CONCEPT NOTE

Asia-Europe People’s Forum 11

 

Participatory Democracy, Gender Equality and Minority Rights

Foundations for Equitable and inclusive societies

Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, 4-6 July 2016

 

1. BACKGROUND

Our AEPF10 Final Declaration stated that “Our governments have the responsibility to ensure that we can all live in peace, security and dignity… We, the citizens have already taken our responsibility by taking our governments to task through our participation in the creation and implementation of radical and creative solutions needed for people centred recovery and change… We are working for people-centred responses to the current crises …with priority for poor, excluded and marginalised people. .. more democratic and accountable institutions must be in place to assure that processes and measures will lead to a just, equal and sustainable world based on respect for gender equality and the promotion and protection of human, economic and socio-cultural rights and environmental security. “

Participatory Democracy, Gender Equality and Minority Rights are fundamental to taking our agendas forward. However in many ASEM countries, many citizens and migrants and refugees are experiencing different forms of a crisis of democracy.

Corporate influences on national and regional policy and practice are perceived to be growing, distorting and limiting democracies. What are perceived as ‘traditional’ political parties are being perceived as becoming increasingly elitist, exclusive and excluding. Women and minorities remain disproportionately excluded from political parties and processes. Over the last twenty years, when democracies have claimed to have become more embedded across many countries and regions, economic and social inequalities have grown.   According to even the ABD and the IMF, we live in more socially and economically unequal societies. Our current democratic practice has not closed the gaps and divisions between peoples and groups but increased them. To build more socially and economically equal societies we need to build democracies and processes of political and economic governance that are able to contribute to this. Masculinity and patriarchal sets of values have kept women and minorities away from the political processes earlier and now, additionally, from the decision making processes.

More participatory, inclusive, less patriarchal democracies are essential to build more just and inclusive societies. This must not sound like a dream to wish and work for?

Participatory democracy means many forms of direct democratic involvement of citizens in addition to formal parliamentary and local democracy. This can include public hearings on government policies and programmes, participatory budgets and budgeting, citizens’ initiatives regarding urban planning, consumers’ interest or food security, vibrant space for social movements and organisations, in short many ways to express active citizenship and for it to shape and inform political parties and processes. The key principle is inclusion instead of exclusion and marginalisation.

We strongly believe that there cannot be participatory democracy without gender, LGBTI and minority rights, and that there cannot be gender, LGBTI and minority rights without participation and participatory democracy.

Social movements, active citizens organisations and networks are working strategically with a twofold approach: trying to influence governments and governance structures so that they respect, protect and fulfill political, economic, social and cultural rights of all citizens including minorities, indigenous people and migrants, and at the same time building spaces and structures from below to ensure that human and citizens' rights are respected, protected, and fulfilled for everybody.

How do we build what some call feminist and inclusive democracies - systems of politics and governance which enable women, and men and children, to enjoy and exercise their full human rights? How do we build feminist and inclusive democracies where the elimination of the oppression of women and minorities, all gender-based inequalities and other forms of social, economic and cultural inequalities are its central goals, which would develop and install economic and social policies which further economic and social justice and are part of more equal societies?  

These are the core questions which we will discuss and share. We will hear about a range of ways that women and minorities are increasingly claiming the space to speak, and the power to decide and act. At AEPF11 we hope to be able to hear from women and representatives of minorities, of migrants and refugees, on how they have been able to work for more participatory democracies, to work for gender equality and to make minority rights a reality. We hope to hear about the challenges that people and their organisations have faced, the strategies and practices that they have taken forward in response and their plans and visions for the future.

 

2. PHASE ONE: THE PROBLEM (GENERAL CONTEXT & ANALYSIS)

 

3. PHASE TWO: LESSONS LEARNT (ALTERNATIVES, STRUGGLES, & PRACTICES)

What successful struggles have there been in the past years in North and South, Europe and Asia? What can we learn from them? What alliances have been made (movements, women’s organisations, minority organisations and networks, etc.) How have inter-sectoral alliances been developed and sustained?

SESSION 1: BEST PRACTICES & CASES 

A look into civil society, government, or joint initiatives that have been put into practice -- their strengths and weaknesses.
 

SESSION 2: ALTERNATIVES BEING PURSUED IN ASIA & EUROPE

An enriched discussion on alternatives with inputs from Session 1, plus key recommendations on agenda content (for government and civil society), and campaigns civil society. How can these proposed or actualised changes be collectively effected, expanded, or replicated elsewhere?

 

4. PHASE THREE: STRATEGISING & PLANNING

Factoring in lessons learnt, what ways are already being done in Asia and Europe, North and South, can we adopt or improve on? What strategies and actions can be developed -- across regional, inter-regional, and international levels -- that contribute to the necessary change? What alliances should be made/how can movements be perpetuated? What common actions can we take or common demands can we make? What time frames and tasks, including internal and external communication?

 

Note: The Thematic Cluster 'Participatory Democracy, Gender Equality and Minority Rights' is being coordinated by EBI (Mongolia), MONFEMNET (Mongolia), LGBT Centre (Mongolia), FORUM Asia, Mrinal Gore Centre (India), and FreshEyes (GB

 

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