SOGI, climate change, and feminist organizations featured in discussions

The Asian and Pacific Conference on Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment: Beijing+20 Review in Bangkok began today. Governments from the Asia and Pacific will listen to issues related to women equality and the empowerment of women for the next four days. At the end of the Conference, States' pledges and priority areas for investment for the next five years will be included in a final ministerial declaration that will also serve as the regional input into the global review process dialogue to be held in 2015 at the 59th Session on the Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW).

The Conference Secretariat opened the ceremony with statements by UN Women representative, Roberta Clarke, Shun-ichi Murata, Deputy Executive Secretary of ESCAP, and the Thailand Minister for Social Development and Human Securities, Adul Saensingkaew. Eni Lestari Andayani, representing the civil society organizations.

Among other things, Andayani highlighted the need for accountability. "Accountability means that the least powerful amongst us are able to hold the most powerful to account for their actions," she said. The civil society representative cited the key areas of concern that continue to impact on women's human rights: women's sexual rights, an increased militarism, fundamentalism, and extremism, and the injustice of the current development model. "Development justice requires transformative, redistributive, economic, environmental, gender, sexual, and social justice," Andayani added. (Click here: to read the complete statement by civil society organizations).

In the afternoon States debated the draft of the ministerial outcomes document. These are some of the highlights:

  • The Philippines and the Pacific Island countries asked to include specific categories for protection under the human rights and fundamental freedoms of women including sex, migration status, ethnicity, and marital status.
  • Russia asked for an explanation on the difference between "sex and gender", when the word sex was included as a separate category by Fiji.
  • The Pacific Island countries suggested language on indigenous people.
  • Cambodia proposed to include the protection on the grounds on sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) with regards to gender-based discrimination, which was supported by a number of states including Australia, Fiji, Palau, Cook Islands, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Timor Leste, Tuvalu, and France. It faced opposition from Iran, Pakistan, Russia, Indonesia, Bangladesh.
  • Indonesia asked for the inclusion of women's studies centers and academics while Tonga included feminist organizations in the realization of equality & empowerment recognition for their contribution to women's human rights.
  • States debated on the issue of "various forms of the family."
  • Philippines and the Pacific Islands included language on climate change and climate justice.
  • On issues related to the discrimination faced by women and girls in the exclusion from ownership of land and other assets and access to finance, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Australia, Maldives, and Palau added diverse women, women heads of household, divorced women, vulnerable groups of women and girls, widowed women, unmarried women, and internally displaced (IDP) women, to reflect the diverse needs of women.

The discussion on the agreed language for the ministerial declaration will continue tomorrow.

In the meantime:

Read the CSO Statement.
Read the statements delivered by the CSO during the plenary.
Listen to the podcasts from the CSO Forum.

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