The European Feminist Forum, which was planned for 13-15 June 2008 in Warsaw, will not take place.
The European networks that have been cooperating since 2006 on the platform for debate and sharing entitled European Feminist Forum have decided, due to financial reasons, that the culmination of the process with the conference will not take place. This is the face-to-face meeting of European feminists, which we had scheduled to take place from 13-15 June 2008. Instead, the process will be concluded with a comprehensive publication.
The other parts of the European Feminist Forum process have taken place and we are very proud of the achievements. The process has set up a vivid field of knowledge creation, knowledge sharing, movement building and agenda setting in Europe. 21 Affinity Groups have debated urgent issues, and shared their information and knowledge through the European Feminist Forum website. Our process of visioning a feminist Europe was driven by many feminist-inspired voices, from young, migrant, male, minority and marginalized voices. The European Feminist Forum was constructed and has been an inclusive and joint platform of all of these groups from the start. For a preliminary overview of results so far, follow this link.
As organizers, we wish to acknowledge and thank the hundreds of feminists that have contributed to this initiative, often on a voluntary basis, and the thousands of interested feminists who wanted to be part of a renewed debate on feminism in Europe. We acknowledge the members of the Steering Committee and the network organizations they represent, The Polish Federation for Women and Family Planning, Babaylan- Philippine Women’s Network in Europe, IFOR’s (The International Fellowship of Reconciliation) Women Peacemaker’s Program (WPP), KARAT Coalition, The Network of East-West Women (NEWW)-Polska, the Joint Roma Women’s Initiatives (JRWI), Network Women in Development Europe (WIDE), for their continuing commitment to the success of this process. We acknowledge the interns and staff at the European Feminist Forum Secretariat for their vision, enthusiasm and willingness to make a difference. We acknowledge the staff and Board of the International Information Centre and Archives for the Women’s Movement, who are willing to take risks and who understand that to be an information sharing organization requires participating in communities of practice and who hosted the European Feminist Forum Secretariat. We also acknowledge our many funders, Cordaid, Global Fund for Women, Hivos, ICCO, Mama Cash , Open Society Institute , Oxfam Novib, Unifem. They too are visionaries and committed to a feminist future in Europe.
Lack of funds is a political issue
Karat Coalition, the host organization in Poland, and the IIAV where the European Feminist Forum secretariat is housed, invested extensive personal and institutional resources in the fundraising efforts, which included visiting potential funders in Scandinavia, Poland and Brussels. Apart from those named above, funder after funder made clear this activity could not be funded from their limited budgets. It was not fundable by local or State governments (because it went over State boundaries), it was not a priority for many development aid budgets and it did not fit in to European Union tenders and Calls. The lack of funds for this type of new initiative is an indication of the current difficult context in Europe for the feminist movement, as observed in “Where is the Money for Women’s Rights?” ( AWID report 2007 ). The European Feminist Forum program committee correctly identified this as a pressing issue for debate, especially in Europe.
Reflecting on the results so far of the European Feminist Forum, the programming committee has identified three topics to for further debate, as published here. The initiating networks believe it is important to bring the activity to a close with a document that will be used to further efforts in Europe to provide women with full access to all their social, economic and political rights. A publication will bring together the threads of the discussions among the Affinity Groups and report on the process of the European Feminist Forum, it will present the state of art feminist knowledge on the most pressing feminist issues, made up of many different voices it will map the state of the movement in Europe, and conclude on what the consequences are for Europe. The anticipated publication date is December 2008.
Future of the European feminist forum
We are proud to have been involved in the very first attempt to build a renewed vision on pressing pan-European issues, from a feminist perspective, and moving beyond the European Union’s new divisive boundaries. Europe is composed of more countries than those inside the European Union. We hope that our collectively developed ideas and work will survive in another form. We still strongly believe in the need for a European Feminist Forum face-to-face meeting, and we hope that new initiatives will spring up elsewhere along the same lines. We offer everything we have learned in the process, our skills and contacts, plus the body of content work that we now have, to everyone who wishes to work on a European Feminist Forum in the future. We hope that our publication will substantially contribute to a future European feminist forum initiative.
The website will remain online for at least two years. You are welcome to send your comments to the EFF discussion list or send them to the Secretariat (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The organizing networks of the European Feminist Forum: The Polish Federation for Women and Family Planning, Babaylan- Philippine Women’s Network in Europe, IFOR’s (The International Fellowship of Reconciliation) Women Peacemaker’s Program (WPP), KARAT Coalition, The Network of East-West Women (NEWW), the Joint Roma Women’s Initiatives (JRWI), Network Women in Development Europe (WIDE), International Information Centre and Archives for the Women’s Movement (IIAV)