– Women 7 2019: a feminist advocacy movement
Seizing the opportunity presented by France’s G7 presidency, Equipop stepped up its efforts to persuade government officials to put gender equality at the heart of public policies. The organization helped bring together several feminist movements through “Women 7” (W7), a network of feminist activists from France, other G7 countries, and West Africa. The W7 Summit was the highlight of this mobilization: 400 participants from around the world joined forces in Paris on May 9, 2019.
France chaired the G7 from 1 January to 31 December 2019. Equipop saw this as an opportunity for advocacy accompanied by a public outreach and communication cam–paign. At the same time, Equipop pursued a special goal: helping to set-up a network for feminist activists who had no way of working together.
Advocacy goals: the g7 and beyond
During the summer of 2018, Equipop planned to make the upcoming French G7 presidency prioritize gender equality. In collaboration with CARE France, Equipop mobilized in France, beginning with a morning of discussion at the French National Assem–bly in October. Equipop brought legislators together with internationally-oriented devel–opment NGOs and feminist groups working in France. In turn, the following January, France announced that the 2019 G7 Summit would be dedicated to fighting inequalities, espe–cially gender inequality. Having achieved their first goal, Equipop and CARE France went to work on the next one: leading a consist–ent effort so that high-minded G7 speeches would lead to actual commitments. In prepa–ration for the summit that would take place with heads of state in Biarritz in August 2019, Equipop actively contributed to discussions with officials at so-called ministerial meetings, covering each of the topics to be addressed by the G7 – health, development, education, foreign affairs, and others. These efforts, however, did not stop with the G7 Summit. Equipop and other organizations saw the 2019 French-chaired G7 Summit as a longer-term opportunity to foster femi–nist public policies. In addition, three other international conferences contributed to the dynamic: the Women Deliver Global Confer–ence in Vancouver in June 2019, the Global Fund’s Sixth Replenishment Conference in Lyon in October, and the Nairobi Summit in November 2019. The latter celebrated the 25th anniversary of the International Confer–ence for Population and Development, which took place just before Equipop was created.
A feminist public out reach campaign
In the spring of 2019, a Women 7 (W7) public outreach campaign was launched, in French and English, through the website www.femi–nistscount.org and social networks. This initiative, designed to raise awareness of gen-der-equality issues, made advocacy messages more visible during key moments of the 2019 G7 decision-making process. Every W7 mem–ber-organization conducted a public-relations campaign based on these messages in order to show the diversity of actions carried out by feminist movements in France and around the world. This diversity, although a net positive in absolute terms, often dilutes the strength of messaging directed at public officials. The W7 campaign showed that, despite their diver–sity, the W7 members could rally around two demands: increased funding for women’s groups, and full and effective participation of women and girls in decision-making bodies.
West africa at the negotiating table
Throughout the year, Equipop worked to facilitate the participation of young West African feminist activists in all these meetings and communications campaigns. The first step was a speech given by Hadja Idrissa Bah, the founder and president of the Young Girl Leaders Club of Guinea, in front of the G7 “Sherpas”3 in Lyon in February 2019.
“In Guinea and throughout French-speaking West Africa, young girl feminists like me, victims of all this violence, are raising their voices. We are on the frontlines of the fight for young girls’ rights; we are the most affected. But our ambition is too great to fight alone. It’s not just about us, it’s about you and the society we want to live in.” Hadja Idrissa Bah addressing the G7 Sherpas in Lyon, February 5, 2019
The Women 7 Summit was the highlight of these mobilizations. Held at UNESCO in Paris on May 9, 2019, the event brought together more than 400 feminist civil-society representatives from the G7 and developing countries. The day’s presentations highlighted priority challenges that must be addressed and resulted in significant media coverage. Most importantly, the day ended with two important meetings: one with the G7 Gender Equality Advisory Council, composed of 35 members, including three Nobel Peace Prize laureates, and the other with the G7 Gender Equality Ministers; they received W7’s official recommendations for a truly feminist G7 from about 15 feminists from 12 countries. The work will continue beyond 2019!