Competition or cooperation? Global women’s solidarity is needed more than ever

[Brussels, 1 September 2016] The European Women’s Lobby (EWL) is delighted to participate at the AWID Forum which will take place from the 8 – 11 September in Salvador de Bahia, Brazil. AWID is not only a key actor in advancing gender equality, but its forum is one of the most anticipated gatherings in women’s rights activism worldwide. AWID provides a unique opportunity for the women’s movement to develop global strategies that respond to emerging trends.

We are proud to host a session at AWID, titled “Competition or cooperation in financing women’s rights organisations? Implications of the SDGs agenda for global women’s solidarity” in collaboration with Womankind Worldwide, Saathi Nepal and the African Women’s Development Fund. In this participant-led session, we will explore how the new, universal SDGs agenda will affect funding for women’s rights organisations globally, European-wide, nation-wide, regionally and at the local level.

AWID forum 2016

Women’s rights are under threat from rising fundamentalisms and right wing populism as well as an erosion of established social and economic rights due to austerity policies which are being implemented both North and South. While there is an increase rhetoric on gender equality in the policy and public sphere, women’s rights organizations find themselves at the margins of public and private funding streams.

As resources become more scarce, and less funding is allocated to women’s rights, is there a growing tendency to see other women’s rights organisations through the lens of competition, even if women’s rights activists across the globe recognise that collaboration is a more transformative way of working? If so, the question becomes how can we find sustainable ways of working together across the regions and continents rather than competing with each other, while simultaneously working together to lobby funders and advocate for more funding for women’s rights in general.

Women’s rights organisations are also increasingly finding themselves side-lined from political processes and decision-making. This was proven in 2015, when the European Institution for Gender Equality (EIGE) published its INDEX on the progress of gender equality in Europe. It revealed that, over the past 10 years, the advancement on women’s rights has stagnated across the continent. In response to this, the European Women’s Lobby, Europe’s largest umbrella organisation of women’s rights associations and groups, decided to integrate the campaigning and advocacy of resourcing women’s rights across Europe and globally with our core priorities.

Across societies, there is an overwhelming amount of evidence to demonstrate that women’s rights organisations are better positioned to make gender equality become a reality. Therefore, the question of how we resource women’s organisation is critical for the realisation of gender equality.

Nonetheless, despite the symbolic support shown by a range of donors, the financial resources needed to strengthen women’s rights organisations and fully implement the SDGs agenda have not yet followed. And it is important to consider that, where limited funding has emerged, it has not reached those best placed to make real and sustainable changes in the lives of women and girls, across Europe and beyond. This needs to be addressed urgently.

Therefore, the AWID 2016 Forum comes at a perfect time. The European Women’s Lobby, along with its partners Womankind Worldwide, Saathi Nepal and the African Women’s Development Fund will seize the opportunity to share experiences and develop joint strategic approaches to advocate for sustainable and quality financing for women’s rights organisations at the local, national, regional and global levels.

The implementation of the SDGs started this year and provides a golden opportunity for the women’s movement to consider the implications of a new, universal agenda for women’s rights organisations across the world. So far, global collaboration and mobilisation has led to unprecedented attention and some, limited, progress on gender equality. Our session at AWID will consider whether and/or how we can build stronger alliances globally to access sustainable, transformative funding within the framework of the SDGs to have a direct impact on women’s rights across the globe.

Written by Serap Altinisik, EWL Programme Director @Seerap

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Follow us during the AWID Forum on social media. We are looking forward to your ideas, reflections and comments!

@Europeanwomen @woman_kind @awdf01 @Saathi_Nepal


Funded by Commission communautaire française (COCOF)

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