DEMANDS OF THE WOMEN FROM SOUTHEAST ASIA
The heads of States and government delegations will be meeting next week from 20 – 22 June
2012 in Rio for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio +20). This will culminate in the
adoption of an outcome document which is currently going through the final stages of negotiations
at the Preparatory Committee meeting from 13 – 15 June 2012.
The Women’s Major Group has been carrying forth the demands of numerous groups on women’s
human rights and gender equality. The Southeast Asia women’s groups which met in Bangkok for
the SEA Consultation on Using CEDAW to Draw Accountability for Women’s Human Rights
in Development from 5 – 8 June 20121 call on the States to ensure women’s human rights and
gender equality remains an integral part of the development agenda.
We call on the States to be guided by the following principles towards ensuring the promotion and
protection of women’s human rights in the outcome document:
The foundational nature of human rights being Universality and Inalienability.
Indivisibility & Inter-relatedness (non-hierarchical) of human rights which cannot be
exercised in isolation.
Non-Retrogression2 - once a particular level of enjoyment of rights has been realized, it should
Non-discrimination – to prohibit discrimination in addition to mere avoidance of active
discrimination. It includes proactive measures to ensure that the specific needs of vulnerable
and/or marginalized groups, women, people living in informal settlements, and excluded
minorities are addressed
◦ Address direct and indirect discrimination.
◦ Address discrimination in both the private and public divide.
◦ Eliminate discrimination in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field,
including those based on race, ethnicity, religion or belief, health, status, age, class, caste
and sexual orientation and gender identity
◦ States to regulate and hold non-State actors accountable to violations and discrimination
Substantive equality – to ensure equality of opportunity, access and benefits.
◦ States to address the impact of historical and structural discrimination against women and
include temporary special measures and increase participation of women as necessary
measures to accelerate the achievement of gender equality.
1 The Consultation was organized by the International Women’s Rights Action Watch (IWRAW) Asia Pacific with support from the Center for
Women’s Global Leadership (CWGL) and Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era (DAWN)
2 recalling the statement made by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms. Navanethem Pillay, in a letter dated 30 March 2012 to all ambassadors to the UN in New York, in which she stressed that,
“The  (Rio) Declaration is thoroughly infused with human rights considerations essential to sustainable development. Its 27 principles put human beings and their right to a healthy and productive life at the centre of concerns for sustainable development. It specifically invoked the right to development, called for action to reduce disparities in standards of living, affirmed the role of women, indigenous peoples and local communities in sustainable development, and called for the protection of people living under repression and occupation. It emphasized the meaningful participation of people, called for access to information, and to remedies and redress. It addressed liability for perpetrators, compensation for victims, and legal development to ensure extra-territorial accountability. And it called for the use of impact assessments to avoid harm in the first place. In sum, the Rio Declaration integrated human rights in its approach to sustainable development.”
Respect, promote, protect and fulfill women’s human rights by “adopting appropriate legislation and other measures including sanctions where appropriate, prohibiting all discrimination against women.”
3 ◦ Non derogation - a range of human rights that States cannot derogate from even in public
emergencies or without derogation of their obligations to private actors.
◦ Extra territorial obligations - refer to the obligations of States to respect, protect and fulfil
a person's human rights not only within, but also outside their territories. In the light of the ongoing globalization processes, it is inevitable to take into account the international dimension of human rights in policy-making.
Accountability, Participation and Transparency - governments are obliged to provide
mechanisms through which citizens (women and men equally) and all peoples can hold the State and private actors accountable, participate constructively in decision and policy-making, and access information required to do so.
Due diligence – to adopt a conceptual and policy framework to anchor the business and human
rights debate, and to help guide all relevant actors. The framework should consist of three
1. The State’s duty to protect against human rights abuses by third parties, including business
and international financial institutions, through appropriate implementation of policies,
regulation, and adjudication;
2. The corporate responsibility to respect human rights, which means to act with due diligence
and put in safeguards to avoid infringing on the rights of others; and
3. Greater and direct access for victims to effective remedy, judicial and non-judicial.
Requirement of Progressive Realization - States must take specific steps to ensure that
people’s rights improve over time.
Maximum Available Resources - requires States to show that they are using the maximum of
their available resources to ensure realisation of rights.
◦ Resource availability depends on the level of economic output, growth rate, the level and
growth of inflows of resources from other economies and the ways in which States mobilise
resources from citizens to fund its obligation to fulfill human rights.
Minimum Core Obligations/Minimum Essential Levels - there is a threshold within which
States must comply.
5 DEMANDS OF THE WOMEN FROM SOUTHEAST ASIA
We call on the States to ensure the integration of the above principles, on the basis of social justice,
equality and non-discrimination against women, in relation to the following:
i) Recognition of women’s human rights and participation of ALL women
a. To ensure the recognition of women’s human rights and participation of all women in
development related standard setting and interpretation processes, including marginalised
and vulnerable groups such as indigenous women, disabled women, rural women, ethnic
and religious minorities, stateless women, refugees, migrant women, trafficked women,
lesbian and transgender women, widows as well as older women, amongst others.
ii) Women’s right to land and property
a. Promotion and protection of women’s right to land and property ownership should include
the elimination and modification of pervasive social and cultural patterns of conduct through
the removal and elimination of prejudicial and stereotypical laws and practices (customary,
religious or others) that contributes to discrimination.
3 Article 2(b) – Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW)
b. All laws and practices that negatively affect women's right to housing, land and property and
access to forest should be abolished, including those that leads to land grabbing, forced
evictions, displacement and homelessness. This also includes enactment and
implementation of appropriate laws ro ensure equal access to and ownership of property.
c. Macroeconomic policies and programme should be reviewed and amended to ensure the
regulation of international financial institutions, multi- and trans-national corporations and
other private enterprises so as not to perpetuate and adversary contribute to the
marginalization and discrimination against women.
d. Measures should be adopted to ensure the participation of women, particularly indigenous
and rural women, and to ensure women have the right to free, prior and informed consent
related to policy and decision making affecting land rights and livelihoods for women and/or
iii) Women’s right to food
a. The promotion of sustainable agriculture is necessary towards ensuring the recognition of
the right to safe and nutritious food of all peoples, including ensuring availability and
accessibility of food.
b. To improve methods of production, conservation and distribution of food by making full use
of technical and scientific knowledge, by disseminating knowledge of the principles of
nutrition, by promoting women’s indigenous and traditional knowledge on food and food
production, and by developing or reforming agrarian systems in such a way as to achieve
the most efficient development and utilization of natural resources and increase participation
c. Comprehensive agrarian reform is required to ensure food sovereignty defining the rights of
women to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and
sustainable methods and the right to define their own food and agriculture systems.
d. Appropriate measures need to be adopted to ensure the monitoring and regulation of multi
and transnational corporations which often contribute to the soaring of prices of oil for use in
machines, controlling of production and produce and introduction of unsafe preservatives
and pesticides. amongst others.
iv) Women’s employment and labour rights
a. To adopt measures which ensures equal remuneration and social security and protection
i. Equal pay for equal work and work of equal value, which includes defining and including
informal, care and agricultural sectors in the GDP.
ii. Addressing gender wage gap and vertical and horizontal labour force segregation.
iii. Safe and healthy work conditions and security.
iv. Guaranteeing paid family, maternity and paternity leave and child care facilities to all
employees in the public and private sectors so as to ensure the equal sharing of family
and work responsibilities by women and men.
v. Adopting legislation to prevent and address sexual harassment at the work place.
vi. Enhancing work-life balance.
b. To adopt measures to ensure equal participation, opportunities and benefits in labour force,
i. Addressing high unemployment rate by creating new sustainable employment opportunities.
ii. Adopting temporary special measures in the context of recruitment, training and promotion
of women in the labour force.
c. The protection of the rights of women migrant workers, including:
i. Addressing root causes of women’s migration, including through the creation of conditions
necessary for sustainable development and of safe and protected jobs for women as a
viable economic alternative to migration or unemployment.
ii. Enactment and enforcement of laws, procedures and redress mechanisms that prevents
exploitation and abuse of women migrant workers by regulating working hours, leave,
adequate and decent wages, health cover, decent work conditions and removes
prohibition to marry, forced and regular pregnancy testing and security bonds.
iii. Review the substance of bilateral agreements that contributes to discrimination and
violations of the rights of women migrant workers.
v) Women’s rights and climate change
a. To eliminate laws, policies and practices which instrumentalise women in defining their role
as protectors of the environment.
b. To monitor, assess and review the impact of REDD+, including land conflicts, the increase in
militarisation and violence.
c. Promote and increase participation of women in disaster management policy and
In addition, we call on States to monitor and stop use of State military, para military and private
armed groups, including foreign military interventions in protecting the development projects,
primarily funded by international funding institutions which results in displacement of rural women,
especially indigenous women, perpetration of violence against women and children and violation of
We urge that the Southeast Asian women’s demands will be seriously considered and addressed by
the States before the adoption of the outcome document of the Rio+20. The women of Southeast
Asia remain committed in engaging on sustainable development in all its future measures,
processes and structures, especially in the course of establishing, supporting and monitoring the
implementation of the sustainable development outcomes and goals in the region.
Note: The Southeast Asia Consultation on Using CEDAW to Strengthen Accountability for Women’s Human
Rights Development was organised by International Women’s Rights Action Watch (IWRAW) Asia Pacific
with support from the Center for Women’s Global Leadership (CWGL) and Development Alternatives with
Women for a New Era (DAWN) with the aim of bringing together women’s groups from Southeast Asia to
assess the status of Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW)
application in the context of development and to consider how to further utilise CEDAW and other human
rights instruments in affirming their rights and taking forward their work.
International Women's Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific (IWRAW Asia Pacific)
10-2, Jalan Bangsar Utama 9
59000 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: (603) 2282 2255
Fax: (603) 2283 2552
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com
The statement is endorsed by the following organisations and networks which attended the SEA
1. Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD)
2. Kachin Women’s Association of Thailand
3. NGO Gender Group, Myanmar
4. Myanmar’s Heart Development Organisation
5. Gender and Development for Cambodia
6. Cambodian Human Rights And Development Association (ADHOC)
7. Gender and Development Group, Laos
8. Village Focus International and Rights Link, Laos
9. Suara Perempuan Desa, Indonesia
10. Solidaritas Perempuan, Indonesia
11. Patria, Timor Leste
12. Ratana Metta, Myanmar
13. Charity Oriented Myanmar
14. Indigenous Women’s Network of Thailand
15. The Northeastern Women’s Network, Thailand
16. Cord Cambodia
17. Sustainable Agriculture and Environment Association, Laos
18. Research Centre for Gender, Family and Environment in Development, Vietnam
19. CCRD, Vietnam
20. Sustainable Rural Development Centre, Vietnam
21. JERIT, Malaysia
22. TEBTEBBA, Philippines
23. ARCSEA, Philippines
24. Amihan, Philippines
The statement is also endorsed by the following additional organisations:
1. STAR Kampuchea, Cambodia
2. SILAKA , Cambodia
3. Rede Feto, Timor Leste
4. Fokupers, Timor Leste
5. Alola Foundation, Timor Leste
6. Aksi - for gender, social and ecological justice, Indonesia
7. Asian Women’s Network on Gender and Development (AWNGAD)