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Women’s Rights Associations in Portugal

Portugal is one of the few countries that has had, since 1988, specific legislation addressing the rights of Women’s Associations. This is a clear statement on the historical importance of these associations in the Portuguese backdrop. The centrality of women’s associations was also recognized at the Beijing + 25 world celebrations and the subsequent Generation Equality Forum, a context that has propelled the Portuguese Platform for Women’s Rights’s (PpDM) study on the financial sustainability of member organizations, in 2020.

The recently published report is considered a representative reflection of the Portuguese reality.

This report evidences that:

  • The sources of funding for women’s associations are scarce and uncertain;
  • The women’s associations budgets are limited and insufficient: the average annual budget of the associations that do not offer direct services to the community, is 20,000€. Concerning the associations that provide direct services (namely, support to victims of domestic violence), the budget is hardly 225,000€;
  • The variability, irregularity and scarcity of funding sources imposes on these associations the burden of constantly searching for alternative means of financing on top of the required recurrent funding requests, in order to maintain the bare minimum human and material resources required to fulfil their purpose;

The study concludes that the centrality of women’s associations as key agents in the design, implementation, and monitoring of public policies, can only be accomplished if a wide range of measures are duly adopted in three major areas, as shown below, whilst bearing in mind that the promotion of equality between men and women is a fundamental task of the State, enshrined by article 9, paragraph h) of the Portuguese Constitution, that reinforces state obligations emerging namely from CEDAW, the Istanbul Convention, and the Treaties and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union:

  • Consider discrimination against women and girls in light of the universal, structural and cross-cutting nature of sex-based discrimination, with appropriate concrete actions in this field;
  • Fostering dialogue, consultation and monitoring of the Government at all levels and sectors, with special emphasis on the Advisory Council of the Commission for Citizenship and Gender Equality and the Economic and Social Council, with representation of women’s rights organizations as well as including representatives of these Women’s Rights NGOs in the Portuguese delegations to international instances where civil dialogue is formally or informally developed;
  • Ensure the existence of regular and predictable sources of funding for these organizations, as recommended by the international conventions that bind the Portuguese State.

Only with the women’s rights organizations fundamental and irreplaceable role, will it be possible for the State to fully comply with its fundamental task of "Promoting equality between men and women," as enshrined by the Constitution of the Portuguese Republic.

You can read the original version of this article on the PpDM website.

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