On 28 March, OSCE Secretary General Helga Maria Schmid and High Commissioner on National Minorities (HCNM) Kairat Abdrakhmanov presented the findings of the research on the intersectionality of gender and national minorities.
An event, organized by the office of the HCNM in co-operation with the Gender Issues Programme, aimed to draw the attention of OSCE participating States to the scarcity of comprehensive data on interlinkages between gender equality and national minority issues.
“This research shows that national minority women face unique challenges and obstacles, which should not go unnoticed or unaddressed,” said OSCE Secretary General Schmid. “It is essential to listen to them and their experiences and work together to strengthen their participation and rights – this will benefit the whole society”, she added.
The research found that minority women in need of support are often not aware of public services that are available. They also face specific challenges such as lacking personal documentation, and higher rates of poverty and unemployment. Traditional gender roles and expectations for girls to marry young and take care of their families are among the main reasons why minority girls drop out of school. For minority women, political participation is closely linked to engagement in civil society- a dimension that can be leveraged to boost involvement in public life.
Participants also discussed best practices that can support the full and equal involvement of national minority women in public life, improve their access to economic and social rights, and increase their participation in processes for peace and security.
High Commissioner Kairat Abdrakhmanov noted that achieving equality for minority women requires a multilayered approach to tackle an issue that is complex, multifaceted and often difficult to analyze. High Commissioner Abdrakhmanov stressed that factors such as socio-economic inequalities in society, structural discrimination, rural-urban divides and traditional gender roles should be accounted for and reflected in participating States’ policies. “Only then, will societies be truly inclusive and as such more resilient to crisis and conflict”, he added.
Participants highlighted that co-operation within and between participating States and larger multilateral structures is key to achieving sustainable equality. With this research project and event, the office of the HCNM and the Gender Issues Programme drew attention to the joint OSCE commitment to address exclusion and discrimination when it comes to national minority women. The research was commissioned under the WIN for Women and Men: Strengthening Comprehensive Security through Innovating and Networking for Gender Equality (WIN) project. This project advances gender equality to achieve and maintain stable, prosperous, and peaceful societies in the OSCE area.