Women organize in women’s organizations for various causes across Europe and across the globe today as they have for the past 150 years. The European Women’s Lobby (EWL) is the largest platform for non-governmental women’s organizations in the EU and on their website they state that they have more than 4000 member organizations. It is therefore reasonable to assume that there is a great deal more women’s organizations in the EU, which may not be registered at the EWL, and even more when all the European countries are taken into account.
Since the 1970’s feminist research has grown in many different directions and in most disciplines. Despite this, because there are so many, thousands of women’s organizations and the issues they mobilize around will be remembered only by those who have been in contact with them. Making a few of these many organizations and their struggle visible has therefore been one of the goals of this thesis. I went to the European Social Forum (ESF) in Paris the fall of 2003. I thought it was a great idea to interview a large number of women’s organizations to get a grip on what the women’s movement in Europe looked like at that time and place. I contacted around 20 women’s organizations by e-mail and a few more by post. Barely anyone answered. When I finally went to Paris I only had one person that I knew I was going to interview; I was nervous. But at the forum my interviewee put me in contact with a few other women, the journey turned out to be fruitful, and I got the opportunity to meet some impressive activists!
Another aim of this thesis has been to see how NGO’s or social movements can be relevant to the subject of civics. As a teacher student of civics it is relevant to ask: why study organizations as part of a social movement, the women’s movement? It is important to study social movements because they are a means to bring about or influence social change for people who do not have the access to formal power. Even in democracies, where the people have formal power (the right to vote and institutions that are there to ensure their political rights) it can be difficult to bring attention to issues that aren’t already on the established political agenda. Since governments and political systems are founded upon structures that often have difficulties incorporating new questions and changes without being pressured from the outside, collective action and social movements are important pressure groups. They can influence those in power and promote, and some times enforce, political change; they can bring about attention to neglected issues of their concern.
According to Swedens national steering documents for the subject of civics pupils are supposed to broaden and deepen their knowledge and reflect on contemporary social conditions and societal issues locally as well as globally. Further more the subject is supposed to provide “pupils with better conditions to actively take part in the life of society and a preparedness to meet changes in society”. NGO’s mobilize around, bring attention to and bring about change around issues that they perceive need more attention on the political agenda. They take a stand and try to find ways of influencing the community. Some NGO's work to further the local community others with global issues and some work with both. NGO mobilization is therefore of interest to study as a social phenomenon in itself as well as the subject matters they mobilize around and finally as an inspirational example of one of the forms pupils may be able to actively partake in society.
2008. , 39 p.