A global forum entitled Getting back on track-United for Gender Equality was held by the United 4 Istanbul Convention Campaign

United 4 Istanbul Convention Campaign organised a global forum on the 7th of December, 2021 about the strategies to tackle anti-gender, anti-rights attacks through intersectional and transnational solidarity with participants from the global north and south.

Andrea Petö, gender studies professor at Central European University, made the opening speech of the event. She formulated the situation as a polypore state with a new form of governance, parallel institutions, security narratives, giving family privilege over women’s rights and parallel human rights documents. “The discussion is about creating fear and hate.” she said. Iris Luarasi, the president of the GREVIO Committee, sent a video message, mentioning “Transnational actors working against women’s rights spread misinformation and fake news organizations with religious networks have been created.”

Anissa Daboussi of AWID, representing also the Observatory for the Universality of Rights (OURs) working group, presented their latest report Rights at Risk on anti-rights trends, actors and strategies, noting that anti-rights groups have entered international spaces where multiple actors come together to collaborate, transforming and weakening them like a Trojan horse from the inside out. Jelena Cupac and İrem Ebetürk Tuncer from Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin drew attention to the strategies of these groups imitating feminist strategies to erase all the progress made by feminist organizations within the UN system. They warned against polarized politics, which is characterized by existential threat, and added that polarization hinders policy-making.

Irena Civetkovik from Coalition Margins in North Macedonia suggested activists to support positive arguments on gender equality and sexual and reproductive health rights to tackle social polarization. Hubert Sobeski from the Love Does Not Exclude Association in Poland added that rational justifications are not fully effective in overcoming polarization and that everyday experiences must be focused in order to make what we are talking about relatable. Andrea Rivas of AFDA (Asociacion Familias Diversas de Argentina) shared the positive achievements that took place in Argentina during the pandemic such as the enactment of social inclusion laws in employment with trans and nonbinary quotas and the establishment of the ministry of women, gender and diversity as well as the importance of economic autonomy against a possible far-right government. Damjan Denkovski of the Center for Feminist Foreign Policy stressed the importance of working alongside alliances and building grand coalitions to counter anti-gender narratives.

Panelists from Turkey described the attacks that took place in the country which have climaxed with the withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention. Ceren Akkaya from Mor Çatı Women’s Shelter Foundation mentioned that for the first time the term of gender equality was not included in the action plan on violence against women which was announced on the date the withdrawal became official. Arzu Kepez and İlknur Akbaba from Katre Kadın shared the feeling of insecurity experienced by women in Erzincan after the withdrawal, but added that such policies lead more people to the street protests. Umut Güven from KAOS-GL stated the attacks forced the LGBTIQ movement in Turkey to be more strategic.

In the second part of the event, participants shared more tactics to resist the authoritarian regimes and the anti-gender groups they are in collaboration with.

The organizers of the forum stated that “We hope this meeting and next activities of the United 4 Istanbul Convention campaign will foster a global dialogue on anti-gender and anti-rights attacks among feminists, LGBTIQ activists and human rights defenders all around the world” calling activists across movements to joing their efforts to struggle against all inequalities.

United 4 Istanbul Convention Campaign

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