Human rights are women’s rights – worldwide! Women’s right to live free of all forms of violence and discrimination is above all political, social and economic rights, and it represents the core of our engagement within international cooperation.
When a school in Cameroon is financed by German funding or a safe house for girls endangered by Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is constructed in Sierra Leone, we are talking about international cooperation. This means in particular cooperation based on partnership as well as support and sustained development of grassroots projects that have been initiated and are carried out by women’s rights organisations in their own countries.
In many countries women are deprived of their basic human rights. Because of patriarchal structures, religious beliefs or traditional values women have to fight for their development, education or their very existence.
The recognition of women’s rights as human rights has been initiated due to the efforts of dedicated women. They were able to carry through new structures such as the Commission for the Status of Women (CSW) that proclaimed the „International Women's Year“ (1975) and declared the United Nations Decade for Women 1976-1985. Further, women have campaigned for new statutory regulations like the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in 1979. Women have also participated as activists in the Beijing Action Platform within the 4th world women's conference of 1995, laying several important milestones for the improvement of women’s rights worldwide.
Women’s international networking and solidarity played an important role in the recognition of women’s rights as human rights. Also for TERRE DES FEMMES it has been clear from the very beginning that networking, exchange and support of women’s projects in the global south are fundamental aspects of women’s international solidarity.
Though, patriarchal social structures usually represent an obstacle for the fulfilment and implementation of women’s rights. In our opinion the common development cooperation strategies aimed at poverty reduction should also include as key aspects the strengthening of women’s rights, women’s participation in decision-making processes as well as women’s access to resources.
TERRE DES FEMMES has fought for women’s rights at national and international level already since its founding in 1981. The separate department for international cooperation has been established in September 2012. With regard to TERRE DES FEMMES already existing projects out of the country, we aim at expanding our work abroad through new partnerships within the frame of international cooperation.
Furthermore, our engagement abroad has the goal to strengthen women’s rights as well as the general role of women. In this regard we underline the importance of specific approaches that support girls and women and aim directly at overcoming current violations of women’s rights.
It is therefore crucial to reinforce the position and rights of women, grassroots women organisations as well as the overall self-help approach. Projects and organisations supported by TERRE DES FEMMES fight at grassroots level against FGM, trafficking in women and forced marriage. We are also dedicated to end violence against women or discrimination and they are involved in improving education for girls. This current year (2016) TERRE DES FEMMES is supporting ten women’s projects in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Sierra Leone, Mali, India, Nicaragua, Afghanistan, Israel, Bulgaria and Turkey.
In addition to funding that we collect for the projects we support abroad, we are constantly looking for further financial support, since we are also interested in expanding our working area especially from a feminism perspective. This is because we consider our work within the tradition of the international women’s movement.
On behalf of women’s international solidarity we regard human- and women’s rights-based approaches to development as mandatory for our work since the beginning of the 1990s.