Last year’s Gender Action Plan consultation was a joke. The only EU consultation on gender that civil society was allowed to attend represented everything that consultations shouldn’t be – a group of civil servants meeting to talk about procedure, not people.
Yet this year was a completely different story – following the creation of UN Women.
The presence of Michelle Bachelet, the agency’s Executive Director and former President of Chile, ensured that women were at the centre of the discussion.
I remember collecting signatures to support the creation of this UN agency for women’s rights so it was great to finally see it in action.
The agency’s creation provides us with an institutional success story to support our struggle for women’s rights and will help us gain access to official negotiations to defend our rights.
I was glad to be joined at this meeting by Michelle Bachelet and Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda, a member of ActionAid International’s Board of Directors, to support the millions of women living in hunger around the world.
Their presence was vital in encouraging the European Commission and the EU member states to come up with institutional success stories on women rights, supported by women’s movements and social justice movements, for the review on the EU gender action plan.
Nyaradzayi’s words still ring clearly in my mind:
“To make development policies work for women, we need women’s rights in the political and technical arenas. But more importantly, we need transformative agendas – agendas that if implemented would challenge the current situation”.
Food for thought for EU decision-makers ahead of next year’s Gender Action Plan review.