One important development that has taken place in recent years concerning civil society organizations, in particular women’s rights organizations and networks, is the closing space for them at all levels from the national to the global.
This development takes place in a context of increasing attacks on human rights in particular the human rights of women and girls.
This is what we experienced during the CSW59 where an important backlash took place with the exclusion of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), as well as women’s and feminist organizations from both the negotiation of the Political Declaration and the Resolution on the working methods of the Commission on the Status of Women. What are the root causes of this situation?
Currently there is an international environment that is not conducive to the realization of human rights, in particular women’s human rights. The current macroeconomic model fails to address structural barriers to gender equality and the fulfilment of women and girls’ human rights perpetuating poverty, inequality and the gendered division of labour.
CSOs, women’s and feminist organizations should demand a new development paradigm that is not based solely on economic growth but which prioritizes people over profits. A new development paradigm that regulates as well the role of the private sector through binding frameworks that aligns their actions with human rights and sustainable development objectives and holds corporations accountable for violations of human rights and gender equality.
We should call on politicians to recognize the critical role women’s organizations, feminist organizations and women’s human rights defenders have played in pushing for gender equality, the human rights and empowerment of women and girls. The attempt of governments to marginalize the role of these groups is an affront to women everywhere.
CSOs, along with women’s and feminist organizations, should demand from governments and politicians that they create robust accountability mechanisms at national, regional and global levels. These should clearly set out the responsibilities of all stakeholders which hold state and non-state actors, including multilateral institutions to account for their role in perpetuating gender inequality and violations of the human rights of women.
We call on politicians to show renewed political will and move from commitment to accomplishments. We call on them to work to adopt a new paradigm of accountability that can make the entire process of sustainable development more transformative and responsive to the peoples’ needs. As the Secretary General of the UN has said, a new paradigm of accountability is in fact the real test of a peoples’ centred development. This new accountability paradigm should institutionalize the participation of CSOs, in particular women’s and feminist organizations and marginalized groups, in the implementation, reviewing and monitoring of the Post-2015 Development Agenda at all levels. It should provide avenues for CSOs, women’s and feminist organizations to hold decision-makers answerable for their actions and seek redress where necessary.
States should recognize that by participating in accountability mechanisms, hearing from stakeholders and people affected and addressing their concerns, they are helping to ensure implementation at all levels.