[Brussels, 18 February 2015] In March, in the context of the 59th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW59), all UN member states will adopt a political declaration commemorating the 20th anniversary of the Beijing Platform for Action. While we should be celebrating the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action, we know and see that women and girls still face inequality, violence, discrimination and insecurity, in all spheres of life and society.
There is no more time to waste, no more negotiation to undertake. Women’s and girls’ rights are universal goals, which cannot tolerate any exception, justification or excuse. Peaceful and sustainable development cannot be achieved if half the planet’s population is not fully enjoying their human rights. CSW59 is a unique chance to deliver change for all women and girls on the planet, and for the human community as a whole.
This is why the EWL and its members call on all UN member states to Commit, Accelerate and Invest:
COMMIT to the realisation of the Beijing Platform for Action. Reaffirm your commitment to all interconnected and universal human rights, and systematically ensure a women’s rights perspective in your work, including in the adoption of the post-2015 agenda. Reaffirm your commitment to existing United Nations agreed language and instruments on women’s rights and equality between women and men, including the Cairo Programme of Action (on sexual and reproductive rights) and the 1949 UN Convention (on prostitution and trafficking).
ACCELERATE the implementation of all women’s rights instruments, especially the Beijing Platform for Action and CEDAW, and of existing regional and national laws and programmes on women’s and girls’ rights and gender equality. Keep women’s rights on the highest level of the political agenda, at all times, including by strengthening institutional mechanisms for women’s rights. Elaborate comprehensive and ambitious strategies to realise women’s and girls’ rights which should not only develop and implement legislation, but also make a concrete change in mentalities and values. Make sure that all policies are designed to not leave a single girl or woman behind. Reiterate your commitment to end all forms of violence against women and girls, in order to reach the highest level of equality, development and peace for all.
INVEST in women’s and girls’ rights, and in women’s organisations. Ensure that national budgets include increased dedicated investment to secure women’s rights: investment in women’s labour market participation, social services for women, sustainability of women’s organisations, etc. Equally include women’s organisations and experts in all global discussion on all issues, including on the post-2015 agenda, and in your national delegations to the UN meetings such as CSW. Abide by your duty to develop democratic societies and civil dialogue, and protect all human rights activists. Deliver a new model for development and peace, with women’s and girls’ rights, and feminist economics and values at its core.
The largest coalition for women’s rights and gender equality in Europe, the European Women’s Lobby has sent a letter to the Latvian Presidency of the European Union (UE) to express our expectation of a leadership role of the EU and its Member States in the adoption of an ambitious, serious and forward-looking declaration.
Our letter also includes recommendations on the new working methods for the Commission on the Status of Women. We ask UN member states to reaffirm the norm-setting role of CSW on gender equality and empowerment of women, and decide that the CSW will contribute to the follow-up of the post-2015 agenda and SDGs. The CSW has a critical role in accelerating the realisation of the Beijing Platform for Action and all women’s and girls’ human rights and instruments; it should also further enhance its catalytic role for gender mainstreaming in all UN entities and activities, including in support of the implementation of the post-2015 agenda and the SDGs.
Moreover, women’s organisations should be supported to participate in the work of the CSW and regional meetings on gender equality, including on the post-2015 agenda, due to their instrumental role in promoting women’s and girls’ rights. Women’s organisations and feminist groups should be systematically included in national delegations to the CSW, given access to negotiations, and be able to speak and intervene during general and panel discussion. The convening role of the CSW is a question of democracy and transparency.
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