What’s the most effective way to influence regional organisations in order to advance women’s rights and gender justice? This was the topic of a recent webinar organised by Oxfam’s Regional Gender Justice Programme in the Middle East and North Africa.
The regional influencing for gender justice webinar took place on March 3, 2016 and presented on-going work in three regions: the Middle East and North Africa, West Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean. The speakers were:
- Mervat Rishmawi, Senior Policy Analyst, Open Society Foundation, Arab Regional Office.
- Sara Kayyali, Program Specialist for Policy and Advocacy, Open Society Foundation, Arab Regional Office
- Aline Ouedraogo, Regional Campaigns and Policy Manager in West Africa, Oxfam.
- Enrique Garcia, Regional Humanitarian Coordinator, Oxfam America.
Watch the webinar
Summary of the discussion
The importance of engaging with the League of Arab States, the Economic Community of West African States and the Central America Integration System, were the three main topics covered by the webinar’s speakers. They stressed the value of engaging with regional bodies, moving on to the different types of engagement and tactics used.
- The importance of civil society organisations’ (CSO) engagement with regional bodies in order to provide input and influence the decisions that are taken. Speakers reaffirmed the importance of strengthening the capacity of CSOs, especially women’s rights organisations.
- The role of power mapping in order to choose strategically which body to engage with as well as using knowledge of the policies of regional institutions and their internal procedures to decide the right way to engage.
- Engaging with regional bodies as a gateway for influencing national governments through peer pressure. In certain cases, peer pressure has been very successful in influencing national governments to adopt or amend national legislations.
Finding the right balance between engaging with regional bodies as advocacy targets and as partners can be a challenge. Formalising agreements with regional bodies seemed to be an important step towards successful engagement.
In a nutshell, engagement with regional bodies is a strategic entry point for advocacy work at national, regional and international levels, if done the right way.
This event forms part of a new series of webinars aimed at bringing together people who are working to advance gender justice and women’s rights to share their experiences. You can also listen to the webinar on women, peace and security, and future topics will be announced on this blog. Please let us know in the comments section below if you have suggestions for future topics.
Photo: An event to encourage women in leadership, Rabat, Morocco. Credit: Ellie Kealey/Oxfam
Author: Sariah Ghazzaoui
Archive blog. Originally posted on Oxfam Policy & Practice.