WLP Panels and Activities at the Sixth Assembly of the World Movement for Democracy

Jakarta, Indonesia - April 11-14, 2010

Inclusive Democracy: Women and Men Working Together to Ensure the Promises of Democracy

Co-organized by WLP, Fondation Espoir [Haiti], and Foundation Hope for Haiti [USA])

Towards 2020

Grace Mutasa & Sindi Medar-Gould
at World Movement for Democracy
More photos on Flickr

On April 12th, Moderator Lina Abou Habib (Executive Director of WLP partner Collective for Research and Training on Development-Action, Lebanon) and speakers Rakhee Goyal (WLP Executive Director), Rabéa Naciri (founding member of WLP partner Association Démocratique des Femmes du Maroc, Morocco), Sakena Yacoobi (Founder/Executive Director of WLP partner Afghan Institute of Learning), Diego Sueiras (President, Nueva Generacion Argentina Foundation), and Hans Tippenhauer (President, Fondation Espoir/Haiti) shared the experiences, challenges, and best practices in including both women and men in micro- and macro-democracy building processes. Highlights of the lively discussion included:

  • The growing awareness that women's participation is necessary for reasons of equality and equity.
  • Cultural biases have often blocked women's participation in democratic processes.
  • The importance of a women's quota system to overcome cultural and other biases to women's political participation.
  • The commonality of obstacles to women's participation worldwide and hence the need to network and continue sharing experiences and solidarity.
  • The importance of ensuring that women are actively included in post-conflict and post-emergency processes and interventions.
  • Democracy in the family is a pre-requisite for the achievement of democratic societies.

Towards 2020: Strategies for Realizing Democracy

Organized by WLP, Secretariat for the International Women's Democracy Network (IWDN)

IWDN Panel

Rosa Quintana, Asma Khader, & Hafsat Abiola
at World Movement for Democracy
More photos on Flickr

On April 13th, at the IWDN Session, Moderator Hafsat Abiola (WLP Board Member and Founder/Executive Director of the Kudirat Initiative for Nigerian Democracy) and presenters Kim Campbell (Chair of the World Movement Steering Committee, Canada), Carl Gershman (President of the National Endowment for Democracy, U.S.), Lina Abou Habib (WLP partner Collective for Research and Training on Development-Action, Lebanon), Hannah Forster (African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies, Gambia), Rosa Quintana (human rights activist and union leader, Uruguay), Inna Pidluska (Europe XXI Foundation, Ukraine), and Asma Khader (WLP partner Sisterhood Is Global Institute, Jordan) marked the fourth convening of the International Women's Democracy Network (IWDN), a network of women's organizations and activists engaged in promoting women's participation in democratic processes.

This IWDN session focused on women's participation in politics, and global and national strategies for increasing women's involvement in democracy building processes. Prior to addressing regional issues, Ms. Campbell and Mr. Gershman commented on the global state of affairs and presented WLP's newest training tool, the women's political participation manual Leading to Action, which WLP developed in response to requests for a resource that went beyond more technical, skill-based toolkits and offered practical, culturally adaptable case studies addressing a range of social and ethical questions that also affect women's ongoing formal and informal engagement in the political process. Mr. Gershman also noted that the consensus- and communication-based model of leadership WLP uses in all its trainings is key to broadening networks, and to encouraging women to engage more fully in political processes.

Regional issues discussed at the workshop included:

Africa - Hannah Forster of the African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies noted the minimal political presence of women despite the absence of constitutional or legal impediments. Proposed strategies included implementing local and national quotas; working to eliminate the gap between law and reality in terms of gender discrimination; enhancing civil society's role and strategies; and positioning women to speak with a common voice on gender issues.

Latin America - Rose Quintana, human rights activist and union leader from Uruguay, spoke about the political advancement of women in some countries, but also noted that the working environment often remains a more patriarchal model and that a more fundamental change in the notion of leadership must be cultivated so such models are not reinforced. Ms. Quintana urged women to come together to document a unified vision.

2020 Vision

Kim Campbell & Rakhee Goyal
at World Movement for Democracy
More photos on Flickr

Europe - Inna Pidluska of the Europe XXI Foundation in the Ukraine spoke about changing demographics in the former Soviet bloc that reflect women's increasing numbers in the population overall and in the education system as both students and teachers. As such, the education system is an important place to tap into the future potential of women to engage in the political process. Women have spoken out against discriminatory stereotypes expressed by the Prime Minister, and Ms. Pidluska encouraged women to refrain from self-censorship.

Middle East - Asma Khader of WLP partner Sisterhood Is Global Institute/Jordan and the Jordanian National Commission for Women noted that the Middle East reflected some of the lowest levels of women's political participation as a result of wider contextual obstacles, political climate, and direct gender discrimination. Women's issues frequently take the back seat to "emergency" situations. She cited the importance of regional coalitions such as the Claiming Equal Citizenship and Equality without Reservation campaigns, and noted that in many countries, women are visible in the judiciary, education, and women's rights activities. She concluded that for 2020 our dream should be full equality and 50-50 participation in government. We can accomplish this by cultivating grassroots leadership, technology capacity, and youth engagement.

Technology Training Session and Panel

On April 14th, WLP's Director of Innovation and Technology, Usha Venkatachallam, co-led a technology training session on "Connect! Facebook and Ning to Create Solidarity Networks" and also presented in a technology Workshop on "Addressing Online Security Challenges."

Democracy Courage Tributes

Democracy Award to Iran Women's Movement

Democracy Courage Award presented to the Women's Movement of Iran.

At the John B. Hurford Memorial Dinner, the World Movement for Democracy presented Democracy Courage Tributes to four groups that have "shown exceptional courage in their work for freedom and democracy, often struggling in isolation and against some of the most difficult challenges to democracy and human rights in the world today":

  • The Movement for Human Rights in Syria
  • The Student Movement of Venezuela
  • The Women's Movement of Iran
  • The Human Rights Defenders of the North Caucasus

WLP President and CEO Mahnaz Afkhami accepted (in absentia) the award on behalf of the Women's Movement of Iran, with her remarks read by WLP Board Member Hafsat Abiola. In her acceptance speech, Ms. Afkhami noted that "The Iranian women's movement today is heir to over a century of activism and sacrifice. ... it is a movement without leaders… offices, or special locations. It is within every woman's heart and is carefully nurtured in every home across the land. The movement seeks freedom and justice. It stresses humane values. It commits members to do as their consciences dictate. It stresses that the road we travel is as important as our destination, that our means are as significant as our goals. It says through the voices of the many young women and men who have joined the movement in the millions that we cannot strive for democracy if each and every one of us is not a democrat at heart -- respectful of others' identity and opinions and careful of their boundaries and rights. Above all, the movement stresses that we cannot achieve a society imbued with a culture of peace by using violence." (Read the acceptance speech in English | Persian)

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