EUROPEAN AND NORTH AMERICAN CAUCUS STATEMENT
This Joint Statement of the European & Nth American Caucus to the Commission on the Status of Women in its 56th Session recognizes that many issues of fundamental importance to rural women & girls are already included in the draft text. Yet this is not the first time CSW has addressed the rights & position of rural women & girls; hence, action is all the more imperative. Here we emphasize issues & recommend language the Commission may like to adopt. Language is power and power effects change. Thus,
(1) Empowerment of rural & remote area women can be achieved only through the full implementation & enforcement of women’s rights as human rights for all women.
(2) Rural & remote area women & girls are disadvantaged in all member states, including developed & industrialized nations, and recognition of rural & remote area women & girls, including women & girl leaders, in all regions is vital.
(3) A significant proportion of rural & remote area women & girls are constituted by migrant women, including refugees & asylum seekers, indigenous women & women of all minorities.
(4) Marital status & particularly widowhood has a profound effect on women, and can negate or lessen seriously the rights of rural & remote area women.
(5) The effects of climate change & environmental exploitation & degradation are seriously affecting the human rights of all women & girls, particularly rural & remote area women & girls & those from small island & coastal nations.
(6) Natural disasters & disasters caused or exacerbated by human failures of commission & omission often have a proportionately greater impact upon rural & remote area women.
(7) Environmental exploitation & abuses, whether engaged in by nation states or corporations & other private sector bodies, including claims of ‘ownership’ of the genome, plant & animal, violate human rights & can constitute crimes against humanity.
(8) Military expenditure harms women& girls disproportionately and denies resources essential to eliminating violence against women and ending exploitation, abuse & discrimination against women & girls.
Consequently, the Commission on the Status of Women in the 56th session must:
First: Incorporate into all its resolutions, reviews & outcomes issues (1)-(8) as requiring urgent attention & constructive measures for the improvement of the status of rural & remote area women & girls, to guarantee all women & girls’ full human rights.
Secondly: In its resolutions require that member states, with the participation of women’s NGOs & civil society:
a) engage in constructive conversation with the United Nations in all its constituent bodies to formulate & advance policies to combat climate change and to end environmental exploitation & degradation, including environmental crimes and, within their own borders, formulate, implement & monitor policies accordingly;
b) ensure access of all women & girls, including rural & remote area women, to publicly funded & delivered health services, clean water & sanitation services, comprehensive education at all levels, decent work & labour conditions, childcare, affordable housing, transport & communication services as a priority is recognized in determining the distribution of resources;
c) affirm women’s reproductive rights and ensure women’s access to family planning services and girls’ access to education relating to health including sexual health;
d) legislate to include non-discrimination on the basis of all attributes & identities used to deny women & girls’ rights, including but not limited to marital status as well as sex/gender, age, pregnancy, lactation & family responsibilities in all areas of activity including employment, education, services & housing/accommodation;
e) end ‘land grabbing’ (by reference to CEDAW para 4.1), including the denial to separated & divorced women of their rightful entitlement to their share of marital or family assets, including real property;
f) end the violation of young women & girls’ rights through early marriage;
g) redirect military spending toward the goal of peace.
We urge the Commission to honour in this 56th session and in all its work the full content & vital importance of all NGO statements made this day and during this session.
This joint statement was made to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women in its 56th session on 5 March 2012 in New York. It is included here as contemporary history/herstory involving women’s activism in the United Nations and at global level.