Every day, we see women living in fragile settings across the globe demonstrating great power and resilience. We know these women have ideas that will change their communities for the better. However, few have the opportunity to be involved in decisions that affect their lives. CARE’s Every Voice Counts (EVC) programme, which ran from 2016-2020 in Afghanistan, Burundi, Pakistan, Rwanda, Somalia and Sudan, aimed to change that status quo.
Despite making up half the population, women around the world are under-represented in political processes, currently holding just 24.5% of legislative seats.1 Similarly, laws that discourage women’s economic opportunities such as access to institutions, property and jobs, exist in 155 out of 173 countries.2 In fragile settings, women are often structurally excluded from community and political decision-making. In addition, the average age in fragile settings is significantly lower than in other parts of the world, so the inclusion of youth in decision-making in certain EVC countries was critical.
EVC placed collaboration and dialogue at its core, bringing together men and women, citizens and local leaders. In cooperation with CARE country offices and partners, the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, The Hague Academy for Local Governance and RNW Media, we fought to shift discriminatory social norms, supported women and youth to use their voice, and trained local authorities and civil society organisations to influence and implement more inclusive governance processes. From village elders agreeing to include women in local elections to civil society organisations helping to improve laws protecting women from violence, the impact of this programme was undisputable.