Unrepresented Women

Mar 20, 2019

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 working to ensure that women within unrepresented communities have an equal voice and seats at the table through the training, promotion and advancement of women within UNPO member movements.

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

UNPO is firmly committed to advancing gender equality both within our organization and on a broader scale. Internally, we are taking decisive steps to empower women, exemplified by our proud achievement of having a president, two vice presidents, and a secretary general, all of whom are women. This leadership not only underscores our dedication to breaking the gender barrier but also demonstrates the depth of talent and capabilities that women bring to our team.

Externally, we actively support causes of women's empowerment, particularly within unrepresented communities. We provide vital support for human rights defenders who work tirelessly to protect the rights of women and marginalized groups. 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.