All for Equality - Equality for all. Sexual and reproductive rights in CEE

All for Equality - Equality for all. Sexual and reproductive rights in CEE

No more idols. For empowerment and autonomy of women
No more idols. — Image Credits

Despite the unquestionable global progress concerning women’s autonomy, their human rights to decide freely and responsibly on sexual and reproductive health remain to an unacceptable degree unfulfilled. Therefore, this particular issue constituted the central theme of the Fourth International Gender Workshop in Warsaw. 

It comes as no surprise that good health and reproductive autonomy are prerequisite for the empowerment of any person, but especially of women. Despite the unquestionable progress that can be observed all over the world with regards to maternal and child health as well as family planning, it appears that they still do not enjoy  “human rights of women to have control over and decide freely and responsibly on matters related to their sexuality, including sexual and reproductive health, free of coercion, discrimination and violence” (Beijing Platform for Action, C96).

For this reason, many organizations meet regularly to exchange experiences and discuss strategies for advancing gender equality and respect for sexual minorities. The Heinrich Böll Foundation hold its own series of International Gender Workshops, which were summarized in several useful publications (Manifold Angles of Gender, Tbilisi 2013; Overcoming Gender Backlash, Kyiv 2014; Anti-Gender Movements on the Rise?, Berlin 2015).

“Be politically and time sensitive – be the solution, not another problem”

Quote from the presentation by Mladen Antonijevic Priljeva

The fourth workshop of this framework took place on 19-20 November 2015 in Warsaw under the title All for Equality. Strategies for Mainstreaming Sexual and Reproductive Rights in Central and Eastern Europe. It focused on to the ongoing evaluation of the Beijing +20 process aiming to revise the results of propositions made and benchmarks set in 1995 by the 4th World Conference on Women (Beijing Platform for Action of the United Nations). It created a space for fruitful debate between gender experts and activists from Poland, Czech Republic, Russia, Ukraine, Georgia and Armenia, and Serbia. The workshop also referred to the essay “Sexual and reproductive rights”, which provides analytical background information for critical and controversial debates on the politicisation of seemingly personal issues.

„62% of respondents had experience of street harassment (in Georgia). 32% of respondents - more than 10 times.”

Quote from the presentation by Alla Parunova

In their contributions participants focused on regional manifestations of resistance against more gender equality, discussed recent policy developments concerning sexual and reproductive rights of women and LGBT as well as measures of support for victims of violence. On the occasion, they acquainted themselves with potential prospects of political development in Poland after the parliamentary elections in October 2015.

“44,6% of Poles think that LGBT community must continue to fight for equal rights “

Quote from the presentation by Marcin Szczepkowski

The workshop was concluded by a roundtable discussion hosted by the Feminoteka Foundation on the intersections of antidiscrimination education and sexual education with experts and activists from Polish feminist and LGBT organizations (Association of Antidiscrimination Education, Gender Equality Observer, STER Foundation, ASTRA Youth, Amnesty International, Campaign against Homophobia, Love does not Exclude).

“Homosexuality in psychotherapy trainings is still completely ignored as a subject.”

Quote from the presentation by Vladimir Miletić

“Purpose is the formation of a gender-sensitive educational environment, the transformation of schools and kindergartens into non-sexist institutions.”

Quote from the presentation by Oleg Maruschenko

“The so-called traditional values are still significant, even for the group of young teachers’”

Quote from the presentation by Gohar Shahnazarya

“Sexual risks are not perceived the same way universally, they have a political dimension.”

Quote from the presentation by Lucie Jarkovska

“Transgender persons represent one of the most marginalized groups in Georgia.”

Quote from the presentation by Natia Gvianishvili

The next International Gender Workshop entitled Women in the public spaces: when Personal becomes Political will take place between the 2nd and 4th  March in Tbilisi, Georgia.

The workshop consisted of the following main panels (download the abstracts of the presentations):

  1. Sexual and reproductive rights in Central and Eastern Europe

Boris Denisov and Victoria Sakevich (Russian Federation, RU): The implementation of sexual and reproductive rights in post-Soviet Russia

Natia Gvianishvili (Women's Initiatives Supporting Group, GE) – Transgender persons in Georgia and their access to sexual and reproductive rights

Agata Chełstowska (Gender Equality Observatory, PL): The way to In-Vitro in Poland

  1. Session -  Roots and remedies to gender-based violence

Alla Parunova (Young Greens, GE) - Sexual Harassment in Public Spaces in Georgia: Statement of Power or Invisible Discrimination?

Gohar Shahnazaryan (Center for Gender and Leadership Studies, AM): Structural and Cultural Causes of Gender-Based Violence in Armenia

Jitka Hausenblasova (NGO Gender Studies, CZ): Stopping Cyber-Violence against Women and Men in the Czech Republic

Vladimir Miletić (Association for Mental Health Promotion, SRB): Mental healthcare for LGBT persons in Serbia: challenges and solutions

  1. Session - Education for Equality and self-determination

Oleg Marushchenko (KRONA Gender Informational and Analytical Center, UA): Is non-sexist education possible? Regional experiment in Ukrainian schools and kindergartens

Lucie Jarkovská (Masaryk University Brno, CZ): Gender Equality and Sex Education

Marcin Szczepkowski (Love does Not Exclude, PL): Recent research findings on popular approaches to registered partnerships for non-heterosexual partners

  1. Session – The fight for LGBT rights as a struggle for democracy

Anna Sharygina (NGO Sphere, UA): KyivPride as provocation, reaction and process. Implementation of the right to the freedom of assembly for LGBT people in Ukraine

Igor Yasin (March for Equality, RU): LGBT Life in Russia after the Enactment of the Homophobic Law: How to Fight for Equal Rights

Mladen Antonijevic Priljeva (Forum for Ethnic Relations, SRB): Developing LGBT public policy in transitional systems - the case of Serbia

 The information and views set out in the presentations  are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of the Heinrich Böll Foundation.

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