Statement on 16 days of Activism on Gender Based Violence

Dear Members, Partners and Allies,

We, indigenous women of Asia, mark the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence Campaign with this year’s theme: Orange the World: Raise Money to End Violence Against Women and Girls. We call for sustainable financing for the efforts to end violence against women and girls towards the fulfilment of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

We, indigenous women, are estimated to be 50% of the 260 million Indigenous Peoples in Asia yet we are disproportionately marginalized. Because we are relentlessly discriminated against on the basis of the intersectionality of our gender and our ethnicity, we suffer multiple forms of gender-based violence such as domestic violence, sexual assaults and economic violence. As Indigenous Peoples, we suffer from displacement as a result of the destruction of our lands and resources. Our rich indigenous knowledge is continuously undermined, our food security and cultural integrity threatened on the brink of ethnocide. Despite positive developments in both Indigenous Peoples’ rights and women’s rights movements to which we have contributed, we continue to face serious challenges especially in the legal recognition, exercise and protection of our rights as Indigenous Peoples, and as women in Asia.

The newly adopted global Agenda 2030, known as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with the theme of “leaving no one behind,” provides opportunities for indigenous women to gain distinct status and holistic empowerment as Indigenous Peoples and as women within the framework of the full recognition of human rights, achievement of social justice and equity and equality for all. The implementation of the specific targets on land and resources (Target 5a) is critical for indigenous women’s emancipation through the protection of their right to property, the recognition of their role and contribution in sustainable resource management, food security and biodiversity protection and enhancement, among others. Furthermore, Goal 4 on Education can strategically contribute to the development of the knowledge, skills, talents and abilities of indigenous women and girls, if implemented appropriately and by taking into account the specific circumstances of Indigenous Peoples, particularly indigenous women and girls.

On the other hand, the SDGs show gaps in the provision of clear mechanisms for accountability and equity for marginalised groups, including indigenous women. In particular, there are challenges to the full protection of human rights within the context of ensuring policy coherence in the implementation of the SDGs. It is thereby necessary for indigenous women to have full and effective participation and representation in all relevant processes and mechanisms relating to the planning, implementation and review of the SDGs from the local to the global levels. Furthermore, unless the rights of Indigenous Peoples, including indigenous women, are fully recognized and protected, we will surely be“left behind” and sustainable development for all will not be achieved.

Therefore, in the observance of the 16 Days of Activism to End Gender-Based Violence, we are calling on the Governments of Asia to:

1. Ensure implementation and adherence to international human rights instruments particularly the UNDRIP and CEDAW as part of the overall framework of the SDGs.

2. Invest in the legal recognition and tenure rights of Indigenous Peoples over their lands, territories and resources, including the rights of indigenous women to land and property.

3. Invest in the education of indigenous women and girls through mother-tongue primary education, access to formal education at all levels and the development of their traditional skills and knowledge.

4. Ensure and invest in data disaggregation, not only on gender but also ethnicity, to ensure that indigenous women, and Indigenous Peoples in general, are appropriately accounted for to ensure their visibility in data generation, analysis and proper action.

5. Invest in comprehensive capacity building of indigenous women, including in their effective participation and representation in all relevant bodies and mechanisms relating to the SDGs.

6. Establish effective redress mechanisms at the local, national and global levels to address the context of achieving social justice, accountability, equity, human rights protection and non-discrimination in the implementation of the SDGs.

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