On 4 and 5 April 2018, the North-South Centre brought together nine women expert from the Southern Mediterranean at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg. Invited to a working and reflection group for the implementation of its Empowerment of Women’s project, the experts had the opportunity to meet the Council of Europe institutional actors for gender equality and the neighborhood cooperation with the Southern Mediterranean countries.
Representatives of civil society organisations in Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Palestine, Syria and Tunisia, the experts were able to share the challenges for equality and the protection of women's rights in the region and consider new avenues of cooperation and action through the active participation of Council of Europe sectors: the Gender Equality Unit, the Department of Human Dignity and Equality between Women and Men, the Violence against Women Division, the Venice Commission, the Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities.
These exchanges enabled the experts to have an overview of the multidimensional action of the Council of Europe in order to better foresee their participation in the North-South Centre’s project: the “North-South Process for the Empowerment of Women 2018-2019” (NSPEW III). Aimed at reinforcing women’s role in civil society and women’s organisations, the project promotes multilateral and multisectoral cooperation between the relevant stakeholders in the Southern Mediterranean region and in Europe. Hence, at the core of the project lies the participatory approach and the capacity-building of women’s organisations which both translate into the establishment and the monitoring of the pool of experts from the Southern Mediterranean region. The working sessions organised in parallel were a space for the experts to initiate the elaboration of a project of guidelines, and prepare the next activity of the project: the Conference on Migrant, refugee and asylum-seeking women and girls, which will be held this summer in Athens.