As part of APWLD’s larger “Grounding the Global” Programme, our work aims to enhance the capacity of women in Asia Pacific to advocate for women’s human rights and fundamental freedoms by engaging with and strengthening international mechanisms.
Women’s activism has resulted in the recognition of a range of women’s human rights and the creation of a number of UN mechanisms to advance equality for women. The conventions, declarations, platforms of action and special mechanisms can provide a powerful tool for women and bring weight to local campaigns. Unfortunately however they remain inaccessible for most women in Asia Pacific. The Grounding the Global programme aims to make those mechanisms relevant and effective tools in the realisation of women’s rights in Asia Pacific.
The objectives of the programme are:
- To enhance the capacity of women in Asia Pacific to claim and advance women’s human rights by engaging in regional and international mechanisms;
- To increase knowledge of and international / regional response to violations of women’s rights in Asia Pacific;
A number of advances have been made at the international level to address women’s rights, particularly violence against women. Those standards provide powerful standards and processes to claim, promote, protect and advance women’s rights. The challenge for women’s rights activists is to make those standards and processes meaningful at a local level by both ensuring that they are applied locally and that failure to apply them can be addressed by the international system.
Regional Consultations with Special Rapporteurs
APWLD campaigned for the creation of the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences (UNSRVAW) mandate. Following the appointment of the first mandate holder, our founding member Rhadika Coomaswamy in 1994, we began annual regional consultations. The special mechanisms have been referred to as the ‘eyes and ears’ of the Human Rights Council. Very few women from Asia Pacific have the opportunity to be seen or heard at the Council and most mandate holders have very few resources to conduct missions to the region (generally only two country visits per year).
The regional consultations provide an avenue for women from the region to gain direct access to the UN through the mandate holder and illustrate the political, social, cultural and economic realities as well as firsthand testimonials from specific cases in the region. The consultations also provide an opportunity for women from the region to detail patterns of rights violations, to influence the themes of the mandate holders reports, to share strategies and strengthen networks. They have become an integral aspect of the work of the SRVAW and have been lauded as a model for other regions to engage with the special procedures (as a result APWLD published a guide to conducting consultations with SRs).
In addition to the annual strategy, APWLD issues statements, delivers oral interventions, organises side events and undertakes lobbying on a range of issues at international levels. Themes may be drawn from the regional consultations, developments at regional level, specific threats at regional and country level or may even be about specific member issues (threats to human rights defenders). We are actively engage with the UN Commission on the Status of Women and events of the UN Human Rights Council.