Taking back spaces for the feminist movement

Women human rights defenders and gender rights activists experience all the risks and threats that male activists do, plus some specific to their gender and the patriarchal systems they challenge. These include, but are not limited to, gender-based violence, attacks in the home from family or community members, threats to their children or families, rhetoric that they are bad wives and mothers, or other forms of slander, intimidation and exclusion.

These attacks can come when women challenge conventional gender roles, when activism is not seen as a suitable role for a woman, when they work on socially controversial issues, or a combination of these.

How this changed in 2017

As our latest State of Civil Society Reportpoints out, patriarchy is coming under the spotlight.

In October 2017, the #MeToo  hashtag spread through social media, and stories of sexual harassment flooded the internet. Every single woman who spoke out meant someone realising she was not alone and daring to break the silence.

In January 2018, the Time’s Up campaign helped democratise the issue by encouraging and enabling women in more disadvantaged positions to report sexual harassment and seek justice. Sexual harassment and violence are increasingly inexcusable, and now they’re becoming a crucial part of the debate about gender inequalities, and power and wealth imbalances.

Strengthening how we discuss gender @ Civicus

Gender equality and diversity is important to us at CIVICUS.

We believe it is our duty to strengthen the discussion and recognise overlapping inequalities and discriminations. We will use that strength to push for greater representation and remedies for the struggles faced by women from excluded groups, such as impoverished and immigrant women, disabled, indigenous and lesbian and transgender women, among others.

Our task is to promote awareness, understanding and engagement around civic space - the right to speak out, organise, and take action - and gender, as well as advocate for the protection of women human rights and defenders (WHRDs).

Our internal diversity and inclusion group collaborates in safe space to share ideas, concerns and recommendations, and brainstorm constructive solutions to pressing challenges around gender, diversity and inclusion, in the context of civic space.

Our membership-based Gender Working Group is undergoing a renewal process. If you want to keep up-to-date on the activities of this group as we develop the member networking elements of it, email us here.

Recent gender and inclusion initiatives

  • Supporting the staff-wide Inclusion Audit   with Human Resources and the management team, who are working toward the best possible inclusion policies and practices for CIVICUS Alliance and the Secretariat, and sharing learnings and outcomes with the Alliance.
  • Supporting allies in Geneva at the Human Rights Council and with special procedures and the Universal Periodic Review process (see examples that relate to women's rights, Colombia, Egypt, Pakistan) and Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), where we connected members working on gender equality, women’s rights, sexual orientation and gender rights issues, sexual and reproductive health and rights, girls’    education, and other key areas, with each other and with international processes and spaces.
  • Participating in and convening events for:
    • #16DaysAgainstGBV in November-December 2017,
    • Global Women’s Marches in January 2017,
    • 8th March International Women’s Day,
    • #ADayWithoutAWoman women’s strike,
    • Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) 61,
    • International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia & Biphobia,
    • #SheDefends Women Human Rights Defenders Middle East/North A   frica campaign.   
  • Highlighting gender-related learnings through spaces like the Gender, Inclusion and the State of Civil Society webinar, and amplifying the voices of women and sexual minorities where media opportunities arise.
  • Coordinate joint statements with LGBTIQ groups at the HRC on sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) debates and work with LGBTIQ groups on the severe attacks they face.

Join the conversation

Send us an email with some info about the work you or your organisation is doing, and we’ll keep you informed about gender rights work going on within the Alliance.