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(Friday, January 26, 2018)--- The theme for International Women’s Day, 8 March, is “Time is Now: Rural and urban activists transforming women’s lives”.
This year, International Women’s Day comes on the heels of unprecedented global movement for women’s rights, equality and justice. Sexual harassment, violence and discrimination against women has captured headlines and public discourse, propelled by a rising determination for change.
People around the world are mobilizing for a future that is more equal. This has taken the form of global marches and campaigns, including #MeToo in the United States of America and its counterparts in other countries, protesting against sexual harassment and violence, such as #YoTambien in Mexico, Spain, South America and beyond, #QuellaVoltaChe in Italy, #BalanceTonPorc in France and #Ana_kaman in the Arab States; “Ni Una Menos” (‘not one less’), a campaign against femicide that originated in Argentina; and many others, on issues ranging from equal pay to women’s political representation.
International Women’s Day 2018 is an opportunity to transform this momentum into action, to empower women in all settings, rural and urban, and celebrate the activists who are working relentlessly to claim women’s rights and realize their full potential.
Echoing the priority theme of the upcoming 62nd session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women, International Women’s Day will also draw attention to the rights and activism of rural women, who make up over a quarter of the world population and majority of the 43 per cent of women in the global agricultural labour force.
They till the lands and plant seeds to feed nations, ensure food security for their communities and build climate resilience. Yet, on almost every measure of development, because of deep seated gender inequalities and discrimination, rural women fare worse than rural men or urban women. For instance, less than 20 per cent of landholders worldwide are women, and while the global pay gap between men and women stand at 23 per cent, in rural areas, it can be as high as 40 per cent. They lack infrastructure and services, decent work and social protection, and are left more vulnerable to the effects of climate change.
Making the promise of the Sustainable Development Goals a reality, to leave no one behind, needs urgent action in rural areas to ensure an adequate standard of living, a life free of violence and harmful practices for rural women, as well as their access to land and productive assets, food security and nutrition, decent work, education and health, including their sexual and reproductive health and rights.
Rural women and their organizations represent an enormous potential, and they are on the move to claim their rights and improve their livelihoods and wellbeing. They are using innovative agricultural methods, setting up successful businesses and acquiring new skills, pursuing their legal entitlements and running for office. Recently, as hundreds of courageous women from the film, theatre and art industry in the USA started speaking against sexual harassment and assault by powerful men in the industry, they found a powerful ally in Alianza Nacional de Campesinas, the national farmworker women’s organization, no stranger to the abuse of power.
On 8 March, join activists around the world and UN Women to seize the moment, celebrate, take action and transform women’s lives everywhere. The time is NOW.
Registration for the 62nd session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW62) is extended to February 3, 2018, online. Representatives of NGOs in consultative status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) can register.
For more details, visit http://www.unwomen.org/en/csw/ngo-participation/registration.
December 18, 2017
The Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues will meet for its seventeenth session on 16-27 April 2018.
The Forum members have decided on changes to the two week annual session. The first week will be all open plenary meetings. There will be no closed meetings during the first week.
A condensed schedule during the first week will see the Permanent Forum discuss all substantive agenda items.
The second week will consist of closed meetings of the PFII members, with the adoption of the report on the final day.
During the second week, Members of the Permanent Forum will engage in closed meetings with indigenous peoples, Member States and UN entities as well as to prepare the Forum’s annual report, carefully considering information provided during the first week.
Statement of Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP)* for Human Rights Day 2017
Despite the adoption of Universal Declaration of Human Rights on 10 December 1948, violations against human rights remain unabated and for indigenous peoples, we continue to face the systemic, structural and cultural barriers. Our rights were finally recognized through the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) in 2007 after more than half a century after the adoption of UDHR.
But these advancements in international human rights standards for indigenous peoples have not led to effective legal protections at country level in most Asian States. Indigenous communities continue to face daunting human rights challenges even to this very day. Even more concerning, indigenous peoples’ human rights defenders (IPHRDs) are facing significant risks and reprisals, including on their lives when they speak up against violations of their rights. In 2016 alone, nearly 150 indigenous rights defenders were killed trying to protect their ancestral lands. Currently, many cases of killings of IPHRDs across Asian countries remain unsolved. In February 2017, an indigenous Lumad leader, Renato Anglao, was shot dead in front of his wife and child. That was already the third recorded killing of indigenous Lumad leaders in the Philippines in 2017 in relation to palm oil plantations and mining operations. In March, Chayaiphum Pasae, a Lahu youth activist of Thailand, who was engaged in promoting rights of indigenous communities to citizenship, education and healthcare, was shot dead by Thai military for alleged drug possession. In April, indigenous Jumma student activist of Chittagong Hill Tracts, Romel Chakma died after reportedly being tortured by Bangladesh Army.
Killings and disappearances are not only the threats against indigenous human rights defenders, including community leaders and activists. There are large number of indigenous human rights defenders across Asia who are criminalized, jailed, tortured, harassed, threatened and face other reprisals for legitimately defending their rights and those of the communities. Lack of understanding and recognition of indigenous rights also result in those defenders not being acknowledged accordingly. Their remote geographical location away from the watchful eyes of organizations in the cities and differences in language, culture and worldviews add to the challenges.
Among those facing threats and reprisals are also indigenous women human rights defenders (IWHRDs). Five women human rights defenders belonging to organizations in Cordillera people’s movement in the Philippines, who are currently facing trumped charges for alleged association with Communist rebels, is a recent case in point. In many struggles where IWHRDs confront corporate and State power, they become the target of grave gender-based violence and threats ranging from sexual harassment to exclusion from decision-making processes, smear campaigns to criminalization and assassinations.
Challenges remain and rapidly emerging as indigenous peoples are becoming more aware of their rights and continue to strengthen their solidarity and struggle for the recognition and protection of their rights. Due to lack of proper recognition of indigenous peoples’ rights, particularly land rights, many Asian governments continue to fail in bringing justice to the families of the IPHRDs targeted of State reprisals.
Together with more than 370 million indigenous peoples worldwide, AIPP remains strongly committed to strive for the realization of indigenous peoples’ human rights as stated in the UDHR and UNDRIP, among other international human rights instruments and standards, without leaving anyone behind. Further, through the Land Rights Now! campaign, AIPP, along with nearly 600 organisations and land rights champions across the world are amplifying our collective power to demand for secure land rights for indigenous peoples and local communities. This campaign includes a particular call for recognition and protection of indigenous peoples including indigenous women, youth and persons with disabilities who put their lives at risk to defend their rights.
It is a difficult road ahead, but we believe that if we remain strong and collective we will achieve our common goals to create a just and sustainable world, which is worth living for our future generations.
Gam Awungshi Shimray
Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact
Patricia Miranda Wattimena (Ms.)
Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact
* AIPP is a regional organization of indigenous peoples in Asia with 48 member organizations and movements in 14 countries. For more information, visit www.aippnet.org. For information on Indigenous Peoples Human Rights Defenders (IPHRD) Network in Asia, visit www.iphrdefenders.net
 Annual Report on Human Rights Defenders at Risk in 2016, Front Line Defenders: https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/resource-publication/annual-report-human-rights-defenders-risk-2016
 AIPP and Asia Caucus Statement on “Future work of the Expert Mechanism, including focus on next annual study”, 10th Session of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples 10 – 14 July 2017: https://aippnet.org/aipp-asia-caucus-statement-future-work-expert-mechanism-including-focus-next-annual-study/
 See Petition to President Rodrigo Duterte by Women Against Tyranny: https://www.change.org/p/president-rodrigo-roa-duterte-women-resist-tyranny-drop-all-trumped-up-charges-against-women-human-rights-defenders
A 16-part blog series by UN Women Executive Director, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka on the occasion of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign.
(Monday, November 27, 2017) -- We need to treasure our indigenous women and girls. They have unique knowledge and skills, sophisticated ecological knowledge and adaptive responses to climate variability, including environmental practices that lower carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions. As custodians of their ancestral lands and the environment upon which they depend, they are a rich source of exactly the resources that our fragile planet needs. Yet not only are indigenous peoples not able to enjoy all their rights, they are especially vulnerable to violence.
It is 10 years since the United Nations adopted the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, which drew special attention to the needs and rights of indigenous women. Yet, still this year, at UN Women’s Commission on the Status of Women, where the issue of empowering indigenous women was the central focus, those women told us that the most important challenges they faced included violence, economic empowerment, political participation and climate change.
Indigenous women cannot realize their rights nor fully participate in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development while they are subjected to inequality and violence. From sexual violence and domestic violence to labour exploitation and trafficking during times of conflict, too many indigenous women are at risk. Together, governments, UN agencies and most importantly indigenous women themselves, are taking steps to address exploitation and harassment by non-indigenous people, including ending practices that prevent indigenous women from controlling their fertility, education and lives.
Impunity for violence against indigenous women must end. Guatemala is setting an example. Thirty-four years after the rape and slavery of the indigenous Q’echi’ women of Sepur Zarco, a court has convicted former military officers of crimes against humanity. This was the first time a national court anywhere in the world had ruled on charges of sexual slavery during an armed conflict. This is a step in the right direction for indigenous women’s access to justice. Survivors and their communities are now receiving reparations. Yet at nearly four decades on, this justice is long overdue.
Message by UN Secretary-General António Guterres on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, 25 November25 November 2017, 2:32 am Written by UN Secretary-General António Guterres
(Friday, November 24, 2017)- Every woman and every girl has the right to a life free of violence. Yet this rupture of human rights occurs in a variety of ways in every community, particularly affecting those who are most marginalized and vulnerable. Around the world, more than 1 in 3 women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence in their lives; 750 million women were married before age 18, and more than 250 million have undergone Female Genital Mutilation.
Women’s rights activists are being targeted at alarming levels, and violence against women politicians impedes progress on women’s civil, political, social, economic and cultural rights.
It is now widely recognized that violence against women, including harassment and harmful practices, are major barriers to the fulfilment of human rights, and a direct challenge to women’s inclusion and participation in sustaining peace. Without tackling it, we will never fulfil the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
It is time to further our collective action to end violence against women and girls for good. That takes all of us working together in our own countries, regions and communities, at the same time, towards the same goal.
The United Nations is addressing violence against women in many ways, including the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against women; the ‘Spotlight Initiative’ with the European Union to connect our efforts with those of national governments and civil society; and the UN Safe Cities and Safe Public Spaces Global Initiative.
In addition, my zero-tolerance policy towards sexual harassment in the United Nations is part of the Strategy on Gender Parity that was launched in September. We have also committed to continuing the ‘UNiTE to End Violence against Women’ Campaign, under the new title ‘UNiTE by 2030’.
It is time for united action from all of us, so that women and girls around the world can live free from harassment, harmful practices, and all other forms of violence.
EU, ILO and UN Women join forces to realize women migrant workers' rights and opportunities in the ASEAN region21 November 2017, 8:00 am Written by UN Women
The European Union (EU), International Labour Organization (ILO) and UN Women are launching a new joint programme to address women migrant workers' vulnerabilities to violence, trafficking and labour exploitation
Monday, November 20, 2017 (Bangkok, Thailand) — On 17 November, EU, ILO and UN Women launched a new programme "Safe and Fair: Realizing women migrant workers' rights and opportunities in the ASEAN region", as part of the EU-UN Spotlight Initiative to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls.
The programme's main objective is to achieve safe and fair labour migration for all women in the ASEAN region by addressing women migrant workers' vulnerabilities, enhancing their access to essential services and strengthening rights-based and gender-responsive approaches to violence against women and migration governance.
The programme was launched at an event co-organized by the EU, ILO and UN Women to introduce the new EU-UN Spotlight Initiative, to eliminate violence against women and girls, and also the Initiative's first programme, "Safe and Fair: Realizing women migrant workers' rights and opportunities in the ASEAN region". Funded by the EU, with a budget of EUR 25 million, the programme will be implemented through a UN Women and ILO partnership. The programme will run for five years, starting 2018, and focus on ASEAN countries.
In his address to government representatives, trade unions and NGOs working on migrant rights and violence against women, students, and UN agencies, EU Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica said: "Women and girls make up over 70 per cent of all victims of human trafficking. Too often these terrible crimes go unnoticed - unseen and unspoken. And the cycles of violence continue to thrive in silence, in the darkest corners of our society. So it's up to each and every one of us - women and men alike - to stand up and to speak out! To drive out the darkness and to break the walls of silence. This is exactly what our new Spotlight Initiative aims to do."
International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, Sixteen Days of Activism against Gender Violence Statement: A life without the threat of violence for everyone: leave no one behind21 November 2017, 7:54 am Written by Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka
Message by Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women for the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, 25 November 2017
Date: Thursday, November 16, 2017
The initial response to the outpouring of ‘#MeToo’ around the world has been of outrage at the scale of sexual abuse and violence revealed. The millions of people joining the hashtag tide showed us how little they were heard before. They poured through the floodgate, opening up conversations, naming names and bolstering the frailty of individual statements with the robustness of a movement.
This virtual class action has brought strength to those whose stories would otherwise have not been told. Sexual violence in private almost always ends up as one person’s word against another, if that word is ever spoken. Even sexual violence in public has been impossible to call out when society does not view rape as a male crime but as a woman’s failing, and views that woman as dispensable.
We are seeing the ugly face of violence brought out into the light: the abuses of power that repress reporting and diminish the facts, and that exclude or crush opposition. These acts of power draw from the same roots, whether they concern the murder of a woman human rights defender standing up against big business interests in the Amazon basin, a young refugee girl forced to have sex for food or supplies, or a small business employee in London forced out of her job for being ‘difficult’, after reporting the sexual misconduct of her supervisor. In each case, and over and over, these acts of abuse have stemmed from a confidence that there will be no significant reprisal, no law invoked, no calling to account.
But everyone has the right to live their life without the threat of violence. This holds for all people, no matter what their gender, age, race, religion, ethnicity or caste, and irrespective of their income level, sexual orientation, HIV status, citizenship, where they live, or any other characteristic of their identity.
Violence against women and girls is not inevitable. There are many ways to prevent violence in the first place and to stop cycles of violence repeating.
As a society, we can support the passing and implementation of laws to protect girls and women from child marriage, FGM, domestic violence, sexual assault and harassment, and we can agitate for their impact to be properly monitored and evaluated.
The provision of essential services for survivors of violence must be comprehensive, multi-sectoral, non-judgmental, of good quality and accessible to everyone, with no exceptions. These services are the frontline of response to those whose lives have just been ruptured; they must have the survivor’s dignity and safety as central concerns.
Prevention of violence must begin early. The education system and teachers themselves are at the forefront of children and young people learning to carry forward the principles of equality, respect and non-violence for future generations. This takes appropriate curricula and role model behaviour.
What #MeToo has shown clearly is that everyone has a part to play in changing our society for the better. We must speak out against harassment and violence in our homes, workplaces, in our institutions, social settings and through our media. #MeToo has also shown us that no one is immune. All institutions need to be aware of the potential for violence to occur among their staff. With that knowledge, we must take steps to prevent it, and at the same time be well prepared to respond appropriately.
In this broad effort to end violence against women and girls, we see men as playing a vital role in bringing change. Challenging sexism, male dominance and male privilege as society’s norm starts with modeling positive masculinities. Parents can instill principles of equality, rights and respect as they raise their sons; and men can call out their peers for the behaviours that are now being understood as the unacceptable tip of the harassment iceberg.
At the heart of today’s theme of ‘leaving no one behind’, is leaving no one out. This means bringing women and girls as equals into everything that concerns them, and planning solutions to end violence with those who have been previously dismissed, sidelined or excluded.
As a global community, we can act now to end violence against women and girls, to change institutions and work together to end discrimination, restore human rights and dignity, and leave no one behind.
(Friday, August 4, 2017)-- On 9 August, we commemorate International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples to bring to bring attention to the rights and achievements of indigenous peoples. This year, marks the tenth anniversary of the UN General Assembly adopting the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples—the most comprehensive international agreement on indigenous peoples’ rights.
Ten years since the Declaration, indigenous peoples around the world have made significant progress in advocating for their rights. Yet, there continues to be a gap between policy and action. Indigenous peoples continue to face exclusion, marginalization and major challenges in enjoying their basic rights. Indigenous women and girls are particularly vulnerable and continue to face disproportionate levels of discrimination and violence. More than one in three indigenous women are raped during their lifetime and they also show higher-than-average rates of maternal mortality, teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS.
Despite the continued threats to their security, ancestral lands and the environment upon which they depend, indigenous women often serve as transmitters of indigenous knowledge and cultures. Indigenous peoples have sophisticated ecological knowledge and adaptive responses to climate variability, including environmental practices that lower carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development makes the promise to “leave no one behind”. Indigenous peoples’ and indigenous women’s rights, voices and leadership must be equally protected and promoted, to achieve sustainable development for all.
On the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, here are some voices of indigenous women from around the world.
Join the conversation by following #WeAreIndigenous and @UN_Women on Twitter. A social media package with sample messages in English, Spanish and French for sharing across platforms is available here.
GENEVA (7 August 2017) – The world’s indigenous peoples still face huge challenges a decade after the adoption of an historic declaration on their rights, a group of United Nations experts and specialist bodies has warned. Speaking ahead of the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples on 9 August, the group says States must put words into action to end discrimination, exclusion and lack of protection illustrated by the worsening murder rate of human rights defenders.
The joint statement from the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, the UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples reads as follows:
“It is now 10 years since the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was adopted by the UN General Assembly, as the most comprehensive international human rights instrument for indigenous peoples. The Declaration, which took more than 20 years to negotiate, stands today as a beacon of progress, a framework for reconciliation and a benchmark of rights.
But a decade on, we need to acknowledge the vast challenges that remain. In too many cases, indigenous peoples are now facing even greater struggles and rights violations than they did 10 years ago.
Indigenous peoples still suffer from racism, discrimination, and unequal access to basic services including healthcare and education. Where statistical data is available, it shows clearly that they are left behind on all fronts, facing disproportionately higher levels of poverty, lower life expectancy and worse educational outcomes.
Indigenous peoples face particularly acute challenges due to loss of their lands and rights over resources, which are pillars of their livelihoods and cultural identities.
Indigenous women face double discrimination, both as women and as indigenous people. They are frequently excluded from decision-making processes and land rights, and many suffer violence.
We call on all States to ensure that indigenous women fully enjoy their rights as enshrined in the Declaration and emphasize that their rights are a concern for all of us.
The worsening human rights situation of indigenous peoples across the globe is illustrated by the extreme, harsh and risky working conditions of indigenous human rights defenders.
Individuals and communities who dare to defend indigenous rights find themselves labelled as obstacles to progress, anti-development forces, and in some cases, enemies of the State or terrorists.
They even risk death. Last year alone, some sources suggest that 281 human rights defenders were murdered in 25 countries – more than double the number who died in 2014. Half of them were working to defend land, indigenous and environmental rights.
We urge States to protect indigenous human rights defenders. Crimes committed against them must be duly investigated and prosecuted, and those responsible brought to justice.
Indigenous peoples are increasingly being drawn into conflicts over their lands, resources and rights. Lasting peace requires that States, with the support of the international community, establish conflict resolution mechanisms with the full and effective participation of indigenous peoples’, in particular indigenous women.
Many States still do not recognize indigenous peoples, and in particular indigenous women and youth still face a lack of official recognition and direct political participation. Even in States where laws are in place, the Declaration has not been fully implemented.
It is also high time to recognize and strengthen indigenous peoples’ own forms of governance and representation, in order to establish constructive dialogue and engagement with international and national authorities, public officials and the private sector.
The minimum standards for the survival, dignity and well-being of the indigenous peoples of the world, as set out in the Declaration, must now be met.
These include the rights to identity, language, health, education and self-determination, alongside the duty of States to consult and cooperate with indigenous peoples to obtain their free, prior and informed consent before adopting and implementing measures that may affect them.
The Declaration represents important shifts in both structure and the practice of global politics, and the last 10 years have seen some positive changes in the situation of indigenous peoples and greater respect for indigenous worldviews.
But we still have a long way to go before indigenous peoples have full enjoyment of their human rights as expressed in the Declaration. We call on all States to close the gap between words and action, and to act now to deliver equality and full rights for all people from indigenous backgrounds.”
The Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, Ms. Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, is part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.
The Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues was established in July 2000, is an advisory body to the Economic and Social Council, with a mandate to discuss indigenous issues related to economic and social development, culture, the environment, education, health and human rights. The Forum is made up of 16 members acting in an individual capacity as independent experts on indigenous issues. Eight of the members are nominated by governments and eight by the President of ECOSOC, on the basis of broad consultation with indigenous groups. It is currently Chaired by Ms. Mariam Wallet Aboubakrine.
The Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was established in 2007 by the Human Rights Council as a subsidiary body of the Council. Its mandate is to provide the Council with expertise and advice on the rights of indigenous peoples as set out in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and to assist Member States, upon request, in achieving the ends of the Declaration through the promotion, protection and fulfilment of the rights of indigenous peoples. It is composed of seven independent experts serving in their personal capacities, and is currently chaired by Albert K. Barume.
For more information and media requests, please contact:
· For the Permanent Forum:Ms. Mirian Masaquiza (+1 917 367 9607 / www.un.org/indigenous)
For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
You can access this media statement online
Concerned about the world we live in? Then STAND UP for someone’s rights today. #Standup4humanrights and visit the web page at http://www.standup4humanrights.org