Women’s Economic Empowerment? Put it in a Charter!
Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy positions Canada at the forefront globally in supporting gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls. While working on federally funded programs in Ukraine, I had the opportunity to support just that – radical changes in local governments to promote gender equality and women’s economic empowerment.
As a Senior Advisor to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ office in Ukraine it became apparent that persistent gaps in achieving gender equality had to do with women and girls being shut out of economic opportunities and political life.
To address this we set out to educate and enlist local governments as signatories to The European Charter for Equality of Women and Men in Local Life. The Charter is a practical tool for defining and acting on gender equality policy at the local level. Drafted by The Council of European Municipalities and Regions in 2004, it is now one of the fundamental documents ensuring gender equality across the European Union. The Charter helps municipal governments identify and minimizing risks of discrimination based on gender, race, ethnic or social origin, genetic features, language, religion or beliefs, political or other views, ethnic minority status, property status, place of birth, disability, age or sexual orientation.
In 2017 I supported the process of Ukraine’s first signatory of the Charter and promoted it’s adoption across the country. As of February 2020, 64 Ukrainian cities officially signed the Charter with more than 20 in the process of joining it.
Through the signing of the European Charter for Equality of Women and Men the recognition of equal rights and opportunities of people irrespective of their gender has become irreversible on a national scale as it continues to gain momentum as a tool to effectively engage and service citizens.