19-20 October 2011 (Seoul, South Korea)

We, the Women’s Major Group representatives at the Asia Pacific Regional Preparatory Meeting for Rio+20 call on governments to reaffirm their commitments to Agenda 21 and the Beijing Platform for Action, and fulfill their obligations to the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. We also call on governments to respect recent international agreements including the 2009 UN Conference on the World Financial and Economic Crisis and its Impact on Development where the causes and effects of the global economic, food and ecological crises were discussed and urgent measures adopted to achieve a less volatile macroeconomic environment for sustainable development, including making economic policies compatible with human rights obligations.

On the road to Rio+20, we invoke the principles enshrined in these instruments – especially non-discrimination and substantive equality and their linkages to gender, economic and ecological justice. We assert the need for a radical change in mindset necessary to steer humanity off the course of repeated crises and self-destruction. To this end, we make the following six points:

First, we are alarmed by the complete disregard for women’s human rights and gender equality in the Draft Asia Pacific Regional Statement. This is a regression from gaining an entire chapter on Women in Agenda 21 and a chapter on Women and the Environment in the Beijing Platform for Action. Governments in the Asia Pacific region must recognize that gender is cross cutting in development processes and that gender equality is vital to the achievement of sustainable development.

Second, we wish to reframe the “green economy” as “sustainable economies”. We reject current economic models pursued in the name of efficiency and economic growth, but are in fact driven by profit and greed, and have resulted in unprecedented levels of poverty, inequality and food insecurity that disproportionately affect women. Instead we are working to realize “sustainable economies” that are gender just and enable long-term social and well-being outcomes for present and future generations, especially marginalized groups such as indigenous, ethnic and sexual minority groups.

As women comprise half the world’s population and also count among the poorest, a “sustainable economy” must recognize women’s paid and un(der)paid contributions to economic production, must generate sustainable livelihoods by which women can realize the full enjoyment of their human rights, including sexual and reproductive rights, and prevent all forms of discrimination and violence in women’s exercise of their economic rights and co-stewardship of the earth’s resources. Central to this is women’s unmediated right to access, own, control and benefit from productive resources and assets, which includes land, water, seeds, energy sources, livestock, financial resources, public subsidies and appropriate technologies.

Third, women farmers must be recognized as co-managers of community resource bases and co-decision-makers in determining the use of natural resources and the distribution of benefits arising from them. They must be assured of capacity development in bio-diverse ecological agriculture including humane sustainable livestock and fisheries production, necessary rural infrastructure, appropriate technologies and marketing skills for their economic autonomy. We further seek from our governments a commitment to the rapid reduction and elimination of toxic substances and highly hazardous pesticides and fertilizers, while steadily phasing-in non-chemical approaches.

There is much to learn from gender-responsive good practices on agro-ecology and sustainable natural resource use and management that strive for balance and synergy between humans and nature. It must also be recognized that woman can capacitate “sustainable economies”, with their indigenous and traditional knowledge systems which should be protected from appropriation and exploitation by big business.

Fourth, as marginalized and excluded groups, women bear the harshest impacts of the current climate crisis, including increased ecological and economic displacement. States must address the gender-differentiated impacts of climate change while ensuring greater and more meaningful participation of women in the climate deliberations and outcomes, and in adaptation and mitigation strategies.

Fifth, distressed migration is a phenomenon across many countries in our region, with women comprising the bulk of those who migrate from rural to urban areas and from developing to developed countries. Governments must address the huge social costs resulting from distressed migration by addressing women’s economic deprivation and environmental degradation.

Sixth, women are greatly concerned by corporate driven technological solutions to climate change that are harmful to the planet and people. Such technologies must be subject to rigorous, transparent and participatory assessments including the implications on women’s and children’s health and well-being.

We take a firm position against nuclear energy as one of the ‘solutions’ to the energy crisis. It is neither clean nor sustainable, as many nuclear disasters have already so painfully pointed out. States must immediately phase out nuclear energy and seek fresh and up-scaled financial resources to shift the world to green (renewable) energy, which will benefit all of humankind.

In closing, we expect nothing less from Rio+20 than a commitment to promoting sustainable development and gender equality in ways that go beyond the limited “add women and stir” approach, and which genuinely recognize women’s co-leadership and co-stewardship. Toward this end we call for sex disaggregated data and gender budgets to assure equitable resource allocation.

We further insist on the full realization of the Rio Principles including the precautionary principle, common but differentiated responsibilities, polluter pays, and Principle 10 on access to information and justice. We, the Women’s Major Group call on all our governments to take action now.

*Women’s Major Group Members at the Asia Pacific Regional Preparatory Meeting for Rio+20:
Kaisha Atakhanova,
Social Eco-Fund/ EcoForum, Kazakhstan
Meena Bilgi,
Women Organizing for Change in Agriculture and Natural Resource Management
Mae Buenaventura,
Women Legal and Human Rights Bureau/ Freedom from Debt Coalition
Marjo Busto,
Pesticide Action Network Asia Pacific/ Asian Rural Women’s Coalition
Arze Glipo Carasco,
Asia Pacific Network on Food Sovereignty
Youngsook Cho,
International Solidarity Center, Korean Women's Association United
Sarala Gopalan,
World Farmers Organization
Govind Kelkar,
Asia Pacific Forum on Women Law and Development (APWLD)
Anita Nayar,
Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era (DAWN)
Yukiko Oda,
Japan Women’s Watch/ Kitakyushu Institute on Sustainability
Daphne Roxas,
Asian Women Network on Gender and Development
Gajender Sharma,
World Society for the Protection of Animals
Tess Vistro,
Asia Pacific Forum on Women Law and Development (APWLD)/ National Federation of Peasant Women


Further endorsements by women’s NGOs and allies active across the Asia Pacific region:

Nimra Amjad-Archer,
Shirkat Gah, Pakistan
Dwi Astuti, Executive Director
Bina Desa, Indonesia
Zohra Andi Baso,
Women Concern Forum of South Sulawesi, Indonesia
Eleanor Blomstrom,
Women’s Environment & Development Organization
Aditya Bondyopadhyay,
Adhikaar-SALGBT Network, India
Dr. Dina Bowman,
University of Melbourne, Australia
Virisila Buadromo, Executive Director
Fiji Women’s Rights Movement
Lice Cokanasiga, Alumni
Gender, Economic and Ecological Justice (GEEJ) Pacific
Celita Eccher, Coordinator
Gender and Education Office–International Council for Adult Education
Rosa Koian,
Bismarck Ramu Group, Papua New Guinea
Ulamila Kurai Wragg, Coordinator
Pacific Gender Climate Coalition
Edmund McWilliams,
The West Papua Advocacy Team
Mumtaz Mughal, Regional Coordinator
Aurat Foundation, Pakistan
Peni Moore, Noelene Nabulivou & Sima Chand, Management Collective Members,
Women’s Action for Change, Fiji
Maureen Penjueli, Coordinator
Pacific Network on Globalisation (PANG)
Kris Prasad, President
Drodrolagi Movement, Fiji
Ashwin Raj, STAR Project Manager
University of the South Pacific, Fiji
Ruth Russell,
Women's International League for Peace & Freedom, Australia
Kairangi Samuela,
Punanga Tauturu Inc, Rarotonga Cook Islands
Mida Saragih,
KIARA / The People's Coalition for Fisheries Justice, Indonesia
Anasuya Sengupta, Asia & Oceania Director
The Global Fund for Women
Ethel Sigamanu, Permanent Secretary
Ministry of Women, Youth, Children and Family Affairs, Solomon Islands
Veena Sikri, Convenor
South Asia Women's Network (SWAN)
Nalini Singh,
Asian-Pacific Resource & Research Centre for Women (ARROW), Malaysia
Fumi Suzuki, Executive Director
Space Allies, Japan
Angela Taft, National Convenor
PHAA Women's Health Special Interest Group, The Public Health Association of Australia
Phuntshok C. Tshering,
Bhutan Association of Women Entrepreneurs
Yvonne Underhill-Sem,
University of Auckland, Aotearoa/New Zealand
Isis International



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