OSCE PA Special Representative Fry issues report on the role of civil society in times of democratic decline ahead of Annual Session



280624 gender photoHedy Fry meets with civil society activists in Bucharest, 28 June 2024BUCHAREST, 28 June 2024 – Ahead of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s Annual Session in Bucharest (29 June – 3 July), Special Representative on Gender Issues Hedy Fry (Canada) has published the 2024 Gender Report on “Fostering free and inclusive societies: The role of civil society organizations in a time of democratic decline.”

The report explores the role of civil society organizations (CSOs) in promoting free and inclusive societies and supporting the realization of gender equality. It offers a comprehensive analysis of regional and global trends in the fields of democracy and freedom, assessing how these trends influence gender equality within the OSCE area. Furthermore, the report highlights the pivotal role of CSOs in fostering democratic societies and gives an overview of consultations conducted by Dr. Fry with CSOs in Armenia and Hungary over the past year.

The report urges the OSCE community to reaffirm the fundamental role of CSOs in promoting human rights, including those of women and LGBTI persons, as well as their importance to the development of gender-inclusive laws and policies. Despite their essential roles and mandates, however, the report underscores that CSOs are encountering operational challenges in some participating States. In particular, the report highlights the increasing difficulties that CSOs are facing in securing funding, being included in decision-making processes, and carrying out certain fundamental activities. Notably, of major concern, is the adoption of so-called ‘foreign agent’ laws, which seek to increase the scrutiny of CSO funding and activities.

“The OSCE community should acknowledge the threat that restrictions on civic space pose to democracy and gender equality and commit to addressing this growing problem,” Dr. Fry stressed. “OSCE participating States must ensure that CSOs can access diverse funding sources without undue restrictions. They should also guarantee that domestic legislation, policies, and practices enable CSOs to engage in meaningful dialogue with public authorities.”

Dr. Fry’s report will be discussed during the Working Lunch on Gender Issues, held on the sidelines of the 31st Annual Session, which this year takes place under the theme “Progress and Setbacks: The State of Gender Equality in the OSCE Region.”

Ahead of the Annual Session, Dr. Fry also met today with CSOs working on gender equality in Romania. The meetings provided an opportunity for civil society activists to present their work, as well as to discuss challenges with regards to advancing gender equality in their countries.

To read the full version of Dr. Fry’s report on “Fostering free and inclusive societies: The role of civil society organizations in a time of democratic decline” in English and French, please click here.

More information about the work of the OSCE PA Special Representative on Gender Issues is available here.

For more information on the OSCE PA's 31st Annual Session, which begins Saturday in Bucharest, please click here.



Nat Parry

Head of Communications and Press

Office: +45 33 37 80 55
Mobile: +45 60 10 81 77
Email: [email protected]

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