Friday, March 6, 2015

CSW59: Netherlands’ civil society recommendations and Beijing+20 Review Report

There is a small exodus of Women’s Rights activists and civil society organizations around the world with one destination: New York. Only a few more days before the 59th session on the Commission on the Status of Women will officially commence. Over 9.000 of us, together with delegates from all Member States, will present the temporary population of the UN headquarters for the next fortnight. Many of us have been and still are preparing for this years’ theme: Review of Beijing+20.

The same is true for civil society in the Netherlands. In consultation with close to 40 organizations of the Netherlands’ civil society WO=MEN Dutch Gender Platform, Atria (knowledge institute for emancipation) and NVR (Dutch Women’s Council) have put together recommendations for the CSW59. For the outcome document as well as possible resolutions. They target the Netherlands' government delegation, which form part of the EU group, as well as delegations from other countries and regions.

The recommendations are posted below and are based on the Netherlands’ Beijing+20 NGO Review Report. This report showcases what civil society has done in implementing the Beijing Platfom for Action. Reflecting on results, but also looking ahead. This report has been developed by WO=MEN, Atria and NVR over the past months with a broad range of civil society organisations, working nationally as well as internationally. The report serves as an annex to the recommendations and can be downloaded here.

In the coming weeks members of the WO=MEN network will use this blog to keep you updated on the developments at CSW59. They will also give in-depth information and critical analyses on the different themes in the Beijing Agenda, connected to one of the many interesting side-events that are scheduled.

= Posted by Sanne Holtslag on behalf of WO=MEN Dutch Gender Platform =

59th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW59), 9-20 March 2015
Challenges and achievements in the implementation
of the Beijing Platform for Action 
Every woman, every right, every minute.
Everyone is responsible. Time is now.
The Netherlands’ civil society recommendations

The Netherlands’ civil society unequivocally calls for a CSW59 political outcome document reaffirming the commitment made by all governments at Beijing in 1995. With a strong sense of urgency we call upon all actors for immediate action and implementation of existing women’s human rights and gender equality frameworks. The agreed language of the Beijing Platform for Action (BPfA) provides a solid base on which to further build on and from which to hold governments accountable for the commitments made. Now is the time to focus on moving forward through accelerating transformative actions. There is no room for regressive developments.

The Netherlands’ civil society is concerned about the lack of political space of civil society in the CSW process, in comparison to other UN processes (i.e. ICDP, Post-2015) where civil society constituencies are included in the official process. We see the review of 20 years of implementation of the Beijing agenda as an opportunity for the Netherlands to address these working methods and aim for meaningful participation. We strongly recommend representatives of civil society to be part of the official Dutch delegation. We also suggest to provide the opportunity for representatives of civil society who are not part of a delegation to be physically present at the plenary sessions.

Our recommendations below are based on the consultations with a diverse group of civil society actors in the Netherlands and on the Beijing+20 Review documents formulated at the NGO Forum ECE Regional Review in Geneva and the Netherlands’ NGO Review Report, in the Annex.

Women are agents of change[1]

Investing in gender justice is investing in the future

1.Integration and implementation
  • Integrate all existing and agreed upon national and international frameworks concerning Human Rights of women and gender equality, in order to achieve gender equality. Link among others: CEDAW, BPfA, UNSCR 1325, ICPD Platform for Action, Istanbul Convention, etc. Accelerate ratification and implementation, rather than merely reaffirm these global commitments.
  • Focus on implementation. Plan and monitor effectively through the three- track approach: 
    • Specific Gender Equality measures with sufficient (financial) means of implementation. The plan of implementation for the Post-2015 transformative gender stand-alone goal needs to be accompanied with predictable, long-term, and substantial resources (both financial and otherwise) to ensure the agenda’s full and robust implementation.
    • Integrated gender perspective in mainstream policies; more gender mainstreaming and providing a sound economic environment for Human Rights of women.
    • More women in leadership and decision-making positions at all levels of decision-making.
  • Establish strong gender sensitive and time-bound accountability mechanisms. They are indispensable for comprehensive and stringent monitoring of the BPfA implementation and to call governments to account on commitments made. These mechanisms include gender sensitive targets that address inequalities in vulnerabilities, age-groups’ (particularly youths’) access to and control over (political, security, social and economic) decision making institutions and processes; and gender sensitive indicators, including statistics disaggregated by sex, ethnicity and age. Such accountability should be included in the Post-2015 agenda.

2. Address root-causes of Gender Inequality with a transformative approach
  • Tackle underlying mechanisms, power structures and stereotypes. Address root-causes of Gender Inequality such as: structural and persistent discrimination against women; poverty; unequal power relations between and among women and men in different positions; gender stereotypes and attached attitudes and roles. To make Gender Equality and the empowerment of women and girls a reality there is an urgent need to understand and increase resilience against these existing mindsets (culture, traditions, fundamentalism). As they define social norms, values and gender stereotyping.
  • Gender justice should be used as umbrella to achieve comprehensive global justice. Environmental justice, economic justice and social justice are not possible without gender justice. The Post-2015 framework provides an opportunity to call attention to gender justice and use it to link different components. Examples: a gender-just inclusive economy requires gender-sensitive targets in judicial, social, and political policies. Also, for a sustainable and effective response to climate change, gender-sensitive indicators must be an integral part of all policies and actions at all levels.  
  • Ensure effective and sustainable implementation the Beijing Platform for Action. To realize this ambition, two essential approaches  need to become an integral part of any action taken by governments as well as civil society:
  • Intersectional and inclusive approach: Efforts to achieve Gender Equality need to be based on inclusive collaboration. Grasp the complexity of the challenges women face by taking into account the diversity and differences between women in term of age, disability, social economic status, ethnic background, level of education, sexual orientation, gender identity etc. Give special attention to the human rights of migrant women, ensure the involvement of diaspora women’s organizations and ensure inclusion of the younger generation, in particular adolescent girls.
  • Masculinities approach: Use a broad definition of gender in future actions. Gender justice is a shared responsibility of both women and men. An active role of men and boys in close cooperation with women’s movements and activism is essential in all gender issues to be transformative and sustainable. Empowerment of women is not possible without full inclusion of both women and men in their diversities and throughout their life-cycles.
3. Close the funding gap for Gender Equality
The lack of adequate funding and provision of other means of the implementation of the BPfA has posed major challenges to realizing women’s rights and gender equality. The same challenge was found in the lack of progress on gender dimensions in the Millennium Development Goals and is feared for the Post-2015 framework. We call for a two-track approach to close the funding gap for Gender Equality:
  • Address the gender funding gap urgently in order to realize the Beijing Platform for Action in the years to come. Current  financial allocations for the realization of women’s rights and gender equality fall short of actual need. While this is universal, it is also of particular importance to low-income countries. The realization of the Post-2015 agenda and possible goals and targets for gender equality, which will be applicable for all countries, will fall short if funding levels for gender equality stay where they are now. Focus on realistic costing, ear-marked funding, and gender responsive planning and budgeting, as well as the monitoring thereof.
  • Long-term, predictable and core funding for women’s rights organizations is essential to ensure they have the capacity to deliver on their specific roles as well as strengthen their capacity to influence and advocate for government accountability towards women. 
4. Urgent push needed as condition for change
  • Violence against women and girls and gender-based violence: There is a severe lack of implementation in the current international normative frameworks with respect to preventing, eliminating and punishing violence against women and girls and gender-based violence. A comprehensive, fully funded action plan to ensure and boost implementation is urgently needed. This should include fast-tracking the implementation of policies through strong, targeted and time-bound accountability mechanisms. Legally binding international treaties, such as CEDAW and the Istanbul Convention should be used to hold governments accountable and to push implementation at all levels.
  • Sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR): We strongly subscribe to the Co-chairperson´s conclusion of the ECE Regional Review that urgent and more action is needed in the area of SRHR. Comprehensive SRHR is a precondition for efficient and effective empowerment of women and achieving gender equality. Efforts to address sensitive issues such as eliminating harmful traditional and other discriminatory practices and early and forced marriages, diversity in sexual orientation and gender identity and access to safe abortion should be intensified and recognized as key issues in the empowerment of women and girls. In order to achieve this empowerment, universal equal access to (youth-friendly) sexual and reproductive services and comprehensive sexuality education are a main priority.
  • Conflict prevention, security and peace: In the light of rising violent fundamentalism the engagement of women in conflict prevention, peace negotiations and reconstruction of societies should be a priority in all policies and practices at all levels. Underlying gendered mechanisms that induce gendered violence in conflict and post-conflict areas should be addressed, including patriarchal structures and masculine stereotypes. Focus on the role of boys and men as Gender Equality advocates.
  • Crucial role of (lifelong) education: Education in a broad sense is a basic condition for empowerment of women and girls, as well as boys and men towards gender justice. Invest in quality of education. Include Human Rights and conflict resolution from a very early age in primary and secondary education curricula.  Remove barriers to education such as child marriages. Include basic skills necessary to ensure economic inclusion and political participation. Eradicate policies punishing gender non-conforming behavior. Engage men and boys as strategic partners and allies in reaching empowerment of women and girls, and gender justice for all.

Annex: The Netherlands’ NGO Review Report: Beijing+20

In a constructive and critical effort, the Netherlands’ civil society actors describe in the enclosed “NGO Review Report: Beijing+20” its contributions to the implementation of the BPfA as well as the Dutch government’s policy and implementation. The report is an invaluable complement to the recommendations, by providing a review of the current situation for each specific critical area, as well as specific recommendations.

[1] Following from the Netherlands’ NGO Review Report.