CIPE board member Ambassador Barbara Barrett (center) visits CAFA in Romania
This year marks the seventh anniversary of a project that is special to us at the CIPE Regional Office in Romania. In 2004, CIPE supported the creation of the Coalition of Women Business Associations (CAFA)
, the first-ever and to date only such organization in Romania. A small informal organization at the time, it has since grown to include 19 women’s business associations across the country. Members of CAFA joined this coalition to ensure that their interests as businesswomen are represented and that they have a sound platform to express their views. Their main objective is to help build a strong business community, under the motto “value has no gender.”
CAFA has a rotating secretariat and holds a conference each year, in order to review successes and plans for the following year. The most recent conference (held in June 2011) was inspired by the idea “you are the change.” The participants engaged in discussions about CAFA’s plans in 2011, including organizing communication and advocacy seminars, discussing legislation with authorities, and establishing partnerships with companies in other countries, such as Canada.
CAFA has built a sound reputation for itself over the years, and is now acknowledged as a significant partner in the public-private dialogue on economic policymaking. One example is CAFA’s advocacy effort to improve the fiscal climate in Romania. More specifically, in 2010, the coalition submitted a protest to the Cabinet in reference to a number of unfriendly fiscal and financial measures that the government has adopted in order to increase its budget. Under the slogan “We Care”, CAFA suggested a set of ten alternative measures that should help support the business environment, especially because some fiscal measures that were adopted by the government in 2009 have resulted in the closure of around 150,000 small and medium businesses.
The interaction between CAFA and the officials is a good example of the normal functioning of civil society and stresses the importance of coalitions in advocacy activities. It also attests to the role of CAFA as a legitimate advocate for the interests of the women’s business community that it represents. Moreover, the fact that CAFA is determined to pursue its advocacy efforts will further consolidate its status and attract other stakeholders to work for the same cause.
We hope that the example set by CAFA encourages other organizations to put more effort into furthering the interests of the people and sectors they represent. To learn more about CAFA’s work join us at CIPE’s upcoming Democracy that Delivers for Women conference June 20-21 in Washington DC where Camelia Bulat, director of CIPE Romania, will attend. Ambassador Barbara Barrett, who has been a friend of CAFA for many years, will also be a speaker. It is not too late to register! www.democracythatdelivers.com