Working Group on Women and Gender Realities in the OSCE Region

Coordinator: Heidi Meinzolt, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom 

Second coordinator: Tolekan Ismailova 

Considering that shrinking space for civil society is not gender neutral, OSCE institutions and CSO in the OSCE region should consider important results of gender research regarding the analysis of equal and just societiesand a multitude of good practice examples if it comes to the specific inputand the participation of women in dialogue formats, peace processes, negotiations, diplomatic and conflict related analysis and debates.

Expressing also concern about de-gendering of certain debates excluding as well women from participation in decision making processes, especially in societies where violent extremism and populism/ nationalism are linked to always more exclusive politics. We have to be very aware of a dangerous backlash and a policy, which at the same time is reaffirming securitization of civil spaces where women with little power loose access. Neglecting the gender impact is part of a vicious cycle putting even more in danger already fragile States and traditional and patriarchal societies and is often a source of growing violence (GBV), new “heroisation” in nationalized contexts and the use of weapons and growing (racist) attacks on most vulnerable groups.

As civil society representatives we win if we are inclusive and express this, raising our voices against injustice (not just naming women with vulnerable and marginalized people but also engage men in the debate) and in favor of equal participation of all parts of the society. Human rights are women’s rights, men’s rights, peoples’ rights, and respect and diversity are the most important basis for sustainable peace. This common narrative should be a basic reference point for CSP.

Underlining on the one side that women are in the context of space for Civil Society most vulnerable and multi-vulnerable (specific basic needs, family and work context under specific attention to  care work, victimization due to GBV and abuse,  patriarchal structures causing traditional marginalization and exploitation), we express that like men, women are agents of change:

  1. in all conflict cycles: de-radicalisation,  cross-border initiatives and contacts,  greater distance to weapons and therefore key actors in disarmament and demobilization issues
  2. In negotiations on all levels of decision-making: priority to humanitarian corridors and support, gender responsive social and health services, priority to organize survival of their families and neighbors and arguing against strategic “heroes” in militarized contexts. Women are very creative and sensitive in formulating post conflict transition, trauma healing, but also transitional justice measures and political initiatives based on their experiences in doing the daily care tasks even under mist conflicting situations.  Women are key actors in building cross-border and cross-dimensional networks in the fields of migration, trust building, Human Security issues, but also energy efficiency, just access to food and clean water, access to media.
  3. Women’s issues are based on International frameworks, UNSCR1325 and follow up resolutions, CEDAW, Beijing platform of action, gender action plans. Istanbul convention
  4. Women are key actors against radicalisation and violent extremism as all forms of discrimination but not necessarily as mothers but as persons, legal subjects with voice and power to act