1.1.2 Improving Lobbying Efficacy of Women's Groups

Project Example:Promotion of women through Socio-Political Advisory Program in Morocco

The number of dialogue partners and organizations which demand gender-equality has increased dramatically in almost all states. One must however note, that the official bodies, which have been set up to advance the status of women, often cannot attain their objectives to a desirable degree as a result of insufficient political and financial support.
On the level of Non-Governmental Organizations, one finds, on the one hand, women's organizations which have already made a name for themselves through their self-confident and competent demeanor, and on the other hand, organizations which, despite the strong commitment of several members, are severely handicapped by financial limitations and inadequate organizational knowledge. Women's organizations are of great significance for the representation of the social, political, and economic interests of women. Within civil society the interests of women can also be represented by other organizations such as associations and cooperatives.
The following starting points may help boost the participation of women within a plurality of associations and to ensure a strong representation of their interests:
Enhancing the organizational skills of women's organizations, as well as those of organizations which lobby on behalf of women. To enable women's organizations to run their activities more efficiently, support measures to improve administrative and organizational skills or project-oriented education and further training are often necessary through, for instance, the preparation of manuals.
Targeted support for womens' promotion measure within associations, cooperatives, and so forth, to facilitate the lobbying activities of "mixed" organizations.
Strengthening lobby efforts for women-related issues through multipliers such as women in legal and journalistic professions.
Assisting the building of networks between women's organizations and lobbies. Women and their organizations should be supported in networking, to enable them to represent more effectively their social, political, and economic interests. Durable networks of women's organizations not only improves their capacity to exchange information and experience, it also helps to distribute conceptual assessments on a national and international level through dialogue and visitor programs.

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Project Example :

Promotion of women through Socio-Political Advisory Program in Morocco

The focal point of activities to improve the status of women of the Maghreb states is the close cooperation between the FEF and women's groups in Morocco. Public interest in this country regarding the role of women in society and in development has been increasing, as women's organizations have been drawing more attention to persistent discrimination against women.
Despite constitutionally guaranteed equal status between men and women, women continue to suffer from inequality in many legal areas, especially concerning their personal status in family and inheritance law. Women also enjoy less financial security, primarily as a result of lower levels of education, ghettoization into poorly-paid women's jobs, and the increasing threat of unemployment. Women have until now been almost absent at the decision-making level - the fact that two women were elected to parliament in 1993 has been heralded as an important step towards rectifying this deficit.
Within this context, the FEF has intensified its cooperation with the women's organizations "Association Démocratique des Femmes du Maroc" and "Collectif 95 Maghreb Egalité". To emphasize that the project is directed towards women's groups in the entire Maghreb region, women from Algeria and Tunisia have been invited to almost all events.
Through this cooperation, the FEF hopes to contribute to the process of developing suggested means to improve the conditions under which women live. Two goals are pursued to this end:
Increasing public awareness about the significant role women play the in Moroccan society
In cooperation with partner organizations, the FEF organizes seminars and studies, which analyze significant aspects of the legal and social situation of women. To ensure that this knowledge is accessible to a larger audience, important topics such as the history of the Islamic West, politics, media, social security, child-rearing, and employment and their relevance for women have been published in a series of volumes entitled "Marocaines Citoyennes de Demain". The series has enjoyed a resounding success with the Moroccan media.
Supporting a non-fundamentalist perspective in the discourse on women in Islam
Under the supervision of renowned female authors, women from Morocco, Tunisia, and Algeria can take part in writing workshops on important issues such as "Femmes et Violence" and "Femmes et Société Civile". They have the opportunity to discuss how these issues are portrayed in their societies, and how women can respond - through the publication of the workshop results, the issues also find their way into social and political discourse.
For instance, in the workshop "Memoires Musulmane," with Fatima Mernissi as convenor and with the assistance of female legal experts, a glossary of fundamental concepts of the rights of women in Islam was compiled, which drew upon the verses and hadiths in the Koran. The effect of these notions on contemporary political reality were simultaneously examined. This compilation of arguments should be of much assistance to women in their altercations with members of the fundamentalist Islamic community.
The FEF assisted the "Collectif 95 Maghreb Egalité" with its submission to the World Women's Conference in Beijing in 3 concrete measures:
With the compilation of a draft unified legal code for the Maghreb states with an emphasis on aspects of family law
With the preparation of a "balance sheet" on the issues Women and Environment, Health Care, Public/Political Life, and Employment and Education
With the provision of "progress reports" which examined and commented upon the level of debate regarding the ratification and/or application of diverse international conventions.
These measures provided not only substantial gains in knowledge and an opportunity to strengthen networks between the participating women and organizations, they also conveyed participants necessary skills in the techniques of moderating seminars, so that later they will be able to independently organize similar workshops and impart their knowledge and experience to others.
Visitor programs to Germany supplemented the activities in the partner countries.

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