Mar 20, 2019

Unrepresented Women


When people are unrepresented, more often than not paternalistic and ineffective policies and programmes related to them are adopted. Women are double-prejudiced given long-term historical gender imbalances. We are campaigning to ensure that women within unrepresented communities have an equal voice and seats at the table.

The Problem

Around the world today, hundreds of millions of people are excluded from decision-making that impacts them. When people are denied a seat at the table in domestic or international decision-making, more often than not paternalistic and ineffective policies and programmes related to them are adopted. 

Women are double-prejudiced in this regard given long-term historical gender imbalances and systemic human rights violations committed specifically against women. Thus, this phenomenon is particularly challenging for movements seeking greater respect for the rights of unrepresented nations and peoples. 

In 2019, UNPO and our partners at the Coppieters Foundation released a report on Minority Women in Politics. The report highlighted the challenges faced by women campaigning for self-determination of their peoples or working in regionalist political parties in certain contexts, in particular identifying strong female cadres in the junior and middle ranks  of these movements, unable to rise to the top. 

At the same time, the report highlighted positive experience from a number of movements. It noted in particular that devolution of political power can make political systems more inclusive.

What we are doing about it

At UNPO we are working to empower women from within the UNPO member peoples. 

This means engaging with women working in self-determination movements to give them to tools to have their voices heard both within their movements and internationally. And it also means working with groups seeking greater female empowerment within these communities to campaign for greater devolution of political power.

In addition to capacity building and communication support, we are seeking to build bridges across these actors and across communities to foster a supportive international network of female activists. And we are working closely with the leadership of the movements represented within the UNPO, where needed, to ensure that their movements are more open and inclusive, particularly at the highest levels. 

Finally, we consistently work to highlight human rights concerns that are specific to the women within the UNPO member nations and peoples through thematic reports submitted to the United Nations, in particular to the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, and through more general awareness raising activities such as conferences and social media campaigns.