers will be able to get more opinions about the problem and it would not be too one sided if we were only to put the experiences of the victims. The videos must show an angle- What is the underlying message that we want to spread? How the content support our message to the viewers? It is so as to make sure that the audience will benefit greatly and gain more knowledge on the issue. The videos must most importantly be reliable, showing the correct statistics so as to avoid misconceptions among the audiences. There are so many things to look out for and so we have to be careful when we are watching those videos. We had indeed taken a long time to filter out the videos that are most appropriate to be put into the video list and it was really very difficult.

  1. Getting the guest speaker.

     We went online to search for the different organisations that deal with domestic violence in Singapore. After getting the contacts, we had to send out emails to each of them to invite a guest speaker. After a week, none of the organisations had given us a reply. As time is beginning to run short, it was very urgent that we get a guest speaker fast and so, we decided to just directly call up these organisations. Although we tried calling them, we could not get a reply as they either do not pick up our calls or they are unwilling to speak at the event. Therefore, our mentor narrowed our choices down to focus on just these 2 organisations- Pertapis and Andrew and Grace home. We tried sending them more emails to those 2 organisations, but they still do not reply us. In the end, we sought some help form the mentor and she gave us the number of the person in charge of the organisations. In the end, we managed to settle on the guest speaker from the Andrew and Grace home.

3. Publicising the event.

Our targeted audience are the public who is 15 years old and above. We thought of putting the posters up on the walls near our work and also, giving out the posters as flyers to the people in the public. However those ideas are not feasible and we could carry out any of those actions as our mentor told us that we need a license to do so. We are thus left with only a few options to publicise the event. To invite the students, we decided to email the different schools to announce to the students about our event. We had also attached our poster along with the emails. To invite the rest of the public, we created a facebook page and invited our friends to attend the event, at the same time, asking them to spread the word around too to the other people around them.

Our Weekly Logs @ UNIFEM

Week #1 - 4 to 7 Jan
Although some of us have been exposed to the various types of injustice that women around the world can suffer from (through lessons and the gender inequality IDE), we were still quite shaken and taken aback when we watched the videos that Minnie and Melissa showed us on the first day of the attachment. It is a constant reminder of how girls our age or even younger than us live such a different life, one that leaves them in constant fear and worry. It makes us feel even more strongly for this cause that UNIFEM strongly believes in, and makes the task assigned to us so much easier to carry out simply because we can at least sympathize with these girls/women that are denied of their rights. If planning and executing this video screening program would help to raise more awareness and encourage more people to be proactive in UNIFEM activities, our goal would have been considered reached.

Our task is to come up with a proposal in the form of a Concept Note. We are to plan a Video Screening session to be held somewhere in mid-February, so as to raise even more awareness about UNIFEM’s cause and to encourage more people to be proactive in playing an active part. We feel that coming up with a Concept Note as a proposal is creative and efficient as it allows all of us to fully visualize everything that we are planning for, and helps us all to get a clearer view of what we are doing. We feel that planning for this Video Screening Session is very meaningful as we ourselves are doing something that will further the cause in protecting girls and women’s rights.

Week #2 - 10 to 14 Jan
Once again, We are reminded of how tough event planning is. Just this week alone, we have edited and re-edited the concept note countless times. It might be rather frustrating at times to know that what we have done for the proposal so far is still not enough, and that we have to work further on it to improve it, but we realize that that is all part of the learning experience. Our video list is getting more and more extensive by the day, and we believe that it is not a biased or prejudiced view but an objective presentation of the current situation, allowing our audiences think critically and decide for themselves which side to stand on. By refining the proposal so many times, we actually get a clearer view of what is going to happen on the event day itself, and feel that we will be better prepared for the situation.

The session at UNIFEM this week was rather taxing as the concept note, feedback form, video list, poster, flow of events and etc had to be re-edited so many times. However, at the end of the day, we felt that the experience was rewarding because we finally felt that we were getting somewhere, and we could actually picture and see the event taking shape in our minds. Despite the fatigue because of the constant changes of almost every aspect of our project, we feel closer to our goal than we've had in the 2 weeks we’ve spent in UNIFEM. No doubt, there will be many more obstacles ahead of us, but right now we can see that our hard work and effort put in has finally begun showing results.

Week #3 - 17 to 21 Jan
Publicizing the event as well as finding a guest speaker is harder than we expected. It feels so difficult to let the world know about this small event that we’ve all planned so hard for, and to get them to take the effort to come down and attend this event is even harder. The concept note and video list are almost in the last stages of completion, which is a great relief, as we have almost 10 different versions of each respective document. Right now, our main tasks are to publicize the event and to confirm a guest speaker who will come down to educate the public about domestic violence. We have a feeling that this two tasks alone might be harder than what we’ve already done in the past two weeks, but we are determined to be tenacious in the face of any adversities that are to come.

We are currently trying not to feel too dejected, as all of the organizations that we have contacted have not gotten back to us on whether they will be able to provide a guest speaker for the event. We know that the presence of a guest speaker is perhaps the most important segment of the whole Video Screening event, and without a guest speaker, the event cannot go on. Thus, we are all quite worried and really hoping that at least 1 or 2 organizations from our whole list of contacts would get back to us on this matter soon.

Even though we wish for others to help us in this video sharing session, we find it very hard to publicize about this event so that others will be interested and would be more encouraged to help us. Also, we realize that although it is a video sharing session, the guest speaker segment is actually the most important segment of the night as it is the one with more power to impact audiences. The guest speaker has tons of experience in the area of domestic violence, and thus is the one who is the most apt to educate the masses on it.

On the last day this week, we were overjoyed that someone finally replied to our request for a guest speaker, and we’re heaved a sigh of relief at yet another difficult task that has passed by us. Getting a guest speaker has got to be one of the most difficult tasks throughout this whole attachment. It wasn’t something that required effort on only our parts, and a lot of waiting had to be done in order to get a reply. We know that we are not nearly done yet, as we still have to publicize the event, but I we're just a tiny bit alleviated to know that we have secured a guest speaker!

Week #4 - 24 to 28 Jan
True enough, our task is not yet over even though this was the last week of the wow attachment! We were still very busy, and it took a lot of effort to contact the schools and organizations in order to let them know about this event. We are glad for Minnie’s help in publicizing this video sharing event though, without her we might not be able to reach out to as many school as we are right now. Coincidentally, she will be giving many talks on domestic violence to the different schools in Singapore and she will use the chance to give out the posters at these talks, so that the interest that has been ignited in the students during these talks will not be wasted and they will be encouraged to attend the video sharing session. Hopefully, more and more people will learn about our video sharing session, and they will turn up on 17th Feb. Our effort will then not be wasted but most of all, we will be playing a part in protecting the rights of women and girls around the world.

Although this week was rather smooth sailing, we were in for a shock. Minnie came in one morning this week and told us that the picture that we had on the poster was inappropriate. It was really a shocker because we thought that we had already confirmed the design of the poster, and we thought that everything was okay. It was the last week, after all! Minnie had already printed hundreds of copies of the poster, and started circulating it at the schools that she went to give talks to. We were all quite stricken and worried because it is never a simple matter dealing with copyright issues, and we had to quickly do some damage control. Minnie helped a lot; she did not dwell on what we did wrong but immediately asked us to find another picture suitable to be put on the poster. Mellisa had sent an email to us in the earlier stages of the poster design but somehow, there was a communication error between all of us and the message did not pass through. So we continued working with the same poster, and Mellisa was shocked to see it printed out with the same design that she thought was inappropriate. Finding an appropriate picture was the hardest task for today, as almost everything on the internet is copyrighted. Minnie tried going through all the internal UNIFEM pictures to see if there was something suitable to be used, but there was nothing much. In the end, Minnie decided to use one of the internet photos, but to add the copyright on the poster. So one of us quickly set to work, making the changes to the poster while the rest worked to make the blurb sound more interesting so that others would be more eager to attend the UNIFEM video screening event. The dry run was rather successful, except for a few hiccups here and there, like the videos lagging and the audio jack went missing. Minnie was very encouraging and she told us not to be so nervous and to calm down if we were panicking on the actual day. She gave us many pointers and we made some minor changes to the script to make the whole thing more smooth sailing.

After this whole experience, we can definitely say for sure that events’ planning is not simple at all. It’s hectic, intense, and definitely heart-stopping at times. We used one month to plan an event that will last for two hours, and the effort put in is definitely not a small amount. There were so many obstacles to get through, so many hiccups, but we got through all of them in the end. Of course, this is not over yet, as we still have to find caterers, and come back for the event on 17th February. This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. Though it might be, the end of the beginning. This WOW attachment is only the beginning, and we're looking forward to all the other challenges that we will face, be it in events planning or in other areas of life.

What is our project

Our project mainly is planning a video sharing session to share the videos about domestic violence. UniFem is working on protecting women and girls from domestic violence, sex trafficking and child marriage. However, for a bigger impact, we have decided to zoom in on domestic violence. This way, we can have a rich and unique content and be able to draw more attention.
This video sharing session will spread the message of the seriousness and prevalence of the domestic violence, and to encourage the masses to be more proactive in UNIFEM activities and other such organizations that seek to strike a cause in protecting the rights of girls and women around the world.
Our process including
·         writing concept notes,
·         search the relevant videos in the library and online
·         planning the sequence of the event
·         inviting the guest speaker
·         inviting students which are our target audience
·         publicizing
After all these planning process, the real event will be held on 17th Feb 2011 at the UniFem office. On that day, all of us will be there to hold this video sharing session named “A Call for Help”. Everyone of us will take at least one role in this event.

What We've Learnt

It would be impossible to sum up our experience over the course of the month into a few words. The six of us definitely gained multiple insights from the attachment at UNIFEM last month. What we learnt mostly revolved around the task at hand of the project, which was to plan a video-sharing session on domestic violence.

The first day proved to be kind of a “wake-up call” for us as we watched videos of women and children being battered and the severity of the abuse that took place all over the world. It got us to think as to why such occurrences still take place in today’s current society. It was from there that we were told to start planning for the video-sharing session that would be held in February.

The proposals that we had to come up with did not go as smoothly as we had expected because while it was similar to previous school projects we had done, this project was left entirely up to us to decide on how the entire even would take place. This ranged from things such as registration, to the content of the videos and to the catering. Within each factor itself we faced problems because we were unable to achieve what we had in mind and had to make do with the alternative- videos we had hoped to use that we found form the National Library. Another useful thing we learnt was not to be easily affected or disappointed by the rejected invitations and letdowns from many organizations we had hoped to invite as our guest-speakers. It was from here that we learnt not to make assumptions but to plan for another possible outcome.

It was also essential to have a clear understanding of what message we wanted to bring across to the audience because this would shape the way we carried out our tasks. Lastly, another significant learning point that we took away from this experience was the fact that proper delegation of work among our group members definitely helped in cutting short the mound of time we needed to complete our tasks which resulted in accomplishing more by the end of the whole attachment!