Women’s rights defenders at the core of political transition in Algeria and Sudan

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Gender equality, and more specifically respect for women’s rights, are necessary conditions for societies to evolve towards the rule of law and democracy. But in any transition, new risks and challenges emerge for women and those who defend their rights. To consolidate their participation in transition processes, particularly in Algeria and Sudan, a seminar organized by FIDH brought together women defenders of several nationalities to share their experiences and establish a roadmap for the progress of women’s rights at each stage of the transition.

Since the beginning of the protest movement in February 2019, also known as the "February 22 Movement", Algeria has witnessed a strong popular mobilization. Initially spurred by outrage at President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s decision to run for a fifth term, this wave of protest calls for the establishment of a Second Republic and the departure of dignitaries of the regime.

Marked by its diversity and its collective intelligence, this movement is also notable for the massive participation of women and the mobilization of many feminist associations and collectives anchoring their demand for dignity, emancipation and equality in the global will for change. Seventeen associations and women’s groups signed on 21 June 2019 the “Declaration of the Algerian Women Fighting for Equality and Emancipation”.

"There are no free people without free women".

Georgia*, seminar participant

In order to strengthen the participation of women’s rights defenders in the transition process, FIDH organized in Tunis a seminar bringing together Algerian and Sudanese defenders, with defenders from countries facing or having faced similar challenges in Kenya, Spain, Libya, Iraq, Iran and Tajikistan.

This collaboration between women defenders has led to the emergence of a common roadmap formulating recommendations for action to be taken to ensure the inclusion and promotion of women’s rights at each stage of the transition. It is based on three pillars of actions:

Strengthen the feminist movement by mobilizing young people to foster inter-generational transmission and collaborative, united work on freedom of association and protection of women defenders. Involvement in the transition also entails anticipating the movement’s responses, setting up collective demands and inter-association working groups.

Strengthen relations with other civil society actors, by identifying allies (feminist men, professionals, students, artists ...), raising awareness among human rights organizations about the need to promote women’s equality from the start of the transition, and defending equality as a cross-cutting and non-negotiable value in the relations with "democratic" political actors.

Ensure the participation of women in transitional bodies from the beginning, notably by promoting the presence of women in senior positions, creating a permanent Women’s Security Council and advocating for a Republican Pact, while refusing to renegotiate any rights previously acquired.

"We are told that there is never a good time to claim the rights of women, to reverse discrimination against more than half of the world’s population. However, a real revolutionary change based on human rights cannot happen without a complete overhaul of social relations and the enshrinement of equality between men and women both in practice and in law".

Yasmine Laveille, FIDH North Africa and Middle East Director

By accompanying women’s rights defenders in Algeria and Sudan, FIDH is fighting alongside its member organizations across the region for the inclusion of women’s rights at all stages of the transition process, to ensure their respect and protection in lasting and sustainable ways.

* To preserve the anonymity of the participants, the names have been changed.

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