Civil society women galvanise the region
Women from the Asia Pacific region work on such a broad and diverse issues, ranging from sexual and reproductive health, economic rights, indigenous rights, among others. When they come together to do advocacy work at the regional and global level, the coordination required for such an undertaking requires a high level of cooperation between women’s groups and a recognition of the need to represent the diversity of voices in the region. For the 20-year review of the Beijing Platform for Action coming up in 2015, a grouping of 18 women’s organisations[i] known as the CSO Steering Committee, led the preparations that culminated in the Asia Pacific Civil Society Forum on Beijing plus 20, held on 14 to 16 November 2014.
As a member-based organisation, Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD) represented a broad constituency of women in the Steering Committee, and served as co-convenor together with Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era (DAWN). APWLD was also able to mobilise and support the participation of 150 women and civil society into the CSO Forum, particularly from constituencies such as women human rights defenders, rural and indigenous women, women migrant workers and women legislators.
The CSO Forum held a series of plenaries and workshops intended to bring up the most pressing concerns of women’s rights advocates, foremost of which was the need for stronger accountability mechanisms, and making resources available for national machineries for women and gender equality.
An important outcome of the CSO Forum was a consolidated statement from civil society and a set of 13 briefers on the specific key issues which are intended for governments. These documents were produced as lobbying documents to feed into the ministerial level Asian and Pacific Conference on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment: Beijing +20 Review organised by UNESCAP from 17 to 21 November 2014.
The CSO Steering Committee worked actively within the spaces provided for civil society in the official meeting to ensure that governments re-commit to the BPFA and to also ensure that emerging global agreements such as the Sustainable Development Goals work towards advancing women’s rights and gender equality.
[i] Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP); Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD); Asian-Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women (ARROW); Asia Pacific Women with Disability (APWWD) United; Asia Pacific Women Watch (APWW); Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era (DAWN); Diverse Voices and Action for Equality (DIVA); femLINKPACIFIC; Fiji Women’s Rights Movement; Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women (GAATW); Isis International; International Women’s Rights Action Watch (IWRAW) Asia Pacific; Pacific Youth Council; Women’s Alliance for Communities in Transition – South Asia (WACT-SA); Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights (WGNRR); Women Organizing for Change in Agriculture & Natural Resource Management (WOCAN)