CSO Intervention at the Closing Session of Asia Pacific Regional Review on Beijing+25
Lilly Be’Soer, Voice For Change, Papua New Guinea
Thank you chair.
We are appalled that 25 years since the Fourth World Conference on Women, 40 years since the adoption of CEDAW convention, 20 years since the Security Council Resolution 1325, all we have heard this week is rhetoric.
We are anguished that the Asia Pacific intergovernmental process does not fully commit itself to advancing diverse women’s and girls’ human rights or recognition of the urgency of the climate crisis and emergency especially for the Pacific.
We are angry that this space does not recognise us as equal partners in the process of development, change and contribution to the outcome document. We are locked out of discussions that will affect our lived realities.
We are devastated that women and girls most affected by conflicts and post-conflicts are not on peace negotiating tables. Sexual violence, gender-based violence, targeted violence against the most marginalised did not find mention in the document. Even this space was not truly accessible for women with disabilities. Nor targeting of women human rights defenders.
The conspicuous silence around bodily integrity, narrow focus on Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights,will have longterm devastating impact on the health & well being of women and girls in all their diversity. Absence of explicit & progressive language on sexual rights especially sexual orientation & gender identity and expression, access to comprehensive sexuality education, and safe & legal abortion, will further widen adversely impact the existing gender gap & will perpetuate human rights violations.
We recognise that the challenges of our time requires a holistic, intersectional and multidimensional approach. The Beijing Platform is a comprehensive policy framework and challenges in women’s rights and gender equality are intersectional and multidimensional. We do not want piecemeal solutions but approaches that transform women’s lives. We do not want to be at the margins but equal partners in decision making.
While some governments fought long and hard to support the advancement of women’s and girls’ rights, others are undermining the principles of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and their own countries’ commitments to this document and their obligations to uphold our rights of and safeguard the wellbeing of future generations.
The Commission on the Status of Women is one of the oldest UN Commissions. It is time for reform, or dissolution. The Sustainable Development Agenda slogan is leave no one behind: but if we do not move ahead, we have to leave you behind. This structure must change or learn from fairer models such as the tripartite structure of the ILO. Like trade unions have recognition within the ILO of being equal partners, we demand that civil society including feminist movements must be in the room, speaking as equal partners. The CSW bureau can no longer be just member states. We demand civil society seats on the bureau. We demand that intergovernmental agencies consult with us openly and do not hide information from us because they are beholden to member states funding them. We demand that all member states pay their dues to the UN system and not use delay as a tactic to get what they want politically.
You have all acknowledged that civil society is the driver of change, carries important expertise and even delivers services where governments cannot or will not. But you have failed to safeguard our rights or to listen to women and girls in all their diversities. You have failed to act on a planetary crisis that is coming faster for all of us every moment we do not even recognise it. We do not accept this. This climate crisis and emergency will not wait for another five years for the Pacific, will not wait till the COP. There will be no Beijing Plus 30 in Bangkok if governments refuse to acknowledge how much women’s movements are contributing and demanding to be here. If this is how it is, we are now not going to waste our resources and energies in organising and be here to silently wait in corridors while you compromise on our lives. We emphasise, nothing about us without us.
We are more than 150 civil society organisations, of diverse women and girls, rural women, older women, women with disabilities, single and widows, sex workers, lesbian, bisexual women, , women from religious minority communities, Dalits, ethnic minorities, Indigenous women, refugees, displaced and stateless women, people with intersex variations, trans and non-binary persons. There are CSOs working for the rights of women and girls with disabilities who are here for inclusion of issues such as accessibility, reasonable accommodation , support systems, inclusive policies and programmes. But there were no opportunities to share their voices in such a forum.
We and other movements have gone on strike to fight for what the system is not giving to us.
We are telling you that we can do it again. We honour and celebrate Beijing and the hard fought victories of our radical foremothers by going on strike on March 8. Governments who want to erase women’s and girls’ human rights may think that you have the authority and the power. You do not. You can threaten us, imprison us, surveill us, file cases and ignore our deaths when patriarchy kills us.
But we are the movement. We are the people. We are the power. The revolution starts with us. We will show you on 8 March 2020 : when the women stop, the world stops.
YK Sandhya, Sahyog, India
28h November, 2019
Thank you Chair
Accountability is a State obligation.
It is the State’s obligation to ensure protection, safety, security and autonomy of all women human rights defenders to act in the interest of women and girls’ human rights and gender equality. Women’s and girls’ participation must be meaningful and visible, particularly those from marginalised communities. They are not mere beneficiaries. They are contributors and are integral to accountability processes.
We Call on Member States to:
- Implement mechanisms and laws to address the rising violence occurring in diverse ways across the life-course of women and girls affecting them in their multiple identities and roles.
- Ensure implementation of UNSCR1325 on Women Peace and Security and subsequent resolutions.
- Allocate adequate finance and resources to create and strengthen the gender architecture, including national women’s machineries, audit and human rights institutions.
- Ensure robust, transparent, participatory and active monitoring mechanisms from governments at all levels. Civil society must be able to access government policies, data and decision-making processes.
- Collect and make publicly available intersectional gender and age – disaggregated data.
- Regulate the private sector and enterprises by bringing them under human rights mechanisms.
- Ensure all national policies are inclusive and non-discriminatory and sensitive to the rights of all, to uphold the highest standard of human rights, including SRHR.
It is unacceptable that civil society representatives are prevented from attending decision making forums by their own governments. Thank you.
Ruth Manorama, NAWO, India
28h November, 2019
Good morning. My name is Ruth Manorama and I speak on behalf of the civil society.
Expand the scope and spectrum of VAWG to take into consideration the emerging, and targeted forms of violence against women human rights defenders and all marginalised groups in their full diversity as mentioned in our CSO statement.
- To support the recommendation of the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women to uphold the absence of consent as a legal standard in Rape Laws.
- Intensify implementation of legislative protection, provide financing for restorative justice and social support for women and girl survivors of violence and women human rights defenders.
- Fulfill commitments to women Peace and security agenda in line with Human Rights Resolution including 1325 on women, peace and security and other subsequent resolutions, and ensure the participation of women’s groups.
- Uphold Sexualilty and Reproductive Health and Rights of women and girls in all their diversity, including access to evidence and rights-based, non-discriminatory, and gender-sensitive CSE in all forms of education; repeal discriminatory laws that denies access to information services, including decrminalisation of abortion, sex work, and consensual same-sex relations.
Cham Perez, Center for Women’s Resources, Philippines
28h November, 2019
Good morning. My name is Cielto Perez and I speak on behalf of the civil society.
The current neoliberal economic system means that Governments have failed to protect the rights of women and girls in the world of work. The inclusion of the private sector, as mentioned by one of the panelists this morning, will only perpetuate multinational corporations’ access to women’s underpaid and overworked labour, while also continuing the exploitation of patriarchal gender dynamics that burden girls and women.
So more private sector involvement is not the solution, but recognising and redistributing women’s unpaid work is. So legislating and implementing the ILO living wage agenda, addressing gendered labour market segregation and the gender pay gap is what needs to be done. We feel more can be said of coverage of informal, including homeworkers, migrant workers and refugees and stateless people, regardless of status, in labour legislation and universal social protection floors, as well as the ratification of C189.
We call on Governments in Asia Pacific to:
- Implement, and uphold “equal pay for work of equal value”
- End violence and harassment in the world of work, including through the ratification of C190
- Recognise, reduce and redistribute unpaid work
- Ensure accessible, quality, and gender responsive public services and social protection
- Ensure private sector accountability
- Ensure that migration for labour is a choice and not a crisis mitigation strategy
We urge the member states to ensure the primacy of women’s human rights in the world of work. Because if women stop, the world stops.
Saku, Center for Human Rights and Development (CHRD), Mongolia
27th November, 2019
- Thank you chair. I speak on behalf of over 230 civil society organisations represented in this meeting.
- We have heard many member states speak about partnership. Partnership must be premised on the basis of accountability and the principle of international solidarity and multilateralism as enshrined in key international instruments including the Charter of the United Nations. (the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Declaration on the Right to Development, in the Rio Declaration, and in the Millennium Declaration). The Millennium Declaration specifies the principles: “Global challenges must be managed in a way that distributes the costs and burdens fairly in accordance with basic principles of equity and social justice. Those who suffer or who benefit least deserve help from those who benefit most.”
- We encourage ESCAP and member states to consider convening a regional conference on women every 2-3 years, learning from the experience of Latin American and Carribean countries, as a dedicated space for discussion, periodic assessments and concrete actions to advance women’s human rights, gender equality and Development Justice.
- Overall, we also look forward to greater resources and institutional support for UN Women to perform its normative, operational and coordination mandate, since it was established as part of the global gender architecture as the UN entity for gender equality and empowerment of women.