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Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact

UNPFII22: Agenda Item 5(g) – Thematic dialogues: b) CEDAW General Recommendation No.39 on Indigenous Women and Girls

UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues 22nd Session
Statement on Item 5(g): Thematic dialogues: b) CEDAW General Recommendation No.39 on Indigenous Women and Girls
17 April 2023
By Asia Indigenous Peoples Caucus

The Asia Indigenous Peoples Caucus welcomes the adoption of the General Recommendations no. 39 on the rights of Indigenous women and girls, at the 82nd session of the UN committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). The adoption of the recommendation is the result of a concerted effort by Indigenous women’s organisations around the world and their supporters to further and protect their rights.

We agree with the CEDAW committee that “Indigenous women and girls are disproportionately affected by gender-based violence, as well as inequality and discrimination, and remain beset by limited access to justice, education, decent employment and healthcare, simply because of who they are,”.  “Discrimination against Indigenous women and girls is unacceptable and must be meaningfully addressed by all States by removing all the structural barriers they are faced with and ensuring that their individual and collective rights are fully respected.”

Further, the General Recommendation acknowledges Indigenous women’s leadership and drive for taking action to safeguard the environment and biodiversity and fight against climate change. It was important to acknowledge the reality that indigenous women and girls faces different dimensions of discrimination based on their multifaceted identity and intersectional experience on the basis of their gender, indigenous identity, race, age, disability etc.

This brings to attention the urgency for States to recognise Indigenous Peoples in their constitutions and protect and promote Indigenous land rights, the violation of which has gendered impacts on Indigenous women that increase their vulnerability. This is the first time CEDAW calls on State parties to pay more attention to issues affecting Indigenous women and girls specifically and to take measures to comply with their obligations under CEDAW.

In agreement with the recommendations provided in the document, Asia Indigenous Peoples would like to bring to attention to the states, and PFII and other stakeholders to support the following recommendations:

  • To immediately develop and implement comprehensive policies to better protect the human rights of indigenous women and girls everywhere.
  • Any actions, legislations and policies must recognise the ‘multifaceted identity” and “intersectional experience to prevent and address discrimination and gender-based violence including their participation in political and public life; rights to land, territories and natural resources; and rights in the areas of education, work, health and culture, among others.
  • To recognise Indigenous Peoples in their own states and recognize legally the right to self-determination and the existence and rights of Indigenous Peoples to their lands, territories, and natural resources in treaties, constitutions, and laws at the national level”.
  • To collect disaggregated data on Indigenous women and girls and document gaps between the recommendation and the national legislation.

Click here to download the statement on Agenda Item 5g Thematic Dialogues – CEDAW