Gender Politics Makes a Difference: Experiences of the Heinrich Böll Foundation Across the World - Statehood & Participation


Gender Politics Makes a Difference: Experiences of the Heinrich Böll Foundation Across the World

by Barbara Unmüßig

All over the world, gender relations are changing. Economic and cultural upheavals are giving rise to ever new ways of life and work. When those changes benefit women, that is usually due to the work of feminist networks, small and larger-scale gender-oriented organizations, and courageous individuals. They resist their social and political exclusion, the impoverishment of their lives, oppression, and violence. Sexual minorities, too, are defending themselves against oppression and discrimination, seeking allies all over the world. More and more men are also committing themselves to a gender-sensitive politics.

But the new dynamics of gender have also mobilized counter forces that defend the old roles and privileges, often citing tradition and religion. Although we can look back on great progress compared with the situation of women a century ago, the power imbalance that benefits men still persists to a great degree. And yet it has been clear for a very long time that politics requires a consistent gender perspective integrated into all domains - whether the economy, security, or the environment. Politics can only succeed when it is inclusive of all genders. Gender justice is an ambitious goal, one that the Heinrich Böll Foundation is pursuing together with many different allies worldwide. This publication gives an overview of their work.

Mission statement

The Heinrich Böll Foundation's Gender-Democratic Primciples

The gender-democratic principles of the Heinrich Böll Foundation, resolved when the Foundation was reestablished, are as relevant as ever. The Foundation’s goals are as follows:

  • for a diversity of principles and life aspirations to be recognized and respected equally;
  • or access to social status, employment, income, and power to be independent of gender;
  • for patriarchal structures and power relations to be overcome in both the private and the public sphere;
  • for the diversity of gender identities, forms of gender expression, and sexual orientations to be recognized in law and in society.

These tenets should be understood as both a social-policy vision and an organizational principle. Gender democracy is a normative concept that postulates equal rights, equal opportunities, and equal access by men and women to economic resources and political power. Such participation is the precondition for change and for the transformation of unjust and gender-inequitable conditions.

A gender-democratic and feminist politics aims to interrogate and redefine all political domains in terms of their impact on gender relations. Its goal is nothing less than the transformation of all those societal structures that reproduce the inequalities and stereotyped relations between the genders. As a result, giving substance and reality to gender democracy is a shared task that must be tackled by all the members of the Heinrich Böll Foundation.

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