The Association internationale des femmes (AIF; International Association of Women), a short-lived feminist and pacifist organization, was based in Geneva and active between 1868 and 1872. It demanded full equality between men and women. This was too radical for many feminists at the time. In 1872 it was dissolved and reorganized as a new association called Solidarité: Association pour la défense des droits de la femme (Solidarity: Association for the Defense of Women's Rights), which major achievement has been to get access for women to the University of Geneva.
Since then, NGOs around the world play a crucial role in advancing women's rights issues around the world. They work tirelessly to address gender-based discrimination, violence against women, and other challenges that hinder gender equality. Through advocacy, programs and initiatives, NGOs have been at the forefront of promoting women's rights and empowering women to achieve their full potential.
One of the key roles of NGOs in advancing women's rights issues is advocacy to raise awareness about gender inequality and push for policy changes that promote women's rights. They engage in lobbying, campaigning, and advocacy efforts to promote gender-responsive laws, policies, and programs. NGOs also collaborate with governments, international organizations and other stakeholders to promote gender mainstreaming and ensure that gender perspectives are integrated into all aspects of policy and decision-making processes.
Moreover, NGOs play a critical role in promoting gender equality and women's rights in international forums. They participate in global conferences, forums, and conventions to raise awareness, advocate for policy changes, and hold governments and other stakeholders accountable for their commitments to gender equality. NGOs also monitor the implementation of international agreements, such as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), and report on progress and challenges. The Council of Europe Committee states NGOs as advocates of gender equality and women's rights" seeks to enable NGOs to promote the Council of Europe’s ground-breaking conventions and recommendations concerning women’s rights and gender equality in their respective NGO and in civil society. The Committee encompasses a broad variety of NGOs with focus on women’s rights, gender equality and the empowerment of women.
NGOs also provide direct support to women and girls through their programs and initiatives. They offer a wide range of services, such as education, healthcare, legal assistance, economic empowerment, and psychosocial support, to address the unique challenges faced by women and girls. These programs not only empower women economically and socially but also help to address the root causes of gender inequality, such as poverty, lack of access to education, and gender-based violence.
The NGOs’ tireless efforts have made significant strides towards advancing women's rights, but there is still much work to be done. It is essential to continue supporting and collaborating with NGOs in their mission to promote gender equality and ensure that the rights of women and girls are protected and upheld worldwide.
At NMA we are privileged to regularly partner with wonderful organisation and people working to advance women’s rights issues, from fighting against menstruation poverty in Poland to girls’ education in Nigeria and many more. How does your organisation support women’s rights?