Young Women Caucus
Presented at the Asia and Pacific Civil Society Forum on 16 November 2014
Asia and Pacific Conference on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment: Beijing +20 Review
We, the young people of Asia Pacific, believe that there has been some progress since the Beijing Platform for Action in the areas of education, particularly primary enrolment of girls, in access to employment opportunities for young women, and political participation of young women in the national and regional platforms. However, gaps remain. Young women are often left out of political and economic spaces, and discriminatory laws and legislations still prevail, denying us access to equal wage opportunities and decision-making positions of power. Young women activists are still suffering from political and administrative harassment, which obstructs our engagement in public life. Young women still face violations of their sexual and reproductive rights and great barriers in accessing sexual and reproductive health services, which are youth-friendly and non-judgemental, including comprehensive sexuality education and safe abortion services. Social and religious barriers are prevalent in the region, including early and forced marriages. We feel violence against young women has not only gotten more prevalent, but more diverse. We fear the detrimental effects of stereotype and the social pressure to conform to a narrow definition of young women.
As we review the Beijing Platform for Action and define our paths forward, we want the following issues to be prioritized in the Beijing +20 and Post-2015 processes:
Ensure meaningful and effective participation of young women in political spaces, decision making platforms and accountability mechanisms, including in formulating and implementing laws, policies, plans and budgets. Create an enabling environment for building leadership of young women. End all forms of harassment, including direct and indirect political harassment, to realize young women’s true participation in the political sphere.
Strengthen young women’s economic empowerment through laws and policies that protect their right to equal employment and wage opportunities. Acknowledge the informal and often marginalized sectors, including household, migrant domestic workers, entertainment sector, and their vulnerabilities to violation of their rights.
Ensure the provision of comprehensive, accessible, affordable, non-discriminatory, non-judgemental, confidential, and gender-sensitive youth-friendly information and services, including sexual and reproductive health and rights information and services, which encompasses but is not limited to the full range of contraception, maternal health services, safe abortion services, as well as sexually transmitted infections and HIV and AIDS services.
Prioritize the adoption and successful implementation of evidence-based, universally accessible, quality, non-judgmental comprehensive sexuality education, which is linked to comprehensive youth-friendly services, which emphasizes on human sexuality, gender equality, human rights, relationships, and sexual and reproductive health, provided in a safe and participatory environment, and which caters to formal, informal, and non-formal education systems.
Ensure the protection and meaningful participation of young women and the girl child, including those from marginalized and/or minority groups, the diversity of which encompasses lesbian, bisexual, transgender people, young women with different abilities, indigenous young women, young women living with HIV and AIDS, young women sex workers, young women using drugs, young migrant workers, among others, in all processes and mechanisms, from national to global.
Prioritize the education and protection of the girl child. Strengthen policies and programmes that ensure equal access to education for all girls. Formulate and effectively implement laws policies to end early and forced marriages. Ensure all measures are taken to end the trafficking and forced labor of girls.
Expand the definition of violence against women to include the specific vulnerabilities faced by young women and the girl child, with an emphasis on legal protection, to account for the emerging and multifaceted forms of violence, including early and forced marriage, online and cyberspace violence, dating violence, violence in educational institutions, harmful traditional practices, violence as a product of religious fundamentalisms, as well as in conflict and post-conflict situations. Ensure the meaningful engagement with the diversity of young people, including male participation, at all levels, in addressing the issues of violence.