With the Millennium Development Goals coming to an end in 2015 and their successors, a set of Sustainable Development Goals, coming into effect in 2016, the last few years have been a critical time for conversations about the future of international development.
In March 2014, Womankind and our partner organisations including LIWOMAC, WiLDAF-Ghana, and FIDA Kenya launched a new campaign during the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW58) in New York, calling for a standalone goal on women’s rights and gender equality to be at the heart of the Post-2015 development framework.
We also delivered a petition signed by thousands of supporters to Justine Greening MP, Secretary of State for International Development, calling on her to champion women and girls on the international stage.
At the end of the conference, CSW58 included a commitment to a standalone goal on gender equality and women’s rights as part of its agreed conclusions document, negotiated between 190 member states. Thanks in part to our continued campaigning throughout the year this success was not rolled back or traded away in the following negotiations.
In the news:
A world without violence
In Spring 2014, we asked our supporters to design a placard highlighting the need to end violence against women and showing their support for women’s rights organisations.
We received over 400 eye-catching handmade placards, which were displayed in an exhibition during the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence Conflict held in London in June 2014.
A number of our partners attended the summit, contributing to the summit’s expert day and spoke on panels with the Secretary of State, Justine Greening, and Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Lynne Featherstone. The placards also attracted media attention from high profile publications including Cosmopolitan magazine.
Women at the heart of peace
Grassroots women’s rights organisations have a key role in building peace. Despite the barriers they face, they’re striving to provide crucial services, resolve disputes and secure justice for women who have experienced violence. But they need recognition and support. Without it, they struggle to survive.
We asked our supporters to email their MPs so they could put pressure on the Foreign Office to commit 15% of their funding for peacebuilding to women’s rights groups. Within a month half of all the MPs in parliament had heard from Womankind supporters. Many of them raised the issue with the Foreign Secretary and shared our report about women’s peacebuilding, 'From the ground up'.
We hit the headlines too – with a full page article in the Guardian newspaper, and online articles on The F-Word and Insight on Conflict.
This campaign action helped to get the issue of funding for women’s participation in peacebuilding on the agenda and put us on the map as experts in this field. Although the Foreign Secretary refused to ringfence funds in the Conflict Pool at the time, this fund has now changed its structure and function and we continue to liaise with the government to ensure that the new fund will include money for women’s rights.
Don’t silence Afghan women
We asked our supporters to sign our petition calling on the UK government to take action on women’s rights at the conference on Afghanistan held in Bonn, Germany in December 2011. We asked them to ensure that women’s voices were heard and their needs and rights taken into account in subsequent agreements.
In just a few weeks, 1,000 people signed our petition. We presented the petition, together with other members of the No Women No Peace campaign, to Alistair Burt, then Foreign Office minister. He committed to the UK government taking action on women’s rights after troop withdrawal in 2014.
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