Greetings from IWRAW Asia Pacific!
It is the 10th of December once again and we would like to wish you all a Happy Human Rights Day!
The theme this year – My Voice Counts –reminds us about the guarantees in the UDHR on freedom of speech, thought, belief and the right to participate in public life and impact policy and decision making. It acknowledges and respects each individual’s voice and helps us to remember that it is about the person no matter our differences and that there are those of us whose voices are silenced or ignored because we lack the political power to make ourselves heard.
Yet it implies so much more in terms of vision: it speaks towards a world of inclusion, diversity, respect for difference of opinion, free and open social debates, right to collective action and the recognition of the legitimate role of CSOs and NGOs in public policy and social change towards equality, non-discrimination, justice and peace, the right to take part in politics and hold office.
In the past year, we have seen numerous attempts to silence women’s voices, including the heartbreaking but ultimately inspiring story of Malala, a young girl nearly killed for expressing her right and the rights of young girls to education. For women, marginalisation and exclusion from representation and decision-making, spells danger and risk to their individual freedoms and collective rights. Examples have shown that exclusion of gender perspectives and obstacles to women’s participation in public and civic roles negatively impact democratic principles, good governance and rule of law. Women’s demands for equality in the family and in the workplace, and struggles to end domestic violence and sexual harassment at the workplace, recognition of the separate reality of women, need to be heard and acted upon by governments, society and private actors.
To pursue gender equality, it is important to ground and socialise the culture of international human rights norms, including an appreciation for the principles of substantive equality and non-discrimination established by the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). The ability to articulate these will strengthen their demands for equality, justice and recognition as a cohesive, political constituency; grounded ideologically in principles of democracy, peace, respect for rights and being knowledgeable in the practice of citizen governance.
We can celebrate the fact that CEDAW nears universal ratification with 187 ratifications, and further ratifications of its optional protocol (OPCEDAW). The CEDAW state dialogue process and the OPCEDAW mechanism is a way for women’s voices to be heard by their states and supported by the global standards practices of the member states of CEDAW articulated by the recommendations of the CEDAW Committee and challenges states to prioritise and act in compliance with international law to address violations to women’s human rights.
64 years ago, this day would have been celebrated very differently. But today, we are lucky to have successes that we can commemorate. It is a good time for all of us to reflect on the good and the bad and continuously challenge ourselves to think of creative and innovative rights-based approaches to achieve our human rights goals to have a better future together.
In the coming year IWRAW Asia Pacific will undertake efforts to strengthen women’s voices in public policy and decision making through specific projects including one to strengthen the voices of young feminists in Asia Pacific, supported by the UN Women Gender Equality Fund.
There is still a lot of work to be done so let’s continue as a global women’s movement, seeking to make governments, families, business more accountable in ensuring promotion, protection and realisation of human rights
On this day, IWRAW Asia Pacific congratulates and thanks courageous men and women who have fought and are still fighting for the right to express our thoughts and feelings about the world and who fight for the rights and freedoms inherent in our shared humanity. We raise our voices in support of this struggle – We are WOMEN and Our VOICES COUNT!
The IWRAW Asia Pacific team
10 December 2012
- # India-“All marginalized groups are insecure” (kractivist.wordpress.com)
- Dec.10 Dilli Chalo: in solidarity with Kashmiri Women (kashmirsolidaritymumbai.wordpress.com)