Concluding our work in Belarus
A note from our Programme Director Zuzana Zalonova, on the conclusion of our work in Belarus.
Gender and Law: First Experience of Teaching in Belarus
Only a few universities in the Eastern Europe Region have gender and law courses included in their curricular. The history of gender and education development in Eastern European countries dates back about 30 years and is connected to the ratification of a range of UN Documents relating to women's rights protection and the achievement of gender equality.
Read more about experiences of teaching Gender and Law in Belarus in our recent publication.
The Experience of Legal Clinics in Belarus
Over the last 20 years, legal clinics from all regions in Belarus have formed a network, where socially vulnerable categories of citizens can get receive access to free legal information and assistance, protection of their rights, and legal education. We are especially proud of the graduates of the clinics, which, among others, have become judges of the Economic Court, renowned lawyers, human rights activitis as well as corporate lawyers.
Follow the link to our recent publication to read more.
The Belarus Programme
We have recently concluded our academic cooperation with academic institutions in Belarus. Since 2010, we have worked with academics and students from a number of universities in Belarus to strengthen their capacities in promoting human rights (including gender equality) through enhanced access to education and research in human rights. We have also focused on increasing their involvement on human rights issues with other actors in society.
Financed by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, our most recent cooperation between 2015 and 2020 engaged academics and students across the country.
A number of significant results have been achieved in Belarus. These include:
- Belarusian academics have stronger capacities to deliver human rights education – in terms of quantity (9 new gender courses), quality (improving 11 human rights courses), and innovation (piloting human rights principles in the clinical legal education). The courses are accompanied with new tools, resources and students monitoring. As a result, over 6000 students have increased their knowledge of human rights and gender equality.
Belarusian students attend summer course on human rights in Lund.
- Belarusian researchers are now provided with new skills and tools to conduct human rights research within a multi-disciplinary Belarusian research community coordinated by the first Human Rights Centre (HRC) in the country. Since the HRC establishment at the Belarusian State University in 2017, dozens of academics from all across Belarus produced 14 research products on human rights and gender equality. These are supported with over 1000 human rights and gender resources now available through open-source database LibGuide, e-journals, and gender catalogue used by teachers and students
- To a limited extent but increasingly, Belarusian academics have engaged with other actors on human rights. This includes cooperation between legal clinics and CSOs as well as cross-sectoral events such as HRC conference, which was attended by 170 participants from various sectors, i.e. government and CSOs, in 2019. Additionally, many academics have publicly discussed human rights and gender equality in Belarusian media and social media as well as explicitly expressing their position after the 2020 elections, although facing negative consequences.
- Belarusian academics and students can now better access international human rights networks and knowledge. Over 300 Belarusians from Minsk and regions have been supported to exchange their human rights experience at dozens of occasions outside of Belarus. Some of the partner faculties have engaged in other international projects on human rights and gender equality, while many individuals have been regularly participating in international events discussing these topics. This has resulted in promoting human rights beyond their discipline and beyond academia as such despite the worsening situation in 2020.
- Finally, one of the biggest achievements in terms of capacities undoubtedly is the establishment of a sound and diverse community of academics promoting human rights and gender equality. This community enables sharing knowledge and best practices but also mutual support across universities and professions- be it deans, teachers, researchers, legal clinicians, students, or librarians. Nowadays, it is also a strong solidarity network, given the external factors hindering further collaboration on human rights in Belarus.