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Feminist Groups Reject State Attempts to Roll-back on Gender Justice at HRC50

This joint statement was released jointly by the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR), the Sexual Rights Initiative (SRI) and the Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID) in response to the hostile amendments by states during the adoption of the Resolution on the Elimination of all forms of discrimination against women and girls at the 50th Session of the Human Rights Council.

The Sexual Rights Inititive, Association for Women’s Rights in Development and Center for Reproductive Rights are concerned over the rhetoric and discussion on women’s human rights in particular on the negotiations on elimination of discrimination against women and girls, violence against women ang girls among others. At this 50th session, the hostilities have only increased and are cause for greater mobilisation to ensure that women and girls voices are heard - loud and clear. The number and scope of the amendments are further evidence of escalating attacks on women’s and girls’ human rights rights and attempts to roll-back language from foundational intergovernmental agreements adopted more than 25 years ago. Under the guise of cultural relativism, some States continue to deny the universality of human rights when it applies to women and girls’ bodies and lives and the inherent harm caused by patriarchal norms that exist in all societies. Through unnecessary qualifiers, filibustering tactics in negotiations, dilution of language on State obligations and insistence on references that elevate male and/or state control over women and girls, some States are openly intent on eroding the substance and process of fulfilling women and girls’ human rights.

While none of the amendments were accepted and the resolution was adopted by consensus (albeit with some States dissociating from different paragraphs), we cannot ignore the immediate and cumulative impact of these negotiating processes and tactics. They are designed to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the international human rights system, to exhaust, frustrate and distract those working to advance the full range of women’s and girls’ human rights and to push States into political corners where there is little room for genuine dialogue. These tactics reflect the broader context of pushback against progress made towards women’s and girls’ liberation at all levels, with reactionary actors often being the same and deploying their networks from national to global spaces. Women and girls’ in all countries pay the price for this geopolitical theatre. As women human rights defenders, feminist advocates and activists, our ability to resist co-optation by this flawed system and also to continue to make our voices heard within these spaces is more important than ever.