During the Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG) of the CFS Gender workstream held on 7 March, the CSIPM Women and Gender Diversities working group presented an intersectional view of the different forms of discrimination and the diverse oppresive and violent conditions faced by women, girls, and non-cis heteronormative persons, and called the CFS Member States to take a supportive position vis-a-vis the most marginalized, disenfranchised, and oppressed.
The OEWG recording is available at this link.
Opening intervention by Leonida Odongo (Kenya)
We start by acknowledging the effort and work that was put in this process: it is care work that has made this possible. We come today to voice the need to represent the marginalized individuals and communities, and to offer an intersectional reading of the different forms of discrimination and the diverse oppressive and violent conditions faced by women, girls and non-cis heteronormative persons.
Today, billions of women, girls and non-cis heteronormative persons bear the brunt of the intertwined food, health, and climate crises. These crises, unprecedented in scale, are exacerbating intolerable pre-existing systemic forms of patriarchal inequalities, oppression, racism, colonialism, violence and discrimination.
As women, girls, non-cis heteronormative persons and people of color are carrying the weight of economic, environmental and food crises, we cannot accept the invisibility of references to many crucial issues, forms of oppression, rights violations and lives, because this allows discrimination and violations to continue unabated.
The current draft contains important advances in terms of language for policies on social protection and redistribution of care work. Although almost 80% of the text was agreed ad referendum in the last round of negotiations held in July 2022, we have seen that some of the paragraphs which were agreed ad referendum have been changed. We still do not understand what are the objections to terms such as gender transformative approaches. This threatens to dissolve the advances we succeeded to produce in the draft, under the guise of “cultural singularity”, another way to mask patriarchal paradigms within the culture itself.
Similarly, the new draft proposed by the CFS Chair now removes text that recognises women and girls in all their diversities. It fails to recognise the existence of non-cis heteronormative persons, a population that is frequently and increasingly a target of discrimination. It also fails to recognise the patriarchal structures that have defined today’s industrialised food system in the first place.
As somebody coming from Africa I understand fully well what patriarchy means, especially when we talk about food production. Women do not control title deeds. All women cannot get access to credit because they don’t have collateral, because the title deed is in the name of the males.
The CSIPM Working Group perceives the setback of the current draft as not related to the quantity of words, but rather where particular terminology is mentioned. Simply removing from the text the voices of those most affected by food and nutrition security insecurity does not change the reality.
Women, girls, and non-heteronormative persons continue to face serious adversities, such as poverty, increased burden of care, and a rising exposure to sexual and gender-based violence. They often experience a violation of their Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights. Promoting gender equality is a key step towards eradicating hunger, enhancing nutrition, and strengthening peoples’ ability to cope with crises.
Women, girls and non-cis heteronormative persons face serious adversities such as poverty, increased burden of care, and a rising exposure to sexual and gender-based violence. Sexual and gender based violence should not be replaced with “sexual violence and gender based violence” because women go through distinct forms of sexual and gender based violence within the food production process. I can give an example of what happened in Kenya within a tea plantation, where women have to exchange sex in order to obtain jobs, or in informal settlements, where women have to exchange sex for water from the water vendors.
The CSIPM Women and Gender Diversities Working Group has brought into the process diverse voices from the ground, providing examples based on personal experience, demonstrating how sexual and gender-based violence continues to be part of their daily lives. They further explained how such forms of violence intersect with other forms of oppression, thereby preventing their access to and control over natural resources, and hindering them to produce and access food with dignity.
We call on CFS Member states to dismiss the concerns of the powerful, and to stop supporting privileged patriarchal structures.
In this sense, we demand the CFS to take a supportive position vis-a-vis the most marginalized, disenfranchised, and oppressed, even if this means a bias, because this is a bias that breaks the existing dynamics of power, striving for transformations of the status quo and for true equality.
Intervention by Paola Romero (Colombia)
My name is Paola Romero and I am with the Civil Society and Indigenous Peoples’ Mechanism Working Group on Women and Gender.
We acknowledge the efforts that have gone into drafting this document. It has played a key role in highlighting various issues. We wish to work together in bringing to the fore the voice of women in all their diversity, in order to find points in common that are not to the detriment of women’s human rights, with food matters as a common interest.
Today, March 7, on the eve of International Women’s Day, we, the CSIPM Working Group with other participants, recognize and want to see women recognized as active political agents who have rights and agency in order to determine their own vision, change and development, and to realize the human right to food.
We would like to make some broad comments on part one and part two of the document. We are concerned about some issues that we wish to raise so as to start advancing in the negotiations.
Regarding part one: for us it is essential to recognize the peasant identity of women and girls in all their diversity. Being a peasant is an identity that defines a large group of people who play a central role in the right to food through production, processing, exchange and biological use, ancestral cultural knowledge, and care of the commons, all of which substantially feed our food systems. The peasantry is a category that is recognized in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and other people working in rural areas (UNDROP,) adopted by the UN as a common framework for human rights. It is also recognized in other CFS documents, such as the Tenure Guidelines (VGGT). Therefore, we recognize that peasantry is a common framework and suggest including and enunciating it in various parts of these guidelines.
Regarding part two: As you have said, Mr. Chair, the CSIPM proposes to advance a vision to promote gender transformative human rights-based approaches, which, as defined in the Terms of Reference, “are able to tackle both the symptoms and the structural causes of gender inequalities with the aim of achieving lasting change in terms of the power and choices women have over their own lives, rather than just temporary increases in opportunities.”
Similarly, we suggest stressing the participation of civil society and women as a fundamental part of joint actions with governments (paragraphs 25 and 32). We are aware that you have given a leading role to implementation and to governments. We wish to highlight the role of civil society and women as equally going hand-in-hand, as they are agents of change and transformation in their life projects in search of food autonomy.
Regarding categories, we suggest further clarifications throughout the text (in all languages) to promote categories such as inter-sectionality, i.e. the recognition of the multiple oppressions suffered by women and girls and non-heteronormative people (paragraph 26). The Guidelines should not backtrack from pre-established definitions. Inter-sectionality must continue to be the framework through which we tackle inequalities, as well as reiterate a more inclusive framework for other gender identities. These are not reflected, and thus we reiterate the need to reach common ground, so as not to regress when it comes to historical advances already made in women’s human rights. We should not fall into euphemisms, such as “Multidimensional Approaches”, for example.
As these are UN Guidelines, we propose that it is essential to maintain and keep the human rights-based approach, since we are talking about the human right to food, which is recognized as a principle and is UN previously agreed language. Therefore, we believe that this right should be included in various parts of the text, to give greater clarity and lay the foundations for what we are discussing and want to see materialize.
Likewise, we believe it is important to highlight the role and situation of women caregivers, as well as women in armed conflicts who are in a vulnerable situation because they do not have a strong enough support network. These women have to give up their life projects and become financially and psychologically dependent, which makes them more vulnerable to hunger (paragraph 29).
Lastly, we still do not understand what “positive participation of men and boys” means (paragraph 32 ii). We would like to emphasize that it is important to define what this means so as not to reproduce sexist stereotypes or do harm.
Intervention by Magdalena Ackermann (Argentina/Italy)
We will, of course, send our specific comments on some of the paragraphs via written form. But just to mention maybe here the most important ones from our side.
On paragraph 63, we would ask for clarification on why the footnote to the UN resolution on the human right to safe drinking water and basic sanitation has been deleted. This is a resolution agreed by the General Assembly and it is important to retain it.
Paola Romero and Leonida already spoke about the importance on keeping the intersecting forms of discrimination throughout the text, this also applies to part three of the document.
Coming back to the issue of the structure, we already raised a comment in the Friends of the Chair session on the 8th of February, and we still do not understand how recognition, reduction and redistribution of unpaid work and domestic work is not related to food security and nutrition. How is this not the focus of these guidelines? We do not understand why this has been moved to a later section. This applies also to the section on sexual and gender based violence. As Leonida rightly said these guidelines should give guidance on how to access food in dignity. So it is extremely important to keep this section as a priority.
The structure has been also an exercise of two years, to include this section at the very beginning of this document. We should not leave that work aside.
On this particular section, as Leonida already said, we insist on keeping the references to sexual and gender based violence and not sexual violence and gender based violence. And finally, we strongly demand that some caveats are not inserted regarding this section, particularly in the recommendation’s sections. These changes that we have seen were not announced in the table you had presented here, and we are highly concerned about those (paragraph 99.i: this does not add anything to the recommendation, we need to address GBV in any given context)