Commission on the Status of Women Sixty-second session 12 – 23 March 2018 

Challenges and opportunities in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls 

Agreed conclusions  

1. The Commission on the Status of Women reaffirms the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the outcome documents of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly and the declarations adopted by the Commission on the occasion of the tenth, fifteenth and twentieth anniversaries of the Fourth World Conference on Women.   

2. The Commission reiterates that the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the Optional Protocols thereto, as well as other relevant conventions and treaties, such as the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, provide an international legal framework and a comprehensive set of measures for realizing gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls and the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all women and girls, including those living in rural areas, throughout their life cycle.
 
3. The Commission reaffirms that the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the outcome documents of its reviews, and the outcomes of relevant major United Nations conferences and summits and the follow-up to those conferences and summits, have laid a solid foundation for sustainable development and that the full, effective and accelerated implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action will make a crucial contribution to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and to achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls, including those living in rural areas.

 4. The Commission reaffirms the commitments to gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls made at relevant United Nations summits and conferences, including the International Conference on Population and Development and its Programme of Action and the outcome documents of its reviews. It recognizes that the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) Accelerated Modalities of Action (SAMOA) Pathway, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, and the New Urban Agenda contribute, inter alia, to the improvement of the situation of rural women and girls. The Commission also recalls the Paris Agreement adopted under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.  

5. The Commission also recalls the United Nations Declaration on the Right to Development and the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants.   

6. The Commission recognizes the importance of relevant International Labour Organization standards related to the realization of women’s right to work and rights at work that are critical for the economic empowerment of women, including those in rural areas, and recalls the decent work agenda of the International Labour Organization and the International Labour Organization Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, and notes the importance of their effective implementation, including in rural areas.   

7. The Commission acknowledges the important role played by regional conventions, instruments and initiatives in their respective regions and countries, and their follow-up mechanisms, in the achievement of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls, including those in rural areas.   

8. The Commission emphasizes the mutually reinforcing relationship among achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls, including those in rural areas, and the full, effective and accelerated implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the gender-responsive implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It acknowledges that gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls and women’s full and equal participation and leadership in the economy are essential for achieving sustainable development, promoting peaceful, just and inclusive societies, enhancing sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth and productivity, ending poverty in all its forms and dimensions everywhere and ensuring the well-being of all.  
 
9. The Commission reaffirms that the promotion and protection of, and respect for, the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all women and girls, including the right to development, which are universal, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated, are crucial for women’s economic empowerment and should be mainstreamed into all policies and programmes aimed at the eradication of poverty and women’s economic empowerment, and also reaffirms the need to take measures to ensure that every person is entitled to participate in, contribute to and enjoy economic, social, cultural and political development, and that equal attention and urgent consideration should be given to the promotion, protection and full realization of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. 

10. The Commission recognizes that rural women’s equal economic rights, economic empowerment and independence are essential to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda. It underlines the importance of undertaking legislative and other reforms to realize the equal rights of women and men, as well as girls and boys where applicable, to access economic and productive resources, including land and natural resources, property and inheritance rights, appropriate new and existing technology, financial products and services, including but not limited to microfinance, and women’s full and productive employment and decent work, and equal pay for equal work or work of equal value, in both agricultural and nonagricultural activities in rural areas.    

11. The Commission reiterates that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development needs to be implemented in a comprehensive manner, reflecting its universal, integrated and indivisible nature, taking into account different national realities, capacities and levels of development and respecting each country’s policy space and leadership while remaining consistent with relevant international rules and commitments, including by developing cohesive sustainable development strategies to achieve gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls. The Commission affirms that Governments have the primary responsibility for the follow-up to and review of the 2030 Agenda at the national, regional and global levels with regard to progress made.  

12. The Commission recognizes that progress in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls, in particular in rural areas, and the realization of their human rights has been held back owing to the persistence of historical and structural unequal power relations between women and men, poverty, inequalities and disadvantages in access to, ownership and control over resources, growing gaps in equality of opportunity and limited access to universal healthcare services and secondary and postsecondary education, gender-based violence, discriminatory laws and policies, negative social norms and gender stereotypes, and unequal sharing of unpaid care and domestic work. It stresses the urgency of eliminating these structural barriers to realize gender equality and empower rural women and girls. 

For the full list of conclusions, click here: http://www.unwomen.org/-/media/headquarters/attachments/sections/csw/62/outcome/csw62-agreed-conclusions-advanced-unedited-version-en.pdf?la=en&vs=3837

African Women’s CSW62 Advocacy Position & Policy Recommendations on the CSW62 Priority Theme: “Challenges and Opportunities in Achieving Gender Equality and Empowerment of Rural Women and Girls”

and Review Theme: “Participation in and access of women to the media, and information and communications technologies and their impact on and use as an instrument for the advancement and empowerment of women”

In a bid to strengthen African women’s participation and contribution to the 62nd Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW62), FEMNET and NGO CSW/Africa in partnership with UN Women and other partners, convened a Regional Strategy Meeting of Civil Society in Johannesburg in October 2017. The convening mapped out key strategies for comprehensive and substantive participation of women and girls living in rural areas. A wider civil society participation pre, during and post CSW62 was also agreed upon. Three National Assemblies in Kenya, Malawi and Cameroon of women living in rural areas were held prior to the regional convening to amplify the voices of rural women and girls to ensure meaningful participation and recognition of their role in shaping and contributing to broader sustainable development agendas.  Following this in February 2018, a wider Regional Pre-CSW62 Strategy Meeting of women’s rights organizations was held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The above processes culminated in a common advocacy position and policy recommendations with key messages to be used to lobby governments prior to and during the CSW62; the common position and the regional strategy meeting are key tools in sustaining advocacy momentum and the exchange of ideas, information and strategies beyond CSW62. The Pre-CSW62 Strategy Meeting brought together national, sub-regional and regional representatives of women’s rights organisations, UN agencies and partners working and supporting the work of women’s rights organisations in East, West, North, South and Central Africa.

Below are the consensus recommendations of the Addis Ababa convening that will be presented at the global CSW62 convening in March 2018.

A. Strengthen normative and legal frameworks and eliminate laws and policies that discriminate against women and girls living in rural communities

  1. Adopt effective measures to reduce infrastructural barriers, high illiteracy rates, violence against women and girls overall inequality in distribution of health resources and increase access to comprehensive SRHR information and services for women and girls living in rural areas. SRHR is inextricably linked to the attainment of broader developmental goals. The recognition is enshrined within the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development through specific targets (3.7 and 5.6) . Realization of SRHR for women and girls living in rural areas is key towards the achievement of Africa’s Agenda 2063 aspirations for structural transformation and inclusive development for all. Ensure there is comprehensive pathways for addressing violence against woman and girls living in rural areas by providing standard operating procedures, safe houses/shelters, referral pathways, psychosocial support, reintegration into communities, comprehensive care and treatment and link to economic empowerment. Women and girls living in rural areas face all forms of violation and abuses that go unreported due to lack of information, services, long distance traveled and in some cases they are forced to go back to the perpetrators who are not brought to book or protected by the family or traditional leaders. We call for member states to put in place adequate safeguarding mechanisms to end violence aganist women living in rural and marginalized communities.
  2. Calls for the mainstreaming of SRHR  in women’s empowerment programmes in rural settings with special reference to young, poor, and women living with disabilities and women living with HIV/AIDs and survivors of sexual and gender based violence (SGBV) and fistulas. Remove legal, policy and administrative barriers to  infrastructure, education, gender equality,  distribution of health resources for human resources and commodities. Ensure access to affordable, available, accessible, non-judgemental and quality comprehensive SRHR services and information including age appropriate comprehensive sexuality education (CSE), family planning, contraceptives and safe abortion. Ensure adequate financing for SRH services especially youth friendly services and stigma-free HIV testing including free screening for non-communicable diseases and treatment.  Eliminate patriarchal and harmful practices such as early and forced child marriage, breast ironing and female genital mutilation and cutting (FGM/C). Collaborate with faith based, religious and cultural  leaders to address harmful social norms and practices. Call on States to meet and surpass the minimum 15% (Abuja Declaration) allocation of national budgets.
  3. Recognize and address the disproportionate burden of HIV and AIDS on adolescent young girls and women which is characterized by a feminized epidemic and sustained by gender inequalities and structural barriers to access to services. Lack of access to sexual and reproductive health and rights information, education and services, compounded by vulnerability from harmful cultural and social norms, African women and girls especially in the rural areas continue to bear a disproportionate burden of the HIV burden and face challenges to access and adhere to treatment and care services. We call for government to accelerate gender-responsive HIV prevention, care and treatment programs and policies that do not criminalize women and girls in their diversity and ensure that they are supported to achieve viral suppression.

B. Implement economic and social policies for the empowerment of women and girls living in rural communities

  1. Invest and commit resources towards the empowerment and advancement of the rights of women and girls living in rural areas and create an enabling environment for their full and meaningful participation in the formulation of inclusive economic and development policies. Frame women’s economic empowerment and justice to include their access to and control over economic resources such as land, access to decent work, control over their own time and meaningful participation in economic decision-making at all levels not just at micro but also macro levels from the household to international institutions and policy spaces. Ensure policies include effective measures to link women’s produce and goods to regional and global markets and protect and prioritize domestic production. Ensure meaningful involvement and engagement of women and girls living in rural communities at all levels of community economic empowerment project design, process cycle phase and data collection processes.
  2. Adopt integrated and intersectional approaches to women’s economic empowerment and justice. Recognise the intersectionality of unpaid care work, agroecology and the rural economy. Establish alternative national models of women’s livelihood which recognizes the intersectionality of issues for women living in rural areas and respects the indivisibility of their rights, in particular the intersectionality of unpaid care work, violence against women, agroecology, market access and women’s economic empowerment. Integrated strategies, will secure decent livelihoods, economic justice and end all forms of violence against women. Additionally, there is a strong need to provide a forum for women entrepreneurs living in rural areas to collectively address their barriers and access to timely trade information, quality training, as well as access to national, regional and global markets and value chains.
  3. Generate and proactively publish data along open data standards for all aspects of life for women and girls living in rural areas. Data should be disaggregated by gender, age, economic quintile, geographic location and include qualitative data that tells lived realities and experiences of young women and girls. Technology and data are key to ensuring women are not left behind. Data is key to getting an accurate picture of gaps for meaningful interventions. It supports evidence-based, effective policy interventions. Ensure the meaningful involvement and participation of women and girls throughout data collection processes including policy advocacy. The Africa Data Consensus guides and pushes for a stronger approach to inclusive data to inform policy makers. Emerging initiatives such as Equal Measures 2030[1] works to ensure that there are connections made between data and evidence on the lives of women and girls informing development of actions.
  4. Promote tax justice through progressive fiscal policies at national and global levels. Taxation is universally agreed to be one of the most sustainable and predictable sources of financing for the provision of public goods and services as well as being a vital mechanism for addressing inequality, including gender inequality[2]. When illicit financial flows (IFFs) are rampant in a country, they contribute to preventing governments from fulfilling their human rights obligations and specifically to women and girls by limiting their resource base. Africa continues to lose a conservative figure of $50 billion annually from illicit financial flows which would otherwise contribute to addressing gender inequality especially for women and girls in rural areas. We therefore call for the creation of a global UN tax body which will help curb this phenomenon. Additionally, we call for progressive national tax systems that ensure fair collection and equitable distribution of public revenue.
  5. Establish transparent affirmative action initiatives to empower women living in rural areas through public procurement. Public procurement forms a large majority of African governments’ expenditure, creating a significant market opportunity and unique fiscal route for women-owned businesses and inclusive economic growth. Proactive disclosure, usability and accessibility of procurement related data and information as relates to the planning, award, implementation and oversight of public contracts set aside to empower women will strengthen accountability and overall effectiveness of affirmative action economic goals.
  6. Recognize, value, reduce and redistribute women’s unpaid care work; including through universally accessible, affordable, quality gender-responsive public social services. It is important to include the unpaid work of women as carers, farmers, producers and processors in gender-sensitive women’s economic empowerment programmes and policies. Governments must measure and reflect unpaid care work in the national GDP; and ultimately, increase budgetary and resource allocation for effective implementation of policies to address unpaid care work, exploitative domestic work intensify data and evidence to track unpaid care work, agroecology and ratified mechanisms on violence against women at community and national levels.
  7. Protect and guarantee women’s right to land, land tenure security and access to natural resources. Take effective measures to curb widespread gender discrimination that systematically hinders secure access to and ownership of land and other productive resources for women living in rural areas. Ensure equality in rights of inheritance between female and male children. This will enhance livelihoods of women and girls as well as advance meaningful economic empowerment.
  8. Support women living in rural areas individually and collectively to access and control quality trainings for value chain, equipments and comply with the international and national standards to access markets within and outside their countries.
  9. Transform existing agricultural policies, fully embracing climate resilient sustainable agriculture (CRSA) as an alternative model that is economically viable, addresses the specific needs and protects the rights of women, and is environmentally sustainable; this includes attention to corporate accountability as well as public agricultural financing and budgeting.

C. Strengthen the collective voice, leadership and decision making of women and girls living in rural communities

  1. Adopt concrete measures and meaningful engagement to leverage rural women’s agency and address the under representation of women and girls living in rural communities in politics, policy and decision-making at multiple-levels from households to regional and global policy spaces and institutions. Tailor and implement comprehensive measures to eliminate existing barriers[3] and ensure the full, equal and effective participation of women, young women and girls in decision-making and leadership at all levels. In addition, it is important to strengthen individual and collective leadership skills and competencies.
  2. Take action on existing commitments to provide opportunities and strengthen capacity of  women and young women (including refugees and IDPs) to actively and meaningfully participate in national planning, policy design, implementation and budgeting as well as in responses to shocks, conflict and humanitarian crises all of which impact their livelihoods and wellbeing. Ensure women and girls in rural areas are respected and recognised as equal citizens and benefit from all forms of development so at to meet and enjoy their full potential. Call for women and girls in rural areas to have easy access to civil registration.
  3. Support the leadership, collective action and bargaining of women and especially young women in farmers groups, enterprises and civil society organizations to address their needs and priorities in economic and political decision-making and policy formulation so as to advance gender equality and women’s empowerment.
  4. Properly resource, affordable, quality education systems including in STEM related fields and public participation mechanisms that support meaningful engagement for policy influencing of women from community levels to national, regional and international levels. This will advance inclusivity rural women and girls living n rural areas in shaping macroeconomic and scientific processes and decisions and promote.

 

D. Participation and access of women to the media, and information and communications technologies and their impact on and use as an instrument for the advancement and empowerment of women

  1. Promote the use of new information and communication technology by women and girls in rural communities, increase the publication of open data that relates to this vulnerable group and ensure that this data contributes effectively to improving their lives. New information and communication technology will also help collate testimonies that can in turn influence policy processes.
  2. Strengthen prevention and response mechanisms to technology assisted violence against women. Promote public awareness on technology assisted violence against women.
  3. Improve capacity and technical competence of duty bearers on substantive investigation, collection and presentation of evidence and prosecution of perpetrators of technology assisted violence against women.

Follow/ Engage online using hashtag #CSW62Africa

[1] http://www.equalmeasures2030.org/

[2] Curbing Illicit Financial Flows and dismantling secrecy jurisdictions to advance women’s rights

https://www.globaltaxjustice.org/sites/default/files/20160818_iff_grondona-bidegain-rodriguez.pdf

[3] Barriers include and are not limited to harmful and retrogressive media stereotypes, harmful cultural and religious narratives, corruption, gender based violence, financial restraints

Official registration for the sixty-second session of the Commission on the Status of Women, to be held from 12 to 23 March 2018 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, is open through 27 January 2018Please click here for the invitation letter containing important information and instructions on how to register.
 
For more information on participation in CSW62 please visit:
http://www.unwomen.org/en/csw/ngo-participation
 
We look forward to seeing your representative(s) at CSW62 in New York in March.

If your organization does not have ECOSOC status you are advised to reach out to organizations with ECOSOC status to register yourself.