5-6 JUNE 2018 / Tour & Taxis / Brussels

Innovative approaches and partnerships to amplify women and girls’ voices

D2
Lab debate
Tuesday, June 5, 2018
14:00 to 15:15

Despite reduced global poverty, women and girls continue to face significant barriers, and remain underrepresented in leadership positions and decision-making processes. Creative approaches are required to overcome barriers to women and girls’ participation and voice, so they can become powerful agents of change in sustainable and inclusive societies. This session will explore the use of innovative approaches and effective partnerships to amplify women and girls’ voices, including those from vulnerable and marginalized groups, at all levels of society. It will discuss best practices to facilitate safe and enabling environments for local women’s organizations and movements, as well as women’s rights defenders; the development of indicators to measure progress; and possibilities for joint or complementary strategies, including capacity building.

Key points

  • When women are part of decision-making, everyone benefits.
  • Feminist development puts gender front and centre of all policy areas in the developing world.
  • Structures for inclusion matter – that is how universal women’s rights developed.
  • Developing indicators to measure progress and gather data about the success of grassroots projects remain a challenge.

Synopsis

Despite reduced global poverty, women and girls continue to face significant barriers and remain underrepresented in leadership positions and decision-making processes.

Too often women’s voices are not heard. This is shortsighted because research shows that when women and girls are recognised as decision-makers and given control over resources, everyone benefits.

Innovative approaches are required to overcome barriers to women’s and girls’ participation and to making themselves heard, so they can become powerful agents of change in sustainable and inclusive societies.  

There has been some success. Women’s voices are now at the centre of the Group of Seven Industrialized Nations’ agenda. As host of the 44th G7 Summit in June 2018, Justin Trudeau, the Canadian Prime Minister, introduced a feminist advisory group, while in June 2017, Canadian International Development Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau launched the Women’s Voice and Leadership Program.

As part of this initiative, the Canadian government will allocate US$ 150 million over five years to respond to the needs of women’s organisations in developing countries. This goes hand in hand with Canada’s feminist development policy that mainstreams gender in all aspects of policy.

Feminist policy must tackle the structural causes of gender inequality such as laws, as well as cultural norms that, for example, tolerate violence against women or exacerbate the unpaid care burden.

Currently there are more than 155 countries with at least one law that discriminates against women in the economy. There are 18 countries that allow husbands to prevent their wives working.

The EU supports both top-down and bottom-up approaches. Top-down, because leaders must take responsibility; bottom-up, because if you don’t support grassroots organisations, the movement will not succeed.

Canada is focusing investment on initiatives that will have the biggest impact on closing the gender gap as quickly as possible.

Canada also launched a call for action to mobilise resources in support of gender empowerment in developing countries. It is anticipated this will come about mainly through private philanthropic investment.

One funding organisation, Frida, the multinational Young Feminist Fund, has awarded about EUR 2 million to 200 groups globally to support women’s rights. But all those who apply for funding vote on who gets the money, helping to create support networks.

It is important to understand the local context of feminist groups. As many as 46 % of them are unregistered, but this can put them at risk. Funders and supporters have a responsibility to those they fund to make sure they are safe. The EU’s emergency fund can come to the aid of human rights defenders at risk - including those that are unregistered.

Only 2 % of humanitarian funding globally goes to local organisations. Too often international organisations walk away after overcoming an initial crisis. Innovative approaches and effective partnerships are needed to amplify women and girls’ voices from the most vulnerable and marginalised levels of society. Long-term funding should also be more readily available.

Making people the defenders of their own rights should be the aim, but developing indicators to measure progress and gather data remains a challenge. Women have a right to be represented – in parliament, in local government, or on boards. They shouldn’t be held to a higher standard, or subjected to more accountability than men

Insight

Although two leaders of the G7 are women, the seven countries’ finance ministers and central bank governors are all men.

Organised by

Speakers

Elissa Golberg
Assistant Deputy Minister - Strategic Policy
Global Affairs Canada
Sophia Pierre-Antoine
Board Co-Chair
FRIDA Young Feminist Fund
Winnie Byanyima
Executive Director I Member of Gender Equality Advisory Council for Canada’s G7 Presidency
Oxfam International
Stefano Manservisi
Director-General
European Commission - DG for International Cooperation and Development (DEVCO)