by Miriam Mona Müller.
Miriam Mona Müller works at the UN Women National Committee Germany and for the Think Tank Polis180. At the moment, she focuses on Women, Peace and Security and links it to the political economy. During her master thesis at the Transcultural Caravan Miriam Mona analysed UN Women’s programmes for economic empowerment in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The international community of governmental actors shapes international standards and treaties regarding women’s rights. One of the significant tools of governing women’s rights globally is the yearly Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) of the United Nations. This year it deals with social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls. This event allows representatives to form governments and civil society to exchange ideas and formulate ideas on a high political level. The main challenge of global governance and it’s treaties remains localisation which means transforming international standards into local adaptions. To understand what kind od role transculturality plays for the global governance of women’s rights, Miriam Mona Müller has interviewed an advocate for women’s rights, Gertrude Kenyangi. On the local level, her non-governmental organisation Support for Women in Agriculture and Environment (SWAGEN) empowers women living in the rural areas of Uganda. On the global level, she is active in the Women’s Major Group, an international network of women’s rights organisations. During the interview, Getrude Kenyangi pointed out three aspects of transculturality:
Transgenerational thinking – “You cannot empower girls without their parents.”
A transgenerational approach is essential. For this reason, Gertrude Kenyangi’s organization SWAGEN focus on women and girls of all ages. If the aim is to empower the young girls, power dynamics within the family itself have to be taken into account as well. SWAGEN’s approach is therefore to offer programmes where women of various age come together, learn from each other and pass on their knowledge.
Transorganizational Framework – “The opening up for civil society is the right direction to shape the process in a sustainable way.”
SWAGEN is a community-based organisation working on cross-cutting issues, e.g. economic independence, environmental challenges and reproductive rights. Due to these various intersections, its advocacy has to be organized in a transorganizational manner. This means a framework is necessary to which organizations with various backgrounds are able to refer to. One tool to participate in the advocacy process is the UN Agenda 2030. Due to its 17 Sustainable Development Goals. It offers an umbrella under which various movements, institutions and companies are bringing in their specific knowledge and at the same time working together to achieving one goal – the realization of the Agenda until 2030. For example, SWAGEN has the opportunity to create a network based on similarities together with other grassroots movements, local authorities and UN entities.
Transnational capacity building – “By investing in capacity building, women are able to step forward in a space where usually a male who has been there for generations, this is where global empowerment takes place.”
For Gertrude Kenyangi empowerment is enabling people around the globe. Hereby, transnational capacity building is key. Hence, both people from the Global North and from the Global South suffer under the same patriarchal system. For each person the dimension of discrimination is different, but the cause of the power asymmetry is similar, To fight for gender equality in a sustainable way, SWAGEN is part of the transnational Women’s Major Group. This network enhances the agency of marginalized people around the world. The objective is to empower excluded groups so they will be able to participate and demand their rights in the public sphere.