Tag Archive for democracy

Women in India advocate for their right to work

women india

A recent feature by the New York Times —In India, a Small Band of Women Risk It All for a Chance to Work—, highlights the continued obstacles that women in the country face in obtaining and holding jobs. India may be the world´s largest democracy but a vast swath of the population still lack basic rights and necessities – people such as Geeta and Premwati, women who have braved ostracism and much physical violence to continue working at nearby factories and continue earning their daily salary of 200 rupees, or 3 dollars.

Indeed, that is where the trouble stems from. For decades the main source of income for the women of Peepli Khera (Rajasthan State) , where Geeta and Premwati live, has been begging. In the past year however, many women were able to find employment in newly opened factories and have begun to out-earn men, undermining the old order. As a result, the men, led by village chief Roshan, decreed that women should not work in the factory, supposedly to avoid sexual advances by other men. “Life was much better 20 years back, ” he says. “It was a nice society. Now women are going out and meeting other strange men.”

In an unprecedented move though, the women fought back, taking their case to court even as they risked ostracism from everyone they knew and physical violence to them and their loved ones.
The story faced by women like Geeta and Premwati is not unique – all over the world, millions of women and other historically marginalized groups are subject to continued oppression and injustice. This is a major challenge that must be overcome if a Shared Society is ever to be built.

The Club de Madrid has developed the Shared Societies Project as a way to achieve an integrated society. In this framework it has developed 10 Commitments, including Commitment V:

Take steps to deal with economic disadvantages face by sections of society who are discriminated against, and ensure equal access to opportunities and resources”

While stories articles such as this one may appear discouraging, simply the fact that they are getting attention builds the awareness needed to produce change.

 

Photo credit: Andrea Bruce, NYT

Promoting Shared Spaces in Israel

Akko_Israel

The Club de Madrid has been collaborating with the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) within the context of our Shared Societies Project for some years through the work of its New York office on global development issues and with global intergovernmental institutions.  We have collaborated with them at the United Nations and co-hosted meetings at the World Bank and International Monetary Fund from which we developed the Shared Societies Global Agenda to Promote Long-Term Inclusive and Sustainable Growth. So we follow with interest the Stiftung’s work at country level and look forward to opportunities to collaborate.

Using a perspective similar to the Shared Societies Project, FES-Israel is engaged in public information and peace and social dialogue projects that reinforce political, economical, social and cultural ties between Israel and its neighbours and provides platforms for exchange for Jewish-Arab networks. Another common feature with the Share Societies Project lies in the FES-Israel’s effort to strengthen civil society and to promote pluralism and mutual acceptance, by organizing majority-minority dialogue and empowering disadvantaged segments of the Arab community, as well as immigrants from the former Soviet Union and Ethiopia, and other groups.

We noticed a recent piece of action research conducted by FES-Israel: “Local Decision Making – Involving Residents in Municipal Affairs in Akko”. It was part of comprehensive research by the Jewish-Arab Center at University of  Haifa entitled “Akko as a Shared Space”, and its main goal was to promote and strengthen the relationship between Jews and Arabs living in the same city. The research’s objectives were to shed light on the impact of residents’ participation in local decision-making processes, to improve the local processes of decision making and, finally, to improve the residents’ quality of life, particularly the relations between Jews and Arabs.

This project is just one example of FES-Israel’s commitment to strengthening German-Israeli relations, remembering the past and promoting global social justice and democracy. It employs dialogue and debate through public events and encounter programs, political and socio-economic research and analysis, civic education and leadership training and political consulting in order to achieve their goals and missions. To this end, FES works closely with local partner organizations to jointly develop projects in the spirit of democracy, gender equality and peaceful co-existence.

Promoting “Shared Spaces” is a timely initiative towards supporting the global efforts to continue to seek the best approaches to building a Shared Society.

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