Feminists in the UK should be learning from women’s activism in other countries, says Sarah Jones
With all the hype around the UN Millennium Development Goals Summit in September, I have been thinking about the work I do for an international development charity that runs formal and informal education programmes with girls and young women in countries such as Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia and Sierra Leone, and how this relates to work on women’s rights and gender equality taking place here in the UK.
As an organisation, we at Children in Crisis have high expectations of our local partner organisations working on the ground to bring about change at the community and government levels, by undertaking tasks such as developing and running participatory theatre sessions to generate conversations and action about girls’ education, or gaining government support and commitment to ensure that vocational training courses and the income-earning opportunities they present for young women are sustainable in the long term.
Over the past few weeks I have started to think that to achieve the goals we set with our local partners’ in the most effective way, I need to appreciate the challenges involved in bringing about change at community and government levels by becoming more involved in UK activism and organising for gender equality.
I need to step up my current involvement, which is mainly limited to reading websites and blogs such as The F-Word and UK Feminista, to play my (small) part in achieving change here and on a wider international scale. But it doesn’t stop there, because organisations and individuals working on these issues in the UK can also benefit from an insight into what’s happening in other countries. Underpinning this is my belief that the violation of women’s rights and achieving gender equality are global issues, and there are important lessons that can be learned and shared that have the potential to strengthen all of our work.
Image of pro-choice feminists protesting in São Paulo on International Women’s Day is in the public domain and sourced from Wikimedia Commons