Politics can often be a hostile environment for women, where they are singled out for threats and abuse both because they dare to speak their minds and because they are women. It’s a constant testament to women’s courage and strength that so many refuse to back down and “know their place”.
ActionAid works with many such women around the world and knows the incredible difference they can make – to women’s rights and many other equity and justice issues. From organising mass rallies against hunger in Nepal to campaigning against violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo, women and men around the world have all benefited from the efforts of women human rights defenders and the long-term impact they’ve made.
Women deserve our support for this vital work. With that in mind, ActionAid UK is delighted to be partnering with Dods, the UK’s leading political information firm, on this year’s Women in Public Life Awards which celebrate outstanding women in politics, business and the media. We are also thrilled that this year’s Awards will include a new International Women’s Rights Champion category to recognise women working for women’s rights around the world.
We’ll be inviting women and men from each of the three main UK political parties to join us for receptions at their autumn conferences over the next few weeks to raise awareness of the incredible efforts of the women we work with and to launch the awards, with nominations opening this week.
We’ll also be recruiting new members to our Parliamentary Network on Women’s Rights in Afghanistan at these events, encouraging UK parliamentarians to join forces with Afghan women leaders to raise Afghan women’s rights up national and international agendas. In a country where almost 90% of women experience domestic abuse and 1 in 11 dies in pregnancy and childbirth, the involvement of women in Afghan politics is vital for both the realisation of women’s rights and the development of the country as a whole. Despite the threats they face and the colleagues they have lost, these women are refusing to back down – we believe their tenacity and determination is something worth supporting and honouring.
If you have a twitter account, you can follow the awards and nominate your inspirational women through @WIPLA_2012 and you can follow my account, @rowanharvey1, for updates on our women’s rights work at the party conferences.
Do also look out for updates coming shortly from Florence and Seb on our work at conferences on development, tax justice and biofuels.