Category Archives: WOMEN’S EQUALITY

United Nations: Strengthening women’s meaningful participation in peace processes

. WOMEN’S EQUALITY .

An article from UN Women

Worldwide, complex conflicts and humanitarian crises continue to ravage communities and hinder the overall well-being and prosperity of societies. Women are often the most impacted by these crises, bearing the brunt of conflict and paying a higher price of the devastation – from increased gender discrimination and violence, to the waning of gender-sensitive structures and programming. Still, they remain largely excluded from participating in peace processes, despite overwhelming evidence showing that women’s involvement in peacebuilding and mediation leads to lasting, positive peace that goes well beyond just the silencing of guns.


Left: Kawkab Al-Thaibani. Right: Odi Lagi. Photos courtesy of each.

Although important strides have been made since the adoption of the United Nations Security Council resolution 1325 in 2000, women’s direct participation and representation in formal peace processes continues to be the one area that lags behind in the implementation of the  empowering women leaders to participate in peacebuilding becomes increasingly crucial. Women who participate in peace processes tend to represent broader and more diverse constituencies, ensuring a range of views and interests are represented and peace processes are fully democratized.

Using digital and online tools to foster women’s participation in peacebuilding

Amera Malek is a Syrian activist in the field of Women, Peace and Security and, as the director of MAUJ for Development (previously Radio Souriat), she is familiar with digital technologies and the use of tools to enhance women’s voices and gather support. “We launched our online radio in 2014 as a media initiative and platform that provides a voice for Syrian women, tackling issues affecting them – from honor killings to sexual harassment, and more – and addressing wider societal problems from a gender perspective,” says Malek. “We started out by broadcasting programmes and live talks, bringing together women from all walks of life and taking into account their specific needs and situations.”

As the Syrian conflict went on and power cuts and other disruptions became more frequent, Radio Souriat turned to social media as a new outlet for their activism. “In complex, conflict-afflicted contexts such as the Syrian one, new tools must be deployed to foster participation and mobilize a country-wide support base. On top of our radio work, we’ve taken on producing visual and audio assets for dissemination on social media, which has enabled us to continue to reach out to and engage with communities.”

In June 2020, Radio Souriat changed its name to MAUJ for Development, a community-based, not-for-profit foundation guided by feminist principles. MAUJ works on four strategic programmes: supporting pluralism and community cohesion, promoting women participation in public life, producing gender-sensitive media content, and ensuring sustainable resources. From its headquarters in al-Nabk, MAUJ reaches women across the country and beyond, supporting them to voice their opinions and be informed on issues that directly affect their lives.

While digital tools have created an unprecedented opportunity to democratize peace efforts, making them more transparent and inclusive, some issues remain to be addressed. “We see that women are more likely to participate in online discussions because they can do so anonymously and flexibly, balancing their care burdens,” says Malek. “Yet, we must ensure these methods are underpinned by robust gender analysis. We must continue to leverage the huge potential of digital tools for constituency-building while ensuring that existing discrepancies in accessing digital tools do not further inequalities.”

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Questions for this article

Does the UN advance equality for women?

Prospects for progress in women’s equality, what are the short and long term prospects?

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Bringing together women civil society actors and political representatives

Kawkab Al-Thaibani is the co-founder of Women4Yemen, a network of women working in media, human rights and civil society, which mobilizes and empowers women to foster peace and achieve stability for Yemen. As part of her work, she has been seeking to close the gap between women’s grassroots initiatives for peace and decision-making spaces.

“Yemeni women are facing huge challenges to access negotiating space and get a seat at the peace table,” says Al-Thaibani. “As the conflict in Yemen continues, women’s representation has decreased quite considerably: for the first time in 20 years, women are absent from the newly formed Cabinet. In this context, it is vital that political leaders expand their constituencies and engage closely with civil society to make sure women’s voices are heard.”

“Yemeni women are the carriers of peace and have been instrumental in leading the country to a more stable and peaceful transition,” she adds. “Yet, we don’t have full legitimacy to support peacemaking initiatives and be involved in the peace process in a meaningful way. More work needs to be done at the government and institutional levels to connect women’s grassroots movements with formal representatives who sit at the decision-making table.”

“While it’s important that representatives build strong civil society constituencies, this per se is not enough. To be credible and for constituencies to be strengthened, politicians must ensure that they represent the interests and views of their communities in peace talks, and that they make themselves accountable for shaping the negotiating agenda, ensuring the requests of women are being dealt with.”

Introducing special temporary measures to increase women’s representation in peacebuilding

Odi Lagi, Program Director of the Network of University Legal Aid Institutions (NULAI), Nigeria, highlights the importance and challenges of gender quotas and other temporary special measures in fostering more gender-inclusive peace processes. “I believe the introduction of quotas as a temporary measure to achieve gender equality in political participation is very much necessary,” says Lagi. “We underestimate the importance for women and girls of seeing women in leadership positions and the power of role-modelling: seeing women in power is the first step toward becoming one. However, quotas also have limitations – their introduction by governments has increasingly become a box-ticking exercise rather than a tool to foster positive change. We need to set a 50/50 benchmark if we truly want to see structural transformation in decision-making spaces.”

In Nigeria, a 30 per cent quota for representation in political processes was introduced in the early 2000s. Since then, women’s participation has been declining and, as conflict escalated, women’s voices have been increasingly ignored. “While instruments like quotas have strong transformative potential, there is also a clear danger that they might restrict greater women’s participation and be used by conflict parties as bargaining chips to appeal to minority and women’s groups, while in fact making little progress in advancing meaningful political inclusion,” adds Lagi.

About the Global Convening

From 7-27 July 2021, UN Women, in partnership with CMI – Martti Ahtisaari Peace Foundation, hosted the global convening on “Gender-Inclusive Peace Processes: Strengthening Women’s Meaningful Participation through Constituency Building.” The conference explored good practices and strategies for gender-inclusive constituency building and the links between constituency building and women’s meaningful participation in formal peace processes, with a focus on the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. It was made possible through a long-term collaboration with, and financial support from, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) in cooperation with Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH and the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

Visit the conference public dashboard on SparkBlue for more information 

African Union: Interview with Special Envoy for Women Peace & Security

. WOMEN’S EQUALITY .

An article from The African Union

In line with the implementation of various programs by the African Union marking 2019 as the year dedicated to refugees, returnees and internally displaced people and galvanizing global visibility on the issues of forced displacements in Africa, the AU Special Envoy on Women, Peace and Security Mme. Bineta Diop shares the findings of her visit to the “Triangle of Death. In the first of a two-part series of “the plight of women and girls as forcibly displaced persons; deliberate actions towards sustainable solutions”,’ she also gives insights into why women and girls are worst affected in the appalling situation of forcibly displaced persons.

1. The adverse effects of forced displacement are more pronounced for women and girls, who ordinarily are less advantaged even in stable communities. 
What unique challenges confront women and girls who are refugees, returnees and IDPs

Migration is the fabric of more inclusive, tolerant and diverse societies. Migration has over the years, enriched cultures and civilizations, with migrants contributing to major advancements in their host societies, hence, the African Union’s call for ease of regional trade, free movement and the introduction of the African Passport, all of which are flagship projects of Agenda 2063. The migration of persons then, only becomes an issue of concern in the context where people are forced to flee their homes. Forced displacement is the worst kind of people’s movement as it means not only losing a home, but entails a disruption of one’s dreams, plans, identity and moving to unfamiliar territories with hopelessness and fear.

The adverse effects of forced displacement are more pronounced for women and girls, who ordinarily are less advantaged even in stable communities. There is a pervasive culture of discrimination, and sexual and gender-based violence are a daily reality. These vices destroy the lives of our women and girls and has devastating consequences to the society at large. As you know, rebuilding a psychologically broken person is not as easy as rebuilding infrastructure. Often times these scars remain for life thereby affecting future generations as women are the nurturers of the young.

Moreover, women, children and family members of actors in the conflict situations are more prone to becoming targets and weapons of war. The Chibok girls are a case in point. In many cases this happens to a whole community of wives and children who are left behind by their husbands and sons.

In 2017 July, I was part of the UN-AU high level Solidarity Mission to the Republic of Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). In both countries, the delegation met grass root women leaders, and the Chibok Girls, who have been rescued from Boko Haram.  There are big camps for IDP’s including the Dalori camp in Nigeria, and the Mugunga IDP camp in the Democratic Republic of Congo. We held a focus group discussion with women IDPs to further gain understanding and learn from their experiences: which are very similar. The women end up trading sex for food, or end up being raped. It is not only sexual violence that they face.

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Questions for this article

Can the women of Africa lead the continent to peace?

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During the same mission we visited an area commonly known as -‘Triangle of Death’- i.e. Beni, Ouicha and Bunia, where we met women refugees living in the most atrocious situations. They had settled, built their huts and were looking after their kids. Earlier that week, they had gone out to fetch firewood and water, and upon their return they saw from afar smoke and the ruins of their huts. Militia men had come and destroyed the whole camp and moved on. This is not uncommon in camps. Women are double victims and the cycle goes on, which is really tragic.

2. Geographically, which areas face these challenges and why?

It is important to note that the issue of refugees and IDPs rarely remains a national issue, it also adversely affects the whole region.

In Africa, recent data shows that the continent hosts at least 6.2 million refugees and asylum seekers. Moreover, the number of IDPs is ever increasing and currently stands at over 16 million. These people are distributed throughout Africa, but mostly in the Sahel, Central Africa, in the Horn of Africa and other volatile places on the continent, such as Libya.  One unfortunate fact is that the trend of people’s displacement and sexual violence worsens as the conflict goes on. It is important to note that the issue of refugees and IDPs rarely remains a national issue, it also adversely affects the whole region. Currently, the G5 is suffering from violent extremism, with the Boko Haram and other violent extremist groups finding their breeding ground and transferring their terrorist activities into neighboring countries thereby destabilizing the region.  

3. Why should forcibly displaced African women and girls residing outside the continent look forward to returning back home?

Despite the common perception and depiction that African migrants and refugees move mostly to Europe, statistics indicate that more than half of migrants and refugees remain on the continent. At the global scale, Africa hosts a third of the world’s refugees and IDPs. This fact has to be interrogated in view of the fact that the host countries host them at great cost to their fragile economies. Moreover, there seems to be fatigue on the part of partners who are not so willing to support the host governments financially, or take on refugees as third country hosts.  Therefore, it is imperative that our solutions be inward looking.

These movements are not necessarily, motivated by pull factors but rather by the push factors. These are mainly insecurity- conflict, poverty and climate change. Devastating droughts have led to refugees crossing onto neighboring countries. This understanding helps us to prioritize our strategy. Women and children are running away in search of safety and security. Therefore, the best way to secure the women and children is to ensure sustainable peace, which in turn will assure development.

It is important to keep in mind that the other face of a migrant and or refugee is that of the youth. The youth, and here I’m referring specifically to the migrants, leave their home countries aspiring for better socio-economic conditions and the potential for access to education and job opportunities. Creating a peaceful environment therefore needs an all-inclusive cross cutting peace building and reconciliatory process where women, youth and other victims are represented. Such dialogue and reconciliation platforms and infrastructure, as well as youth employment has to be prioritized at all levels, including under the AU-UN Joint framework. 

In the second part of this series, Mme. Bineta Diop shares her insights into the synergy in interventions to address the challenges that remain, and how to avert an emergence of new crises. The second part will be published in the July edition of the AU Monthly Newsletter.

A reflection contributions by African women to peace and security agenda in the continent

. WOMEN’S EQUALITY .

An article from The African Union

The African Union (AU) advocates for the meaningful participation and leadership of women and their efforts towards silencing the guns, enhancing good governance, democracy, respect for human rights, justice, the rule of law towards a peaceful and secure Africa as outlined in Agenda 2063. In recognition of African women who have exceptionally advanced the women, peace and security agenda in Africa, the African Union and the United Nations will publish a commemorative book to celebrate the contribution of women in achieving Aspiration 4 of Agenda 2063 and as part of the activities for the 20th anniversary of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security

In July 2019, The African Union Commission (AUC) and the United Nations Office to the African Union (UNOAU) launched the call for nominations of African women who have exceptionally advanced the women, peace and security agenda in Africa. The selected women will be featured in an upcoming commemorative book set to be launched in the year 2020. View the Nominations Page Here

Twenty (20) African women will be featured in the book. A chapter will be dedicated to each woman to share her story or contribution to either of the four pillars of Resolution 1325 namely; prevention, protection, participation and/or relief and recovery as part of the peace and security activities.

The book aims to send a message of encouragement to women across our continent and in the rest of the world, by reflecting the exceptional stories and contributions of women to peace and security on the continent and serve as a learning experience and motivation to other women, especially young women involved in mediation, peacebuilding and peacekeeping activities.

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Questions for this article

Can the women of Africa lead the continent to peace?

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The commemorative book will be launched at the margins of the 33rd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of State and Government of the African Union (AU Summit), scheduled for February 2020 at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. This will also align with the launch of the African Union theme of the year 2020 on Silencing the Guns: Creating Conducive conditions for Africa’s Development.

The AU’s commitment to promoting women’s participation in the peace and security agenda and in Africa’s overall development is demonstrated in its policy formulation and allocation of resources – human, institutional and financial- towards attaining gender equality and women’s empowerment, as a critical goal and strategy in the realisation of Aspiration 6 of Agenda 2063 that recognises the centrality of women in Africa’s development. These efforts also act as a catalyst the achievement of the goals of UN  Security Council Resolution 1325 to further drive the women agenda in the peace and security architecture.

In 2014, Mme. Bineta Diop  was appointed as the AU Special Envoy on Women, Peace and Security mandated to promote and elevate the voices of women in conflict prevention, management and resolution, as well as advocate for the protection of their rights, including putting an end to sexual and gender-based violence. Her efforts are also complemented by other mechanisms such as the Network of African Women in Conflict Prevention and Mediation – commonly known as FemWise-Africa. FemWise-Africa has vigorously mobilised women and girls from all over the continent and the Diaspora as it aims to promote and professionalise the role of African women in mediation processes, conflict prevention and peace-making efforts. 

Over the years, Africa has also developed strong, progressive and articulate policies to support the commitment towards the realisation of real transformation for gender equality and women’s empowerment. To ensure effective assessment of, and reporting on the delivery of the commitments at the continental, regional and national levels in Africa, the AU Continental Results Framework (CRF) for Monitoring and Reporting on the Implementation of the WPS Agenda in Africa is a key reference tool and it provides twenty-eight (28) indicators for tracking and reporting on the implementation of the WPS Agenda. 

Read- Continental Results Framework (CRF) for Monitoring and Reporting on the Implementation of the WPS Agenda in Africa.
 
For More Information, read : CONTINENTAL RESULTS FRAMEWORK

United Nations: Landmark gender equality forum concludes with concrete commitments, plan to advance parity by 2026 

. WOMEN’S EQUALITY .

An article from the United Nations

With the chief of the UN’s gender empowerment agency declaring that women are still “sitting in the corridors when men are inside at the table negotiating peace”, the historic Generation Equality Forum  in Paris concluded on Friday [July 2] with new commitments designed to address that, and other injustices.


Photo: UN Women

Close to $40 billion was pledged in new investments, as well as ambitious policy and programme commitments from governments, civil society and others, to help fuel a new global five-year action plan to accelerate true gender parity, by 2026.  
“The Generation Equality Forum marks a positive, historic shift in power and perspective”, said  Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women. 

The Forum has been held at a critical moment, as the world assesses the disproportionate and damaging impact of the  COVID-19 pandemic on women and girls. 

Gender equality advocates took the opportunity to press for gender-responsive stimulus and recovery plans to ensure that women and girls are not left behind as the world re-builds. 

Timely commitments  

The $40 billion in investments represent a major step-change in resourcing for women’s and girls’ rights, as lack of financing has been a major reason for slow progress in advancing gender equality and in enacting the women’s rights agenda of the milestone 1995 Beijing Conference, according to UN Women.
  
Governments and public sector institutions have committed to $21 billion spending on gender equality investments, the private sector $13 billion and philanthropy $4.5 billion.
  
UN entities, international and regional organizations committed an aggregate of $1.3 billion.  

“The Forum’s ecosystem of partners – and the investments, commitments and energy they are bringing to confront the greatest barriers to gender equality – will ensure faster progress for the world’s women and girls than we have seen before”, said the head of UN Women. 

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(Click here for the article in French.)

Questions for this article

Does the UN advance equality for women?

Prospects for progress in women’s equality, what are the short and long term prospects?

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Multilateral approach
 
Many organizations have made strong policy and program commitments, including 440 civil society organizations and 94 youth-led organizations.  

Hosting the event, the French Ambassador and Secretary-General of the Forum, Delphine O, said the it had “reversed the priorities on the international agenda and made gender equality, for too long underestimated, a long-term issue for the international community, along with climate, education and health. France will continue to be at the forefront to accelerate gender equality progress”. 

Others speak out 

UN Women Goodwill Ambassador, Anne Hathaway, gave her personal commitment to “continue to be a global advocate for the legal and policy changes that will empower both women and men to begin the equal distribution of care responsibilities that will help change our world”. 

Former US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power, who now heads the US international development agency, USAID, offered “a simple message, informed by decades of evidence: if you want peace in this world, trust women to deliver it”. 

African Union Goodwill Ambassador on Ending Child Marriage, Nyaradzayi 
Gumbonzvanda, said: “This week, I relived the experience of 1995, when I was a young women’s rights activist at the Beijing Conference…Now it’s time to invest in girls and young women even more – for resources to reach rural and marginalized communities, for technology for public good and available to all, and for Member States’ greater accountability to human rights of women and girls”. 

Taking the lead 

Over the past three days, the Forum engaged nearly 50,000 people in a mainly virtual format to rapidly advance of gender justice.  
It launched a  Global Acceleration Plan for Gender Equality  designed by six Action Coalitions, partnerships that have identified the most critical actions required to achieve gender equality, ranging from gender-based violence and technology to economic and climate justice.  

The Forum also launched a Compact on Women, Peace and Security and Humanitarian Action, and announced new gender equality initiatives focused on health, sports, culture, and education. 

UN Women will maintain a critical role driving the Forum’s 5-year action plan, overseeing the implementation of commitments to ensure accountability and progress. 

“Together we have mobilized across different sectors of society, from south to north, to become a formidable force, ready to open a new chapter in gender equality”, said Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka.

(Thank you to Phyllis Kotite, the CPNN reporter for this article.)

Women from several African countries trained in the culture of peace

. WOMEN’S EQUALITY .

An article from Abidjan News (translation by CPNN)

Delegations of women from several African countries have been participating, since Tuesday, June 29, 2021, in Yamoussoukro, in a training workshop in peace education and socioeconomic empowerment. The workshop is organized by the Houphouët-Boigny foundation for the search for peace, the conference of ministers of youth and sports of the Francophonie (CONFEJES) and the organization of the Islamic world for education, science and culture (ICESCO).


Dr Diénéba Doumbia at the microphone

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(Click here for the original in French)

Questions for this article

Can the women of Africa lead the continent to peace?

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“This workshop is an opportunity for training, and also a space for sharing experiences and actions carried out in our countries”, noted the secretary general of the Houphouët-Boigny Foundation, Prof. Jean-Noël Loucou. He affirmed the determination of his institution to follow it up “to increase efficiency on the ground.”

The training is provided by the regional center for education and the culture of peace (CRECP), a structure housed at the Houphouët-Boigny foundation with the vocation of strengthening the capacities of educational executives and others in the political, administrative and economic spheres of French-speaking African states that are members of ICESCO.

CRECP has thus already trained educational executives, communication professionals, human rights advocates and youth associations, it was recalled.

“Women cannot remain on the sidelines of our priorities. For this, we need to take into account the issue of gender and education for a culture of peace as a new and promising theme allowing everyone to truly play the role of mediators, educators, actors. of peace and reconcilers,” underlined the director of CRECP, Dr Diénéba Doumbia.

Mentoring: around fifty women at the WANEP-GUINEA school

. WOMEN’S EQUALITY .

An article by Abdoulaye Barry in RTG Koloma (translation by CPNN)

In order to allow women to further develop the culture of peace, the Wanep-Guinea network through its project called “Mentoring of Young Women” under funding from USAID, opened a training workshop on Tuesday, June 29, 2021with the participation of about fifty women. The training enables a sharing of experiences between women with strong experience in their professional career and young women at the start of their careers.

According to the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Wanep-Guinea, Joseph Togna Doré, “the development of a mentoring process for the promotion of young women in our country through meetings for exchange and sharing of experience is at the heart of the major concerns of the Wanep-Guinea network and its member organizations. It is for this reason that we initiated this project which was funded by USAID with our partners the CRS in order to allow the communities of Conakry and those of Upper Guinea to develop the culture of peace. The goal is to develop greater prosperity and coherent development for these young women, ”said the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Wanep-Guinea network.

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Questions for this article

Can the women of Africa lead the continent to peace?

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While inviting the participants to redouble their efforts for a Guinea of ​​peace and prosperity, the President of the Board of Directors of WANEP-GUINEE “hopes that this day of training” will lead to the commitment of each of the participants for the achievement of the expected results of this project ”.

Coming to share her experiences with these young women, Madame Fatou Souaré ANN Executive Director of the NGO Wafrica-Guinée (Femmes Afriques) finds this training very important. ”It will allow us the elders to make available to young women our experiences and knowledge. It’s a sharing of experience, because there are girls among you who have knowledge that our elders do not know being of the digital generation. This workshop will allow you to go through paths where you will not be faced with great difficulties like us. We are here to tell you to take advantage of this training. And you invite each of you to find a mentor who is a guide. People to whom you must go and who will guide you on the right path. We who share our experiences with you today are always looking for mentors to guide us and assist us in our various actions.”

For Batouly Kaba Deputy National Director of the Ministry of Women’s Rights and Empowerment, “The question of the protection and promotion of the rights of young women, in the management, prevention and consolidation of peace in professional bodies is one of the government’s priorities ”.

This is why, she adds. “It is undeniable that our country will continue to be sick if we do not change the paradigm of excluding women who make up 52% ​​of the population. The objectives of the project are noble and perfectly match those of the department of women’s rights issues.”

(Click here for the original in French)

Nigeria: Osun, Kaduna First Ladies emerge leaders of governors’ wives forum

. WOMEN’S EQUALITY .

An article from Priscilla Ediare, Ado-Ekiti in The Sun

The First Ladies of Osun and Kaduna States, Mrs Kafayat Oyetola and Mrs Hadiza El-Rufai have been elected chairpersons of the Southern Governors’ Wives Forum and Northern Governors’ Wives Forum respectively.

Their election was contained in a Statement signed by the Wife of the Governor of Ekiti State and Chairperson of the Nigerian Governors’ Wives Forum (NGWF), Erelu Bisi Fayemi and made available to journalists on Thursday.

Erelu Fayemi congratulated the duo, stressing that she was optimistic that their emergence as new leaders will further help the Forum to work together “in solidarity across boundaries” in addressing issues of mutual concerns.

Mrs Fayemi who noted that the Wives of Governors have always played discreet but active roles in providing support for their husbands, stated that members of the Forum can contribute in their little ways towards the development needs of the country.

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Questions for this article

Can the women of Africa lead the continent to peace?

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She noted that the Forum had succeeded in ensuring increased participation of women in governance, building a culture of peace in communities across the country and advocating access to education for girls.

The Ekiti State First Lady identified other efforts of the Forum to include provision of women healthcare needs, economic empowerment, advocating against drug abuse and responding to curb sexual and gender-based violence.

She commended the First Lady, Dr Aisha Buhari for all her encouragement and support for the works handled by the Governors’ Wives.

“On behalf of the Nigerian Governors’ Wives Forum, I hereby congratulate Mrs Kafayat Oyetola, First Lady of Osun State, the newly elected Chair of the Southern Governors’ Wives Forum and Mrs Hadiza El-Rufai, First Lady of Kaduna State and new Chair of the Northern Governors’ Wives Forum. Wives of Nigerian Governors have always played a discreet, yet active role to support the efforts of their husbands. By working together in solidarity across boundaries, we can address issues of mutual concern to us.”

“Through our collective work in responding to sexual and gender-based violence, access to education for girls, women’s healthcare needs, economic empowerment of women, advocacy against drug abuse, increased numbers of women in public life and building a culture of peace in our communities, we can contribute in our own small way towards the development needs of our country. I also thank HE (Dr) Aisha Buhari, First Lady Federal Republic of Nigeria, for all her encouragement and support for the work that we do as Governors’ Wives”, she said.

African women propose a 10-year plan for gender equality in Africa at the Generation Equality Forum in Paris

. WOMEN’S EQUALITY .

A press release from APO reprinted by Africa Newsroom

The proposed Kinshasa Declaration, launched today at the Generation Equality Forum [Paris, July 2], outlines concrete actions for African Union member countries to advance gender equality in Africa by 2030; The proposed Kinshasa Declaration calls for doubling the number of women’s organizations that can access funds from national economic stimulus programs and external funding.

A delegation of African women led by Her Excellency Madame Gisèle Ndaya, Minister of Gender, Family and Children of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Madame Julienne Lusenge, gender expert on the Panel of Experts in charge of accompanying President Félix-Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo during his presidency of the African Union for 2021/2022 shared the proposed Kinshasa Declaration on the sidelines of the Generation Equality Forum (bit.ly/3wdRHDZ)  being held in Paris from June 30 to July 2.

The proposed Kinshasa Declaration, drafted during the Conference on Gender Equality held in Kinshasa on June 10, is the result of a large mobilization of pan-African groups including youth, civil society, researchers, government officials, activists and international organizations. One of the main objectives of the conference was to show the collective capacity of the participants and organizers  to foster a more just world, where gender equality is no longer a struggle but a reality for future generations.

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(Click here for a version in French)

Questions for this article

Can the women of Africa lead the continent to peace?

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The proposed Kinshasa Declaration builds on existing texts on gender equality in Africa and a series of new recommendations. Its goal is to encourage the member states of the African Union to expand their actions in favor of gender equality and to put in place strong systems to evaluate progress.

For the Minister of Gender, Family and Children of the DRC, Ms. Gisèle Ndaya, this declaration offers concrete proposals for the member countries of the African Union. She highlighted that “one of the key recommendations of the declaration is to campaign for a quota system of at least 40% of women, including 10% of young women under 35 years of age in national government bodies, and in elective and nominative positions, by 2030, in order to increase the rate of women’s participation in decision-making bodies on the African continent. ”

Julienne Lusenge, member of the Panel of Experts in charge of accompanying the DRC during its chairmanship of the African Union for the year 2021/2022 said: “This proposed declaration makes a crucial contribution to the AU Strategy for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment by proposing concrete actions and tools for measuring success towards gender equality in Africa by 2030. Through this proposed Declaration, we call for, among other measures, the development and strengthening of human rights and culture of peace curricula in at least 50% of primary and secondary schools, including the integration of age-appropriate information on existing laws, conventions, and action plans with a focus on gender equality and positive masculinity by 2030. ”

According to the delegation, the proposed Kinshasa Declaration will be shared with African Union stakeholders, member states, civil society, international organizations and relevant bodies within African governments after the Generation Equality Forum. The objective is to the adoption of this Declaration at the next meeting of the African Union in 2022.

Women must no longer be ‘squeezed into a small corner’, landmark Forum declares 

. WOMEN’S EQUALITY .

An article from the United Nations News Service

In a bid to put gender equality at the heart of COVID recovery, UN Women kicked off a three-day “landmark effort” in Paris on Wednesday, aiming to lay out ambitious investments and policies to bridge the chasm between where women stand in the world today, and where they should be, by 2030.
 
“Gender equality is essentially about power, and power in a world that is still largely male dominated, with a culture that is still largely patriarchal”, Secretary-General António Guterres said at the Generation Equality Forum, launching a “five-year action journey”, based on the UN Global Acceleration Plan for Gender Equality


UN Women/Johis Alarcón People protest in a demonstration for women’s rights in Ecuador.

Noting that “power is very rarely given. You have to take it”, he stressed as one of his five priorities, the importance of parity to redistribute power and create the necessary conditions for true equality.  

Setting priorities 

The UN chief said that to achieve equal rights, discriminatory laws around the world must be repealed and transformed into ‘de facto’ equality.  

He said women in the informal economy, were “paying a heavy price for the pandemic”, also highlighting economic equality in pay, employment, and social protections. 

Noting a surge in violence against women and girls during COVID, Mr. Guterres said that putting an end to it must be “a central element of all policies and all of our objectives”.
  
Finally, he highlighted the importance of intergenerational dialogue as “another fundamental instrument for gender equality” to allow young people to be a part of decision-making in today’s digital society. 
 
Women worth more than a quarter 

In her statement, UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, said that “women everywhere in the world are squeezed into a small corner”.  

She highlighted how they make up a quarter of all managers, parliamentarians, climate change negotiators and “less than one quarter of those who negotiate peace agreements”.  

“One quarter is not enough. One quarter is not equality. Equality is one half, where both men and women are together”, she spelled out. 

Moving forward 

Generation Equality is about change, the UN Women chief said, it’s about “moving from making promises” to saying what has been done to advance women worldwide. 

She detailed that Member States, the private sector and others, have made nearly 1,000 commitments to change the lives of women, including to change policies.  
However, Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka continued, “the fight still has to continue…We need to be pushing upwards all the time, so that there is a race to the top” 

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(Click here for the article in French or here for Spanish.)

Questions for this article

Does the UN advance equality for women?

Prospects for progress in women’s equality, what are the short and long term prospects?

(continued from left column)

Stepping up funds 

The UN Women chief concluded by detailing that countries of the Global South, regional organizations, young people and civil society groups, have all “put their foot forward” raising $40 billion, saying “and we are still counting”. 

Meanwhile, Chancellor Angela Merkel declared that Germany “is actively involved in the Action Coalition on Economic Justice and Rights” and would invest an “additional €140 million, making a total of around €240 million in the International Action Coalition”. 

And the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced that it would spend $2.1 billion to advance global gender equality. 

Achieving ‘tangible progress’ 

At the same time, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) launched a set of commitments  to achieve “tangible progress” towards gender equality over the next five years. 

The UN agency will support girls’ education  with quality gender-transformative teaching for 28 million learners in over 80 countries; work to close the digital gender divide, empower women scientists, and promote ethical Artificial Intelligence; and in Africa, empower  women economically in creative industries.  

UNESCO chief Audrey Azoulay had called upon women worldwide to “take control and full leadership in every aspect of life and domain of society to build back a better future for all”. 

Co-host comments 

Co-hosting the event, French President Emmanuel Macron said that the struggle for gender equality is “far from won”. 
 
“It’s a battle today, but tomorrow it must be a matter of fact”, he underscored.
  
His counterpart, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, President of Mexico, said: “We must continue to fight against sexism. We must not forget economic and social equality, which is fundamental to achieve a better society”.  

Call to action from Clinton, Harris 

United States Vice President Kamala Harris, warned that “democracy is in peril” around the world. 

“I believe, resolutely, that if we want to strengthen democracy, we must fight for gender equality…Democracy is strongest when everyone participates – and it is weaker when people are left out…without doubt, gender equality strengthens democracy”, she said. 

Back in1995, at the World Conference on Women  in Beijing, then-First Lady Hillary Clinton proclaimed: “Human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights once and for all” . 

At today’s meeting she sent a message that “it’s no longer enough to talk about women’s rights…[as] they are nothing without the power to claim them. And we know that when women have the power to raise our voices, assert our rights, and rebuild economies, everyone will be better off”. 

Marija Pejčinović Burić, Secretary General of the Council of Europe, drew attention to the Convention on preventing and combating violence against women, or the Istanbul Convention

“Last year, we saw a surge in domestic violence during COVID lockdowns. The Convention provides three advantages that no country alone can: it raises national standards; provides a monitoring mechanism; and ensures co-operation between governments in the prosecution of these crimes”, she said.

(Thank you to Phyllis Kotite, the CPNN reporter for this article.)

United Nations Committee on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women Holds General Discussion on Rights of Indigenous Women

. WOMEN’S EQUALITY .

An article from United Nations Geneva

The Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women today held a discussion on the rights of Indigenous women and girls.

The first part of the general discussion focused on equality and non-discrimination with a focus on Indigenous women and girls and intersecting forms of discrimination.

In her opening remarks, Gladys Acosta Vargas, Committee Chairperson, said today’s discussion was the first step in the process of elaborating a general recommendation for the rights of Indigenous women and girls, and provided an opportunity for the Committee to receive input in that context. Underlining that rights had individual and collective dimensions, the Chairperson said self-identification determined who was an Indigenous woman or girl.

Paulo David, Chief of the Indigenous Peoples and Minorities Section of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, said the Committee’s consolidation of its past work and findings in the form of a general recommendation would clarify and reinforce the normative legal framework at a point in time when the rights of Indigenous women and girls remained fragile in several countries. Commending the Committee for its pioneering work on embedding an intersectional approach in the understanding of States’ obligations, he stressed that not all women and girls experienced discrimination in the same way.

Francisco Calí Tzay, Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous People, recommended that the Convention for the Elimination of Discrimination Against All Women be interpreted in light of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, Executive Director of Tebtebba Foundation, said that a false dichotomy between individual and collective rights had been promoted both in the Indigenous peoples’ movement and the women’s movement; the active participation of Indigenous women in that debate allowed it to be better handled now.

Laila Vars, Chair of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, stressed that it would be important for the Committee to highlight the interplay between collective and individual rights in its upcoming general recommendation.

Speaking were: Sweden, Ukraine, Argentina, Denmark, Armenia, Ecuador, and Brazil, UN Women and the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Also taking the floor were the following national human rights institutions and non-governmental organizations: The National Human Rights Commission of India, The Union of BC Indian Chiefs, Indigenous Girls and Women Collective, Colectiva Ixpop, Canadian Aboriginal AIDS Network, MADRE – Rosa Luxembourg Stiftung, Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact, Organizaci ón Nacional de Mujeres Indígenas Andinas y Amazónicas del Perú, Right Livelihood Award Foundation and Centro por la Justicia y Derechos Humanos de la Costa Atlántica de Nicaragua , and the Centre for Reproductive Rights.

The Committee then turned to the second part of the general discussion, which concerned the effective participation, consultation and consent of Indigenous women and girls in political and public life.

Anne Nuorgam, President of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, said Indigenous women were survivors who had an important role to play in peacebuilding and conflict resolution. Patriarchy, racism and discrimination were central factors in Indigenous women’s limited access to political participation.

Tarcila Rivera Zea, President of the Executive Council of the Centro de Culturas Indígenas del Perú, remarked that that since existing instruments did not fully reflect the realities of Indigenous women, it was cause for hope that the Committee was moving toward the adoption of a general recommendation which might do so.

Speaking were Peru, Brazil, Norway, Guatemala, the United Kingdom, and Spain.

Also taking the floor were the following national human rights institutions and non-governmental organizations: State Committee for Family, Women, and Children Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Consejo Nacional para la Igualdad de Género de Ecuador, Philippines National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, The National Human Rights Commission of India, African Indigenous Women’s Organization, International Indigenous Women’s Forum, Article 19, Colectiva IXPOP, National Indigenous Disabled Women Association Nepal, Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action, MADRE—Rosa Luxembourg Stiftung, Tebtebba (Indigenous People’s International Centre for Policy Research and Education), Human Rights Council of Greenland, ESCR-Net International Network for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Maat for Peace, Development and Human Rights Association, Grupo Santo Domingo Soriano, and another non-governmental organization.

All the documents relating to the Committee’s work, including reports submitted by States parties, can be found on the session’s webpage.

The webcast of the Committee’s public meetings will be available via the following link: http://webtv.un.org/meetings-events/.

The Committee will reconvene on Thursday 1 July to close the seventy-ninth session.

General discussion part 1: “ Equality and non-discrimination with a focus on Indigenous women and girls and intersecting forms of discrimination”

Opening remarks

GLADYS ACOSTA VARGAS, Committee Chairperson, said that the Committee was very pleased with the positive response to its invitation to stakeholders to participate in this day of general discussion. Thanking those who had provided written submissions, she said she had received more than 70. All written and pre-recorded video statements received would be posted on the website of the Office for the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Today’s discussion was the first step in the process of elaborating a general recommendation for the rights of Indigenous women and girls, and provided an opportunity for the Committee to receive input in that context. Underlining that rights had individual and collective dimensions, the Chairperson said self-identification determined who was an Indigenous woman or girl. Different forms of discrimination were always mixed, intersecting, and mutually reinforcing, she added.

PAULO DAVID, Chief of the Indigenous Peoples and Minorities Section of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, said giving close and systematic attention to Indigenous women and girls’ rights had made a difference in many States Parties. The Committee’s consolidation of its past work and findings in the form of a general recommendation would clarify and reinforce the normative legal framework at a point in time when the rights of Indigenous women and girls remained fragile in several countries. It was crucial to link the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to the Committee’s forthcoming general recommendation. The Declaration had been a considerable step forward, and was the result of 30 years of constructive consultation with Member States and Indigenous representatives, he recalled. The Declaration recognized rights that would no doubt feature in the general recommendation.

Commending the Committee for its pioneering work on embedding an intersectional approach in the understanding of States’ obligations, he stressed that not all women and girls experienced discrimination in the same way. This held true for Indigenous women and girls who were not an homogenous group: they spoke different languages, faced different challenges and multiple and overlapping forms of discrimination. Such forms of discrimination could be based on factors such as gender, age, ethnicity, disability, status, poverty or colonialism. Their right to self-determination was linked to their deep connection to ancestral lands and territories, as well as to natural resources. The COVID-19 pandemic had exacerbated racism against Indigenous peoples across all continents, with Indigenous women facing additional risks related to gender-based violence, he added.

Keynote presentations

FRANCISCO CALÍ TZAY, Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous People, recommended that the Convention for the Elimination of Discrimination Against All Women be interpreted in light of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. He invited the Committee to follow the example of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination by inviting Indigenous women and girls to consultations as it drafted a general recommandation on Indigenous rights.

VICTORIA TAULI-CORPUZ, Executive Director of Tebtebba Foundation, said that, when examining the rights of Indigenous women and girls, it was vital to consider the unique historical and current experiences of Indigenous communities. A false dichotomy between individual and collective rights had been promoted both in the Indigenous peoples’ movement and the women’s movement; the active participation of Indigenous women in that debate allowed it to be better handled now.

LAILA VARS, Chair of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, noted that the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples placed collective rights at the centre of the international human rights framework. She added that it would be important for the Committee to highlight the interplay between collective and individual rights in its upcoming general recommendation. She further urged the Committee to consider including recommendations on the need for investment in leadership of women and girls in Indigenous communities and decision-making structures.

Statements by States

Sweden said Indigenous women who were human rights defenders experienced complex, multidimensional and mutually reinforcing human rights violations and abuses, especially if they challenged traditional gender roles. That had to stop. States had a responsibility to uphold human rights, and ensure a safe and enabling environment for human rights defenders. Sweden would continue to implement its feminist foreign policy.

Ukraine said a draft national law on Indigenous peoples aimed to promote the rights of Indigenous peoples as prescribed by the United Nations Declaration, despite a disinformation campaign aiming to discredit the effort. As many Crimean Tatar men were detained, women had to be breadwinners and “champions for justice” in the face of Islamophobia, sexism and intimidation.

Argentina said that its National Institute of Indigenous Women had a rights-based focus. Nationally, dialogues on gender-based violence against Indigenous women were underway. As for access to sexual and reproductive rights, while there were challenges in empowering women, the State was trying to use different strategies to achieve progress.

Denmark, also speaking on behalf of Greenland, welcomed the Committee’s effort to elaborate a general recommendation on the rights of Indigenous women and girls. Indigenous women faced significant barriers to their sexual and reproductive health and rights, such as a lack of information and services. Support for Indigenous women’s organizations was vital.

Armenia welcomed the Committee’s decision to focus on addressing specific and multifaceted barriers faced by Indigenous women and girls. Against the backdrop of climate change and environmental degradation, the strong connection of Indigenous peoples to natural resources should be nurtured and appreciated. The economic rights and empowerment of Indigenous women were particularly significant in that regard.

Ecuador said its National Council for the Equality of Peoples and Nationalities sought to ensure respect for the right to equality and non-discrimination. Ecuador aimed to have a “culture of peace” that developed human capacity, focusing on equality and non-discrimination. Its equality agenda encompassed fields such as education and health.

Brazil said Indigenous women faced many challenges on a daily basis, such as economic challenges, and challenges in accessing health services. Illiteracy was a barrier to participation in political processes. A lack of economic and social participation of Indigenous women contributed to inequality; however Indigenous women should not be considered as simple victims. More Indigenous women in leadership roles would contribute to addressing structural problems.

Statements by United Nations bodies

UN Women said its regional office for Latin America and the Caribbean was working closely with Indigenous women and girls. The proposed general recommendation should recognize the link between Indigenous women and Mother Earth, water, and the land. Indigenous women’s presence in public life should be strengthened, and the multiple forms of violence suffered by Indigenous women and girls should be eliminated.

The Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities said Indigenous women with disabilities were not identified in statistics, and this prevented their inclusion in public policies. Women and girls with disabilities, including Indigenous peoples living in remote areas, must be empowered; they needed means of communication such as sign language.

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Questions for this article

Does the UN advance equality for women?

Prospects for progress in women’s equality, what are the short and long term prospects?

(continued from left column)

Statements by civil society organizations and national human rights institutions

The National Human Rights Commission of India said the Indian Government did not recognize Indigenous groups, instead recognizing ethnic groups as “scheduled tribes”. There were currently 705 so-called “scheduled tribes”. Seats had been reserved for those groups on some representative assemblies. Their access to education and other rights was still far behind that of other groups.

The Union of BC Indian Chiefs said that, in 1876, the Indian Act imposed a patriarchal system under which First Nations were robbed of their Indian status upon marriage to non-Indian men, and prevented them from transmitting their status to their children. Within their territories, Indigenous women and girls were on the front lines of the protection of the environment from climate change and the effects of destructive resource extraction.

Indigenous Girls and Women Collective called for the Committee to provide programmes and awareness-raising campaigns on sexual health directed at Indigenous boys, girls, and young people. It was important that the Committee entered into direct dialogue with Indigenous groups.

Colectiva Ixpop said that, in Guatemala, inequality, racism and discrimination were social problems that remained latent. They were experienced by Indigenous women in particular. Racism and patriarchy had established ideas and practices that had been normalized and presented as a natural part of social, political and labour relationships.

Canadian Aboriginal AIDS Network said Canada was known internationally for its severity towards, and criminalization of, people living with HIV/Aids. People were afraid to disclose their status due to punitive measures while fear and stigma drove HIV transmission. Indigenous women involved in sex work could not reach out to police without risking charges themselves. Culturally appropriate programmes and services developed by people with lived experiences must be developed and supported.

The speaker from MADRE – Rosa Luxembourg Stiftung, stating that she was an Indigenous woman with disabilities from a rural region of Nepal, said Indigenous women were a very diverse group, experiencing multiple forms of discrimination, including some based on racism. They wanted to be treated equally, on par with other women, and wanted their collective rights and intersecting identities to be protected and promoted.

Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact said Indigenous women and girls consisted of some of the most diverse yet marginalized groups in Asia. Multiple and overlapping forms of discrimination were perpetuated by the lack of legal recognition. She called on the Committee to emphasize legal recognition of Indigenous peoples as paramount. Gender-based violence against Indigenous women and girls was part of a continuum of structural violence.

Organización Nacional de Mujeres Indígenas Andinas y Amazónicas del Perú welcomed the initiative for a general recommendation. In Peru, the government had passed laws and adopted standards that promoted extraction activities that exacerbated climate change and undermined Indigenous land rights. This had detrimental effects on access to clean water and food.

Right Livelihood Award Foundation and Centro por la Justicia y Derechos Humanos de la Costa Atlántica de Nicaragua said permanent insecurity, harassment, and armed attacks had caused the forced displacement of entire communities, and disproportionately affected Indigenous women, teenagers and girls. There was no guarantee of access to justice for Indigenous women who had been victims of gender-based violence and discrimination.

The speaker for the Centre for Reproductive Rights, stating she was an Indigenous woman, said she and her family had been defending the territory of their ancestors, when, as punishment for her role as a leader, she had been raped. Given the lack of access to sexual and reproductive health care in Honduras, she had been forced to accept motherhood – something she did not want. She asked the Committee to urge States Parties to take measures against violence against Indigenous rural women, and guarantee access to emergency contraceptive pills and safe abortion.

Closing remarks

FRANCISCO CALÍ TZAY, Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous People, said it was very valuable for the Committee to take into account the issues raised by the speakers. It was important to recall what the United Nations Declaration on Indigenous Peoples said about the participation of, and respect for, Indigenous peoples

GLADYS ACOSTA VARGAS, Committee Chairperson, thanked the keynote speakers as well as all participants in the discussion for participating despite difficulties related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The second segment of the discussion would focus on the effective participation, consultation and consent of Indigenous women and girls in political and public life.

General discussion part 2: “ Effective participation, consultation and consent of Indigenous women and girls in political and public life”

Opening Remarks

GLADYS ACOSTA VARGAS, Committee Chairperson, said the discussion would focus on the effective participation, consultation and consent of Indigenous women and girls in political and public life. The Committee would study all the contributions it had received, which would also be published on its website.

Keynote Speakers

ANNE NUORGAM, President of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, said Indigenous women often faced exclusion from social and political life. And yet, they were survivors who had much to contribute to societies and to national and international debates. Stressing that they had an important role to play in peacebuilding and conflict resolution, Ms. Nuorgam said patriarchy, racism and discrimination were central factors in Indigenous women’s limited access to political participation.

TARCILA RIVERA ZEA, President of the Executive Council of the Centro de Culturas Indígenas del Perú, said that since existing instruments did not fully reflect the realities of Indigenous women, it was cause for hope that the Committee was moving toward the adoption of a general recommendation which might do so. Indigenous women were diverse, and their full, representative and effective participation in political, economic, social and cultural life was the gateway to other rights. It was also a fundamental factor in ensuring accountability of States with regards to their obligations.

Statements by States

Peru said it had reached important milestones in the participation of women in its political sphere. Following elections held in April, 37 per cent of Peru’s Parliament was composed of women. There were factors limiting Indigenous women’s participation in public life that
could not solely be explained by the actions of the State.
Brazil said Indigenous women were natural leaders in their communities throughout the Americas. Women, girls and the elderly remained outside of processes pertaining to free, prior and informed consent. It was important that communities and all their members have the opportunity to participate in the entire process of free, prior and informed consent, including mediation with national authorities.
Norway said the right to participate in the development of one’s society as a whole, in one’s own language and community was essential. Indigenous women had the right to full, equal and meaningful participation in public life, and must be consulted before decisions that affected them were taken. The education gap between Indigenous children and the mainstream population remained critical.

Guatemala said that, in the country, there were specialized agencies for education, health, security, justice, and development in Indigenous communities. Through the Ombudsman for Indigenous Women, Guatemala had been providing comprehensive attention to victims of human rights violations. Indigenous women and girls were a group targeted by the national plan for development, as well as Guatemala’s strategic planning on the Sustainable Development Goals.

The United Kingdom recognized that climate change could undermine the enjoyment of human rights, but it should not detract from States’ obligations to uphold the rights of everyone, including Indigenous women and girls. The United Kingdom continued to work with international institutions to improve the situation of Indigenous women and girls. In the panellists’ opinion, what more could States do to uphold sustained and meaningful engagement with Indigenous women throughout policymaking?

Spain said Indigenous populations were overrepresented among people affected by poor living conditions and a lack of access to basic services. High levels of poverty and barriers to participation in the job market were among causes of this phenomenon. Spain upheld a strong commitment to the rights of Indigenous peoples, and in particular those of Indigenous women, by taking an active role in international fora.

Other statements

State Committee for Family, Women, and Children Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan said there were many cultural centers and public associations dealing with the issue of Indigenous peoples in Azerbaijan. Over 15 newspapers and magazines were published in the languages of ethnic communities of Azerbaijan. Women of other nationalities were active in the women’s branches of political parties, and their participation was ensured at all levels.

Consejo Nacional para la Igualdad de Género de Ecuador said the process undertaken by the Committee was cause for optimism, because equality for women and girls, particularly those who were Indigenous, was a pending debt. The Indigenous population still suffered from discrimination. It was important to recommend concrete actions that could properly fulfil the needs of those whose rights had been violated because of colonial and patriarchal patterns.

Philippines National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, explaining that it was a State mechanism mandated to respect, recognize, protect and promote Indigenous peoples’ rights, said that the equal enjoyment of opportunities by Indigenous women and men in matters which might affect their rights, lives and destinies, was important.

The National Human Rights Commission of India said the Government of India had taken a stand on the concept of Indigenous peoples, stating that it was not relevant to India. The State instead recognized ethnic groups under the category of “scheduled tribes,” who accounted for 8.6 per cent of the population of India. In tribal communities, the role of women was substantial and crucial.

Statements by civil society organizations

African Indigenous Women’s Organization said that an important issue for Indigenous girls was climate change, as it had led to droughts and increased levels of harmful cultural practices. Indigenous girls lacked awareness of their rights, because educating girls was not seen as a priority in many households. The lack of access to reproductive health care was also a problem. Member States needed to ensure that existing laws were implemented.

International Indigenous Women’s Forum said Indigenous women and girls had traditionally been at the forefront of the struggle for rights. The Committee should center its general recommendation on the Convention, which Member States should ratify and implement. Social and economic rights were the priorities.

Article 19 said Indigenous women and girls around the world were confronting some of the greatest threats to their human rights. Article 19 had worked for the promotion of the right of Indigenous women to access information, and had documented that the violation of that right had implications for other human rights. Political violence continued against Indigenous women when they were in decision-making positions, Article 19 added.

Colectiva IXPOP said Indigenous women and female youth were breaking stereotypes when they claimed their rights. The Committee should request that national and transnational extractive companies withdraw from Indigenous lands, as extractive industries were the principal cause of climate change.

National Indigenous Disabled Women Association Nepal said the number of Indigenous women with disabilities was estimated to reach 28 million across the globe. They faced historical invisibility both within the Indigenous community and in society as large. Indigenous women with disabilities were statistically more likely to have been victims of violence. The Committee should ensure the meaningful participation of Indigenous women with disabilities.

Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action said that, since 1876, in Canada, the Indian Act had functioned as a tool of assimilation, treating women differently from men and forcing thousands into the non-Indigenous population. The general recommendation should ensure that women’s right to equal enjoyment of their Indigenous culture was understood to encompass equal participation in the institutions and governance of their nations.

MADRE—Rosa Luxembourg Stiftung said the political participation of Indigenous women should be seen from the perspective of Indigenous movements and their involvement in community, local, national, regional, and international life. The Committee should increase the visibility of the experiences, processes, and trajectories of Indigenous women, and help them access information.

Tebtebba (Indigenous People’s International Centre for Policy Research and Education) said there were thousands of undocumented Indigenous people, most of them Indigenous women and girls, who faced discrimination by the mainstream population. That was a hurdle to the collection of data on Indigenous women and girls. The general recommendation should seek to strengthen the institutionalization by States of data disaggregation based on ethnicity.