ARROW was selected to deliver an oral intervention at the Interactive Dialogue on Eliminating violence against women in public life on March 17th. Watch the intervention here.
The Asian Pacific Resource and Research and Centre for Women (ARROW) has been working on the issue of gender equality for more than 25 years. Our work focuses primarily on the monitoring of the implementation of the international commitments pertaining to gender equality.
Women’s equal and meaningful participation in decision making cannot be achieved until the violence against women and girls remain unaddressed. Women and girls continue to face gender-based violence and harmful practices such as female genital mutilation and cutting, child, early and forced marriages, restrictions to their education and employment opportunities, and intrahousehold discrimination including in access to adequate nutrition and food.
Bodily autonomy and sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and girls are the least prioritized or in some context the most contested issue. Marital rape and intimate partner violence are not recognised as an offence in most countries, access to contraception and safe abortion services and comprehensive sexuality education are not prioritised. The COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated the violations of SRHR impeding overall development of women and girls and their right to live fulfilling lives. These in turns hinder their ability to participate effectively in decision making spaces.
Women and girls also experience backlash including threat to their health and lives as human right defenders. The shrinking civic space further adds to the barriers for effective participation and decision making.
Our work in the global south reinforces that women’s equal, meaningful and effective participation in decision-making is key to achieving the SDGs. In order to achieve this, the systemic and structural barriers that women and girls face should be removed. It should start with the repeal of laws and policies that discriminate against women and girls. The states should formulate and implement progressive laws and policies that are inclusive of women and girls in all their diversity.
As the states convene for the 65th session of the CSW, we trust, that you will make decisions that will not fail us. We count on you to make decisions that will ensure full implementation of all human rights treaties critical for ending violence against women and to ensuring their meaningful participation in decision making.