Eritreans International Women Day 2019 conference in Frankfurt, Germany
At the initiative of Eritrean Mothers in Europe, a seminar was held in Frankfurt to mark international women’s day, March 8th.
This Eritrean IWD2019 was open to all political organizations, activists and individuals who were representing 10 European countries.
Additionally, a number of Eritrean friends and non-Eritrean organisations also participated in this Eritrean IWD2019 and their presence was much appreciated.
Friday March 8th started by marking Women’s Day with slogans and information from Eritrean Mother in Europe, Kvinner For Rettferdighet (Women For Justice), Change Now, and a representative for Eritrean refugees in Libya. The speeches were followed by discussions about women’s history and role in society today, with special focus on Eritreans. The imprisonment of four female political ex-fighters and freedom activists were highlighted throughout the day. They represent the huge numbers of political prisoners held in captivity under reportedly horrific conditions, without a trial or any release date.
Saturday morning opened with speeches and discussions on the general situation in Eritrea and Eritrean refugees. In addition a workshop was held with group discussions.
A broad range of topics were discussed, and some areas of key concern were:
- Discrimination against Women and young girls in the Eritrea prison camps,
- Teenage military services and slavery experienced by women do not have the self efficacy to use the complaints process,
- Discrimination in the justice system against political victims through under-reporting, lack of convictions and poor sentencing outcomes and discrimination through the virtual denial of the right to safety,
- Appealing to close all the Prison camps in Eritrea and free all prisoners in Eritrea – including women ex-fighters, now held as prisoners,
- The human right situation and possible improvements,
- The current collaboration between Eritrea and Ethiopia. The Eritrean diaspora views vs. how the western media perceives the situation,
- The plight of large numbers of Eritrean refugees, living in inhuman conditions, especially in Sudan, Libya and Ethiopia. What can be done to improve their lives?
- The increasing casualization of women in the Ethiopia Refugees camps, Sudan Refugees camps, Libya refugees camps
- Future cooperation amongst the different organizations and groups working for a healthy and peaceful development of Eritrea and Eritreans.
- The international society’s approach to Eritrea.
On Sunday, the discussions continued, and the groups came to very similar conclusions on focus areas and how to work together in the future. It is a common opinion amongst the Eritrean diaspora that the western world should have a different approach towards the Eritrean government. For instance, the financial support from the EU seems wasted, as it does not really benefit the young Eritrean people. Sanctions should be introduced to put pressure on the dictatorship to change his methods, and in effect stop, or at least brake, the constant stream of refugees. Time is running out, as Eritrea is more or less emptied for people in working age, leaving the society literally on the brink of total collapse. This is one of the most important tasks for the new establishment of joined organizations.
A committee was established to lead the task of joining forces, and a spokesperson was elected to be the public voice of the movement.
United Youth of Eritrea ended the official program by giving a speech about refugees, with focus on the youth.
“Everybody had an opportunities to meet new people and build great relationships ,was introduced to new ideas and given inspiration to continue our work with full force. It is important that we come together, that way we can create a louder voice, bearing effectively out to the international political community. At the same time, we are able to continue our local activity, ”said Zebib Negasi, secretary in Kvinner For Rettferdighet.
We set out our future roadmap. We will host another conference during the summer of 2019 and this is already under discussion. The aim of this conference is to highlight the fact that women in Eritrea experience both legal discrimination and discrimination by default. We will bring together Eritreans, human right organizations, politicians and European citizens to share information and personal experiences, with the goal of providing a more nuanced picture of the conditions in Eritrea, and for Eritreans fleeing from the regime.
Eritrean Mother Europe thanks all volunteers, Eritrean friends, and Eritrean organizations, who helped organise #IWD2019 – on the front line and in the background.