After a two – year process, the CFS negotiations on the Voluntary Guidelines on Gender Equality and Women’s and Girls’ Empowerment have concluded. The document is expected to be endorsed during the CFS 51 plenary in October.

Dee Woods from the Landworker’s Alliance UK, and La Via Campesina, on behalf of the CSIPM Women and Gender Diversities Working Group, delivered the following statement to express the CSIPM’s concern on how negotiations developed the last day (14 June), and denounce how the lack of  transparency and democratic principles could compromise the outcomes of this process. The Working Group is yet to assess the final document, but, as has expressed before, this was an opportunity for the CFS to address some of the most structural challenges and barriers to the rights of women, girls, and gender-diverse people. 

This has been a challenging process. When we started the negotiations two years ago, we had in hand a document with the promise to address some of the most deep-rooted systemic, structural challenges and barriers to addressing gender inequality and realising the rights of women and girls in all their diversity. 

But the document that we have in our hands now is deeply disappointing for the CSIPM and the millions of women and girls who could have benefited from meaningful, relevant policy guidance. .

It has been, a long, arduous journey, an emotionally, mentally, and physically demanding process for women in all their diversities, gender and sexually diverse people, who have participated in the Open-Ended Working Group and in these negotiations. Today the en-bloc negotiation modality we have witnessed feels disrespectful of the efforts we have all put in. These pre-agreed packages which excluded the CSIPM undermine the inclusivity of the CFS.

Regrettably, what we have seen in every round of negotiation are language changes that make the lived realities and aspirations of our constituencies invisible. What has been agreed today displays a complete disregard for our constituencies. The negotiating tactics of “flexibility” and “ compromise” have resulted in a document that compromises the rights of more than half of the world’s population to be recognized and empowered as full human beings.

We have been flexible on many issues, language, and concepts that reflect and impact the lived experiences of women and girls in all our diversity and which have consequences for human rights.

Many concepts have been deleted without our consent. For example,  the right to water was taken out, and other human rights frameworks, interconnected with the Right to Food,  have been undermined.

The existence of gender-diverse and LGBTQI+ women and girls has been ERASED. The contribution of feminist organisations to the fight against gender inequality has been suppressed in these guidelines, but we will not be erased. 

Today we even saw the deletion of the word “gender”, although gender inequalities is the main reason we have been negotiating here and it had already been previously diluted and replaced by sex. What happened to the policy of  “no step backwards”??

We are disappointed that many aspects of our lives are deemed contentious and that the one framework that aptly describes, analyses and is truly useful for this process, intersectionality, has been opposed. 

The invisible pandemic of gender-based discrimination, violence, and sexual violence must be addressed as it impacts all areas of our lives. We cannot allow, continue to watch on the sidelines, ignore, or silence the realities of millions across the world.  All we ever wanted is a policy product that is grounded in compassion and justice. A policy product that will positively impact the lives of millions of women and girls in all their/our diversity.

We cannot leave anyone behind, we must not condemn millions of women and girls in all their diversity to keep suffering or even dying from sexual and gender-based violence and perpetual hunger and malnutrition. All we want is to have Hope and give Hope, to have lives free from fear and violence, free from discrimination, and without suffering. We demand to be respected as equals! We demand to have our right to food and nutrition. We demand that all our rights are recognised, protected, and fulfilled so we are able to live with dignity.

The rights of women and girls in all their diversity to food security and nutrition, and to realise their full potential cannot be rendered conditional to commercial, political, and social-cultural interests. We cannot be erased! We reiterate once again: WE EXIST!!

Read our Twitter thread to get an update on how the last round of #CFSGender negotiations developed. 

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