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Background papers: "Between repression and democratic conviction: Perspectives for the Belarusian civil society"
22/05/2024

Jana Shnipelson / Unsplash
Jana Shnipelson / Unsplash

Civil society in Belarus faces enormous challenges, which are analysed in detail in two background papers. The first analyses the reality of state repression. The second paper analyses the role and resilience of Belarusian women.

The VisiBYlity background papers provide an in-depth examination of two crucial aspects of Belarusian society: the state of civil society and the development of women's activism under an authoritarian regime.

Olga Smolianko, Director of the Lawtrend Centre for Legal Transformation, describes in her contribution the difficult situation that civil society organizations are facing. She shows how state repression has led to a division of civil society, with some organizations having to operate domestically under strict conditions, while others are forced to operate from abroad. Smolianko emphasizes the need for subtle international support strategies that take into account the different conditions of both local and exiled Belarusian organizations.

Alena Aharelysheva's article focuses on the reality of Belarusian women and the way the regime instrumentalizes gender equality to consolidate its power. Despite superficial signs of progress, women's rights are strictly controlled and the activism of independent women has become of particular importance. Aharelysheva highlights the rise of women's activism since the 2020 protests and emphasizes the crucial role women play in accelerating democratic change, both in Belarus and in the diaspora. Aharelysheva is a gender expert and co-organizer of Fem Group Belarus.

Both articles provide not only a detailed analysis of the current situation in Belarus, but also valuable insights for international actors seeking to support democratic change in Belarus. The public debate of the VisiBYlity project, in cooperation with the Heinrich Böll Foundation, provided a platform for exchange and discussion of these topics.

Link to the event report

Team & authors

About the VisiBYlity for Belarusian democratic actors project: Capacity building, advocacy and research for more attention for the Belarusian diaspora in the German and European public: these are the core contents of VisiBYlity.

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