Feminist declaration on the occasion of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women
Tue 03/10/2020, 12:00

 RESURJ joins more than 200 organizations in adopting the Feminist Declaration, an alternative to the Member States’ political declaration, that outlines the steps necessary to achieve gender equality. The feminist declaration includes the voices and perspectives of progressive movements from the global south and addresses critical issues that governments must tackle to achieve gender equality, including: sexual and reproductive rights and bodily autonomy; women, peace, and security; the intersections between the climate crisis and gender equality; and the role of women’s human rights defenders and feminist movements, who are the key to driving long-term change.

 

Original link here.

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Feminist declaration on the occasion of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women*
 

*This document is drafted by the Women’s Rights Caucus: a global coalition of over 200 organizations working to advance women’s human rights internationally, regionally, nationally and locally.

 

Introduction

We, feminist groups, trade unionists, women’s and community-based organizations, indigenous groups, disability rights advocates, LBTQ+ and gender non-conforming people, intersex people,

women human rights defenders and girls’ and youth-led organizations (among others):

 

  1. Recognizing that several member states lack political courage or will to commit to an ambitious political declaration 25 years after the Fourth World Conference on Women, we undertake to offer what we believe is a truly meaningful and reflective feminist declaration; one that takes stock of the current state of the world and the realities of women, girls and gender-non-conforming people in all their diversities. This declaration identifies and addresses new and existing challenges, and outlines the necessary areas that a fresh, progressive and bold international agenda for gender equality and women’s and girls’ human rights can address.

 

Preambular section

 

  1. While recommitting to the Beijing Declaration and Platform For Action and its ambitious and visionary commitments across its twelve critical areas of concern, and to the women, peace and security agenda, we recognize that these historic commitments, as well as the more recent 2030 Agenda, will remain unachievable unless structural barriers are addressed;
  2. Expressing grave concern at the rise of authoritarianism, fascism, nationalism, xenophobia, supremacist ideologies, and fundamentalism worldwide, which is creating deep fractures in systems of democracy and multilateralism, and recognizing that these and other forms of oppression, including patriarchy, heteronormativity, cisgenderism, ableism, classism, racism, casteism, religious discrimination, corporate power, capitalism, militarism, imperialism and neocolonialism, reinforce one another and entrench structural barriers to equality, with negative implications on the lives of women and girls in all their diversity and their ability to exercise and enjoy their human rights and fundamental freedoms;

 

  1. Noting that the neoliberal economic order is a key structural barrier that since 1995 has exacerbated inequalities within and between countries and among genders:
    1. That this economic system has obscured governments’ commitments on human rights through trade and investment agreements, austerity measures and privatization schemes, labor market flexibilization, constrained financing for advancing women’s and girls’ rights and feminist organizing through a variety of policies that reduce government revenue, enabled the corporate capture of both public and intergovernmental institutions, and exploited the global supply chain to reduce responsibility of the wealthiest individuals and institutions while taking advantage of women and girls’ labor in all spheres;
    2. That patriarchy and other systems of oppression reinforce this economic system, which has allowed a small number of wealthy individuals to gain more power, has compromised democratic systems of governance worldwide and allowed authoritarian, fascist and populist figures to thrive;
    3. That authoritarian leaders strive to validate their authority by reversing gender equality and attacking women’s human rights, targeting women, girls and gender non-conforming people through a variety of state-sanctioned violations, restricting their bodily autonomy, their choices, their freedoms and their rights;
    4. That this economic order that has entrenched authoritarianism and patriarchy has also enabled and prolonged conflicts as the capitalist system profits from increased militarization, securitization, surveillance capitalism, and this has manifested in the increase of detention centers for migrants and refugees around the globe, as well as state-sponsored detention of targeted minority groups in some countries;
    5. That this economic system which prioritizes profit over human or environmental well-being and enables obscene levels of wealth, has enabled powerful extractive industries to wield so much power globally that governments worldwide have yet to meaningfully challenge fossil fuel companies, despite the reality of the climate crisis they have caused;
    6. That the extractive industries profiting from this economic system are disrupting ecosystems with serious impacts on health and well-being of local communities;
    7. That the digital and data revolution has generated a new ecosystem for social and economic interactions, characterized by centralization, consolidation and monopolization, where women’s material labor underpins the digital and platform economy while unregulated cross-border data flows generate feminization and precarity in the digital economy.
  2. Also noting that the climate crisis is the defining challenge for our planet and species, and is a structural barrier to realizing the commitments of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and subsequent agreements:
    1. That this climate and ecological crisis, unaddressed, will make the planet unlivable, has rendered already over one million species extinct with more to come, and is an existential crisis for many, especially those who have done the least to cause the crisis;
    2. That this unchecked crisis stops us from realizing the environmental recommendations in the Beijing Platform for Action, the targets under Sustainable Development Goal 13 on Climate Action, or for that matter any commitment if there is no livable planet;
    3. That addressing the climate crisis at the intergovernmental level cannot be siloed to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and instead needs a holistic approach with the commitment of every international institution, entity and process at all levels;
    4. That the impacts of climate crisis and more broadly, environmental degradation, are gendered, and need the active participation and leadership of women and girls in all their diversity to be addressed and mitigated, and that the Commission on the Status of Women should therefore integrate this issue in every one of its upcoming sessions;
    5. That false solutions to the climate crisis such as nuclear power, geoengineering or corporate-driven green energy initiatives that displace communities, are not the path to realizing climate justice for all.
  3. Recognizing that the existence of these structural barriers, and the system of patriarchy that is mutually reinforcing, has shaped the digital world in such a way that new forms of gendered violence are emerging online; and that technological advances and innovations will not on their own address structural barriers, but instead risk increasing inequalities and challenges, such as automation increasing profit for the few while erasing livelihoods of workers.
  4. Acknowledging while there continue to be challenges and pushbacks, that the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action has been a crucial tool for feminist movements to drive transformative change, from creating gender machinery, to changing discriminatory laws and policies, building political will and accountability frameworks, and to shifting global conversations, and we recognize and celebrate some of the following gains:
    1. The recognition of gender-based violence as a matter of national and international importance, moving away from the incorrect perception that forms such as domestic violence were a private and not public matter, resulting in passage of laws, regulations and mechanisms addressing sexual harassment and domestic violence at local and national levels;
    2. The adoption of ILO Conventions 189, or the Domestic Workers Convention in 2011, and ILO Convention 190 in 2019 on Eliminating Violence and Harassment in the World of Work, both examples of strong, inclusive international treaties that arose from global campaigns supported by grassroots movements and negotiated by women workers and their organizations;
    3. The adoption of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which recognizes rights at the intersection of gender and disability, particularly for women and girls with disabilities, and provides explicit recognition of and protection for sexual and reproductive health and rights.
    4. The increase of women’s representation and leadership in executive, legislative and judiciary branches of government, with gender parity achieved in some parliaments, although parity across all levels of decision-making is yet to be met in any country, with some having nil or minimal numbers of women in national legislature;
    5. The advancement of women and girls in academic and athletic spheres, as well as the increased recognition of untold stories of women’s and girls’ contributions to historical achievements worldwide;
    6. The reforms of laws that have increased women’s and girls’ access, ownership, use and control of land and natural resources, as well as enabling safe and secure living conditions;
    7. The lifting of gendered restrictions, such as bans on women migrant workers or prohibition on women working in certain professions, in many countries worldwide;
    8. Recognition of unpaid care and domestic work under the 2030 Agenda’s Goal on Gender Equality (Goal 5);
    9. The passage of laws in more than fifty countries increasing access to abortion;
    10. Passage of laws recognizing same-sex relationships, the enactment of legal gender recognition laws based on self-determination, decriminalization of same-sex intimacy in some countries, and other changes that recognize sexual and gender diversity, and institutions of marriage and family can take many diverse, non-heteronormative forms.
  5. Also acknowledging that these and many other gains were made possible through the obligations assumed by State parties under key human rights treaties and conventions, and that sustaining these achievements and enabling future progress require the continued commitment to implementing an international legal framework and strengthened multilateral institutions to protect, respect and fulfill all the human rights of women, adolescents and girls in all their diversity;
  6. Reminding State parties that the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (1979) and the Optional Protocol thereto, the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) and the Optional Protocols thereto, the International Covenant of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1976), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1976), the International Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (1984), the Declaration of Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work of the International Labor Organization (1998), the International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2006), the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (1990), and the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (1990), are among conventions and treaties that must be fully implemented to achieve gender equality;
  7. Welcoming the national and regional consultations and reports, including civil society consultations and parallel reports that can serve as a resource to governments with valuable data and analyses of the situation of women’s human rights, and acknowledging the partnership of civil society with UN entities and bodies in making this possible;
  8. Reiterating the importance of strengthening, promoting and supporting the active, free and equal voice, agency, participation and leadership, representation of all women and girls in all their diversities in the development, implementation, monitoring, evaluation and follow-up of all policies affecting them:

 

Operational Section

  1. Urge governments at all levels, including legislative and judiciary branches as well as executive, all entities of the United Nations system, international and regional organizations, national human rights institutions, where they exist, civil society, including, inter alia, non-governmental organizations, women’s organizations, feminist groups, women human rights defenders, girl- and youth-led organizations, community-based organizations, trade unions, cooperatives, as well as the private sector, financial institutions, employer organizations, the media and other relevant stakeholders and all individuals, as applicable, to take the following actions:

 

  1. Commit to confront and eliminate multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination on any grounds, inter alia age, household and relationship status, indigeneity, race, caste, religious belief, ethnicity, HIV and other health status, disability, immigration status, socioeconomic status, employment and employment status, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, and sex characteristics. Ensure that an intersectional discrimination analysis informs policy making and implementation and that the needs of women and girls in all of their diversity are recognized and addressed.

 

  1. Respect the rights of all individuals to exercise autonomy over their lives, including their sexualities, identities and bodies, desires and pleasures free from all types of discrimination, coercion and violence, and fully realize sexual and reproductive rights, and ensure bodily autonomy, integrity and sovereignty, by taking the following actions:
    1. Eliminate all laws and policies that punish or criminalize same-sex intimacy, gender affirmation, abortion, HIV transmission non-disclosure and exposure, or that limit the exercise of bodily autonomy, including laws limiting legal capacity of adolescents, people with disabilities or other groups to provide consent to sex or sexual and reproductive health services or laws authorizing non-consensual abortion, sterilization, or contraceptive use;
    2. Put in place affirmative measures to reduce violence, stigma and discrimination against people based on their sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, and sex characteristics, enact legal protections for LGBTQ, gender non-conforming and intersex people, and take other legal, policy, and educational measures to support individuals to exercise autonomy over their bodies and lives;
    3. Ensure access to timely and quality gender affirming services and care, including all health services and ability to obtain legal gender recognition based on self-determination;
    4. Ban all non-consensual, medically unnecessary, and harmful surgeries on intersex infants and any reproductive health interventions such as sterilization, contraception, and abortion performed on women or girls with disabilities without their consent;
    5. Decriminalize, destigmatize and increase access to abortion for all people who can become pregnant, including by expanding their capacity to self-manage abortion, guaranteeing the right to accurate and quality information on abortion, and eliminating barriers to abortion, including by limiting the ability of health care providers to refuse services on the grounds of conscience;
    6. Examine and address the shortcomings of existing laws and policies that criminalize violations of women’s and girls’ rights to bodily integrity and autonomy, such as female genital mutilation, domestic and intimate partner violence, and child, early and forced marriage, in order to ensure an approach to justice that does not further marginalize or stigmatize affected people and communities; and invest in addressing the root causes of these violations by replacing punitive laws with comprehensive social interventions that address multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination and violence, and put survivors of violence and discrimination at the center;
    7. End the criminalization and stigmatization of adolescents’ sexuality, and ensure and promote a positive approach to young people's and adolescents’ sexuality that enables, recognizes, and respects their agency to make informed and independent decisions on matters concerning their bodily autonomy, pleasure and fundamental freedoms;
    8. Reform guardianship, conservatorship and mental health laws that permit forced treatment of persons with disabilities, denying their legal capacity and bodily autonomy.

 

  1. Noting that the term economic empowerment should not be defined with a narrow focus on women’s participation in economic markets, but rather focus on women’s ability to exercise real power over their economic, social, political and cultural structures, as well as equally benefit from the advancement and development of the society. Instead, we call on governments to commit to direct efforts toward the realization of economic, social and cultural rights of women, girls and gender non-conforming persons, including the right to work and rights at work, universal access to social protection and to gender-transformative public services  and the recognition, reduction and redistribution of care and domestic work, and accordingly, take the following actions:
    1. Ensure the primacy of human rights in trade agreements and in the articles of agreement for international financial institutions, and through ex-ante, periodic and ex-poste gender, human rights and environmental impact assessments of such agreements and all economic policies or reforms;
    2. Recognize that the current multilateral trade regimes through the World Trade Organization, and other bilateral and plurilateral free trade agreements have only served to advance the neoliberal economic order with disproportionate impacts on women, the poor and the environment, and instead develop a new multilateral trade system based on redistributive justice that delivers on women's human rights and that will put the interests of the people and the planet before the interests of powerful corporations;
    3. Respect, promote and protect labor rights through legislation and regulation  that ensures decent work for all women and gender non-conforming people, including collective bargaining and the freedom of association, while making sure that labor regulations and protections extend to those working in the informal economy and the digital economy, and also ensure that the private sector adheres to the Decent Work Agenda throughout their supply chains;
    4. Ensure financing for women’s rights, gender equality and development to meaningfully address gaps and challenges via measures for tax justice, such as stopping illicit financial flows and measures  such as setting a global minimum corporate tax rate, unitary taxation of multinationals, country-by-country reporting of taxes by multinational companies to ensure private sector bodies pay their share of taxes, and the creation of a global tax body;
    5. Reform national tax systems to be progressive and gender-responsive through more stringent taxation of wealth, assets and inheritances; reducing dependence on sales and consumption taxes that place a disproportionate burden on the poorest; increased marginal tax rates on the income of the highest earners and on corporations; and ending tax incentives for multinational corporations;
    6. Adopt a systemic and consistent approach to address and resolve debt crisis and distress, both externally and internally, such as through the establishment of a global debt resolution forum, and alleviating the particularly harsh effects of austerity on increasing internal debt, particularly of young persons;
    7. Undertake gender-responsive legislative and administrative reforms, including reforms of gender recognition, inheritance, intimate partner, de facto and marital laws and practices, birth registration policies, citizenship, and social protection policies, as well as ending discriminatory laws and cultural practices, to protect and promote the right of all women and girls to access, use, own, and control land, fishing grounds natural resources and assets, other forms of property or inheritance;
    8. Halt and reverse land grabs by ensuring the free, prior, informed, and continuous consent of all communities affected by land and resource-based investment, and eliminate public policies that fuel land grabs and prioritize sustainable land use and the needs of women and other small-scale food producers;
    9. Negotiate through decolonization, and honor free, prior and informed consent of Indigenous women and Indigenous People’s groups to sustainably own, use, manage and protect land, marine and coastal ecosystems without discrimination, coercion or violence, including Indigenous Peoples whose original Nations territory may be occupied by varying countries, corporations and private individuals; and who suffer development aggression and violence that denies human rights, peace, safety, and freedom of association having severe effect on Indigenous women’s autonomous practices of sustainably using waters, land, air and oceans;
    10. Support the development of the treaty on transnational corporations and other business enterprises in relation to human rights, as a means to curb the significant powers that corporations have gained in recent years to shape global economic decision-making as well as a way to protect women’s human rights throughout business supply chains;
    11. Ensure girls, young, older and all other women’s economic empowerment by revising and strengthening laws and policies on inheritance, property rights and birth registration, education (including technical and vocational education and training), access to social benefits, as a pathway to accessing other rights, such as freedom from violence, and protection against child, early and forced marriage, as well as the rights of children born outside marriage, widows’ rights, and those of LBTQI and gender non-conforming people.
  2. Recognizing the importance of full and productive employment and decent work to the realization of women and non-conforming persons’ rights and ability to live secure and productive lives, ensure that all women who work are afforded labor rights in line with the ILO Declaration of Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work and relevant international labor standards, and the four components of the Decent Work Agenda, setting of a living wage, and equal pay for work of equal value for all women, including through the following specific measures:
    1. No erasure, removal or undermining of the relevance of International Labor Organization conventions and standards in the context of the UN Commission on the Status of Women negotiations, and any other policy-setting process on women’s human rights;
    2. Strengthen efforts to protect the rights of, and ensure decent work conditions for all women in the world of work, including domestic workers, migrant workers, workers with disabilities and informal workers, in relation to, working hours, working conditions and wages, health and safety, and to promote access to healthcare services and other social and economic benefits;
    3. Recognize the role of unions in advancing women’s rights and gender equality by respecting, promoting and protecting the right to freedom of association and the right to organize and bargain collectively, including by removal of laws and restrictions on these rights, such as laws that do not allow public sector employees to unionize, restrictions on the right to strike, or on recognition of trade unions and workers’ associations, or prohibiting groups such as migrant workers, agricultural workers or sex workers from forming or joining them;
    4. Recognize that care and domestic work continues to be undervalued and invisible and is mainly carried out by women and girls, many of whom are migrants or members of disadvantaged communities; ensure that all care and domestic workers have all protections and benefits and work under conditions that are not less favorable than those available to workers generally;
    5. Recognize, reduce, redistribute and democratize unpaid care work, and include paid maternity, paternity and parental leave as a strategy for reducing unpaid care work and promoting equitable distribution of responsibilities, and reinforcing the role of the State in ensuring universal access to quality public care services to reducing and redistributing unpaid care work;
    6. Regulate, formalize, professionalize and protect the terms and conditions of employment in care and domestic work;
    7. Address the rise in precarious work from the ‘gig’ economy by labor rights protections, provision of healthcare and other benefits, and realization of the right to organize and form trade unions or workers’ associations.
  3. Recognizing that sex workers face criminalization, discrimination, violence and marginalization, which cannot be addressed in isolation, take steps to:
    1. Ensure respect for the self-determination of sex workers in all their diversity, including by upholding them as rights holders and respecting their bodily autonomy and agency;
    2. Fully decriminalize sex work (including sex workers, their clients and third parties) as a necessary step to ensure that sex workers can claim their labor rights, recognizing that criminalization creates barriers to the realization of their rights, access to public services and social protection, and promotes discrimination and marginalization;
    3. End conflation of trafficking and sex work and anti-trafficking measures that further stigmatize, criminalize, and isolate sex workers and migrant workers, and instead promote a worker-centered and human rights-based approaches to trafficking;
    4. Recognize sex work as work and expand social protection systems to informal sector workers, including sex workers;
    5. Ensure non-discriminatory access to public services and health services, including sexual and reproductive health services and protect their sexual and reproductive rights.
  4. Urgently take steps to address climate injustice through gender-responsive and human rights-based actions that enable realization of environmental justice, including to:
    1. Dismiss and counter misinformation, climate denial and false solutions;
    2. Cooperate at all levels, both inside and outside of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), to address the climate crisis, including through incorporating the issue in the Commission on the Status of Women through a specific theme and within each theme;
    3. Commit to a zero-carbon, regenerative energy economy based on energy democracy by phasing out of fossil fuels, closing fossil fuel industries and halting new investments in fossil fuels and nuclear energy;
    4. Initiate a gender-responsive just and equitable transition of the economy that challenges the gendered-division of labor and enables women’s participation in green and decent jobs as part of sustainable, community-driven and human rights-centered clean and renewable energy industries;
    5. Commit to develop and implement ambitious policy proposals to achieve climate justice, including a feminist green new deal;
    6. Hold extractive industries accountable for the destruction of ecosystems and local communities;
    7. Recognize and incorporate the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities (CBDR) and commit to climate finance that is channeled to the most affected populations and communities, and include measures for gender-responsive resource mobilization;
    8. Urge banks and insurance industries to divest, and also pressure international finance institutions to withdraw from fossil fuel-based projects, particularly the more extreme ventures such as offshore, deep sea explorations, and fracking which could destabilize tectonic plates and contaminate water supplies;
    9. Ensure women’s access to productive resources and secure tenure rights to land and fisheries, including within communities, which is critical to their livelihoods, food sovereignty and survival in a changing climate;
    10. Support and ensure the agency of women, girls and gender non-conforming persons in developing and implementing climate mitigation and adaptation strategies and responses to loss and damage including agroecology, mangrove and seagrass restoration, rewilding, forest restoration, coral reef protection, among others; recognizing that well-designed disaster risk reduction and climate change initiatives that provide for women’s full and effective participation can advance substantive gender equality.
  5. Recognizing there are several drivers of migration that are economic, political and socio-cultural, and that ending forced migration requires addressing systems that create inequality and injustice, take action to protect human rights of women migrant and undocumented workers with no distinction between them and citizens, including the following measures:
    1. Include migrant women in implementation of CEDAW commitments, such as national legislation on domestic violence, sexual harassment and other existing legislation;
    2. Revise relevant migration legislation, to include women migrants and their needs, and affirm women migrant workers’ autonomy and agency;
    3. Provide services, assistance and redress to all women migrant workers who have experienced violation of their rights, as well as introduce preventive measures;
    4. Cooperate between State parties to ensure universality of social protection systems (with reference to social protection floors) and public services for all, including ensuring portability of such systems for migrant and undocumented workers;
    5. Enable free access to the migration process, including offering zero placement fee and zero percent loans;
    6. Regulate recruitment agencies, and prosecute those breaking the law;
    7. Establish a new system of remittances, improving banking services to allow savings to be transferred easily, as well as offer financial literacy training, state savings programs;
    8. Recognize all humans’ right to a legal identity and take measures to minimize statelessness, increase birth registration and introduce pathways to citizenship;
    9. Close concentration camps designed to imprison, contain, and otherwise limit the freedoms of targeted or persecuted groups, and oppose the building or maintenance of these by any State party;
    10. End indefinite detention of migrants, refugees and stateless persons, adhere to the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners in all detention facilities, and allow regular visits from the International Committee of the Red Cross and independent human rights groups to ensure the human rights of detainees are not being violated.

 

  1. Reiterating the crucial contributions that social protection systems can make to the realization of human rights for all, in particular, for those who are trapped in poverty, are vulnerable or marginalized and subject to violence and discrimination, commit to:
    1. Promote universal access to social services and social protections to address and reduce poverty, inequality and social exclusion and promoting inclusive economic development;
    2. Provide child and family benefits, parental leave, unemployment support, employment injury benefits, sickness benefits, old-age benefits, disability benefits and survivors’ benefits;
    3. Ensure universal birth registration for all;
    4. Implement universal social protection systems including pensions and unemployment benefits for all women, irrespective of past contributions;
    5. Effectively implement ILO Recommendation 202 on Social Protection Floors;
    6. Recognize diverse forms of families and ensure that families and all individuals, including children, enjoy social protection and recognition of their relationships;
    7. Reform social protection schemes, such as those for persons with disabilities, that place restrictions on assets and earnings at a level that creates or enforces poverty.
  2. Recognizing the fundamental role of public services, increase investments in, adopt or develop legislation and policies that provide women, girls and gender non-conforming people with universal, accessible, gender-responsive, non-discriminatory, quality public services, and take the following actions:
    1. Avoid or reverse trade liberalization, debt servicing or financial austerity measures that result in reduced revenue, direct cuts or privatization of public services;
    2. Avoid, challenge or undo public-private partnerships for provisions of public services, or ensure private sector providers meet public service obligations;
    3. Use participatory and gender-responsive budgeting methods to allocate funds for public goods and services at national and local levels;
    4. Guarantee and allocate public financing and resources for social protection systems and public social infrastructure, including sexual and reproductive services;
    5. Sensitize public service providers to ensure services are non-discriminatory, safe, inclusive, accessible and meet the needs of all women and gender non-conforming people. 
  3. Reiterating the importance of education and lifelong learning, promote and respect women’s and girls’ right to education throughout the life course, and at all levels, especially for those who have been left furthest behind, by taking the following actions;
    1. Provide universal access to quality education, including free and compulsory early childhood, primary, secondary, tertiary education and technical and vocational training, ensuring inclusive, accessible, equal and non-discriminatory quality education;
    2. Ensure curricula are gender-responsive, do not reinforce gender norms or stereotypes, promoting gender-responsiveness within educators’ initial training and continuous professional development programs;
    3. Promote lifelong learning opportunities for all, eliminating female illiteracy and gender disparities in access to all areas of secondary and tertiary education, promoting financial and digital literacy;
    4. Ensure women and girls have equal access to science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines, and foster intercultural and multilingual education for all;
    5. Ensure that women and girls have equal access to career development, training, scholarships and fellowships;
    6. Adopt positive action to build women’s and girls’ leadership skills and influence, including women educators in all sectors;
    7. Adopt measures that promote, respect and guarantee the safety of women and girls in and around the school environment and on the journey to and from school;
    8. Adopt measures to ensure no girls are left behind, including non-conditional measures to re-integrate young mothers back into education, addressing other barriers preventing girls from being at school, such as: gender-based violence, poverty, disability and other intersecting forms of discrimination including based on household and relationship status, indigeneity, race, caste, religious belief, ethnicity, HIV and other health status, disability, immigration status, socioeconomic status, employment and employment status, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, and sex characteristics;
    9. Ensure access to safe and affordable drinking water, as well as safe, accessible and private sanitation and hygiene facilities and commodities for all women and girls, transgender and gender non-conforming people in schools;
    10. Sustain women’s and girls’ education during emergencies such as armed conflict, refugee crises, and climate-induced and other disasters;
    11. Adopt policies that promote inclusion and prevent bullying, prejudice, and discrimination in education settings.
  4. Acknowledging the importance of comprehensive sexuality education for all people to ensure that they can achieve the right to the highest attainable standard of health and develop the skills needed to protect their health and enjoy healthy relationships, ensure comprehensive sexuality education:
    1. Is comprehensive and based on evidence not ideology, grounded in human rights, gender equality, and ensures respect for diversity of bodies, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics, and upholds bodily autonomy and integrity;
    2. Provides accurate information about sexual and reproductive health, contraceptives, abortion, prevention and treatment of sexually transmissible infections, infertility and gynecological cancers and links people to sexual and reproductive health services;
    3. Equips people with skills and knowledge in order to deal positively with their sexuality and establish healthy and equal relationships;
    4. Addresses gender norms, gender stereotypes and power dynamics within relationships;
    5. Is provided in accessible formats for persons with disabilities in an equitable and comprehensive manner that recognizes their sexuality and lived experiences, does not enforce inaccurate stigma or stereotypes, and recognizes that women and girls with disabilities experience unique and disproportionate violations of their sexual and reproductive rights;
    6. Is provided at all educational levels, and beyond schools, in an age-appropriate manner that is responsive to children, adolescents and young people’s evolving capacities, including in state-sponsored and private educational institutions.
  5. Guarantee the right to the highest attainable standard of health and provide universal access to comprehensive, gender-transformative, public health care services that are integrated, of high quality and free at the point of care, including access to the full spectrum of sexual and reproductive health services and information to all women, adolescents, and girls in all of their diversity, and commit to:
    1. Ensure that universal health coverage programs include financial risk protection, universal access to quality services, and universal access to medicines and vaccines;
    2. Strengthen public health systems, eliminate barriers to access, such as user fees, and ensure that health facilities and personnel are equipped, resourced and supported to provide quality, non-discriminatory, stigma-free and non-judgmental care, information and services for all, with full respect for bodily autonomy, privacy, confidentiality, and full and informed consent;
    3. Adopt healthcare policies that protect individuals’ reproductive rights and the rights of all people to control their sexuality, without coercion, discrimination and violence and take active measures to end discrimination, stigma, violence and abuse in healthcare facilities;
    4. Ensure universal access to a full range of sexual and reproductive health services, including modern contraceptives, safe abortion and post-abortion care, comprehensive maternal health care, diagnosis, support, and treatment of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, assisted reproductive technologies and treatment of infertility, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of reproductive cancers;
    5. Provide services to prevent and respond to gender-based violence including by ensuring that these services are available at the primary care level, through public health systems, and included in comprehensive essential benefits packages in universal health care programs;
    6. Ensure that health information, goods, and services are fully accessible to women and girls with disabilities are of high quality, and are provided free from bias, stereotypes, or discrimination, and provide those health services needed by persons with disabilities specifically because of their disabilities, including early intervention and access to community based rehabilitation;
    7. Eliminate out of pocket payments and catastrophic health expenditures that drive women into, and keep them in, the vicious cycle of poverty and debt;
    8. End cervical cancer by guaranteeing universal access to HPV vaccines and cervical cancer prevention, treatment and care, free from coercion, including by funding primary health care services to scale up training and equipment to “see and treat” cervical cancer.
  6. Acknowledging that universal health coverage and public health services cannot be delivered without a strong workforce, provide public service workers with adequate remuneration, safe working environments and conditions, labor protections including the right to organize, strike and bargain collectively, and opportunities for advancement, and ongoing education, training and support to ensure that they are able to deliver quality public services, with special emphasis on access to sexual and reproductive health and rights, in order to ensure the provision of quality health care services and prevent abuses, violence, and discrimination in public service delivery, particularly in healthcare settings.

 

  1. Recognizing that gender-based violence has persisted, taken new forms, and even deepened in some instances as the structural issues related to oppression have not been seriously addressed, recommend the following actions:
    1. Take steps to address historically unequal power relations between genders and the marginalization resulting from intersectional discrimination that heightens the risk of violence for many women, girls, and gender non-conforming people; and to focus on greater efforts in preventing violence before it occurs;
    2. Ensure that all women, girls and gender non-conforming persons have access to justice and are provided with adequate support services, including housing, legal and financial assistance, and counseling and other health services;
    3. Promote programs and policies eliminating gender and other stereotypes and prejudices in accordance with CEDAW General Recommendation No. 35;
    4. Ratify and implement ILO Convention C190 and Recommendation 206 Concerning the Elimination of Violence and Harassment in the World of Work
    5. Eliminate all direct and indirect laws that punish, stigmatize, or criminalize people based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression, such as vagrancy laws, laws against public morality, and laws against cross-dressing, recognizing that such laws lead to increased human rights violations, violence, arbitrary arrests, and social exclusion;
    6. Recognizing the critical importance of increasing women’s political participation, address violence against women in politics, both in-person and online, through investigation and punitive measures, as well as strengthening complaint mechanisms and collecting and monitoring data on violence against women and girls.
  2. Also recognizing that while families can be sites of support, they also are sites of violence and abuse and can reinforce patriarchal practices, and that family laws are a significant predictor of women’s economic empowerment, urge the following:
    1. Take immediate steps to end discrimination against women in family laws and practices, by recognizing women’s equal status in marriage and family, complying with international human rights law and principles to respect, protect and realize women’s right to equality in families in all their diversity, regardless of the source of family law, be they religious or customary legal standards;
    2. Recognize that customs and traditions evolve, that interpretations of sacred texts have progressed to uphold equality and justice to reflect changing times and circumstances, and that many States have amended discriminatory provisions in family laws founded on progressive understandings of religion and tradition, recognizing that many forms of families exist;
  3. Recognizing that technology and innovation provide opportunities to advance gender equality, but that online surveillance, harassment and violence present new and emerging threats to the human rights of women, girls and gender non-conforming people, take steps to:
    1. Apply international human rights law to online spaces and platforms, in addition to expanding the human rights framework to address issues specific to online spheres; increase access to technical knowledge and tools for human rights groups and civil society actors to deepen on-ground mapping of such violation;
    2. Protect the integrity of women human rights defenders in online spaces by adopting laws, policies, and practices that protect their right to privacy, and to counter libel and hate speech and online violence;
    3. Ensure data collection upholds the privacy and confidentiality of rights holders, is consensually conducted, and used exclusively to enhance public programming, infrastructure, and services;
    4. Strengthen public and global mechanisms to hold states and corporations bartering data and manipulating public perception and opinion accountable beyond national censorship schemes; and
    5. Guarantee the right to public internet access and/or internet-based services and applications, and condemn efforts to block internet access, especially in times of crisis.

 

  1. Recognizing the importance of centering the rights of adolescent girls and young women in policymaking and implementation, take proactive measures to:
    1. guarantee their right to engage in decision-making that affects their lives;
    2. tackle discriminatory norms within the home and families that limit their autonomy and the exercise of their rights;
    3. ensure access to quality education at all levels and invest in transitions to employment;
    4. ensure access to comprehensive sexuality education and sexual and reproductive health services; and
    5. address violence against them, including harmful practices, with holistic and tailored approaches that are responsive to their needs.

 

  1. In addressing the systemic and structural discrimination and increasing violence faced by women human rights defenders, including those engaged on issues relating to environment, land and natural, resources, take the following actions:
    1. Support the important role of women human rights defenders in promoting and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms of women, in particular those related to the access to natural resources;
    2. Prevent violations and abuses against women human rights defenders, including through practical consultative steps to prevent threats, harassment and violence; and combat impunity by taking steps to ensure that those responsible for violations or abuses, including all forms of gender-based violence and threats against human rights defenders, committed by State, non-State or private actors, are promptly and impartially investigated and held accountable and brought to justice through impartial investigations;
    3. Protect and defend the work of all women human rights defenders, and refrain from using counterterrorism and national security policies to target human rights defenders;
    4. Recognize the particular risks that human rights defenders working on sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and sex characteristics face for their identity and the issues they advocate for, and ensure protections and accountability for violence against them;
    5. Recognize the increasing risk that sexual and reproductive rights defenders face, especially those providing access to safe abortion for women and adolescents, and ensure protections and accountability for violence against them.
  2. Noting the twentieth anniversary of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325, on women, peace, and security and its commitments, ensure that the perspectives of women and girls are taken into account in armed conflict and post-conflict situations and in humanitarian emergencies and that they effectively and meaningfully participate, on equal terms with men, in the design, implementation, follow-up and evaluation of policies and activities related to conflict prevention, peace mediation, peacebuilding and post-conflict reconstruction; also take the following actions:
    1. Take into account the perspective of women and girls who are internally displaced, stateless, or who are refugees and make space for their meaningful participation in designing humanitarian response;
    2. Address the root causes of conflict, including gender inequality and discrimination, militarization and arms proliferation, and the political economy of war; climate change, and violations of human rights and humanitarian law;
    3. Curtail fueling economies of war, supporting warring parties, or enabling arms transfers when there is a substantial risk they may be used to commit violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, in line with the Arms Trade Treaty;
    4. End excessive military spending, global military expenditures and arms trade or trafficking, and investments for arms production and acquisition to ensure resources available for social development;
    5. Ensure that the human rights of all women and girls are fully respected and protected in all response, recovery and reconstruction strategies and that appropriate measures are taken to eliminate all forms of violence and discrimination against women and girls;
    6. Ensure women’s right to full, equal and meaningful participation that is direct, substantive, and formal, as a non-negotiable priority in all conflict prevention and peace processes, in including all formal and informal processes.

 

  1. Reduce spending on military and defense in line with Beijing recommendations and reallocate maximum available financial, human and technological resources, including from national budgets towards public goods and services, with minimum 2 percent dedicated to the care economy; and commit to:
    1. Stop the use of weapons in the protection of borders and by civilian security forces such as the police;
    2. Limit the use, production and sales of ‘crowd control’ equipment such as tear gas, water cannons, which are used disproportionately against marginalized groups as tools of oppression that violate fundamental freedoms;
    3. Streamline user-centered policies to counter surveillance capitalism in colluding with states to flow data to non-state actors.

 

  1. Recognizing that established accountability mechanisms exist, but that these mechanisms can be co-opted to curtail the standards and norms on women’s human rights, and that the existing accountability mechanisms are insufficient to cover all the violations of women’s human rights:
    1. Increase efforts for systematic gender and age-disaggregated data collection, analysis and systematization efforts, including monitoring and accountable evaluation efforts;
    2. Establish a Global Independent Women's Structure, created and owned by women, which will serve women of the world in all their diversity, without any barriers is necessary to ensure a holistic accountability mechanism for the commitments and responsibilities of states and non-state actors;
    3. Ensure civil society organizations, particularly women’s organizations are continuously included in national and international accountability mechanisms;
  2. Recognizing the importance of transforming patriarchal masculinities and dismantling stereotypical social norms for the elimination of gender-based violence and discrimination, commit to the full engagement of men and boys for the achievement of gender equality, and to have them take responsibility and be held accountable for their behavior by understanding and addressing the root causes of gender inequality, and ensure that all efforts to transform masculinities and engage men and boys are firmly rooted in feminist-informed, gender-transformative and human rights-based approaches that are fully accountable to feminist, women's rights, activists, organizations and movements.

 

  1. In recognition of both the important role of civil society in monitoring and implementing human rights commitments, and the history of the UN Commission of the Status of Women (CSW) in holding a space where dialogue for the progressive development of women’s rights has taken place for over 70 years, recommend that reform of the CSW methods of work addresses the following:
    1. Return observer status for civil society at all CSW negotiations
    2. Reform the CSW to make it tripartite and give NGOs a recognized official space within the Commission, including a seat on the CSW Bureau;
    3. Rotate the venue of the CSW or move it to other regions to make the event more accessible;
    4. Increase resources for the CSW and provide institutionalized support and space for regional and national processes with democratic and meaningful participation of civil society, particularly women’s rights and youth-led organizations, which should inform the final agreed conclusions of the CSW, which must be negotiated onsite;
    5. Provide the official documents in translation during the negotiations (zero draft, compilation text, and revisions) at the very least in the UN official languages;
    6. Include civil society speakers in every panel and dialogue, encouraging diverse representation;
    7. Consider removing or not renewing ECOSOC status for recognized hate groups and other organizations that do not support women’s fundamental human rights, freedoms or gender justice;
    8. Ensure that CSW is inclusive and accessible to persons with disabilities, including by making both virtual and physical spaces accessible, publishing documents in accessible formats, and having simultaneous International Sign Language interpretation and live captioning for meetings.
  2. We, feminist movements and our allies have spent the last 25 years defending the commitments made in Beijing, while regressive groups have tried their hardest to undermine them. The outcomes of the Fourth World Conference on Women, instead of becoming the stepping stones to the next progressive feminist agenda, has become the maximum limit that State parties do not want to go beyond. With this Feminist Declaration, we remind governments that the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action belongs to our movements. We present the scope and potential of where it is possible to take the work of realizing our fundamental human rights when we are not held back by weakness and lack of courageous action, and we reject the actions of regressive groups who reinforce patriarchy, nationalism, fundamentalism, authoritarianism, and capitalism. We honor the important foundation that feminists laid in 1995, and urge all to support feminist movements in making the commitments of Beijing a reality.
This Political Statements appears in South Feminist Voices and is tagged with #Beijing+25.