Dear EU – brace for impact!

Consultations day!

Wednesday, 29th May! It’s morning, and it’s raining and we are running to the metro station on the way to the European Commission (EC) building. And here we are for the EC consultations with the Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Brussels!

Western Balkans delegation at the EC!

Voila! Waiting at the reception desk from where a nice lady called Sanne pick us up and bring us into the building. Lots of emotions and lots of enthusiasm! Macedonia goes first, then Albania, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Kosovo. We are all here, exited and ready!

Meantime the bilateral meetings with the head of the EC country units are scheduled! Wish us luck and we’ll soon let you know how did it go!

/Emilija Dimoska

Time to set the agenda!

Kvinna till Kvinna and partner organisations from the Western Balkans finalise preparations for the consultations with EC DG Enlargement. (Directorate-General of the European Commission – responsible for the enlargement process of the European Union.) Meanwhile they met a representative of the Permanent Representation of Sweden to the EU in Brussels.

Picture: Meeting with Efraim Gomez and delegation from Western Balkans.

“Too many policies, strategies and papers and too little implementation” was the general conclusion of the twelve representatives of women’s Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), Kvinna till Kvinna’s partners from five Balkan countries that were part of the initial meetings today.

As part of the advocacy work towards EU, Kvinna till Kvinna and partner organisations from the Western Balkans for five years in a row take part in the consultations between the EC DG Enlargement* and the Civil Society that are each year held in Brussels. The strengthened focus of Kvinna till Kvinna as a political partner to local women’s organisations combined with the increased presence and importance of EU in the region brings us back to Brussels this year again.

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Dear EU, where are the women?

EU is currently developing a new strategy for its cooperation with the Western Balkans and Turkey from 2014-2020. It is a bold but welcome move to commit to such a long time-period. There are also specific guidelines for EU support to civil society in the enlargement countries. In the guidelines, several things are mentioned that we see as positive trends; EU is “aiming for longer term contracts, recognising that capacity building and advocacy work requires time and resources; moving away from project based support to a more flexible approach that fosters partnership and coalition building; and doing more to reach out to grass-root organisations, in particular through re-granting and flexible support mechanisms to respond to their immediate needs.” This is very positive, and somehow very close to the Kvinna till Kvinna work-method.

But.

When the Directorate General for Enlargement is organising a “multi-country consultation workshop” with the purpose to “improve, with the contribution of all relevant stakeholders, the guiding principles of civil society support in the enlargement region for the period 2014-2020″, only ONE women’s organisation is invited. Out of 44 representatives that will participate, ONE represents a women’s organisation (from Croatia).

This is a serious problem, and again, this document risks becoming fine words unless women’s organisations are also consulted.

Dear EU, you should live as you learn.

“Make an input – make a change” part 2

Brussels with Malin

Kvinna till Kvinna and partner organizations representatives met with Malin Björk, policy adviser at European Parliament  on 23rd May 2012.

Malin Björk is policy adviser for Women’s Rights and Gender Equality.  In addition, she is part of the Women’s Rights and Gender Equality Committee and member of the European United Left / Nordic Green Left  – European Parliament Group.

Overall the meeting was very useful, and to the point – she gave us some really good examples and ideas how to reach out to the Parliament. Along with the fact that she was very transparent and feminist herself, this meeting was a really great place to get information how women organizations can directly communicate with the parliament, and get their support.

Some of the ways she suggested are: to send written questions, but also to try to meet joint parliamentary committees when they are coming to the country, as well as inviting some MP’s to attend our activities. In her opinion it is not so hard to get the signatures and support from the MP’s, as long as we are clear with our demands, provide them with all relevant information and find person among the MP’s willing to advocate for our issues.

With regards to the progress reports, the Parliament’s role is to give comments to the progress report. The Committee for Women’s Rights and Gender Equality is open to read inputs from the organizations in the field, but, she emphasized, that the European Commissions in the countries are key actor – it is more important to send our inputs to them, as they are they are the ones writing reports, and the Parliament is commenting on a final product. Therefore her suggestion is that in this process we communicate with our Commissions the best we can.

Representatives of the partner organizations also had numerous questions all related to their field of work. Therefore at this meeting we got good insight into the policies on women rights recently adopted by the Parliament, and we got much clearer picture on the mandate and roles of the European governmental bodies.

For us, who were present, all of this information’s were more than useful. We are sure we will use it well to make long lasting change! Thank you Malin!

Elmaja and Maja

Also read: “Make an input – make a change” part 1