Social and political development has been taking place all over the world without the equal participation of women in decision-making. Women’s needs have been marginalized and women’s demands are missing from political, social and economic agendas. Consequently, policies addressing women’s everyday life conditions from the perspective of gender equality and with respect of their universal human rights are largely absent, in spite of relevant resolutions and laws having been passed in some countries.
New developments are undermining women's rights, especially in the southern Euro-Med region. Armed conflicts are increasing, exacerbated by the entrenching of a culture of religious extremism, causing massive militarization, military expenditure, the transfer of weapons, and above all the death of civilians. State actors are silencing those who call for the upholding of human and women's rights under the pretext of national security.
Consequently, women face numerous obstacles due to discriminative patriarchal structures, practices and procedures as well as social and cultural attitudes. Violence against women is being used as an extreme form of domination and control of women’s participation.
Democracy demands equal participation and sharing of power, duties and responsibilities. Democracy implies freedom, dignity, physical and psychological integrity, equal access for women and men to resources and opportunities, health education and decision-making. It also requires that gender equality be a founding value in all constitutions as well as the elimination of discrimination based on gender, ethnic origin, handicap, belief or other characteristics.
According to international human rights standards, laws on gender equality should be adopted in all countries in the Euro-Med and become binding with appropriate allocation of resources to enable their implementation.
IFE-EFI demands that gender equality becomes a priority in all the Euro-Med political processes and therefore expects the:
Women’s rights and human rights must be at the core of all transitional and reform processes that take place in the Euro-Med region and at the core of all policies addressing the economic crises in Europe; otherwise reform processes towards democracy will remain an illusion. Research and studies have uncovered time after time how gender power barriers and public structures exclude women from decision-making positions and the political sphere.
|IFE-EFI calls upon the adoption in the Euro-Med region of parity laws in the fields of political, economic and social life, combined with legally and constitutionally binding measures for their implementation.|
An ultra-liberal orientation of policies reproduces the subordination of women who are in turn subjected to unemployment, precariousness and instability, professional inequalities, and minimum or even nonexistent retirement benefits. In the southern countries, the majority of women don’t benefit from health coverage provided by the State and maternal and neonatal mortality rates are high. There is a high rate of illiteracy among rural women and the globalized economic system of capitalism based on profit and negligence of human development has become fatal for all human beings as well as for our planet. Together with increasing militarism and conservative trends, it has generated social disaster and led to an unprecedented decline in the observation of fundamental rights, in particular those of women, which the feminist movement has fought so hard to achieve.
The absence or the dismantling of public services hinders social protection. The maintenance or the transfer of States’ responsibilities to the domestic sphere penalizes women first and foremost. We call upon States to invest in all social sectors and especially in health, education and home services, which are mainly occupied by women, if we are to speak of social justice that is not gender blind. These services should be recognized by social status and a relevant corresponding economic redistribution.
IFE-EFI calls upon all the governments in the Euro-Med region to take adequate measures to:
The people in the Euro-Med region are facing uncertain times. Unprecedented deterioration is taking place, severely threatening peoples, civil society and rights to freedom, justice and peace. Women and women’s rights defenders are in particular being targeted. The tragic situation in countries of war and the occupation of Palestine have created a climate of fear and insecurity in the entire region. History has shown that military interventions cannot resolve conflicts. Achieving sustainable peace therefore calls for comprehensive political action.
Saying “no” to war and militarization implies independence from NATO. The European Security and Defense Policy (ESDP) does not incorporate human and women´s security and neither encourages nor demands disarmament. It justifies invasions and military interventions, even if history demonstrates that military solutions to conflicts never bring freedom to people.
The UN concept of human security misses the fact that the threat against women`s security lies also within the relations of their affiliation. Women are the victims of violence committed by their nearest partners and men in their family in their own home. At the same time violence used by armies and armed conflict in war justifies rape and sexual humiliation in addition to violence against women at home. Security problems constitute the everyday multi-layered discrimination women experience within societies that sustain their oppression, subordination, inequality, and crippling sense of insecurity.
A transformation of security and defense policies into civil policies for civil protection is therefore a necessary measure to ensure true and sustainable peace and to promote an alternative to the destruction of life, human beings and the environment. In other words, a demilitarization of the region is possible by exercising political will and allocation of the necessary resources to social and civil gendered needs instead of to weapons and destruction. We advocate for and work towards a Euro-Med that utilizes all political, nonviolent and non-militarist means, including feminist analyses of peace and war, as a comprehensive approach to the solving of all conflicts.
IFE-EFI demands and acts to achieve a joint Euro-Mediterranean policy that:
The wars and deteriorated economic and social situations have pressured people to run from the consequential misery and violence. The impediment of the free movement of persons, penalizes, excludes and forces many immigrants to go underground. This is contrary to our conception of democracy and to a region in which we wish to live together. Migrant women, who actively participate in the production of wealth, are exposed to social exclusion, violence and poverty. They face double discrimination on the labor market because of the opposition created intentionally between them and their country of origin. All women living in the same country must enjoy the same rights: right to work, to education and vocational training, right to social welfare and health protection.
IFE-EFI calls upon the governments in the Euro-Med region to take measures to guarantee:
Women’s freedom over their own bodies has not been gained in all parts of the Euro-Med region and where it has, it is regularly jeopardized under the pressure of conservative and religious trends. The sexual and reproductive rights of women are seriously endangered.
|IFE-EFI advocates for the right of women to full control over their own bodies and for full exercise of their sexual and reproductive rights.|
Religions and religious discourses support the patriarchal system. Mounting communitarianism and religious fundamentalisms intensify the violations of women’s rights. Any violence or violation of women’s physical integrity or human dignity cannot be justified by religion, customs, culture or traditions.
Only separation between religion and legislation, and separation between religion and political and public spheres guarantee the respect of all beliefs and our diversity. The separation prevents all forms of discrimination based on religion. Secularism and women’s rights are tightly related. Separating politics from religion is a precondition to achieving equality and respect of diversities for any Civil State.
Religion should be a private matter and the freedom of belief should be guaranteed to all.
IFE-EFI calls for:
Changing attitudes and discriminatory patterns requires not only political will and legal intervention but also a broad awareness-raising action campaign addressing cultural gender stereotypes. The educational system and curricula are framed by patriarchal values and gender bias and contribute to reproducing these stereotypes.
In order to address cultural gender stereotypes Governments should give priority to providing training programs on gender equality and women’s rights for professionals (education, police, security, health, and judiciary). Women’s rights NGOs should be consulted in tailoring these programs.
Coordinated efforts should be made to reform the educational systems, the curricula and the educational programs in order to promote the values of citizenship, human rights and gender equality, to address violence and discrimination, and to promote women’s rights as a human rights issue. Mechanisms should be developed in the private and public sectors to allow women and men equal participation and role in economic and social life.
IFE-EFI calls upon the Governments and social movements of Euro-Med region:
In the present context it is more than ever important to apply international conventions and both regional and national women’s rights mechanisms as parts of one framework. The Beijing Platform for Action, the Convention of Elimination of All Forms of Violence against Women (CEDAW) and the United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 with its subsequent resolutions should all be enshrined in the European Neighborhood Policy in order to enable the respect of human rights of women and men in bilateral and multilateral agreements.
This requires addressing the long term demand of civil society to lift all reservations on CEDAW and the ratification of the optional protocol, harmonizing national legislation with international laws and standards for women’s rights, and developing National Action Plans for implementation of the UNSCR1325 and UfM Ministerial Conclusions on women’s rights.
These actions will provide channels for dialogue between State actors and women’s rights organizations and will serve as monitoring mechanisms. This means also allocating budgets for their development and implementation.
IFE-EFI calls upon the EU:
The Euro-Mediterranean feminist movement represents a decisive social force. Working with the women of the world and all progressive forces, Euromed Feminist Initiative contributes to exposing and dismantling down–top the model of patriarchal dominance power in Euro-Med and globally.