From Dilma Rousseff of Brazil to Angela Merkel of Germany, women are now heads of states in many countries across the globe. Their elections are indeed huge symbolic victories for the advancement of women. However, of the world’s 195 countries, only ten presidents, eight prime ministers, and roughly 19 percent of elected parliamentarians are women.
Not only do women still account for a fraction of business, university and NGO leaders, they still struggle for equal protection under the law in many parts of the world where they can’t vote, inherit land or challenge divorce or custody laws.
Over 24 years, the Global Fund for Women has
- Boosted women’s political participation and representation in community governance structures and national parliaments in Afghanistan, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Fiji, Mauritania, Mongolia, and elsewhere. Women now hold the highest office in 20 countries.
- Supported reform of family law and personal status codes throughout the world, advancing women’s rights in a climate of growing religious fundamentalism in every region.
GFW believes women must have equal participation and leadership in public life to improve their lives, families and societies. Not only is their civic and political engagement a human right, their participation is crucial for promoting thriving civil societies and functioning democracies. We support the efforts of women’s organizations that are working to advance women's leadership and decision making at all levels of society and their widespread participation in public life.
We also recognize that the election of a few women to positions of power has not necessarily translated into large-scale systemic change for the majority of women. That is why we, as part of women’s movements, have long argued that the full exercise of women’s rights will not necessarily come from an election but rather from a full transformation of the systems seeking control over women.
GFW supports women-led efforts to give voice and agency to women historically excluded from decision-making in their communities, including women with disabilities, young and elderly women, widows, and women from ethnic or sexual minorities and lower socioeconomic levels.
GFW supports women’s groups Expanding Political Participation by engaging women in all levels of the electoral process. GFW grantees »
Engage women in electoral participation
- Empower and educate on women’s suffrage: the right to vote and run for office, and elect candidates with a women’s rights agenda.
- Prepare women by facilitating access to national identification cards that allow voting and access to social services.
- Prepare and train women on leading campaigns and running for local and national level political office.
- Support elected women to maintain a women’s rights agenda while in office.
- Train women on building community support and engaging with traditional male leaders in male-dominated entities.
- Organize with other women to advocate for women’s policies and national budgets that are equitably distributed across genders.
- Enact a women’s rights agenda at the regional and local level.
Participate politically on the international level
- Ensure women’s leadership at the United Nations, international courts and other multilateral institutions.
- Promote women’s roles in alternative governing bodies and political mobilization efforts.
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In their struggle for political equality, GFW grantees Engage in Civic Participation through »
Reforming laws and the legal system
- Educate women on legal rights and discrimination strategies and facilitate access to justice via training paralegals and providing community-based legal aid.
- Work to change discriminatory laws and push for gender equality in the law at the local, national, and international levels.
- Ensure that laws are implemented by monitoring and training courts, police, and all parties involved in the legal process.
- Advocate for more women lawyers and judges to reform the sector.
Taking on the media
- Women’s groups challenge the way women are portrayed in films, advertisements, television, games, and online media.
- Advocate for the inclusion of women in decision-making and in the production of media, as well as more gender-sensitive content.
- Build the capacity of women to use social media as a strategy of mobilization and outreach.
Promoting feminist research, production and history
- Teach feminist theories, principles, and methodologies.
- Produce and document feminist art and knowledge to popularize feminism and make relevant for today’s movements.
- Train women on telling their stories and breaking their silence.
Focusing on personal empowerment, confidence, and well-being
- Public speaking and leadership skills.
- Peer-to-peer strategies to support personal growth, self-confidence, and action.
- Skills to advocate with local decision-makers.
Confronting and engaging religious and cultural traditions
- Challenge and reform cultural and religious practices that are discriminatory and oppressive to women.
- Encourage institutions to be inclusive of women.
- Provide alternative interpretations of religious texts to support women’s human rights and advocate for girls and women’s rights to education, equal rights, and social justice.
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