Olympe De Gouges wrote the ‘Declaration of the Rights of Women and the Female Citizen’in 1791, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaimed 60 years ago that ‘all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights’, and still women are discriminated against in nearly all of our society. Only because they are women, they face greater obstacles than men and boys in claiming and enjoying their rights. Prevailing gender norms and stereotypes are restricting not only women but everyone who is not conforming to gender roles.
Promoting women’s rights and putting women’s policy on the agenda of the IFM-SEI and its member organisations is and has been a very important and successful strategy to tackle discrimination. As an educational organization it is important to us to reflect on gender norms and stereotypes as well as to find strategies to overcome the male dominated society. Therefore we use tools like the women’s quota in all our decision-making bodies as well as the use of gender quotas for participation in our seminars.
Experience has also shown us the importance of safe spaces outside of society norms, like feminist spaces, queer spaces and women-only spaces. These are often the only places where a woman’s voice is heard on her own terms. Safe spaces can empower marginalized people to rise up against their oppressors. And so to create a more equal society, free from male domination, it is important to make female voices heard. In October this year the IFM-SEI founded the ‘Feminist Network’, another milestone to promote gender equality inside and outside of our organisations, to challenge norms and create a safe space for women* to share knowledge and experiences.
Girls are strong!
Article written by Amina Lehner, IFM-SEI Rainbow Network Coordinator