Shrinking space for Women’s Activism in Eastern Europe and Central Asia
Global Fund for Women brought together 85 activists in February from sister organizations and women’s funds in Europe & Central Asia for a meeting in Batumi, Georgia. In countries including Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Tajikistan, just to name a few, organizations working on human rights—especially around gender, sexual orientation, or reproductive rights—are being increasingly targeted and threatened.
According to many of the activists at the convening, Russia’s political situation has driven an environment in the region that criminalizes dissent, targeting human rights activists. They highlight that Russia’s influential policies have made it nearly impossible for foreign funders to support activists’ work in the region financially. Many other countries in the region are following Russia’s lead: “foreign agent” bills have been proposed in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, and Azerbaijan.
Amid discussions of the common threats and increased scrutiny, the activists gathered in Batumi were committed to working together to find solutions. For nearly all of the activists in Batumi, the lack of funding is the most urgent issue arising out of the growing backlash against human rights organizations. Many emphasized that donors and funders need to be flexible with their funding to allow them to achieve and build on gains to push against the backlash.
More Women Leaders needed in EU’s Foreign Affairs
On the occasion of the International Women’s Day, the European Peacebuilding Liaison Office (EPLO) assessed the EU’s performance in promoting gender balance in leadership positions in the European External Action Service(EEAS).
EPLO welcomes the increase in the number of women appointed as heads of EU delegations (EUDs), and the appointments of two female heads of CSDP missions, and of the first EEAS Principal Advisor on Gender and the Implementation of UNSCR 1325. However, despite the efforts taken to date, the significant gender imbalance has still not been rectified.
The responsibility for addressing this challenge lies both with the EEAS itself as well as with EU Member States.
New Campaign for female UN General Secretary
This campaign shows that women are underrepresented at all levels of diplomacy – from the Security Council with only one female ambassador to the fact that only 9% of negotiators in peace deals are women. The campaign calls on member states to demonstrate their commitment to gender equality in the only way that matters, by putting women at the negotiating tables and in the leadership roles in which they deserve to be.
The campaign will run from International Women’s Day until the General Assembly and the election of the next Secretary-General later this year.
Dutch minister Ploumen takes action following letter from women’s rights associations on the FLOW 2 programme
Many national, regional and global women’s rights networks and foundations had sent a letter to the Dutch Minister to express concern about the allocation of scare resources that will result in crippling the global women’s rights movement. In response minister Ploumen has pleded 5 million Euros extra for the coming five years that aims to support local feminist associations and groups in the South. Dutch embassies will invite them to send in proposals and will make a selection.