CSW68, Interactive Expert Panel on Priority Theme

18 March 2024, 10.00 am – 1.00 pm

UN Headquarters, Conference Room 4

 Remarks by Noelene Nabulivou, Diverse Voices and Action, DIVA for Equality

Priority theme: “Accelerating the achievement of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls by addressing poverty and strengthening institutions and financing with a gender perspective.”

 

Excellencies, friends, Good Morning.

 

I am Noelene Nabulivou from Fiji. Today I speak on behalf of Fòs Feminista; the CSW68 Women’s RIghts Caucus; and Pacific feminist, WHRDs and Indigenous women’s networks including DIVA for Equality Fiji, among others. All protocols observed.

Let us be clear on scale and urgency – Around the world, intersections of gender with skin-colour, race, ethnicity, class, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression and sex characteristics through one’s life course compound challenges of poverty, leaving a majority of women and girls and gender diverse people excluded from social, economic, ecological and climate justice.

Pandemics, NCDs, economic injustice, coloniality, imperialism, facism and colonial struggles continue with conflicts, occupations, wars and genocide including in West Papua, Palestine, Haiti, Sudan, and gender apartheid in Afghanistan, and elsewhere. We end up in this global ecocidal state where we have crossed 6 of the 9 planetary ecological boundaries. We must move quickly.

We must dismantle systemic barriers, discrimination and violence that perpetuate cycles of poverty for women and girls worldwide. Economic justice must be addressed in the individual and collective within intimate partner relationships, households and multiple forms of families, state and societal institutions. This is the real work to end inequalities within and between countries.

 

So let’s urgently prioritise:

-We need individual-level gender sensitive measurement of multidimensional poverty. Lived realities of diverse women and girls and non-binary people must be visible in data and analysis, to support accelerated, responsive action on the barriers negotiated between gender, age, disability, caste, ethnicity, migratory status and other characteristics perpetuating poverty and inequality. We need this in order to tailor strategies to local contexts and conditions. In Fiji, we deal with double the global rates of violence against women, 4 of 5 children experience violence, 30-50% unmet contraceptive need, among the world’s lowest levels of women’s leadership representation in the national legislature.

-We must expand access to healthcare including full sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) including urgent focus on public health infrastructure, attention to evidence-based, progressive, localised services and adequate, consistent supplies of health commodities, and explicit focus on reproductive and other cancers, LGBTQI+ focused services and a gender just and human rights framed health system. We need better childcare, housing, and food and water, as well as implementing unconditional cash transfer programs and other social safety nets that prioritise women’s economic autonomy and well-being.

-Where any state does not respond explicitly and strategically to the needs of women and girls overall, poverty and economic injustice continues to rise. This is why for the first time in Fiji national policy, the Fiji NAP to prevent Violence against all women and girls names patriarchy as the core problem of VAW and we are working specifically with informal women’s networks. All 13 sectors will advance NAP on EVAW work over the next 10 years, resourced, workplanned and with close technical collaboration between the State and feminist and WHRD groups. In the new Fiji Women’s Economic Empowerment NAP we are also addressing systemic issues. So 23 women living with high poverty from the Poverty to Power Network have now written their own powerful booklet for CSW68, as experts on poverty. Please find it on DIVA website.

-We also need education and lifelong learning opportunities for all women and girls and gender diverse people – eliminating barriers such as outdated and discriminatory gender norms, child marriage and other violence against children, better teacher training and curriculum development, and support systems to keep girls in school, including a focus on menstrual justice.

-We must build economic justice by addressing paid and unpaid care, domestic and communal work, and resisting neoliberal capitalist false solutions such as austerity measures. We must strongly regulate corporations and IFIs, ensure sovereign fiscal space, debt and trade justice and ensure progressive taxation policies – reconfiguring a gender just State.

– We work for equal pay for work of equal value, expand access to public childcare and paid parental leave, target support for women-owned businesses, informal workers and insist on a social floor and social protection for all women. We challenge violence, harassment and discriminatory practices in workplaces, and accompany women through the system as ‘Just Fixes’.

-We must strengthen and adequately resource social protection systems to address the specific needs of all women and girls, particularly during now-frequent cyclones, floods, sealevel rise and other crises, loss and damage.

-There is an urgent need to address feminization of poverty throughout the life course, including women’s unpaid work that goes unrecognised and under-valued by family, kinship networks and the State. So they are, for example, removed from homes if on Indigenous land by male members of the family and with under-developed or absent State legislation and policies on gender just land tenure, policies and safety nets.  This is impossible. State services and institutions must ensure this cannot happen to women at any age but especially older women.

-The Pacific Women Mediators Network is necessary to build ongoing capacity for majority South women peacebuilders as systems change necessarily occurs, and conflict and pushback is a result..

-Lastly, it is worrying that CSW68 has not focused equally on women and girl’s right to rest and leisure under Article 24 of the UDHR, as part of systemic poverty eradication work. Women are truly exhausted from 3-5 times unpaid work. Let’s urgently add this to the CSW68 Agreed Outcomes.

-In a reframing of the priority theme, feminist movements at CSW68 overall are clear that policy responses must dismantle interlocking systems of oppression and deliver a more inclusive and equitable approach to achieving gender equality and the full realisation of the rights of all women, girls, and gender-diverse people, ending poverty and building socio-economic, ecological and climate justice, for all.

Thank you.