Paris 5-8 July 2017
Meeting of women’s rights advocates in the Mediterranean region


Meeting

The Mediterranean Women's Fund, with the support of the Fondation de France, organized a meeting gathering some thirty women fighting for equality in countries around the Mediterranean.
This time dedicated to strategic reflection made it possible, as had been hoped, to establish together not only a list of priorities for women defending equality and emancipation in the region, but also to consider how to establish more systematic connections between local, sub-regional and regional activists to lay the foundations for a strong network.
There were 19 “official” guests, all leaders and builders of the movement for equality in their home countries: Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Palestine, Israel, Lebanon, Turkey, Montenegro, Bosnia, Croatia, Italy and France.


Rencontre

The absence of the Greek and Syrian guests – retained by a conference in Geneva held at the same time – was regretted. The Spanish, who also were impeded by other meetings, worked beforehand with the president of MWF, herself Spanish, so that she could speak for them.

Some dozen guests, less official but whose presence as observers was nevertheless important, attended the meeting and helped in its organization. These were young women trained by MWF in our collective intelligence training program. It was a rare opportunity for them to meet women whose commitment is as deep as their generosity, and to experience what is so strikingly in international women's networks: the feeling that women are so similar despite their all their diversity.

The meeting lasted 3 days with a mix of sessions and workshops. In the first session, women presented the situation of women in their country and the women's movement priorities. After that, they gathered in subregional groups (Balkans, South Europe, Maghreb, Middle East) in order to define the priorities of the women’s movement at the subregional level. Their work was presented to the whole assembly.

The following day went on with the question "Must we build a strong regional movement?". Women started to establish shared priorities based on the assessments and priorities identified the previous day. The main ones are:
- Violence against women
- Strengthening women’s capacities (individual, group, coalitions)
- Fight against fundamentalism
- Involvement of women’s movement with refugees and migrants
- Media and communication issues

The last session was focused on "How to strengthen the women's movement in the region? Why/How/What is needed". Many different answers were brought.


In the final evaluation, all of the participants emphasized the importance of reiterating this meeting, which was considered to be a first step. For everyone, this was the beginning of a long collaboration, the establishment of a network that is "truly feminist like this meeting was" and which they consider with great optimism. Many, accustomed to local or sub-regional meetings (Middle East or Balkans for example) were amazed at the convergence of points of view, the similarity of experiences despite seemingly very different contexts.

They expressed their gratitude for this offer of a space - in Paris! – one that was benevolent, warm, and very energizing at the intellectual level: "The program was very well thought out and the questions were very stimulating and inspiring", "a breath of fresh air in our difficult routine".



Rencontre

Monica Lanfranco's Blog about the meeting (italian)
Magazine 50/50 (french)