FEMENA was established in March 2017 and aims to support women human rights defenders (WHRDs), their organizations and their movements in the MENA and Asia region. FEMENA is particularly focused on contexts where civil society space is shrinking and seeks to raise awareness and provide analysis about the impact of shrinking civil society space on the situation women and progressive feminist movements.
Programs & Activities
FEMENA supports WHRDs, their organizations and feminist movements through four interlinked approaches:
1. Analysis of Trends and Policy
3. Fostering the Development of Communities of Practice—through south-south convening, training, TA and other supports
Examples of our ongoing and planned programs & activities include:
1. Analysis of Trends and Policy:
FEMENA strives to provide critical and timely analysis on important trends and issues related to the situation of women, WHRDs and feminist organizing in the region.
FEMENA aims to document innovative and progressive strategies used by feminist movements in the region, with the aim of ensuring that progressive feminist movements are not side-lined by the international community seeking to respond to growing conservatism, increased authoritarianism, conflict and extremism.
3. Fostering Development of Communities of Practice:
FEMENA believes in south-south collaboration, sharing and learning. As such, we seek to convene or provide space for the coming together of feminist activists from the global south and especially the MENA/Asia region. We believe that learning and sharing is most effective when it is focused and provides technical and other forms of support for collaboration or replication. Our convening is linked with our trends and policy analysis and documentation efforts as well as our advocacy efforts. So groups are convened prior, after or as a component of our analysis or documentation efforts. At present FEMENA is facilitating the creation of communities of practice in the following areas:
Ensuring Resilience of Progressive Feminist Movements in MENA/Asia region
Supporting Movements in Restrictive Civil Society Space: FEMENA will be convening feminists from the region to discuss the impact of shrinking civil society space on their efforts to organize and on the wellbeing of women in their countries. The convening aims to identify specific strategies for ensuring the resilience of progressive movements in the region.
Ensuring Wellness and Safety of WHRDs: WHRDs in the MENA/Asia region work in high stress and dangerous contexts, often threatened by state and non-state actors. Increasingly there has been focus on ensuring resiliency of WHRDs, through provision of wellness, self care and integrated security training. But trainers from the region who have language skills and know the context are limited at best. This training of trainers program seeks to build a strong network of indigenous trainers from the region who can provide trainings to WHRDs in their local or regional contexts. The network will work to provide input into international mechanisms that seek to support WHRDs and women’s rights as well.
Preventing Sexual and Gender Based Violence in Public Space
Women’s Right to the City & Urban Space: In August 2017, FEMENA along with other organizations convened a meeting between Afghan, Tajik and Iranian (ATI) activists working on women’s access in the city and public space. The meeting report, which includes papers presented by participants is forthcoming in Farsi, and a summary will be published in English. We hope to continue meetings and collaboration between activists from these three countries, including on how to prevent harassment in urban spaces, ensuring gender sensitive and appropriate services in cities and women’s political participation at the local and municipal levels.
Free from Violence in the Workplace: FEMENA is working to support partners engaged in prevention of workplace violence. We aim to facilitate the coming together of groups from the region to share learning and knowledge and also to support them adapting and implementing learnings in ongoing and new activities.
Women’s Transformative Leadership
FEMENA believes in the power of movements. We see positive policy efforts and inclusion of women and minorities in national and international priorities where and when movements have been strong and are able to adequately advocate for rights and interests. There are many examples in the MENA/Asia region, where movements have played a critical role in achievement of rights for women and minorities. FEMENA will facilitate ongoing discussions on strategies which have worked and what is needed to ensure that politics and policies are inclusive of the interests of women and minorities and their rights.
FEMENA is committed to providing opportunities for advocacy, in order to ensure that the voices and concerns of women human rights defenders and their organizations/movements are heard at the national, regional and international levels. FEMENA’s policy analysis, documentation and convening activities feed into advocacy efforts and help define advocacy priorities. FEMENA seeks to provide opportunities for partners to be present in critical spaces of advocacy at the UN and at international women’s conferences where decisions are made and awareness is raised.