By Adnan Ali
Istanbul continues to impress with her endless attractions. Over the past weeks, I visited the Galata tower, also known as the Tower of Christ, located in the Karaköy district. The history behind this 14th-century landmark, its beauty and elegance were intimidating to say the least. In 1638, it was Hezarfen Ahmet Çelebi who jumped off the Tower with artificial wings and flew 60 kilometers to the district of Üsküdar – cementing his name as the first person in history to have flown. I also visited the Maritime Museum or Deniz Müzesi established in 1897, in another district of Istanbul called Beşiktaş. From imperial fishing boats to royal canons, on display were a vast collection of military artifacts predating to the Ottoman era. Depending on the district you visit in Istanbul – there are 39 in total – you will always find something particularly unique and interesting to do.
As far as work is concerned, it has been a busy time of the year at the UN Women’s Regional Office. Writing year-end reports, drafting factsheets and attending workshops has kept me on my toes. It is also the first time I have been coordinating back and forth with headquarters in New York. The communication with headquarters is for a report I am assisting with that consolidates statistical data from 14 countries in four major areas of focus. These are: 1) domestic care work, 2) migration, 3) labor force participation, and 4) violence against women and girls. Headquarters is assisting with getting the thematic language right and to ensure alignment of our regional report with the global report.
The feedback from headquarters has increased my appreciation for the importance of across-the-board synced reporting, and to maintain consistency in methodology irrespective of the geographic location or country. Where the regional offices’ emphasis is on fact-finding and reporting, headquarters is interested in seeing whether evidence from the data is suggestive of SDG target attainment. In New York they also strive for having regional solutions, albeit with a global outlook, so best practices and experiences can be shared across world regions. It is interesting to learn how prioritization changes at the various levels of involvement. For example, Country Offices (COs) that work under the regional office will emphasize the implementation of the policy directives that will result from the regional paper.
Another exciting event was participating in a regional workshop on how to measure women’s unpaid care work. The three-day workshop on Time use surveys: Data collection methods and concepts, took place in Istanbul with over 40 participants from ten countries. A vast amount of knowledge and best practices were shared by experts on the subject matter. In a nutshell, collecting data on time use surveys is important because it allows measuring the input from domestic care work in household production, its contribution to national economic growth, and the level of gender-balance in routine activities. It also allows for insights concerning how certain populations (e.g., people residing in Ontario) spent time on activities, such as transportation, leisure, and using technology. Eventually, time use surveys help policymakers design policies that mirror how a certain population conducts itself. Astonishingly, only 20 countries had conducted such surveys post-2010, and for that reason, it will be prioritized in the 2020-21 agenda in countries that have a UN Women presence.
In my final blog, I will discuss the coordination from the Regional Office to UN Women Program Presences (PPs) and COs on year-end reports that will be finalized towards mid-February. Till that time, hoşçakal (goodbye).