Women’s right to equal opportunities and participation in public life is guaranteed by international agreements such as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the Beijing Platform for Action, and the Sustainable Development Goals. Women are active in both the formal and informal public spaces, including in social and political movements as civil society activists, political candidates and leaders, and peace negotiators.
Over time, women activists and feminist movements have led efforts globally and nationally to advance the gender equality and women’s empowerment agenda in all spheres of life. For instance, in politics they were instrumental in achieving women’s suffrage, as well as the introduction of gender-sensitive laws and electoral gender quotas in many countries. Albeit still far from parity, women’s participation and representation in formal political institutions has increased in recent decades as a result of those reforms. For instance, women’s representation in national parliaments has nearly doubled in the last twenty years, rising from 13.4%in 2000 to 24.9%in 2020.
With the rise and renewed uses of the internet, women are using both formal and informal spaces to drive change for a more democratic and sustainable world free from discrimination. Social media tools enable digital activism and grassroots movements with unprecedented speed, reach, and often impact, transforming institutional and traditional activism and civic spaces.
This e-Discussion aims to explore and raise awareness on the different ways and forms women participate in public life outside of formal political institutions, such as in women’s and feminist movements, civic demonstrations and initiatives and online activism. Activists in civic and political movements, civil society groups, political parties, social media campaigns, as well as practitioners and researchers on issues related to political and public engagement are invited to join this e-Discussion from 24 August to 14 September 2020. Submissions will contribute to the elaboration of a Consolidated Reply that will augment the knowledge base available on the topic.
- How have women outside of formal roles advanced the gender equality agenda and influenced other public debates and decisions? Please share concrete examples.
- In organizing and pushing for change, many women activists develop valuable leadership skills. Can you share examples of women in politics who entered the formal political sphere after engaging in informal spaces?
- What is the role of youth, including young women, in driving public and civil society movements and influencing decision-making? Is the public engagement of today’s youth different from previous generations’?
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