Women uniquely face key challenges of social, economic and political inequity throughout the Asia-Pacific and Middle East regions. That’s why the Australian Greens’ work to motivate, support, inspire and train women to step up to leadership roles is so critical.
By Michelle Sheather and Rachana Shrestha
The Asia Pacific Green Federation Women’s Network (APGFWN) was formed in November 2015 to bring together women from the Asia Pacific and the Middle East who are working within Green parties.
The members are from Australia, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Japan, Jordan, Korea, Lebanon, Mongolia, Nepal, Aotearoa New Zealand, Palestine, Pakistan, Philippines, Solomon Islands, Bangladesh, PNG, and Taiwan. The network facilitates better understanding and action on women's equal participation in politics, party structures, and activities. Its goal is to increase women’s empowerment as agents of political, environmental, and social change.
Women uniquely face key challenges of social, economic, and political inequity throughout the region. Most parties have an under-representation of women at all levels of the party. This program’s aim is to motivate, support, inspire, train and develop more women to take up leadership roles within the Green parties of our region.
APGFWN has developed and run many projects since 2017 with the help of the Australian Greens International Development Committee (IDC). Together we have implemented a gender equity online toolkit; for the third year running a successful mentorship and webinar program, and in 2019 we started in-country gender equity trainings with a pilot project in India. The overarching objectives of the work on gender equity are to:
- Have gender equity adopted inside the Green parties of Asia Pacific Greens Federation (APGF) with equal representation and participation of women; and
- Improve the confidence and skills of women through training and motivational programs.
Gender equity online toolkit
The Gender Equity Toolkit was developed to provide assistance to APGF member parties to increase women’s participation as party members, leaders, and candidates. This is in conjunction with the gender equity roadmap adopted by the APGF council in Brisbane in Dec 2018.
The online toolkit is available here.
Gender equity implementation
In 2019, the first gender equity training workshop was held over two days with 18 women members from the India Greens party. This resulted in creating a national women’s network for the party, and a two-year road map and action plan for their women’s network. A half-day gender sensitivity training session was also conducted for men and women of the party.
The next gender equity implementation training is scheduled in Bangladesh and the planning of training in Nepal, Pakistan, and the Middle East is now underway.
The mentorship program has been a special program and learning opportunity for women in APGF countries. To date, 15 women leaders from APGF Green parties have been mentored by 14 amazing women leaders from across the world.
This has helped women take on key positions in party executives; stand as candidates for election; recruit more women party members into their party; introduce a buddy system and training initiatives; and develop policies relevant to women in Asia, the Pacific, and Middle East.
We have held 17 international webinars in the past three years on topics ranging from women in leadership; Indigenous people and climate change; the role of women in setting up green parties; women and water; women and forests; and women’s health.
Senator Mehreen Faruqi had spoken last month on women in parliament, and Christine Milne has also been a guest speaker. The details of the next webinar with Marie Laufiso, Councillor for Dunedin Aotearoa New Zealand, can be found here. The webinars are open to all women members of the Australian Greens. Previous webinars can be found on the website link above.
Overall progress is beginning to be made in some national parties for an equal participation of women in leadership positions and having a stake in the future course of the party’s development. For many, this is achieving a target of initially 30 percent representation in party membership and on national executives. We are now also seeing more parties encourage women to stand as candidates for parliament.
In July we will be commencing our fourth intake for mentors and mentees for APGF Women Green leaders. We currently have seven new mentees listed from parties including Bangladesh, Lebanon, PNG, South Korea, Pakistan, Indonesia, and India.
If you are interested in being a mentor during 2020-21, please contact the Australian Greens International Development Coordinator for an information pack.
Michelle Sheather is the Australian Greens International Development Coordinator.
Rachana Shrestha is the Secretary of the Nepali Green party, APGFWN Secretary, and intern with APGF with funding from the IDC program.