I. Introduction of myself
Hej, I am Silke, I am in the national board of the GRÜNE JUGEND - the Young Greens of Germany, I am 23 years old, I am studying Administration and I am making an internship at the office of a Germans MEP at the moment.
Carolina asked me to talk about women empowerment and my experiences with it as a young woman who is active in politics for quite a while.
II. My experiences as a young women in politics
When I just started being active in politics which is five years ago I just wanted to change something in my daily school life and did something. I was organizing discussions, made theatre and so on. I never thought that I couldn't be able because I am a woman and I never got the impression that people didn't believe in me because I am a woman. But the more I became active and the more I worked on the national level I realized that there are quite a few women engaged and those who are leave quite early (compared to the men) and I wondered why.
So I organized a women seminar that became a gender seminar as we wanted to find out why there are so few women and why did they have that special engagement structure: Was it because of the men or was it caused by the women themselves?
The seminar itself didn't give any direct answers, but I can tell one story that is symbolic for the whole situation: We had rhetoric courses to empower us and to analyse whether we are having a male/female language. We had two courses: One for the men, one for the women. I had a limited budget around 800 in total. I asked them both to give me a proposal on what they want to get. And I explained both our difficult financial situation. The man asked for 450 Euro without any negotiation option, the woman accepted 250 Euro. Finally I gave her more in the end but it showed me that although you can talk a lot about women being stronger and more involved etc., you have to start to realize your own value and really demand it. My male friends do it and earn quite enough.
III. What does Women empowerment mean to me?
The UN defines it in five points:
1) Women's sense of self-worth
2) Women's right to have and to determine choices
3) Women's right to have access to opportunities and resources
4) Women's right to have the power to control their own lives, both within and outside at home
5) Women's ability to influence the direction of social change to create a more just social and economic order, nationally and internationally
Women empowerment means to me encouraging to equal participation. Women have to understand that they are able to act in "real" politics.
So for me Women Empowerment comes through women making politics, women participating in the political process. And not only by being the female, formal quota in the board but also by participating in the informal structures of an organisation or party. In the five years that I have been active in politics I noticed some rules that women often don't follow. I don't know why but I realize that this makes a huge difference.
No. 1: Women often forget to mention that THEY did a good job...
I worked with a lot of men and women. And more often the male names label projects although they are done by female activists. The other direction (men working, women say it has been their project) has almost never been in my experience.
Another example: In most projects I organized there have been female working teams and male participants on the discussion. So finally it is their face/ names that are related to political content and the women's face/ names that are related to the logistic organisation of conferences or seminar.
No. 2: Women often don't take part in political content
Although we are having in the greens all these quotas we completely forgot one thing: The process of writing resolutions - bringing politically content in the party or an organisation is not gendered. For this reason most resolution are written by men or more male writing groups. This means that although we are having 50 % women in political positions there are more men who influence political issues.
So here we need empowerment to work on political issues all together equally! I want to encourage with my speech all of us to take action and to make politics - but women and men together! Although I talked a lot about the position of women in this political process, I strongly believe that all genders have to be included in the whole process with equal rights but the understanding that there are a lot of ways to make politics.
So to conclude what I just talked about:
Women have to share more than only a place on a paper, they have to share real power. This is possible by focussing also on the fact being present in public. And women shouldn't be ashamed of doing a good work! This is something the world can know...
But of course I think in general one shouldn't do all these things just to be shown in public. Content and the idea have to be in the middle of all acting, but PR never bites...