Date: 
Thu, 05/03/2015

On the third day of our ‘Women in Politics’ networking event in Brussels, the group started off with an overview of some issues facing women in today’s Europe. Day three was a chance for us to visit a number of grassroots organisations involved in the empowerment of women and in the fight against discrimination.

We started with a field visit to ENAR (European Network Against Racism) where all participants had a chance to enhance their knowledge of the work of this umbrella European NGO and what it does on a daily basis alongside its member organisations. ENAR and its organisation's fight against all forms of discrimination, including intersectional discrimination that women are facing. Their long-term perspective is to bring people and organisations together to reach self-mobilization.

Surveys from CCIF [...] find that Islamophobia has a disproportionate impact on women, which they constitute 80% of the victims of Islamophobia are women. In 2014, ENAR launched a project known as “Forgotten Women ”. This project aims to study the impact of Islamophobia and hate speech faced by Muslim women in Europe.

This project reminds us that in France, many Muslim women wouldn't even think of entering some professions as they know they will not be able to work with their headscarves on. This fact, despite being extremely common, is not measurable and thus cannot be counted as solid data to add to the reports on this. The “Forgotten Women” project is therefore crucial in allowing Muslim women to receive the same treatment as anyone else when it comes to EU equality laws.

After this eye-opening presentation, we headed to the Amazone centre, which houses 21 Dutch and French women’s organisations. They aim to assist and support organisations which are active in the field of gender equality. They provide information and documentation on the gender equality policies, and facilitate the exchange of good practices.

The Amazone centre also has an eco-friendly restaurant where our group had the pleasure of enjoying a delicious ‘slow-food meal’ where local produce was used. After lunch, a Dutch organisations, the Dutch Speaking Council for Women of Belgium presented their work in focusing on their “I will not be silent anymore” campaign. This campaign shed light on women who have been subjected to rape and who now have the strength to share their horrific stories. Indeed, many victims of rape feel guilty and scared to press charges, by offering a platform for these women to express themselves, the organisation is adding their a stepping stone towards fighting against rape and similiar crimes.

After this informative afternoon, we were then hosted by the Ambassador of Turkey who answered some of our many questions regarding Turkey and its contributions to gender equality. The ambassador recognised the importance of the work of such NGOs and their actions to tackle this issue while encouraging us all to continue to further and develop our work in this important area.

We hope that all the participants of the our three networking event in ‘Women in Politics’ were inspired by these organisations to build their own networks and build their own future in Turkey and Europe.