> FLTP graduates call for access to justice, full equality for women in the region

FLTP graduates call for access to justice, full equality for women in the region

 

Women lawyers, human rights advocates and activists from 15 different countries released a statement urging states to uphold women’s rights in their constitution, enforce international human rights standards and ensure the full implementation of gender-specific laws and provisions for women’s substantive equality.

The women were graduates of APWLD’s long-standing Feminist and Legal Theory and Practice (FLTP) training who came together in Bangkok from 13 to 16 November 2014 to assess the impact of the programme in their fields of work. FLTP trainings have been at the core of APWLD’s capacity building efforts since 1997. The FLTP training provides a framework to analyse and critique existing laws and practice under the “substance, structure, culture” analysis of how laws contribute to the oppression of women as well as how to transform the law to advance women’s rights and gender equality. There have been more than 500 graduates of the FLTP training through the years, many of them applying their learnings in their capacity as activists, judges, advocates and trainers themselves.

The meeting was timed to coincide with the Asia Pacific Civil Society Forum on Beijing plus 20, which saw  450 women’s rights advocates reviewing the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action (BPFA) in the region.  As lawyers and human rights activists, the FLTP graduates are concerned that many countries in the region have failed to fully implement the BPFA and have also turned back on their commitments to international human rights standards that uphold women’s rights.

Below is a statement they released to be included the in the joint civil society statement around the BPFA:

 

Beijing +20 Realising the Substantive Equality Framework of Women in Law

APWLD FLTP Community on the Beijing +20 Review, November 13-16, 2014, Bangkok, Thailand

The Feminist Legal Theory and Practice (FLTP) Community met from 13-16 November 2014, in Bangkok, Thailand at the margins of the Asia Pacific Civil Society Forum on the Beijing +20 Review Process. Over 20 women lawyers, advocates, and development workers from 15 countries[i] came together to review the twenty-year progress in advancing laws and policies that promote gender equality and women’s empowerment in line with the 12 Critical Areas outlined in the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.

The FLTP Community notes progress made by some States in recognising sex and gender as a ground for discrimination in their respective constitutions, in enacting of general or specific progressive legislation in addressing violence against women, in reserving seats for women in legislature, and in formalising national institutions to advance legal commitments to women’s human rights.

Despite these advances, pervasive discriminatory laws and practices continue to impede women’s basic human rights and freedoms.  States continue to ignore the severe impacts of globalisation, fundamentalism and militarisation as strong structural barriers that further marginalise women.  Other areas requiring urgent attention include women’s oppression through the use of customary and religious laws that deepen inequalities between women and men and amongst women. 

The group also notes concerns on the weak accountability and monitoring mechanisms for the protection of women’s legal and human rights. At the same time, the lack of dedicated resources for the full implementation of enacted laws continues to hinder women’s access to justice and redress mechanisms.

As states and civil society in Asia Pacific take stock of progress on the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the FLTP Community wishes to put forward key legislative recommendations for ensuring its full implementation:

  • States should ensure that women and girls are given full access to justice including substantive justice, encompassing all 12 Critical Areas of Concern, in order to realise all forms of women’s human and legal rights.[ii]

 

  • States should ensure that national Constitutions protect diverse groups[iii] of women and provide for substantive equality, social protections, and affirmative measures aimed at the full realization of women and girls’ fundamental rights and freedoms, and that these provisions are implemented through legislation, policies and programmes.

 

  • Mindful that women’s human rights are non-negotiable and the assertion of culture, religion, morality or traditions cannot be an excuse to impinge on the same or weaken human rights standards, we urge states to implement and comply with international standards of women’s human rights, such as the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, International Convention on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, and Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, and ratify conventions on specific forms of marginalization, including the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, and Convention relating to the Status of Refugees.

 

  • Noting that access to justice remains a major unfulfilled right for women, whether they are accessing their legal rights as an individual or as a community, we call on states to make use of temporary special measures to redress this urgent concern and to minimise any secondary trauma caused by the criminal justice process.

 

 

  • Recognising that several states have enacted legislation on issues of domestic violence, sexual harassment and other forms of violence against women and have set up institutional mechanisms for the advancement of women, we call on states to ensure full accountability towards implementation of the laws and ensuring effectiveness of the institutional mechanisms that are reported to have been set up. States should allocate adequate resources for the full implementation of gender equality laws, in particular on violence against women, forced prostitution, and trafficking.

 

  • Noting that many states are yet to recognize violence against women as a public health issue, we urge states to ensure the availability of physical and mental health services for survivors of violence against women.

 

  • Recognising advances in technology which can be used in the investigation of violence against women cases in place of patriarchal forensic investigation practices where the burden of proof weighs heavily on women survivors, we call for an end to trauma-inducing techniques that violate the dignity of women who have experienced violence.

 

  • While the Beijing Platform for Action already recognizes the extraordinary barriers women face in enjoying their human rights, sexuality rights of women continues to be neglected. We urge states to recognise and protect women’s sexuality rights by ensuring non-discrimination of women basis of their sexuality and gender identity. We urge states to repeal laws that define offences based on aspects of sexuality, sexual orientation, gender identity, sex work and activity.

 

  • We call for the removal of restrictions imposed on women on their choice of employment, for example women in the entertainment sector who face discrimination on the basis of their occupation.

 

  • Noting that the margins are shifting and people’s rights are increasingly compromised through macroeconomic policies, external shocks, climate change and “natural” disasters, there is a need to institute temporary special measures that will also serve the needs of emerging marginalized groups.

 

  • Recognising the differentiated impact on women due to long-standing patriarchal and gender practices, we urge states to ensure gender-specific provisions in laws that address these impacts on women.

 

 

  • Noting with concern the dominant culture of inequality between nations, between rich and poor percolates to all levels, perpetuating and normalising inequality, we call on States to recognise the differentiated responsibilities at all levels of the dominant nations, corporations, men in addressing inequalities at the respective levels.

 

  • The daily reproductive roles that have historically been assigned to women, as well as women’s experiences and contributions must be factored into the development of an economic model that will prioritises people, especially those who are most in need, over profits.   This would include redistribution of resources to address inequalities.

 

  • We urge States to plan and implement national economic policies that specifically address development of the poorest regions in the countries that have been historically neglected.

 

  • We also urge States to ensure the participation of women in the development of policy formulations.

 

  • Recognising that ‘development’ is often projected as the solution for the advancement of women’s rights by packaging its exploitative and oppressive character and downplaying its aggressive impact, we propose that States carry out gender impact assessments of existing and proposed development projects to ensure that various women have voice and participation in development assessment and planning.

 

  • We call for the strengthening of legal and policy frameworks, implementation and monitoring mechanisms on migration and plans for action to protect women workers and their families, and strongly recommend that receiving States ratify existing instruments.

 

  • States should ensure consultative mechanisms for women and women’s rights groups in developing, ratifying and enacting new laws, policies and agreements such as bilateral and multilateral agreements entered into by states.

 

  • Recognising that primary responsibility for unpaid care work is often thrust on women, we call for stronger legislative measures that ensure protection and redress for women engaged in unpaid work.

 

  • Noting growing concern for women in the informal sector who lack access to labour rights we call on States to uphold the rights of these women to basic labour protections, the right to organize, and entitlements that are available to workers in the formal sector, including access to state supported mechanisms and social protection for all workers.

 

  • States should address persisting inequalities, discrimination and gender pay disparities and further recognize the demand for equal pay for work of equal value. This includes addressing vertical and horizontal segregation to access, own and control property and financial assets, which impedes women’s access to economic rights.

 

 

  • States should regulate and monitor private sector policies and practices to ensure gender equality.

 

  • States should set up mechanisms to monitor policies and practices that directly and indirectly discriminate against women in leadership in the private sector and ensure accountability for any violations.

 

  • We urge States that have not established National Human Rights Institutions and Women’s Commissions that protect and uphold women’s rights to do so. Likewise, States with existing Institutions and Commissions should ensure their independence and full functioning.

The above critical concerns of the Beijing Platform of Action are indicative of the multiple and persistent barriers to substantive equality of women in law and practice. Thus, we urge states to commit to a stand-alone goal on gender equality to be included in the Post-2015 Development Framework while also incorporating gender-specific provisions in general laws, including laws relating to environmental protection and the right to information.

 

[i] Malaysia, Philippines, Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar, China, India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Fiji

[ii] Access to justice should not only cover the issue of violence against women, but should be based on women’s experiences and needs cutting across all the 12 critical areas of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. The right to justice should be all-encompassing and specific, in recognition of the value of judicial intervention, for example, in upholding rights and creating an enabling environment for women to claim their rights.

[iii] Diverse marginalised groups include rural and indigenous communities, migrant and domestic workers, trafficked women, sex workers and women of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities.

 

[i] Malaysia, Philippines, Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar, China, India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Fiji

[ii] Access to justice should not only cover the issue of violence against women, but should be based on women’s experiences and needs cutting across all the 12 critical areas of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. The right to justice should be all-encompassing and specific, in recognition of the value of judicial intervention, for example, in upholding rights and creating an enabling environment for women to claim their rights.

[iii] Diverse marginalised groups include rural and indigenous communities, migrant and domestic workers, trafficked women, sex workers and women of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities.

 

[i] Malaysia, Philippines, Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar, China, India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Fiji

[ii] Access to justice should not cover only the issue of violence against women, but should be based on women’s experiences and needs cutting across all the 12 critical areas of the Beijing Declaration and Platform on Action. The right to justice should be all-encompassing and specific, because judicial intervention for example is a very strong tool to ensure legal and fundamental rights. There should be enabling environment and institutions for women to knock on the door of the court.

[iii] Diverse marginalized groups include rural, indigenous, migrant and domestic workers, trafficked women and sex workers and SOGI groups.

2018-09-16T00:44:55+00:00November 19th, 2014|Feminist Law and Practice, Latest Updates|