The Club de Madrid convened October 1st and 2nd, with the support of the Alan B. Slifka Foundation, a group of 20 international experts with the objective of promoting the role of women as agents of social, political and economic change in divided societies. In this manner they can fight against the double discrimination that the women suffer in their communities. The group acknowledged challenges that had already been articulated such as to identify the situations of double/triple discrimination; the need to have a clear, systemic vision with indicators of success; the need to increase the ability of minority women to participate in the development of shared Societies; the need for personal dignity of all women; and the need to ensure that Government provision of services responds to the needs of all women regardless of identity, values and concerns. The group also recognized that progress has been frustratingly slow. Ideas are been worked out to ensure faster progress, and the Shared Societies team is working on a plan of action with concrete proposals to address this issues.
The sessions, took place in the Agencia Tributaria Madrid headquartes, and were led by Member of the Club de Madrid Chandrika Kumaratunga, former President of Sri Lanka from 1994-2005. Kumaratunga shared her experiences in government concerning the empowerment of women in cases of double discrimination
The panel of experts included, among others, the ex Ombudswoman and ex Prime Minister of Perú, Beatriz Merino; member of the European Parliament Kinga Göncz, the baroness Nuala O’Loan, member of the House of Lords and the ex Ombudswoman of the People of Northern Ireland; Sir John Kaputin, ex Secretary General of the Group of Africa, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States; Rita Izsák, independent expert on minorities and human rights that works for the United Nation, and Sarah Silver, executive director of the Alan B. Slifka Foundation, funder of the project.
The Shared Societies Project has reviewed elements that impact double discrimination against women, which include: the lack of educational opportunities that women belonging to minorities have in comparison to men, the high price they pay for becoming agents of social change within their communities and that which causes a great lack of female leaders that involve themselves in politics and the limited knowledge of human rights and gender.
During the two days of work concrete studies about the minorities of women that suffer double discrimination like the women of Dalit de India were presented. In the bottom part of the caste system of the country, the women belonging to this segment of society are separated from educated and cultured places, in dining rooms, in medical attention or even in the access to water. The statistics show an average of 1,000 annual violations against women of this group, the highest rate in Indian society. The questions concerning Muslim women in the UK, the gypsy women in Europe, the Kurdish women in Iraq or the nomadic Irish women will also be analyzed
There was also be time to consider lessons learned from the experience of successes such as the Caucus for Women Leaders in Kenya, a national network structure in 29 regional assemblies dedicated to strengthening the political and social leadership of women in that country. Included in their activities is the participation in the peaceful resolution of conflicts between all groups, ethnic minorities and majorities, especially since the escalation of violence that followed the 2007 elections. Also, the group carries out informational activities about HIV/AIDS and the momentum of political and economic participation of women.
PM Al Mahdi, who could not attend the meeting, sent the Ahfad Declaration to Abolish Compounded Suppression against Marginalized Minority Women, the outcome of a workshop convened by this Club de Madrid Member, that was held in Ahfad University, the only University for Women education in the continent of Africa. This document was key as part of the discussions.
This Working Group is an initiative of the Shared Societies Project in collaboration with the Alan B. Slifka Foundation. This Club de Madrid Project has worked for six years to create societies that respect the dignity and the rights of all of its members, tolerant and free societies in that which the minorities can express their voice and integrate themselves in the general population. Through the leadership and experience of its members, the Club de Madrid works all over the world with various governments, institutions and their leaders to advise them on the best strategies for constructing an inclusive society.
Complete list of participants and biographies
Study cases and successful experiences