Young women of Asia Pacific call on governments to strengthen policies on women’s rights and gender equality
Young women from civil society called on governments attending the United Nations High Level Ministerial Meeting to fulfill their promises to advance women’s rights and gender equality. The governments were gathering from 17 to 21 November to report and review the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action (BPFA).
The BPFA is a document agreed upon in 1995 for governments to develop and ensure policies on 12 critical areas: Women and Poverty, Education and Training of Women, Women and Health, Violence against Women, Women and Armed Conflict, Women and the Economy, Women in Power and Decision Making, Institutional Mechanisms for the Advancement of Women, Human Rights of Women, Women and the Media, Women and Environment, The Girl Child.
Among the young women were Erwiana Sulistyaningsih, from Indonesia, who has gained global attention and support after suffering abuse from the hands of her employer while working as a domestic worker in Hong Kong. She was joined by Betty Barkha from Fiji, Sarah Soysa from Sri Lanka and Sorang Saragih from Indonesia as well.
Their performances highlight the gaps in implementation of BPFA since their youth, as their lifetimes span the 2 decades since the BPFA was agreed upon.
Below is the full transcript of their performance:
Erwiana Sulistyaningsih – Indonesia
20 years ago, the Beijing Platform was adopted, and I was 2. You said that women migrant workers, including domestic workers, are a critical part of the workforce and economy. You pledged to reinforce laws to punish and redress wrongs done to women and girls.
Twenty years ago, I grew up in poverty,
Globalisation’s” gift to our economy.
Dreams gave way to harsh realities,
And I migrated.
A domestic worker
Abused at the hands of an employer
I almost lost my life
But I escaped
I joined a movement
And I fight for the right to be heard:
“Migrants have rights”
“Domestic work is work”
“We are not slaves”
“Exploitation ends not with words,
But with real accountability!”
Sarah Soysa – Sri Lanka
20 years ago, I was 6 and inequality was rife
Women’s labour undervalued
Women’s bodies violated
20 years on I act for a different future:
Comprehensive sexuality education in schools,
access to information and basic services,
the end of intimate partner violence,
Join me, and we’ll push for a world
where rights set out on paper are realized in practice,
where all of us can fully exercise our rights
no matter what our identity, or its expression.
Because the future I want celebrates diversity
Celebrates women, celebrates girls,
Sorang Saragih – Indonesia
20 years ago, I knew nothing about women’s rights.
20 years on, I know better:
Substantive gender equality
State obligations and the duty to protect
Culture is no excuse for discrimination
Rights are universal and indivisible.
The spirit of Beijing should echo in our daily lives
And manifest in our policies, our institutions, our communities
We all have a part to play
Betty Barkha, Fiji
20 years ago, Beijing promised an environment that promotes world peace, protects human rights, and strengthens democracy.
I come from the Pacific. Peace, rights, democracy, the environment: these are our constant struggles.
Ten years I have fought climate change.
Twenty years I have lived in the midst and aftermath of two coups
I see women harassed for joining politics,
I get questioned for being an activist.
But when the challenges seem too much,
We find the strength to grow.
We will fight climate change and save our islands,
We will advance the positions of women,
We will bring up a generation of girls who will make change
All other youth performers step forward to join Pacific representative and come together to say:
Betty: 20 years ago, 189 governments announced to the world you were “Determined to advance the goals of equality, development and peace for all women everywhere in the interest of all humanity.”
Sorang: More than ever before, the world must reaffirm this commitment.
Sarah Forever forward, never backward.
Erwiana Twenty years since declaring gender equality a commitment and a priority, it’s time to deliver.