As we celebrate the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, learn what ILC members do to promote women's leadership and how this can help put an end to gender based violence.
This is the third of four Labs of the “Women for Women 2022 Learning Labs series”. Topics are selected by women taking part in the ILC mentoring and solidarity network “Women for Women”.
This Lab contributes to the celebration of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (November 25th). Violence against women is a barrier to women’s leadership. On the other hand, women’s leadership can be crucial to end gender based violence.
WHAT YOU WILL LEARN
- What are the main barriers to women’s leadership?
- How can women leaders actively contribute to put an end to gender based violence?
- What concrete actions do ILC members put in place to promote women’s leadership?
MEET THE EXPERTS
- Lois Aduamoah-Addo - WILDAF, Ghana
- Silvia Perez - Ciarena, México
The Lab is moderated by Elisabetta Cangelosi, ILC Gender Justice Advisor.
WOMEN’S LEADERSHIP IN GHANA: LAWS AND POLICIES ARE NOT ENOUGH
Lois focused on presenting the situation of women leadership in Ghana, and how WILDAF supports women in facing challenges in achieving leadership positions in Ghana.
Women in leadership roles are still a minority across the globe: only 22 countries have women heads of State, only 22% of parliamentarians are women, and in only 4 countries 50% of the parliamentarians are women.
In Ghana, despite women’s participation in public and political decision-making process is recognised as a gender issue since its independence, women occupy only 14% of political positions. Ghana ratified international laws, and has internal policies and laws to promote women’s leadership; even the Constitution includes specific provision to promote women’s participation.
Lois also presented the evolution of data regarding women sitting in the parliament of Ghana since 1960, since women were actively involved in claiming independence. The introduction of dedicated affirmative actions, effectively produced the presence of women as parliamentarians. However, a step back occurred due to government change, and in 2000 only 19 women were sitting in the parliament, the same number as in 1964.
A combination of elements concurs to hinder women’s leadership: lack of affirmative actions, pertinent laws and political will, combined with traditional and cultural norm, low level of confidence and lack of adequate financial resources are all concurrent elements that make it difficult for women to achieve leadership positions.
Furthermore, patriarchal systems and gender stereotypes, marital status of women and family dynamics, including physical and emotional violence against women, and lack of financial support contribute to make it difficult for women to run for political roles. Not only customary norms define the role of women in public spaces and deny their role in decision making, but they even make voting for a woman seen in a negative way.
WILDAF implements several strategies to reinforce women’s leadership and to challenge the adverse dynamics that reduce women’s participation. These include:
- Championing the visibility of women;
- providing dedicated trainings;
- reinforcing coalitions of women trained on mainstreaming gender and reclaiming their rights;
- supporting women in developing Women’s Manifesto;
- campaigning for a reduction of fees and raising campaigns for women who run for elections
- supporting the appointment of women to leadership positions and providing support to those elected.
Affirmative and positive laws and policies are not enough, we need conscious and intentional efforts in advancing women’s into leadership positions.
WOMEN’S LEADERSHIP IN MEXICO: FIGHTING AGAINST VIOLENCE FIRST
Silvia Perez presented the situation of indigenous women in the State of Oaxaca (Mexico) and the work of her organisation, CIARENA, to promote women’s leadership.
Indigenous women face a number of significant obstacles, the main one is violence. Violence within their families and communities, as well as systemic violence linked to organised crime.
There is a significant lack of laws and policies protecting and promoting indigenous women rights, and the actions and policies implemented by the government rather contribute to create more poverty among indigenous women; while their specific needs and challenges are not taken into account.
Furthermore, violence against Mother-Earth, perpetrated for example through the implementation monoculture has impact on the use of land and on women’s rights.
While indigenous women contribute to their community with their traditional knowledge (and this knowledge should be recognised!), they face specific challenges.
CIARENA is an indigenous women’ organisation based in Oaxaca with a focus on women, youth and children of indigenous communities, aiming to protect their identity and build their capacity and knowledge around human rights. Among the specific actions put in place to promote women’s participation and leadership CIARENA:
- creates and supports help-groups within communities, including providing spiritual support;
- promotes autonomy and empowerment through small productive projects;
- supports women in participating in spaces where they can have an impact, including at international level;
- works on the cross-generational level.
Women have crucial knowledge to reinforce their role within the communities, and fighting against the violence against them is essential to ensure their meaningful participation and their human right.
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