Democracy in action: the Nobel Women’s Initiative at work

Activists, scholars and policy makers from more than thirty countries are heading for Antigua, Guatemala, this weekend for the Nobel Women’s Initiative second international conference ‘Women Redefining Democracy’. openDemocracy will be covering three days of debate Read more...
Jane Gabriel
7 May 2009

Two years ago we reported from the first such conference held in Galway, and published articles, podcasts and a conference blog . It was an extraordinary gathering, as women from 30 countries met to discuss and debate ‘Women Redefining Peace in the Middle East and beyond’. Jody Williams said at the time “we wanted to learn from the women working around the world. We wanted to hear their thoughts about how we could support their work. We’ll take from this conference their suggestions and will make an honest assessment of what we can meaningfully support”.

We’ll be finding out in Antigua what impact the Galway conference has had on the work of the participants, and which issues the Laureates have been able to support and move forward since then.

As women around the world prepare for the meeting now, the Nobel Peace Prize Laureates write “While democracy is highly contentious in theory and practice, there are currently more people living in formal democracies than at any other time in history. Yet women are still inadequately represented or included in democratic processes and thus, unable to fully realize their rights or participate meaningfully in their own development. While women have been a vital force behind democratization efforts, in many countries democracy has served to legitimize efforts and actors committed to reversing women’s rights and limiting women’s freedoms. It is also in the context of democracy that a small, powerful elite produced the current financial and economic crisis, further destabilizing the world”.

The first conference was extraordinarily democratic to participate in. The Laureates were there every day to listen, to argue with, and to chat - from breakfast until well after midnight. Antigua promises to be democracy in action again. An openDemocracy team, together with guest bloggers who are participants at the conference, will report on the discussions about the state of women and democracy – the past, the present and the future – as the women work towards achieving the conference aims

  • To assess critically women’s experience with democracy in different contexts, particularly in militarized and conflict situations

  • To develop fresh visions and practical alternatives for reclaiming and reshaping democracy to make it more meaningful for women

  • To forge new connections between women inside and outside political institutions at national and international levels working to advance women’s rights, peace and democracy for a more sustainable future

And we’ll be finding out how the Nobel Women’s Initiative will use its combined visibility and access to power to advance some of the issues addressed in Antigua.

openDemocracy’s coverage will be linked with FIRE (Feminist International Radio Endeavour) and The Nobel Women’s Initiative which will feature a blog, photos and video reports.

The conference is being organized in partnership with JUST Associates an international network working in Mesoamerica, Africa and Southeast Asia to strengthen women's organizing power. The local host partner is the Rigoberta Menchu Tum foundation which promotes the rights of indigenous people around the world.

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