CSIPM Women and Gender Diversities Working Group statement regarding the CSW67 Review theme: Challenges and opportunities in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls, agreed conclusions in 2018, during CSW62. 

10 March. Rome, Italy. It is encouraging to note that the agreed conclusions of the sixty-second session of the Commission on Status of Women reaffirmed: ‘the promotion and protection of, and respect for, the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all women and girls, including the right to development, which are universal, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated, are crucial for women’s economic empowerment’. Furthermore, it has also recognised ‘that all rural women and girls often face multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination and marginalization.’ 

The first international day Celebrating Rural Women was in 2008, since then there has been a lot of talk and many commitments some progressive advancing gender equality and rights of rural women, others taking a step back. 

The UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS) has over the years incorporated a focus on gender equality, whether within individual policy outcomes such as the Tenure Guidelines, or through a Forum on Women’s Empowerment in the context of Food Security and Nutrition, in September 2017 at FAO, in Rome. The CFS 37th Plenary Session in 2011 also endorsed recommendations on Gender, Food Security and Nutrition. Over the past two years, the CFS has been in the process to develop the Voluntary Guidelines on Gender Equality and Womens and Girls Empowerment in the context of Food Security and Nutrition,  that will review the underlying causes of gender inequalities and their impact on food security and nutrition,  which are to be endorsed by the end of 2023. 

The Civil Society and Indigenous Peoples’ Mechanism (CSIPM) for relations with the CFS has engaged in advancing women’s rights and gender equality since its formation, setting up a Women’s working group, which was recently renamed to reflect the focus of the group on ‘women and gender diversities’. The working group actively participates in CFS policy processes bringing in the voices of peasant women, Indigenous women, women from war-torn countries, women living under occupation, non cis-heteronormative persons, fisherwomen, landless women, pastoralists, agricultural and food workers, consumers and urban food insecure women from numerous countries from the South and the North. 

We have shown how patriarchal, feudal —  particularly in Asian context — and capitalist relations of power, along with the entrenched gendered divisions of labour and “gender blind” agricultural policies, that fail to support the intergenerational role of women in building resilient local food and nutrition systems and fostering healthy families and communities, are among the root causes of gender inequalities, discrimination and the marginalization of women, especially in the rural areas.

Due to their disadvantages stemming from the structural discrimination they face, including both a lack of state support and unequal access to productive resources (from seeds, land and water, to livestock and means of transportation) in comparison to men, women frequently do not generate financial resources through their production. Policy frameworks must acknowledge this and focus on the redistribution, recognition and representation of women’s productive and reproductive work and the realisation of their human right. 

We experience how patriarchy continues to control the lives of women, especially young women. As Working Group we demand the recognition and realisation of our rights including through the implementation of CEDAW general recommendation 34 on the rights of rural women, demand for land rights, access and control over our bodies, our incomes, productive resources and control of our markets.  Agroecology is a feminist alternative in the fight against hunger and patriarchy. Public policies, investments and support programmes must be built from the demands of women, ensuring they lead the process.

Empowerment for women is not equal to women’s rights. As a diverse collective we have shown based on our lived experiences, that women and other people who are historically subjected to discrimination due to their sexual orientation and/or gender identity suffer from multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination. Each form of discrimination and injustice hinders us from realising our human right to adequate food and nutrition (right to food), which is interdependent with all other human rights. 

We believe that the right to food, food security and nutrition and food sovereignty will never be achieved without ensuring the full respect, protection and fulfilment of women’s rights and the dismantling of patriarchal, feudal and neoliberal power relations. We want to go beyond the universally agreed goal of gender equality and women’s empowerment, which does not explicitly assert the centrality of women’s rights, the recognition of our self-determination, autonomy and decision-making power in all the aspects of our lives and bodies, including the food we produce and consume. We recognise the need to deconstruct the dominant narrative on women who are very often portrayed as victims in need of anti-poverty policies and social assistance. 

All actors must internalize in their analysis, contributions and practical actions the fact that women are active political agents who determine their own vision, change and development, and must be recognized as having the right to self-determine themselves and their bodies. 

The UN Secretary-General’s report Review of the implementation of the agreed conclusions of the sixty-second session of the Commission on the Status of Women highlights that ‘Crucial gender gaps and inequalities remain and, in some cases, have shown alarming increases, such as in the rates of extreme poverty and food insecurity, and intractability, as in the rights of rural women and their access to land and other productive resources and the educational attainment of rural girls…Significantly increased investment and action will be required to recover lost ground, strengthen the rights, resources and resilience of rural women and girls and make decisive progress towards achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all rural women and girls by 2030’.

Being the Commission on the Status of Women the principal global intergovernmental body exclusively dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women, the CSIPM Women and Gender Diversities Working Group calls upon all Member States to accelerate their implementation of agreed conclusions of sixty-second session of CSW, this we believe is crucial for gender equality and to eliminate hunger. 

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