Indigenous women at CSW60
NEW YORK (29 March 2016). After 2 weeks of intense deliberations and negotiations, the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) on 24 March ended its 60th session in New York. This year’s Commission on the Status of Women saw an increased focus on empowerment of indigenous women in two adopted documents and through the many powerful interventions of indigenous women throughout the two weeks.
The adopted Agreed Conclusions of the 60th Commission on the Status of Women make direct reference to indigenous women and recognize the distinct and important contribution of indigenous women and girls to sustainable development. The Commission hence urges Governments to… “Formulate and implement, in collaboration with indigenous peoples, in particular indigenous women and their organizations, policies and programmes designed to promote capacity-building and strengthen their leadership while recognizing the distinct and important role of indigenous women and girls in sustainable development; and prevent and eliminate discrimination and violence against indigenous women and girls which has a negative impact on their human rights and fundamental freedoms, and which they are disproportionately vulnerable to, and that constitutes a major impediment to indigenous women’s full, equal and effective participation in society, the economy, and political decision-making…”.
Moreover, in the resolution that decides the Multiyear Programme of work ( 2017 to 2019), highlights empowerment of indigenous women as a focus area in next years’ Commission on the Status of Women. Referring to the Outcome Document of the 2014 World Conference on Indigenous Peoples, the Commission hence recalled “the invitation to the Commission on the Status of Women to consider the issue of the empowerment of indigenous women at a future session, as stated in paragraph 19 of General Assembly resolution 69/2 of 22 September 2014, and acknowledging the intention to place this issue as a focus area of its sixty-first session”.
These achievements were reached among others as a result of the consistent calls from the indigenous women’s rights movement and the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. Over the last 15 years, the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues has made more than 150 recommendations on indigenous women. There has been a consistent push to bring indigenous women’s rights from the margins to the center of the international women’s rights movement. While indigenous women have been strong advocates for women’s rights and equality in their communities for long, it is primarily since the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995, that they started to take their stories and demands to the international level in different international forums, including the Commission on the Status of Women. Indigenous women are looking forward to participate actively at the UN Secretary-General’s High Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment.
This year, the delegation of indigenous women at CSW was greater than ever before, including a multitude of side-events, media engagements, formal statements and active discussions. These women embodied what empowered indigenous women can achieve when they are enabled to participate at local, national and global level. “Indigenous women are the transmitters of indigenous cultures, their knowledge, and their traditions. They must be part of the solution, and have the resources, recognition and support to enable them to take charge of their destinies as actors and decision-makers”, stated Professor Megan Davis in a recent statement on the International Women’s Day. With this year’s Commission on the Status of Women, a great step forward towards the empowerment of indigenous women was taken.