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therefore, it focuses on schools and on the institutions of higher education that have teachers and creators of school curricula and educational strategy in order to develop positive attitudes and social skills from the earliest age. The program has gone through three stages:
1. In the first stage, the Oslo Coalition organised large international conferences on a global scale in order to achieve a consensus on the steps to be taken. Among others was the Global Conference in Oslo in 2004, which had among its conclusions the following point: “UNESCO and the Oslo Coalition should encourage regional network meetings and workshops that could foster exchange of ideas and material and other kinds of cooperation (text book and curricula analysis etc) at the regional level.” The Coalition not only moved its focus from the global level to the regional level, but it began at the same time the process of building the bridge between the academic world of research and knowledge to the professional teachers in schools, and to the NGO’s that are concerned with implementation.
2. In the second stage, once the consensus on the strategies was reached, the Oslo Coalition started to work with concrete projects that came as suggestions out of the conferences such as a. The “Stories for Tolerance” project, where school children from all over the world submitted stories and the best ones were collected in a publication.
b. The workshop for experts from across the Islamic world in Istanbul “Learning about the Other and Teaching for Tolerance in Muslim Majority Societies.” c. The workshop in Makassar, Indonesia about “Teaching for tolerance in Indonesia” in cooperation with the Islamic University in Makassar.
3. In the third stage, the Oslo Coalition have seen the necessity to build bridges between the activities at the Universities that are focused on spreading information about freedom of religion and belief and human rights, and activities at the NGO level that are about training skills in implementation. The Coalition envisions tapping into the enormous amount of experience and competence at grass root level and employ this to bring to workshops and seminars in order to exchange best practices.
Ms. Sivertsen concluded with the message, “Whoever we are working with, and on whatever level, we must never loose sight of our end user.” Chochunbaeva Dinara President, Central Asian Crafts Support Association, CACSA (Kyrgyzstan) In her presentation “Dialogue of Cultures in Central Asia – Experience of the Central Asian Crafts Support Association (CACSA) Network Activities”, Ms. Chochunbaeva gave a brief overview of the current situation and vision of problems and prospects regarding the issue in the region.
Today, Central Asian countries develop handicrafts in different directions both in urban and rural areas: in Kazakhstan, artisans work with art metal and leather, embroidery, wall panels and carpets;
in Kyrgyzstan, artisans adapt ancient technology of felt milling to modern requirements and develop manufacturing of traditional clothing, thread, and bone; in Tajikistan, artisans rediscover ancient crafts such as weaving, embroidery, wood and metal carving; in Turkmenistan, artisans pride themselves in their embroidery, jewelry, and carpet weaving; and in Uzbekistan, artisans are widely know for their hand-weaving technique ikat as well as ceramics, embossing, miniature painting, and golden embroidery. As far as national and regional markets for arts and crafts, there is potential and need for development. There are international fairs, exhibitions, symposiums, festivals and other activities aimed at creating a favorable environment for trade and cultural relations between artisans.
At the same time, advancing handicrafts on the world market has been hampered by loss of traditional technologies, use of substandard raw materials, lack of marketing knowledge and information. The challenges for craftsmen include adaptation to market requirements in quality, range, color, and prices of raw materials; professionalism of artisans; coherence and coordination among all stakeholders in the development of crafts; and customs procedures for craft products between countries within the region. To address these issues artisans, communities, suppliers, NGOs, industrial and public structures, governments, and donors need to unite efforts at various levels. The prerequisite for a successful development of a regional crafts market is intergovernmental cooperation at the regional level contributing to maintenance of peace and development of tolerance.
The above mentioned issues directly relate to CACSA’s experience and activities. CACSA is a regional NGO with 71 member organizations from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan with a potential to extend activities in Russia and Afghanistan. CACSA actively contributes to the development of traditional crafts and assists in advancing artisans’ products in international markets. It unites and trains craftsmen, organizes crafts fairs in the region and abroad, and finds buyers for a wide range of products. Since 2003, CACSA is a member of World Crafts Council and cooperates with a number of international organizations such as UNESCO, UNIFEM, Aid to Artisans, and the European Commission.
In 2007, CACSA and its member organizations conducted exhibitions and fairs in the region, which were attended by more than 500 artisans. City of Almaty, is the best market for craft products, thus holds monthly regional craft fairs. Additionally, about 70 artisans from 6 countries participated in 12 trade fairs outside the region: Turkey, Cyprus, Israel, Germany, the US, Saudi Arabia, Belgium, and France. It is important to note that through fairs and annual festivals, CACSA also contributes to the development of cultural tourism in Central Asia.
Shorokhov Dmitriy Coordinator, Central Asian Cultural Women Network; Director, NGO “ErAzamat” (Kazakhstan) Mr. Shorokhov presented the website “Women and Culture in Central Asia” located at www.women.unesco.kz as a Platform for Intercultural and Interethnic Dialogue. Within a few years of its existence, the website has evolved from a virtual bank of information to a real instrument of a unified multicultural space. An important element of the project was not only its gender sensitivity, but interethnic tolerance as well.
The website contains news about women in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan through the following themes: fine arts, literature, music, science and education, public life, mass media, and stage. It is worth clarifying that the section devoted to Turkmenistan at the moment is empty;
unfortunately, the reason is due to political realities that may soon change for the better.
The site contains a constantly expanding database on women in various fields of culture that includes biographical information and cultural samples of their creativity such as articles, publications, reproductions, etc. The general structure of the site allows users to keep abreast of all developments at the regional level and to differentiate information on public grounds. It makes it possible to observe both prioritization and integration functions, thereby creating a single information space. The gender orientation of the site contributes to the development of democratic processes and civil society. In addition, the website is extremely user-friendly enabling users to add information on relevant website, post news and documents, and comment on the content of the website.
Weaknesses of the project include:
News – irregular updates, lack of journalists Forum – had to be closed because of spam and absence of a moderator English language – no complete translation Question of a single domain remains open with regard to technical limitations Instability of the project (funding issue) Positive experience and potential for development include:
Creation of a unique information platform and data storage across the Central Asian region Gathered experience (primarily volunteer) Possibility of a further development on the condition of effort consolidation and active collaboration This internet portal has sufficient potential and unifying functions to integrate elements of national identities in a single cross-cultural discourse, open to outside observers and participants.
Azimova Dinora Professor, University of World Economy and Diplomacy; Focal point, Central Asian Cultural Women Network (Uzbekistan) In her presentation “Intercultural Dialogue as Pre-requisite for Regional Integration in Central Asia”, Professor Azimova believes that culture will become a driving force and main lever of integration in Central Asian region in comparison to European experience where economic policies played a crucial role in the process of integration.
In terms of economic ambitions, culture is neutral; therefore, it can serve as a “backbone” for the integration in the region. Cultural initiatives will prompt responses from state structures, which in turn will create an atmosphere for regional cooperation.
The recommendations stemming from the discussions on the UNESCO Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity have drawn regional approaches towards the development of a common regional policy in the area of culture. An important regional initiative has been a virtual dialogue, initiated by UNESCO in the framework of the project “Intercultural dialogue in Central Asia”, along with the establishment of UNESCO Chairs. One can observe that dialogue is a powerful tool, promoting regional integration at the level of national cultures.
Professor Azimova presented the website project of the Central Asian Cultural Women Network as a meeting place and networking tool for women from different countries where they can share their life stories, career aspirations, and plans to develop projects and programs to overcome crises, and economic and legal illiteracy. The next phase of the website project will include further discussions on the establishment of the regional school for women-leaders, as well as priority topics, including migration and gender budgeting.
Migration has become frequent for women in the region with more than 20 per cent of the working population involved in internal and external labor migration. The most common (temporary) labor migration is registered among people coming from Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan who are heading to Russia and in recent years to Kazakhstan. The website can provide information and consulting advice regarding lawyers, psychologists, doctors and other professionals for women involved in labor migration. Professor Azimova raised the issue of setting up establishments and Sunday schools where migrants in Moscow, Saint-Petersburg, Saratov, and Volgograd can learn and improve their native language, history of the region, film and literature. She points that a powerful organization such as UNESCO should initiate and sponsor such endeavors.
Gender budgeting is the science where economic measures help track and monitor discrimination against women in wages, awards and other payments, and “to break” this unjust reality. In general, this instrument is geared towards measuring the state budget, but can also be used in non-governmental structures. It is important to note that women who have notion and access to gender budgeting methods, have greater access to physical and financial resources.
In conclusion, Professor Azimova mentioned lack of participation of women from Turkmenistan without whom the Cultural Network is incomplete. Now is the time for Turkmen women to join the dialogue with a view of fully-fledged regional cooperation among women in the cultural sphere.