As representatives of feminist and women’s organizations and organizations working to promote the full realization of the human rights of women and girls, we express our outrage at the way that we have been excluded from both the negotiation of the political declaration and the Commission of the Status of Women (CSW) Methods of Work resolution.
In a context of increasing attacks on the human rights of women and girls and closing space for civil society at all levels, from the national to the global, we had held up the CSW as a place where we could express our views and influence the development of critical policies that affect our lives and futures.
Instead, it seems that governments are intent on closing even that door by trying to limit the robust participation of non-governmental organizations, restrict recognition of the human rights of women and girls and the norm-setting role of the CSW in this regard and skirt responsibility for implementing the Sustainable Development Goals. It seems they are intent on discussing everything about us, without us.
Let us be clear: we do not come to the CSW to attend side events. We come to the CSW to hold our governments to account to the commitments they have made to guarantee gender equality, eliminate all forms of discrimination and violence against us and achieve the full realization of all of our human rights. We come to the CSW to advance progressive policies that, if implemented, will make a meaningful difference in our lives. If the CSW no longer provides us with a forum for policy change and accountability that fully involves us, we will stay at home.
To ensure the continued relevance of the CSW to women’s lives, we demand that the Methods of Work resolution:
• Recognize the role of the CSW in fully realizing the human rights of women and girls, including through its norm-setting role.
• Ensure collaboration with the CEDAW Committee and the Working Group on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women in Law and in Practice.
• Enhance the role of civil society in the Commission, including by making negotiations of the agreed conclusions open to observation by NGOs (and not just a select few); ensuring that NGO interventions are interspersed with those of governments in the general debate; and increasing participation of NGOs in panels, roundtables and other interactive dialogues;
• Ensure that the CSW plays a role in monitoring the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, which contain robust commitments to gender equality and will be a critical tool for advancing gender equality and the human rights of women and girls in the coming years.
Women’s organizations and feminist organizations fought for the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, for the creation of UN Women, and for every change at the local and national level that has led to improvements in gender equality and the enjoyment of our human rights.
We count on UN Women and member states to stand with us in ensuring our seat at the decision-making table so that we can make sure that nothing is discussed about us without us.