WLP Travels to Peru for Annual Partners Meeting and the World Movement for Democracy Seventh Global Assembly

In October, WLP traveled to Lima, Peru for the World Movement for Democracy (WMD) seventh Global Assembly, Democracy for All: Ensuring Political, Social, and Economic Inclusion. The conference brought together WLP Partners and more than 500 democracy activists, practitioners, and scholars, providing an important opportunity for learning, exchange, and networking with civil society actors from across the world. As the International Women’s Democracy Network’s (IWDN) Secretariat, WLP organized two sessions that had a particular focus on growing women’s civic and political participation: Realizing the Vision of the International Women’s Democracy Network (IWDN) and Democratic Transitions and the Inclusion of Women: Perspectives from the Middle East and North Africa and Latin America.

The fifth meeting of IWDN, moderated by WLP Founder and President Mahnaz Afkhami, included: an overview of recent achievements, including advances in women’s educational attainment worldwide, and a new website with regional resources and new social networking pages on Twitter and facebook; updates from Network members—the session heard about women’s political and civic engagement in Bangladesh, Brazil, Iran, Lebanon, Malaysia, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, Palestine, and Uganda; and a discussion of next steps and priorities for the Network, including how to expand its reach. Also during the session, participants tested sessions from WLP’s forthcoming toolkit Leading to a Culture of Democracy: A Handbook for Women in Transitioning Societies, which draws on a series of strategy sessions organized by WLP over the past year on advancing women’s rights during democratic transition. IWDN members tested four sessions from this toolkit, breaking out into groups to discuss: 1) the meaning of democracy; 2) alliance building; 3) the impact of religious fundamentalism on women’s rights; and 4) women’s political participation and integrating women’s rights advocacy into larger democratic and civil society movements. Read the full article on the IWDN session here.

During the WLP-organized panel Democratic Transitions and the Inclusion of Women, speakers from Brazil, Lebanon, Morocco, Peru, and Turkey shared insights, experiences, and analyses on how best to include women and advance universal human rights during times of democratic transitions, drawing on experiences from MENA and Latin America. They analyzed what the potential gendered outcomes of democratic transitions might look like, and discussed how the women’s movement could work to advance its vision during times of transition. Although transitions may differ from one context to the next, compelling similarities can be drawn. For instance, the co-opting of transitions by well-organized (and often anti-women) conservative groups appears to be a worldwide phenomenon. We have also learned that democracies often do not adopt gender equality agendas on their own. Despite these challenges, panelists identified positive developments: the dynamic role of women in popular movements is a positive indicator for the future; despite different contexts and different practices, there exists a universal belief in inclusion, justice, and the international covenants and declarations; and women have made notable political, economic, and social gains that would be difficult to reverse. Additionally, several strategies were identified: women need to clearly claim a secular state to guarantee separation of religion and governance, and thus ensure freedom of religion; women need to be involved in shaping progressive legal frameworks, notably constitutions that provide the foundation for all other legislation, and are difficult to modify; and peace and economic justice are essential to achieving gender justice, as national insecurity often results in empowered reactionary groups, while an inclusive economy is a cornerstones of participatory democracies. Read the full article on the Democratic Transitions and the Inclusion of Women discussion here.

In addition, for the three days prior to the Assembly, WLP convened its annual Transnational Partners Convening to discuss the Partnership’s progress and next steps; advance capacity building efforts, such as effective monitoring and evaluation; and identify new directions for the Partnership, such as WLP’s Online Learning Portal and our forthcoming Corpus of Laws and Interpretations in Muslim-Majority Societies.

Having the voices of WLP partners—renowned women’s rights activists— present during this key international conference, resulted in an increased emphasize on the significance of increasing women’s rights and political representation, which are vital to a successful democracy.

S:SSO to Sakai