– Advocacy for feminist policies: From the G7 Summit to the Generation Equality Forum
In early 2019, Equipop became involved in advocacy, aiming to put women’s equality on the international political agenda during the Group of 7 (G7) Summit in Biarritz, France. A year and a half on, Equipop is building on this initial groundwork to advocate for feminist foreign policies.
In 2019, Equipop co-produced an advocacy and public relations campaign called “Women 7” that aimed to influence the Group of Seven (G7). Above all, Equipop wanted to seize an opportunity and lay the foundation for broader action to put gender equality on the international policy agenda and push France to include gender equality as a central priority of its foreign policy. On May 9, 2019, Equipop and its Women 7 partners gathered nearly 400 feminists from 20 countries in Paris to deliver their recommendations to the seven ministers attending the G7 Summit.
INITIAL PROGRESS AT THE G7 SUMMIT IN BIARRITZ
At the Biarritz G7 Summit at the end of August 2019, all G7 member-states and four invited nations adopted the Biarritz Partnership on Gender Equality and the Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa. They also awarded funding to the International Fund for Survivors of Conflict-Related Sexual Violence, an initiative created by Nobel Peace Prize laureates Nadia Murad and Denis Mukwege. These measures, despite difficult negotiations with the Americans, constitute a first step forward towards promoting gender-equality as an end in itself rather than just another means to serve the economy. This understanding of gender equality remains uncommon, however, and will require strong advocacy efforts over a long time to achieve wide acceptance.
On the other hand, significant progress was made in the effort to encourage France to make gender equality a central foreign policy priority. After the 2019 G7 Summit, France volunteered to jointly co-host, with Mexico and UN Women, the Generation Equality Forum (GEF). This event, originally slated for summer 2020 and postponed to 2021 because of Covid-19, will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Platform for Action, the international blueprint for women’s rights, as France takes center stage to promote gender equality.
TOWARDS A FEMINIST FOREIGN POLICY
In 2019, France committed to promoting “feminist diplomacy”. This political ambition is a step in the right direction, although France must now define feminist diplomacy more precisely and translate it into action. To accelerate this movement, Equipop is contributing to the work of France’s High Council for Gender Equality during 2019-2021, including by participating in numerous hearings with the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Finance, AFD (the French development agency), and other institutions. These discussions have generated a consensus to use the term “feminist foreign policy” rather than “feminist diplomacy”; all agree that implementing a genuinely transformative feminist foreign policy will take a significant amount of time.
Equipop has also worked among French policymakers to highlight the SRHR approach, essential for real progress towards gender equality. Women 7 pushed France to promote gender equality at the G7 Summit, expecting strong opposition from the United States. This push for leadership resulted in greater ownership of the subject by the French government once the G7 Summit ended. The G7 must grant more funding to feminist organizations and feminists must have a seat at the table to really say what they need. Ephrasie Coulibaly President of the Association Réseau des Jeunes Ambassadeurs pour la Planification Familiale (Network of Young Ambassadors for Family Planning Association) in Côte d’Ivoire 24 Mobilizing • How does Equipop take action? Equipop contributes to several activist groups and catalyzes institutional dynamics so that national and international policies mainstream a feminist approach. • Who are the beneficiaries? Women and girls in all their diversity, who, for the most part, remain excluded from decision-making processes. • What is the rationale? There is a need to strengthen civic spaces for coordination between feminist activists around the world, particularly in French-speaking spheres. Equipop gave form to this trend by encouraging France to participate in the November 2019 Nairobi Summit, which celebrated the 25th anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo. Equipop also brought together about 100 French, West African, and international organizations to ask French President Emmanuel Macron to ensure that SRHR would be on agenda at the Generation Equality Forum. As a result, in early 2020, SRHR was included as one of six Forum action coalitions with France as its leader.
PREPARING FOR THE 2021 GENERATION EQUALITY FORUM
The Generation Equality Forum will take place at the end of spring 2021. In the run-up to the event, Equipop will focus on two major efforts. The first will be to facilitate West African civil society participation in international fora and negotiations. Equipop began this effort with the G7 Summit in 2019; the Generation Equality Forum should allow Equipop to scale up its efforts. Therefore, Equipop will mobilize its partnerships with women’s and youth movements, specialized SRHR groups and young feminist activists. In France, the coalition of groups and organizations brought together in 2019 under the Women 7 label will continue working, with a GEF focus. Equipop will bring its expertise in institutional advocacy to the coalition so that feminist groups, whether focused on national or international aims, are recognized, heard, and supported, including financially. Equipop’s advocacy expertise will also contribute to effective political mobilization during the Generation Equality Forum, aiming to achieve gender equality and real societal change.