KARAT focuses in its work on three thematic priorities: women’s human rights, gender & development, and social & economic justice.
Women’s Human Rights
This programme has two main components: promotion of OP CEDAW mechanisms in the countries of Central & Eastern Europe and Central Asia, and working towards improving women’s access to justice in the Region.
We do this because women all over the Region endure severe human rights violations. Tragically, they often do not even consider going to the police or bringing cases to court. Threatened by victimisation, they fear consequences like losing custody of children, housing and livelihood. This applies not only to victims of domestic and sexual violence – which is regrettably common across the whole Region – but also to those who suffer from other widespread traditional practices like bride kidnapping or polygamy. In many countries, women and girls are forced into marriages they despise, lacking any protection from the State. Discouraged by their families and local communities to claim their rights, they are stifled by a traditional approach to women’s social roles. It is of the utmost importance that women to have access to diverse measures to protect their right to be free from human rights violations.
This can be changed by using the OP CEDAW mechanisms on a wider scale in the countries of Region. Thus, we strive to improve a knowledge of KARAT’s member organizations about this important for women’s empowerment international tool. We also identify the barriers that hamper women’s access to justice, mobilise women’s rights defenders in the Region and jointly advocate for eliminating these barriers.
Gender & Development
We think that real global development is simply impossible without gender equality and women’s empowerment. Making up half of the planet’s population, women do two-thirds of world’s work. Yet, they own less than 1% of the global wealth and occupy only 17% of parliamentary seats. As many as two-thirds of illiterates are women, and they constitute the largest majority of people living in poverty. Women and children suffer much more from the effects of natural disasters. Development problems such as poverty, sustainability, maternal and child health, HIV/AIDS and education are all integrally linked with gender.
Development cooperation – a strategy to answer these challenges – cannot be effective if it does not support gender equality and actions targeting women to improve their situation. Such an approach has been adopted by more experienced development cooperation actors, but so far is rarely applied by the new donors from Central and Eastern Europe. The main obstacles here are low public awareness about development issues and how they are intertwined with women’s rights, and the insufficient capacity of governments and civil society to approach development problems from a gender perspective. We need to change this.
Social & Economic Justice
The economic and political transition in 90s brought a deep backlash on women’s social and economic situation in the Region. Many women were forced to work in informal or grey sphere being deprived of their social benefits. Many had to stay at home looking the children or the elderly since the transition and reforms caused dismantling of the social infrastructure like kindergardens. The situation has not improved. The women still suffer the consequences of political and economic turbulences much more then the men.
We believe that in order to change this women need to know their rights and participate in decision-making processes on a wider scale. They need to critically approach economics in order to be fully active citizens and to affect the policies that so strongly influence their livelihoods.
KARAT provides the tools to make this happen.