KARAT Coalition is a regional network of 61 women’s organisations and 12 individuals from 26 countries. It focuses its actions on observance of women’s human rights, and ensuring gendered economic and social justice in the region of Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia. KARAT Coalition builds bridges between its members and international partners, and provides a unique opportunity for solidarity and mutual support in the CEE / CA region and beyond. Through KARAT, the work of its members is internationally recognized. It conducts its activities within three main thematic priorities : women’s human rights, social and economic justice, and gender in development. KARAT Coalition holds Consultative Status with ECOSOC (United Nations Economic and Social Council).
KARAT Coalition was established in the 1990s as a response to the invisibility of women from Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States and their concerns and needs on the international area. Its establishment was related closely to the Beijing conference on Women in 1995, where a vital need for cooperation of women from the Region to advocate jointly for Region specific needs of women was identified and the idea of network/coalition was born. This led to the creation of KARAT, which took place in 1997. The goal of the Coalition was to monitor the responses of the Region’s governments to their international commitments, especially those made at the Beijing Conference. KARAT’s history could be divided in three major stages related to the geo-political changes in the Region. From 1997 to 2000 the main focus and tool of the organization was the Beijing Platform for Action (particularly institutional mechanisms for the advancement of women), and the main activities of KARAT were related to the UN Beijing process. During the second stage (2000-2004) Karat shifted its focus from UN mechanisms towards EU enlargement process, which at that time was a dominant process in the Central Eastern European region. During this stage a new main area of interest in KARAT programme was introduced: gender, economic and social justice. Further, the transition from first to second stage was characterized by extensive process of development of KARAT’s structure that was finalized by official registration of the Coalition in October 2001. The third, current stage began in 2004. It focuses on the impact of EU enlargement on the Region’s women, including such issues as division within the Region, strengthening inequalities between the countries, inclusions and exclusions.
KARAT Coalition focuses on observance of women’s human rights, and ensuring gendered economic and social justice in the region of Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia. It aims at:
- enabling women’s organizations from the Region to participate in policy debates on socio-economic gender inequality in the Region with an emphasis on women’s access to decent work and on problems faced by women migrants,
- improving women’s ability to use international/national women’s rights mechanisms and raising public awareness on women’s human rights’ backlash in the Region,
- increasing participation of women from the Region in the gender in development discourse/processes through an emphasis on development needs of women from specific countries of the Region and fostering links between the Region, the Global South and the North.
KARAT conducts its activities within three thematic priorities: gendered economic and social justice, women’s human rights, and gendered focused development cooperation. KARAT’s activities include:
- Capacity building aimed at developing expertise in the area of economic and social justice, and gender in development to empower women from the Region
- Advocacy, lobbying and campaigning on different levels including: United Nations (esp. related to CEDAW and Beijing Process), European Union (esp. related to enlargement process and neighborhood policies), governments from our Region and other stakeholders including transnational corporations
- Research and monitoring of policies and commitments of diverse actors (states, international bodies and organizations, corporations, employers)
- Networking and alliance building with other European/global women’s and development networks/organizations to scale up its results in achieving gender, economic and social justice
KARAT Coalition publishes reports, brochures, toolkits, briefings and leaflets concerning women’s human rights, women’s economic and social rights, and women’s rights in development process. The publications are available in English, Polish and Russian. KARAT publishes also a monthly newsletter “KARAT News”.
KARAT is the coalition of over 70 organizational and individual members. The core of its membership are organizations from the Central and Eastern European and Central Asian countries that agree with and support the statutory objectives of KARAT. KARAT also has 12 honorary individual members.
KARAT Coalition is a member of: Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC), European Coalition for Corporate Justice (ECCJ), Grupa Zagranica, Koalicja na Rzecz Równych Szans, Social Watch Polska, Women in Development Europe (WIDE).