Unrepresented Women

Mar 20, 2019

The problem: Along the years, UNPO has witnessed, and continues to witness, the double prejudice faced by women who are part of UNPO Members’ communities, both because of their ethnicity, religion or language and/or their activism, and because of their gender – with certain women being even more discriminated against because of a disability or sexual orientation, for instance.

In parallel, the activism of these women tends to be overlooked, despite many women having long collectively organised to demand their rights, change cultural attitudes, bring reform laws and policies and provide services to their communities.

The discrimination of these women constitutes a human rights issue in itself. And beyond that, their lack of visibility in public life prevents social change to be inclusive – their ideas and interests are largely unheard, so they are not taken into account.

 

What change is needed?

 

The challenges faced by unrepresented women need to be made visible and addressed by decision-makers, whether they act at the local, national or international levels. This implies a bigger and better inclusion of women in decision-making, because they have things to say, and are, effectively, actively involved in social change.

 

What are the campaign objectives?

➢ Production of reports and communication materials on the challenges faced by unrepresented women and what they do to address them;

➢ Supporting unrepresented women in the development of skills, through trainings provided by UNPO and its partners, aimed at empowering them and giving them the tools to work even better;

➢ Building UNPO Members’ capacities to engage women in their campaigns;

➢ Building a network of women, allowing them to support each other and share their experiences and ideas.

 

How are we making the change?

 

On the occasion of International Women’s Day (8 March), UNPO will launch its Unrepresented Women campaign by releasing a study on “Minority women in politics – The political participation and representation of minority and migrant women in Europe”, on which UNPO has been working with the Coppieters Foundation. The study identifies the challenges faced by minority women in being represented in political life. It also demonstrates that they have long organised to demand change in the field of human rights, law and policies, or social services.

Building on this study, UNPO is kicking-off a long-term social media campaign to bring to attention the admirable efforts of women activists from around the world. Through video presentations, these activists will be able to present their personal and political struggles in order to raise awareness about issues related to gender equality, human rights and self-

determination. These biweekly videos, along with further content including photos and testimonies, will be featured on UNPO’s website and social media.

On the occasion of a potential UNPO Presidency meeting in Stockholm, Sweden in June/July 2019, the first of a series of Unrepresented Women events will be held. Targeted specifically to women from UNPO Members’ diaspora groups present in Sweden, this will be the first step toward the building of a network of support for women activists who wish to be a part of it.

In September 2019, UNPO will hold a one-week summer school consisting of a new edition of UNPO’s SpeakOut! training series, which the organisation has been organising since 2011 – see the 2018 edition announcement here -, an Unrepresented Diplomats training session, a digital security training and a non-violent advocacy training. This week of capacity-building will have a special focus on women’s rights, giving specific insight into, among other things, women- focussed human rights mechanisms and bodies and providing the participants with tips on how to move in male-dominated decision-making arenas. The participation of a majority of young women to this series will be particularly encouraged, with an aim of training the next generation of women activists from unrepresented communities. The ultimate goal of this week will be to empower and inspire the participants to invest more in social change in their communities, as well as to give them essential advocacy and security tools and knowledge to become better advocates.

In September 2020, ten years before the end of the Sustainable Development Goals, UNPO will issue a policy report focussing on the right to self-determination and the aspects of the SDGs related to gender equality, and especially SDG5, “Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls”. The document will be a follow-on policy report and part of a series of policy reports UNPO will issue relationg to self-determination and the Goals.

UNPO also intends to work with its Members to identify fundraising opportunities and develop partnership projects to provide greater resources to enable our Membres to engage unrepresented women. Currently our focus is on identifying opportunities to put in place projects around women in peacebuilding, seeing as some communities have women excluded from peace processes, while the latter play an active role in others. With a view of encouraging these women to talk to each other and helping them develop their skills, UNPO intends to bring them together for training sessions and networking.