From party politics to national economics, progress is happening to bring under-represented groups and a wider range of voices to the table
This piece is part of our Hope 100 series, telling the stories of the people and organisations creating hope for 2020 and beyond
#89 More United
Ever have the feeling that party politics gets in the way of doing what’s best for the country? More United is a cross-party movement aiming to tackle that problem. It was founded in 2016 in response to the divisive politics that flourished that year and aims to protect values that create “a fair and thriving country”. That means a country that provides equal opportunity, where people can “live side by side without fear” and that protects the environment for future generations. In 2020 – more needed than ever?
#90 Brand New Congress
This US political action group is on a mission to get people elected to Congress who understand the issues faced by everyday citizens and who won’t be beholden to corporate donors. It supports candidates who are typically under-represented in US politics, such as women, and people of colour. In the 2018 midterm elections, the first Brand New Congress-supported candidate – New York’s Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez – was elected to the House of Representatives. The November 2020 elections will be a reckoning for the group.
#91 Centre for Feminist Foreign Policy
A research and advocacy organisation that works to promote feminist foreign policy, ensuring that the people most impacted by decisions are involved in making them. It was founded by Marissa Conway and Kristina Lunz, who feature on the 2019 Forbes 30 under 30 list. The group has recently been drafting its UK Feminist Foreign Policy Manifesto.
#92 Wellbeing Economy Governments
What if the success of a country was measured by the happiness of its citizens, as opposed to its GDP? That’s the aim of the Wellbeing Economy Governments, which currently comprises Scotland, New Zealand and Iceland. They argue that the goal of economic policy should be the nation’s collective wellbeing rather than its collective wealth. New Zealand’s government published a Wellbeing Budget in 2019 – believed to be the world’s first – which allocated hefty funding packages for mental health care and measures to combat domestic violence and child poverty. Iceland’s prime minister Katrin Jakobsdottir has also confirmed that her government is developing a wellbeing budget.
#93 Women Mediators across the Commonwealth
Peace processes that involve women are 35 per cent more likely to last, research suggests, but despite this women are involved in only 3 per cent. “One of the gaps in formal peace processes is that, although women are at the heart of rebuilding, they are very often left out of the negotiations,” confirms Elizabeth Solomon.
Solomon, who is currently serving as a judge in her home Trinidad and Tobago, has been involved in peace deals in Bosnia, Kosovo and Somalia. She is part of Women Mediators across the Commonwealth, a network of women working in conflict resolution that provides peer learning and support as well as advocating for the role of women in formal peace building.
It unites women working in mediation at grassroots and international levels, from a total of 21 countries. “We have such diversity of experiences,” says network member Sumona DasGupta, a political scientist who has expertise in Kashmir.
It is complex – and at times frustrating – work, that involves overturning deeply entrenched ideas about what mediators look like and how the process should go. Part of its work is encouraging the UK in particular to push the security council to ensure women mediators are brought to the table in negotiations.
Women experience conflict differently – not better or worse, but differently
It is more than simply an issue of gender equality and representation, Solomon says: “Women experience conflict differently – not better or worse, but differently. And if our views are not part of the discussion then the implementation is not going to function because we are part of society.”
“I think women are more adept at recognising that my pain doesn’t cancel the pain of another,” adds DasGupta.
Image: Conciliation Resources