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Contact address for ONA:
170000 Tver
ulitsa Novotorzhskaia, 25
Phone: (0822) 33-74-56
You may write in Russian, English or German.

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Tver Municipal Community Organization (Russia)
ONA Women's Club (Society of Independent Women Activists)

Annual Report
(March 1997 - February 1998)

Dear Friends and Respected Colleagues!

At the start of March we wish you a happy Spring, good health, joy and success. May love and respect always accompany you.

The past year for our organization has been one of new activities; we'd like to tell you about them, and to share our opinions and plans.

First of all, we welcome two new members - Tatiana Kim and Nina Maksakova. These people have brought with them fresh ideas, new strength and professionalism. Tatiana's arrival gave rise to a new project: Protection of Children's Property Rights During Divorce. Nina's excellent knowledge of German has enabled us to communicate directly with our German friends.

An important event of this year has been the registration of this club with the Justice Department of the Tver Regional Administration, No. 446 dating from September 12, 1997. Our official title is: Tver Municipal Community Organization, ONA Women's Club (Society of Independent Women Activists). This raises our interaction with international foundations and the government to a new level.

A historical note: our organization was formed in September 1995. We aim to develop the women's movement in Tver, by getting women actively involved in the club's programs, which are aimed at raising the status of women in society. All of the club's activities take place on a volunteer basis.

And now, the events of the past year.

Community and Political Activity, and the Status of Women program New projects were added to the Status of Women program in the course of this year. In January 1997 we started working on a project called Exploitation of Female Images in Mass Media and Advertising. On March 4 we organized a public round-table discussion on this theme.

We have been working on the second project, Protection of Children's Property Rights During Divorce, since March; on the eve of Children's Rights Day, May 28, we organized a public round-table discussion on this theme.

While working on these projects, we carried out the first (substantial) research about these issues in Tver; and used the data in preparing submissions to all three levels of government, with constructive suggestions for problem resolution. Our submissions were sent to the City Duma, the Tver Regional Legislative Assembly and the Federal Duma. Participants in our round-table discussions included Deputies from the City Duma, the Legislative Council, and members of the public.

While working on the Status of Women project, we gained experience in conducting initial research, round-table discussions, and lobbying for legislative change, further developing contact between government and society.

We had a lot of help in this work from Sofia Kurasova, a very skilled lawyer. She has become the solicitor for the Protection of Children's Property Rights During Divorce project.

In November-December we submitted a proposal to the Community Initiatives Support Program. Although our project went through to the second round, it was not among those finally selected; still, we gained useful experience in writing grant applications, which we can now share with others.

In 1997 we continued our work of organizing meetings with political candidates - in the past year this has included candidates for the Tver Regional Legislative Assembly.

The Women's Creativity Program During the past year ONA organized four artistic exhibitions for the residents and visitors of Tver, including two exhibitions by ONA members. They consisted of:
  • cold batik (Alexandra Smirnova, Larisa Arziamova)
  • embroidery (Natalia Nekrasova)
  • ceramic toys and lacquered miniatures (Larisa Arziamova)
  • macrame (Tatiana Kim)
  • tapestry (Nadezhda Kruzhkova)
  • book displays (Elena Smirnova)
  • poetry readings (Larisa Oraevskaia, Elena Smirnova)
  • feminist prose (Inessa Obraztsova)
ONA also organized an exhibition entitled Images of Women in Turn-of-the-Century Postcards, from the collection of Vera Tkachenko.

These exhibitions drew a very favorable response from Tver citizens, and ONA was thanked by the Cultural Division of the Tver Administration.

Another new event this year was a musical/literary program in March 1997 entitled Dialogue with Baudelaire, consisting of romantic poetry by Charles-Pierre Baudelaire and Larisa Oraevskaia, Tver poet and member of ONA. The readings were performed by actor V. Sinitsky and Larisa Oraevskaia. Larisa has been running poetry programs all year at the City Center for Social Rehabilitation.

This year the pool of talent at ONA continued to expand: Alexandra Smirnova and Natalia Nekrasova began writing poetry. Earlier, in January 1997, Alexandra tried her skills at cold batik, and by September she held her first solo exhibition in Tver.

The Tver Regional Women's History Program Work on Tver Regional Women's History began in 1997, and it's becoming a project in itself. It has included a literary-musical composition entitled Women of the Bakunin Family by T. Chechina and Inessa Obraztsova (in March), and a series of articles on women in the history of the Tver Region, written by Nadezhda Kruzhkova and published in the Veche Tveri newspaper between March 1 and March 31.

This program drew a lot of interest from Tver residents, and it will be continued.

The Women's Health Program In 1996 we organized free consultations with gynacologist S.F. Mochalova and psychological training sessions for women with N.A. Shidlovskaia and S.F. Gershkovich.

In 1997 S.F. Mochalova started giving talks in the outer suburbs of Tver (the town of Mamulino). On February 25, 1998, she held a session for adolescent girls in Mamulino School No. 56.

Cultural-Ecological Program We have wanted to collaborate with the women staff of the Valentin Serov Museum in Domotkanovo for a long time. We first went to Domotkanovo as a group in June 1997. [Note: Serov was a well-known Russian artist of the late 19th century. Domotkanovo is a village about 16km from Tver.]

We have succeeded in drawing the attention of government, business and the community to the problems facing this museum: e.g. lack of a telephone line and running water, no regular excursions. On July 30, 1997, ONA and the Tver Booklovers Society sent a joint letter to the Governor of the Tver Region, V.I. Platonov, requesting assistance for the Museum.

We were delighted to participate in ecological work (clearing land, gardening) in the historical home at Domotkanovo between June and September.

Networking In early July, at Zvenigorod near Moscow, there was a conference of the Association of Women's NGOs (whose members include women from other countries as well as from Russia). Our organization was represented for the first time, by Alexandra Smirnova. Thanks to this we were able to make contact with various women's groups and independent researchers from Russia, Belarus and Ukraine; we are glad to know them, and hope to work together productively in the future.

Participating in the research of the Community Initiatives Support Program (Moscow) was an important event for us; they were studying the development of the non-profit sector in Russia, including that of Tver (July 22-27). Working in this group helped us understand the role of the third sector and get a better sense of our organization's level of development.

On September 11 we took part in a press conference called by the Tver Humanities Institute to announce the creation of a resource center for non-profit organizations in Tver. This would include information and advisory services, educational seminars and communication resources. For us this means support and the potential for development.

Another interesting event of the past year was a visit by members of the Remarque Society from Osnabruck, Germany (October 14). They were very interested in the work of ONA, especially our projects relating to protection of legal rights.

The Remarque Society is one of the organizers of the European Peace Congress which will take place in Osnabruck May 29-31, 1998; therefore we discussed preparations for this event, consolidation of all pacifist forces, and the Tver community's participation in the work of the Peace Congress. ONA intends to participate in a women's program entitled "350 Years of the Westphalen Peace Treaty".

One guest of ONA in February was Elena Leonova, a US citizen resident in Australia. Lena came to Tver to study Russian, and was also interested in the Tver women's movement. We became friends, and on her departure Lena promised to start a web page for ONA.

Training During the year ONA participated in seven seminars for non-profit organizations run by the Tver Humanities Institute. Eight of our members developed their skills in the following areas:
  • marketing in the community (24-25 March)
  • building a contact network in the community for non-profits (29-30 April)
  • developing and writing up a project plan (9-10 September)
  • basic fundraising for non-profits (22-23 September)
  • strategic partnership and negotiation (2-3 December)
  • finances and taxation for non-profits (9-10 January)
Getting some expert advice on marketing in the community has helped our organization to increase the effectiveness of its work.

Nadezhda Kruzhkova also had this goal in mind when she enrolled in the "Training the Trainers of Central Russia" program run by the Golubka Training Center. Nadezhda was invited to participate in this program and has already completed two of its four levels (in December and February).

As well as professional development, these training seminars were also valuable for personal growth.

Future Plans In 1998 we intend to continue working on the above-mentioned programs, developing them further with new projects. In making plans for the future, we're thinking in terms of a project-based approach, which could become a means of conceptual direction for ONA.

Watch this space for further developments - we'll keep you informed.

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