Women’s movements have driven global and national action on gender equality. In countries and localities, advocates often have the greatest understanding of the deficiencies that women and girls face, and essential knowledge of how to advance their rights. In pushing for change and accountability, they develop leadership skills; some use these in turn to enter and transform political arenas.
Civil society groups are essential partners in implementing UN Women programmes, across all areas of our work. We also engage with women’s movements to help them increase their effectiveness, such as by sharing knowledge on women’s rights and successful advocacy practices. We provide support in building communication, leadership and other skills to influence political and governance processes, including those related to elections.
Other assistance encourages civil society groups to improve their internal operations so that they have a sound foundation for sustaining advocacy and maximizing results.
In Albania, UN Women helped mobilize grassroots women and civil society organizations to develop community-based scorecards. Nearly 2,000 people across seven regions—90 per cent of whom were women—participated in rating how well their communities are doing in involving women in public decision-making, stopping gender-based violence, advancing women’s economic well-being and providing social services. The scores were typically low, averaging between one and two on a scale of five, indicating just how little has been done to stop pervasive gender discrimination.
With concrete evidence in hand, women got involved in the 2011 municipal elections, announcing they would not vote unless candidates agreed to act on their concerns. In the city of Shkodra, they individually met each candidate for mayor, and the winner signed the Agreement of Women. Based on key scorecard findings, it will guide future municipal council plans and decisions, with specific commitments to expand women’s employment options and improve services for domestic violence survivors, among other issues. In Elbasan, circulation of findings to the media drew an immediate reaction from political parties, whose electoral platforms subsequently reflected women’s demands. The newly elected mayor similarly signed a pledge to respond to scorecard findings through local planning.