By: Lia Hansen, Lutheran Office for World Community FullSizeRender (1)

On July 14th, the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom held a panel discussion during the High-Level Political Forum titled “From Shrinking Spaces to Feminist Movement Building: Key Priorities on SDG 5 and 16 for Sustaining Peace”.
Lopa Banerjee Bianco (UN Women), began with introductory remarks emphasizing the importance of meaningful participation by women’s organizations to the realization of the SDGs. She spoke about conservatism and fundamentalism undermining social justice and solidarity, and about the current pushback on key aspects of women’s rights. She emphasized the accountability gap that currently exists, and a need for public demanding of accountability of government and intergovernmental organizations. She hilighted the need to focus on solidarity building of civil society with new strategies.

The first panelist was Gabriella Irsten, from WILPF Sweden. She spoke of the shrinking NGO space financially and administratively, and the constant threat of violence to feminist activists. She discussed the importance of a power shift, of local NGOs getting more space for advocacy, and strengthening meaningful women’s participation in national discussions. The second panelist, Ismail Aziz from Women Deliver in Iraq also stressed the importance of international partnership with local NGOs.

Saba Ghori, from Women for Women International, declared that existing women’s networks are often exposed and displaced, and emphasized the importance of social networks and organizing women at grassroots level. She also underscored the need for localized partnerships, building the capacity of local organizations. There is a need for more flexible funding, to have more local NGOs apply to ensure effective implementation of existing commitments and ensuring the voices of rural and local women are heard.

The last speaker was Mabel Bianco, from the Fundación para Estudio e Investigation de la Mujer in Argentina.  She discussed the widespread impunity of violence against women in Latin America, and the movement “Ni Una Menos” that began denouncing femicides. She declared that many countries do not allow NGOs to participate, or participate in a meaningful way, in national review processes. She emphasized the lack of funding and need for capacity building for women’s grassroots organizations.