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 Consultant to deliver a high quality PRODOC for approval at UNIFEM HQ to initiate work on widows in the region and undertake preliminary action for its implementation
 United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM)

 Location: New Delhi
 Last Date: July 10, 2010

UNIFEM South Asia Regional Office
D-53 Defence Colony
New Delhi, India - 24
Fax: 91-11-24622136

Starting date   :               1 July 2010

Closing date   :                 10 July 2010 

Announcement No. UNIFEM/SRO/SSA/2010/005 

Position :  Consultant to deliver a high quality PRODOC for approval at UNIFEM HQ to initiate work on widows in the region and undertake preliminary action for its implementation 

Organization : United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) 

Duration : 60 Working Days over Six Months   

Type of Contract : SSA – (Short Service Agreement) 

1.            Context:  

Discrimination against and abuse of widows of all ages and single women in general, transcends differences such as geographical location, culture, religion, and ethnic identity, and occurs irrespective of their economic or education status, class or caste.

 Societal value systems in South Asia have been considered for long as consisting of strong bonds of kin group solidarity and cooperation. However, recent empirical research in Asia is uncovering information about islands of marginalisation within this fabric of kinship. One such group that requires urgent attention consists of widowed women. As the UN DAW report titled “Widowhood: Invisible women, secluded or excluded?” says: 

“It can be said that there is no group more affected by the sin of omission than widows. They are painfully absent from the statistics of many developing countries, and they are rarely mentioned in the multitude of reports on women’s poverty, development, health or human rights published in the last twenty-five years. Growing evidence of their vulnerability, both socio-economic and psychological … now challenges many conventional views and assumptions about this “invisible” group of women.”[1] 

India alone is estimated to be home to about 35 million widowed women.[2] In Nepal this figure is estimated to be 800,000.[3]  Similarly, the Government of Sri Lanka estimates that around 50,000 widows (many of whom are below 40 years of age) live in the eastern province alone, of which about 40% were widowed in the decade-long war in the country.[4]  

In addition to their large numbers, a cause for grave concern with regard to the human rights of widows is the social stigma and subordinate position faced by them in society, often leading to conditions for both emotional and physical violence. Widowhood is often marked by social ostracism, customs that reinforce physically visible signs of widowhood. As stated by Chen “...they are not allowed to wear "red and bright" clothes and are not allowed to be present during "auspicious occasions".[5] In some places, widows are not allowed to talk to other men, so they naturally feel inferior and lose their self-confidence.” A study by the Guild of Service was supported by UNIFEM in 2002 on the status of widowed women in VRINDAVAN in Uttar Pradesh – a city known as the city of widows. The study found that 82% of surveyed widows moved to VRINDAVAN[6] as their husbands had left them no savings, 65% said they owned no property, and only 50% of those who did own property said they were able to access it.[7] 

Widows are most often also denied their economic rights. Chen’s study in India reveals that as many as 67% of the widows studied lived in their marital village, 27% lived in their natal village and 6% lived in another village. Thus, only 3% of these widows continued to live with their in-laws. Chen found that 63% of these widows were living in households headed by them.[8] Similarly, for only 11% of the widows surveyed were their husband’s assets the main source of income.  

The scenario of public entitlements targeted for widows is no less dismal.  Most entitlements are channelled through the head of the household – generally perceived by many development functionaries to be a male. Social security schemes designed specifically for widows (e.g. widow pension schemes) are not reported to reach a large number of widows because of age/poverty caps or quotas.  Awareness of these schemes is another major gap. A study of widows in Sri Lanka found that most widows were unaware of any schemes that had been designed for their welfare.[9]  

Widows are often the sole supporters of families and play an important role in bringing about development, peace and justice in their countries.  Widows are often discriminated against on the basis of cultures, traditions and religions, and many of these practices are oppressive and abusive to the widows.  Widows are also more vulnerable to other dangers in society, such as HIV and AIDS.  It is time to address the discrimination widows’ face in society.   

UNIFEM, South Asia has developed project proposal to work with this particular category of the exceptionally excluded group in three countries in South Asia over the next three years. These countries are India, Nepal and Sri Lanka. The project is entitled:  

“Empowerment of widows and their coalitions” 

The problems that UNIFEM, South Asia aims to address through the implementation of this project are:

  1. Inadequate evidence on stigma and marginalisation of widows in South Asia to guide design and implementation of programmes for widows;
  2. Gaps in design and implementation of national programmes relevant to needs and rights of widows; and
  3. Inadequate capacities of groups representing rights of widows to influence policies and programmes in favour of widows.

Responding to these problems the results that this project aims to achieve are:  

Goal: By 2020, widows in India, Nepal and Sri Lanka are empowered to exercise their economic, political, legal, social and cultural entitlements with dignity and become agents of change. 

Outcome 1:       By 2015, research and data systems in India, Nepal and Sri Lanka are strengthened to generate greater quantitative and qualitative evidence on stigmatization and marginalization of widows.

Output 1.1:         By 2015, research network on issues of widows formed and becomes operational in India, Nepal and Sri Lanka

Output 1.2:         By 2015, increased data and research is made available on social, economic and political status of widows in India, Nepal and Sri Lanka


Outcome 2:       By 2015, coalitions representing widows’ groups in Nepal, India and Sri Lanka identify and successfully advocate with their governments to address gaps in design and implementation of select national programmes relevant to widows.

Output 2.1:         By 2015, select national policies and programmes related to widows in South Asia are reviewed and gaps identified for advocacy

Output 2.2.:        By 2015, coalitions of widows’ groups advocate for enhancing design and delivery of select national programmes relevant to widows in India, Nepal and Sri Lanka in their favour


Outcome 3:       By 2015, coalitions representing widows' groups in Nepal, India and Sri Lanka are strengthened and their capacities enhanced for advocacy and demanding accountability from duty bearers in favour of widows.

Output 3.1:         By 2015, groups representing widows have advocated for and achieved increased representation in decision making bodies in select national programmes in Nepal, India and Sri Lanka.


The project will also feeds into UNIFEM Strategic Plan Outcomes and also clearly aligns with A Life Free of Violence: Unleashing the Power of Women’s Empowerment and Gender Equality: Strategy 2008–2013 of UNIFEM that outlines preventing and responding (protecting) as key domains of intervention to counter violence against women. 

2.            Need for a Consultant:  

UNIFEM is now in the process of hiring a consultant to develop and deliver a final draft of comprehensive PRODOC for approval by UNIFEMs’ Project Appraisal Committee to initiate work on widows in the region. This will be based on the following:

  • Existing concept note that was preliminarily developed,
  • Queries and inputs raised by the HQ,
  • Sub-regional strategy for South Asia, 
  • PRODOC format and requite documentation for UNIFEM Project Approval Committee (PAC),
  • Inputs that were received from the different stakeholders and experts from the region,
  • Other available documents like the Widows’ Charter, the Kathmandu Declaration of June 2010, etc.
  • Available national, regional and international conventions and policies that may impact widows, etc.
  • The UNIFEM EVAW Strategy: A Life Free of Violence: Unleashing the Power of Women’s Empowerment and Gender Equality: Strategy 2008–2013.

The consultant is also expected to undertake preliminary action for the implementation of this project for a period of the first four months in coordination with other UNIFEM colleagues in the South Asia Regional Office.  

3.            Tasks

  • Pre-PAC Approval:[10] The consultant is expected to work in close coordination with UNIFEM colleagues in the South Asia Regional Office and HQ[11] to develop a high quality PRODOC for approval at UNIFEM HQ to initiate work on widows in the region.
  • Post-PAC Approval: The consultant will work closely with UNIFEM staff in the South Asia Regional Office to develop a strong implementation plan for the project and initiate the process of implementation of the same. This will be undertaken for a period of four months after which the Programme Officer (VAW) will take over the same and carry forward all tasks as planned.

4.            Deliverables:  

  • A comprehensive PRODOC (along with the project Logical Framework Analysis , Project Budget, NGO Check-list and all other relevant attachments) for approval for implementation of the said project by the UNIFEM HQ PAC in hard and soft copy
  • A 12-15 slide PowerPoint presentation for PAC presentation.
  • A project implementation plan for the suitable execution of the project.
  • And monthly reports for the implementation of the project (especially focussing on the results as per the approved project implementation plan.

5.            Time Frame:  

From the 15th of July 2010 to 31st of December 2010

  • Pre-PAC Approval: Development and successful submission of the PRODOC for approval to HQ PAC = 20 days.
  • Post-PAC Approval: Initiate the process of implementing the project and support the UNIFEM, South Asia Regional Office on the same = 10 days each month x 4 months = 40 days.

Total number of working days: 60 days.  

6.            Experience and Skill Set: 

  • Education: Masters Degree in Gender Studies, International Development Business Administration, Public Administration, Economics, Political Sciences, Social Sciences or related field.
  • Experience: At least ten years of relevant experience at the South Asia regional or international level. Extensive experience in human rights based programming, results based management frameworks, development research and programming on Violence against Women is a must.  
  • Desirable: Experience of working within the UN system as a consultant. Experience of successfully working on Research Studies individually or as a team.    
  • Language requirement: Fluency in English is a must. Writing skills must be at the highest order.

7.            Consultancy fees:  

Fees[12] will be commensurate with the experience of the applicant. Please mention the expected per day consultancy rate in your application letter. 

The assignment will be supervised by the EVAW Programme Officer of UNIFEM, SARO, under the guidance of the Senior Policy Adviser. 

8.            Application Process:  

Please send in your detailed resume, a completed UN P11 form along with a sample of a programme document prepared by COB Tuesday, the 10th of July 2010 to  

9.            Criteria for selection:  

Based on the above specified experience and skill set the emphasis with regard to criteria for selection will be given to consultants who have actually undertaken project development work as well as implementation of multi-stakeholder initiatives. Consultants who have worked with the UN system will be given special preference.  

Interested applicants should apply for the vacancy, using the “Personal History Form - P 11” and the latest CV.  

Application to this vacancy should be sent to  Please insert Announcement Number in the Subject of the E-mail.  Applications without the Vacancy Number or with the incorrect Vacancy Number will not be accepted. 

NOTE : Only short-listed candidates will be contacted.

[1] “Widowhood: Invisible women, secluded or excluded?”, United Nations Division for the Advancement of Women –

[2] Census of India, 2001, - ) Also see Annex 1. Additionally, Nepal has one of the highest levels of child marriages. Nepal’s’ Demographic Health Survey records that 63% of girls marry before 18 years and 7% marry before reaching 10 years of age – thus pointing to one reason for the large number of widows.

[3] WHR data

[6] "Spirituality, Poverty, Charity brings Widows to VRINDAVAN," by USHA RAI on VRINDAVAN. Large numbers of destitute upper-caste widows go to VRINDAVAN after they are abandoned by their families on the death of their husbands.

[7] Spirituality, Poverty, Charity Brings Widows to VRINDAVAN, Guild of Service,

[8] Perpetual Mourning – Widowhood in Rural India, Martha Alter Chen: Oxford University Press New Delhi 2000

[9] SELVY THIRUCHANDRAN, “The other victims of War,”

[10] Project Approval Committee constituted in the UNIFEM HQ to ensure quality assurance of all implemented projects across all regions in the world. 

[11] Colleagues in UNIFEM HQ from the Geographic Section as well as other members involved in the process of value addition to the project.

[12] UNIFEM reference budget line



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