The Global Fund for Women directed a missive from their Europe and Central Asia Activist Convening, examining the recent backlash on women’s rights.
This missive appears in full on the Global Fund for Women’s website
2019 — Last week, Global Fund for Women brought together 85 activists from sister organisations and women’s funds in Europe and Central Asia for a meeting in Batumi, Georgia. The meeting was part of Global Fund for Women’s ongoing work to strengthen and build connections between local movements and women’s rights.
“The Europe and Central Asia Activist Convening brought together activists and women’s funds from very diverse backgrounds,” explains Marian Gagoshashvili, Global Fund for Women’s Program Officer for Europe and Central Asia. “Yet it was very important to realise that the external and internal challenges these movements are facing are common ones and that we need to unite to counter them.”
One of the key challenges discussed at the meeting is the growing backlash against women and trans* human rights defenders and social change activists in the region. In countries including Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Tajikistan, just to name a few, organisations working on human rights — especially around gender, sexual orientation, or reproductive rights — are being increasingly targeted and threatened.
For many of the women at Batumi, the very act of travelling to the convening posed severe security threats. Some shared stories of the harassment and interrogation they would face when they travelled back to their home countries — still emphasising that the opportunity to be there and exchange strategies and stories with other activists throughout the region was worth it.
“When I return to my home, I will be invited to the police office, I will be fingerprinted, and I will be sent to the HIV office,” shared one activist. “I will be interrogated to find out where I went and why I went and how I went.”
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