Statement on behalf of the Coalition for EQuality and Choice
Right to abortion is an essential part of women’s sexual and reproductive lives and health and is fundamental to women’s right to bodily autonomy. The human right to life and to health can only be achieved for women and girls if they have access to safe abortion when they need it. The realisation of this right is the necessary component of the reproductive justice.
Poland is one of the countries where even access to abortion which is permitted by law is hindered and women in Poland deal with numerous examples of reproductive injustice. Therefore, we strongly welcome the recent Committee against Torture’s acknowledgement that denial of procedure of access to abortion services may results in physical and mental suffering so severe in pain and intensity that it amounts to torture. We also welcome Committee’s expressions of concern over the lack of “effective regulation of conscience-based refusals by doctors to perform abortions” and the “absence of guidelines on how to access legal abortion services” in Poland.
On September 28, International Safe Abortion Day, we stand together and demand that all States ensure access to available, accessible and quality sexual and reproductive health services as part of universal health coverage and public health systems, including modern contraceptive options, comprehensive abortion and post-abortion care and remove all legal and social barriers to safe abortion, including its criminalization and commit to providing safe abortion services on request.
Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Contemporary forms of Slavery Statement by the Federation for Women and Family Planning
Thank you, President. I make this statement on behalf of the Sexual Rights Initiative.
We welcome the report of the Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Slavery. We strongly urge the Council to observe and analyse the linkages between labour and migration including informal labour. It is of particular importance to end impunity and build accountability for both state and the private sector on their labour practices, but this is not enough.
At the heart of modern slavery are the structures that further labour practices that are exploitative and racist, sexist, xenophobic and classist. This is evidenced by the fact that women and girls are disproportionately affected by slavery; that migrants, refugees, displaced persons and people seeking asylum are at higher risk of it; and that the highest rates of slavery are found in the Global South countries.
Slavery can take many forms but it serves to further a system that continues to use different means to discriminate and violate the rights of people who are disenfranchised and to entrench patriarchal and neoliberal structures pitching profits over people.
Therefore, we reiterate the recommendation made by the Special Rapporteur that States need to address the systems and structures that create conditions of slavery, particularly in global financial, production, trading, development, labour migration and public health systems. At the same time it is imperative to highlight the need to address systemic causes instead of piecemeal individualised initiatives which results in punishing the survivors rather than upholding accountability.
We further want to highlight the need for more gender specific analysis of slavery and responsive programmes. The gendered nature of informal labour especially in and around unpaid care work, conflation of sex work with slavery/trafficking, and the misuse of criminal law must be explored in order to vindicate the human rights of the people who are supposed to be at the centre of any intervention.
We demand that this Council and states reflect upon their own policies and programmes to assess their culpability and put in place programmes that end the impunity.
Annual discussion on the integration of a gender perspective throughout the work of the Human Rights Council and that of its mechanisms
Thank you Mr. President
The Federation makes this statement on behalf of the Sexual Rights Initiative.
In the twelve years since resolution 6/30 was adopted by this Council, women have worked tirelessly to ensure their rights are reflected in normative frameworks of the international human rights system. From the pioneering reports of the Working Group on Discrimination against Women and the Special Rapporteur on Racism, to Treaty Body General Comments that codify sexual and reproductive rights, to intensive advocacy for the recognition of preventable maternal death and disability as a human rights emergency.
These efforts and many others, have a shared a focus on utilizing a human rights approach to addressing the root causes of gender inequality. They ask all stakeholders to dig deeper into the systemic causes of rights violations to identify who is disproportionately impacted, who is making the rules and for whose benefit, and to develop strategies to change the status quo.
The underrepresentation of women in human rights mechanisms must therefore be understood as a failure to apply a human rights based approach to selection processes. We welcome this panel discussion as a means to develop a more in-depth understanding of the systemic problems underlying gender parity. However, we urge the Council to move beyond strictly mathematical terms as it does not provide solutions for the structural reasons why women remain less represented in HR mechanisms.
Creating an enabling environment for inclusivity and equality within the human rights system itself will not be attainable without consultation with women as to what conditions would be facilitate their applications, recognition that women are not a homogenous group and experience intersecting obstacles to reaching higher ranks, acknowledgement that applicants hold multiple identities including as family and community members and a fundamental shift in the part of senior leadership to meaningfully address women’s underrepresentation throughout the human rights system. Research shows that organizations with more robust gender metrics and accountability systems are more than twice as likely to improve gender balance in representation.
There is a critical reason resolution 6/30 was created 12 years ago. In large part, it was to ensure that no one could forget the imperative of considering gender in each and every system of the Council. We urge all stakeholders to re-read it, and to re-commit to implementing its recommendations thoroughly and meaningfully.
CIVIL SOCIETY STATEMENT
Please note that a shorter version of this statement was delivered orally on 23 September 2019 to fit the time requirements of the Human Rights Council.
Thank you, President. I deliver this statement on behalf of 353 organizations[i] and 534 individuals.[ii]
In the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, States explicitly agreed to prioritize the realization of women’s human rights and recognized that all human rights are universal, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated. Yet, 26 years later, women and girls’ human rights and bodily autonomy continue to be routinely violated, including through the denial, criminalization and stigmatization of access to safe and legal abortion – all of which is rooted in the discrimination, oppression, violence and coercion affecting the material conditions that shape people’s lives and ability to exercise their bodily autonomy and human rights.
In 1994, Black feminists came together as the Women of African Descent for Reproductive Justice, in reaction to the white supremacy, colonialism and capitalism they observed shaping reproductive politics and inherent in the broader population control narratives. Reproductive justice is centered on the rights to bodily autonomy and self-determination, and to parent and not to parent in safe and healthy environments.[iii] It is rooted in an intersectional analysis and moving beyond an individualistic conception of “choice” to instead place emphasis on the material conditions necessary to exercise reproductive rights. Reproductive justice also addresses the legacy of population control informed by white supremacy and replacement theory, which has resurfaced in current populist politics.
Reproductive justice is achieved when all people are able to enjoy their right to bodily autonomy and sexual and reproductive self-determination. It requires people to enjoy economic, social, and cultural rights and freedoms, and the ability to make and exercise choices not limited by oppression, discrimination, stigma, coercion, violence, lack of opportunities or possible consequences. Treaty bodies and special procedures have echoed this need and recognized that the realization of women’s reproductive rights depends on the material conditions in which they are born, grow, live, work and age, and on power structures and resource distribution at all levels[iv] – in other words, the social and other determinants of health.[v] These include access to housing, safe drinking water, effective sanitation systems, access to justice, and freedom from violence, among other factors, and impact the agency that individuals can exercise with respect to their sexual and reproductive health.[vi] Our discussions on abortion and sexual and reproductive rights cannot continue ignoring these factors.
The realization of reproductive justice, the right to bodily autonomy and substantive equality also requires freedom from control and interference by State and non-State actors, including private companies, donors and multinational corporations, including criminalization of sexual and reproductive behaviors and decisions, restrictive abortion laws, punitive sanctions, and legal restrictions to regulate women’s control over their own bodies.[vii] These laws, policies and practices typically target and disproportionately impact women of color, women from the Global South, women with disabilities, women living in poverty, migrant women, ethnic minorities and indigenous women, women living with HIV, young women and adolescents, sex workers and gender-non-conforming persons based on racial, class, disability and gender stereotypes.[viii]
Today, on 28 September, International Safe Abortion Day, we urge States to respect, protect and fulfill women and girls’ human rights and realize reproductive justice for all. We call on states to:
- Ensure access to available, accessible, acceptable and quality sexual and reproductive health services as part of universal health coverage and public health systems, including modern contraceptive options, comprehensive abortion and post-abortion care, financed adequately through taxation and free from control from other governments, multilateral agreements and transnational corporations.
- Remove all legal and social barriers to safe abortion, including its criminalization, which is broader and including sanctions and no sanction regimes, and commit to providing safe abortion services on request.
- Address social and other determinants of health in law and practice from an intersectional perspective to ensure that they enable all individuals to effectively enjoy their sexual and reproductive rights.[ix]
- Hold private companies and multinational corporations accountable for unethical research practices, violations and abuses of women and girls’ reproductive rights and bodily autonomy.
- Prioritize the meaningful participation of local movements, women human rights defenders and feminists demanding accountability for sexual and reproductive health and rights violations, and center their demands and recommendations for the realization of reproductive justice.
[i] Aakanksha Seva Sadan; Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada; Académicas en Acción Crítica; Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights; Action pour la Lutte Contre l’Injustice Sociale (ALCIS); ADESPROC Libertad; African Sex Workers Academy (ASWA); African Women Rising; Agenda 2030 Feminista; AIDOS Italian Association for Women in Development; Akahatá; Albania Centre for Population and Development; Alberta Pro-choice Coalition; Alberta Society for the Promotion of Sexual Health; Alianza por la Solidaridad; Alliance for Choice; ALRANZ Abortion Rights Aotearoa; ALTSEAN Burma; Amnesty International; Articulación de Lesbianas Feministas de Lima; Articulación Feminista Marcosur (AFM); Asia Catalyst; Asia Pacific Alliance for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (APA); Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD); Asia Safe Abortion Partnership; Asian-Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women (ARROW); Asociación Ciudadana ACCEDER; Asociación Ciudadana ACCEDER; Asociacion Civil Mujeres en Linea; Asociación con la A; Asociación de Clínicas Acreditadas para la IVE, ACAI; Asociacion metropolitana de equipos de salud; Asociación Venezolana para una Educación Sexual Alternativa. AVESA; Associação para o Planeamento da Família, Portugal (APF); Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID); Association of War Affected Women; Association Tunisienne des Femmes Démocrates; Australian Women Against Violence Alliance (AWAVA); Austrian Family Planning Association; Avenir Jeune de l’Ouest (AJO); Balay Alternative Legal Advocates for Development in Mindanaw (BALAOD Mindanaw); Batera2030Feminista; Belize Family Life Association; Beyond Beijing Committee; Body & Data; Brac School of Public Health; Breakthrough; Bridges-puentes.com; Campaña 28 de Septiembre por la Despenalización Bolivia; Campaña 28 de setiembre “por la despenalización del aborto en América Latina y el Caribe” – Paraguay; Campaña Nacional por el Derecho al Aborto, Legal, Seguro y Gratuito. Argentina; Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network; CARAM Asia; Católicas por el Derecho a Decidir (Colombia); Católicas por el Derecho a Decidir (España); Católicas por el Derecho a Decidir (Perú); CEDES center for the Study of State and Society; Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE); Center for Reproductive Rights; Centre for Independent Journalism (Malaysia); Centre for Sexualities, AIDS and Gender, University of Pretoria; Centre for Women’s Development and Research; Centro de Derechos de Mujeres; Centro de Documentación y Estudios (CDE); Centro de Estudios e Investigación sobre Mujeres; Centro de Promoción y Defensa de los Derechos Sexuales y Reproductivos -PROMSEX; Centro integral de Salud Sexual y Reproductivos; Change Action Nepal; CHOICE for Youth and Sexuality; Cladem Perú; CO Legalife-Ukraine; Coalition Internationale des Femmes Mobiles; Coalition of African Lesbians; Colectiva de Antropólogas Feministas; Colectiva Mujeres Al Derecho; Collectief 8 Maars; Comité de América Latina y El Caribe para la Defensa de los Derechos de las Mujeres; Comité de América Latina y el Caribe para la Defensa de los derechos de las Mujeres – CLADEM Bolivia; Comité Reivindicativo y Cultural de Lesbianas (CRECUL); Commonhealth; Community and Family Aid Foundation-Ghana; Community Safety and Mediation Center; Community Strength Development Foundation; Consorcio Boliviano de Juventudes – Casa de la Juventud; Coordinación de Mujeres del Paraguay (CMP); Corporación Red Somos; Cosmopolitan Affirming Church; Counselling Line for Women and Girls; CREA; Creación Positiva; Critical Studies in Sexualities and Reproduction, Rhodes University, South Africa; CSBR | Coalition for Sexual and Bodily Rights in Muslim Societies; CWIN Nepal; Denis Miki Foundation; Derechos Humanos de las Mujeres y Desarrollo (DEHMUDE); Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevölkerung DSW; Development Communications Network; Disabled Women Ireland; Domestic Violence Project at the Urban Justice Center; Dziewuchy Berlin; Eastern Caribbean Alliance for Diversity and Equality Inc (ECADE); El Parto es Nuestro; End FGM European Network; EngenderHealth; Equality Bahamas; Equidad de Género, Ciudadanía, Trabajo y Familia – México; Equipo Jurídico por los Derechos Humanos; E-Romnja Association (The Association for Promoting Roma Women’s Rights); Euroregional Center for Public Initiatives (ECPI); Family Health Options Kenya; Family Planning New Zealand; Family Planning NSW Australia; Federación de Asociaciones de Mujeres Arena y Laurisilva; Federación de Asociaciones de Mujeres de la Comunidad de Madrid (FAMCM); Federación Feminista Gloria Arenas; Federación Mujeres Jóvenes; Federación Nacional de Asociaciones de Mujeres Separadas y Divorciadas; Federación Planificación Familiar Estatal; Federation for Women and Family Planning; Federation of Reproductive Health Associations, Malaysia; Feminism in India; Feminist Solutions towards Global Justice (FemJust); Femme Forte Uganda; Fondo Lunaria, Colombia; Fondo Semillas; Foro por los Derechos Reproductivos; Forum for Medical Ethics Society, Mumbai, India; Foundation for Innovative Social Development; Foundation for leadership Initiatives; Fundación Angélica Quinta; Fundación Mexicana para la Planeación Familiar, A. C.; Fundación Mujeres en Igualdad; Fundación para Estudio e Investigación de la Mujer; Fundación por una Sociedad Empoderada; Fundamental Human Rights & Rural Development Association (FHRRDA); FUSA Asociación Civil; Gemeinnützige Stiftung Sexualität und Gesundheit (GSSG); GHAROA Assam; Give Hope Uganda; Global Citizen, LLC; Global Fund for Women; Global Health Visions; Global Human Rights Group; Global Justice Center; Global Justice Institute; Global Network of Sex Work Projects (NSWP); Gramin Punarnriman Sansthan; Gramoday Chetna Kendra; Great Lakes Initiative for Human Rights and Development; Groupe Tawhida Ben Cheikh, Recherche et Action pour la Santé des Femmes; Grupo para o Desenvolvimento da Mulhuer e Rapariga (GDMR); Haldimand-Norfolk Pro-Choice Coalition; Haurralde Fundazioa; Health Development Initiative; Herstoire Collective; HPLGBT; Hope Alert Network for Development and Local Empowerment (HANDLE); Human Rights Project at the Urban Justice Center; Humsafar Bokaro; Humsafar Support Centre for Women; IAMANEH Schweiz; Independent Young People Alliance Foundation; Indigenous Women League Nepal (IWL Nepal); Indonesian Planned Parenthood Association; Iniciativas de Cooperación Internacional para el Desarrollo (ICID); Initiative for Equality and Non Discrimination; Innovations for Development; Instituto de las Mujeres y el Liderazgo en Sinaloa, AC; International Campaign for Women’s Right to Safe Abortion; International Humanist and Ethical Union; International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism (IMADR); International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF); International Service for Human Rights (ISHR); International Women’s Health Coalition; International Women’s Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific; International Youth Alliance for Family Planning; International Youth Alliance for Family Planning – Mexico; Ipas; Ipas Africa Alliance; Irish Family Planning Association; JASS (Just Associates); Jasy Renyhe; Kamana News Publications Pvt. Ltd.; KARAT Coalition, Poland; Katswe Sistahood; Kazimierz Lyszczynski Foundation (Fundacja Kazimierza Łyszczyńskiego); Kenya Legal and Ethical Issues Network on HIV and AIDS (KELIN); Kenya Sex Workers Alliance (KESWA); Kisumu Sex Workers Alliance; Knit Together Initiative (KTI); Korea Women’s Association United; L’ Associació Drets Sexuals i Reproductius; Lady Mermaid’s Bureau; LEGABIBO; Leha Self Help Group; Lok Chetana Samiti; Lokdeep Mutual Benefit Trust India; LOOM; Mahila Sewak Samaj; MANAVI; Manushya Foundation; MAP (Migrant Assistance Program) Foundation; Marcha Mundial de las Mujeres; Marie Stopes International; Marie Stopes International Nepal; MenEngage Alliance; Men’s Association for Gender Equality, Sierra Leone (MAGE SL); Metropolitan Community Churches; Midwifery Society of Nepal; MINBYUN – Lawyers for a Democratic Society; Minority Womyn in Action; Movimiento Manuela Ramos; Movimiento Nacional por la Salud Sexual y Reproductiva en Colombia; Mplus Foundation Thailand; Mugarik Gabe; Mujeres independientes luchando por sus derechos; Mujeres independientes luchando por sus derechos. MI.L.D PLAPERTS. REGIONAL22; Mujeres Liquidambar; Myanmar Ethnic Women Refugees Organization (MEWRO); Nalane for Reproductive Justice, South Africa; Namibia Diverse Women’s Association; Nari Gunjan; Naripokkho; National Alliance of People’s Movements; National Association for Women’s Action in Development; National Association of Women and the Law / Association Nationale Femmes et Droit; National Collective of Independent Women’s Refuges; National Council of Women New Zealand; National Council of Women Spain; National Organization of Women of Barbados; NCW Hamilton; Net Organisation for Youth Empowerment and Development (NOYED-Ghana); Network for Adolescent and Youth of Africa; New Millennium Hope Development Organization; New Zealand Nurses Organisation; No More Shame Gibraltar; North American MenEngage Network (NAMEN); Ntethelelo Foundation; Nujeen for Family Democratizing Organization; One in Nine; Oxfam; PA women’s organisation Alga; Pakasipiti Zimbabwe; Pamflet; PaRiter; Peacs Foundation Pakistan; People’s Empowerment Foundation (PEF), Thailand; Physicians for Reproductive Health; Pilipina Legal Resources Center, Inc.; PION Sex Workers’ Right Organization in Norway; Planned Parenthood NL Sexual Health Centre; Planned Parenthood Regina; PLAPERTS REGIONAL; Plasactie vzw; Plataforma Derechos Aquí y Ahora; Point of View; Population Connection Action Fund; Population Matters; Pro Femina Association; Promoción y Desarrollo de la Mujer – PRODEMU; Promundo-US; Radha Paudel Foundation; Radha Paudel Foundation; Raise Your Voice Saint Lucia Inc; Red de Mujeres Trabajadoras Sexuales (RedTraSex); Red de Salud de las Mujeres Latinoamericanas y del Caribe; Red por los derechos sexuales y reproductivos en México (ddeser); Regional Coalition of Women Human Rights Defenders in MENA; Reproductive Health Network Kenya; Resource Center for Women and Girls; Right Here Right Now-Kenya; Rights for All Women; Rural Women Rights Structure, RWRS; Rutgers; SAHYOGINI; Sakhi for South Asian Women; SAMYAK, Pune; Sensoa; SERAC-Bangladesh; Seres; Sex og Politikk (IPPF Norway); Sex Workers Project at the Urban Justice Center; Sexual and Reproductive Justice Coalition (SRJC); Sexual Health Centre Lunenburg County; Sexual Health Nova Scotia; Sexual Rights Initiative; Shadhika; Shirkat Gah – Women’s Resource Centre; SheDecides; SHEROES; SHORE Centre; Si Jeunesse Savait; Sinergias Alianzas Estratégicas; Sister Diaspora for Liberation; Sisterhood Network; Smart Seven Women With Disabilities; Social and Development Research and Action Group; Social Uplift Through Rural Action (SUTRA); Societatea de Planificare a Familiei din Moldova / Family Planning Association of Moldova; Society for Feminist Analyses AnA Romania; Society for Sustainable Development; Society for the Improvement of Rural People; Socio Legal Information Centre; Solidarité des Femmes Burundaises pour le bien-être Sociale et le Progrès (SFBSP); Sonke Gender Justice; Space Allies; SPECTRA; Sruti disability rights centre; STAR-STAR – Association for Support of Marginalized Workers; Stowarzyszenie Łódzkie Dziewuchy Dziewuchom; Stretchers Youth Organization; Sukaar welfare organization Pakistan; Support Group and Resource Center on Sexuality Studies; Surkuna; Swabhimaan; Taller Salud; The Community Agenda; The New Zealand Federation for Business and Professional Women Inc.; The Public Health Association of New Zealand; The Weaving House; The YP Foundation; Trust for Indigenous Culture And Health (TICAH); Urban Survivors Union; Uthema Maldives; Vecinas Feministas por la Justicia Sexual y Reproductiva en América Latina; Vikalp (Womens Group); Vishakha; Voluntary Organization for Vulnerable Community Development (VOVCOD); White Ribbon Canada; Woman Health Philippines; Women and Development Unit, University of the West Indies Open Campus; Women and Harm Reduction International Network; Women and Media Collective; Women Enabled International; Women Help Women – Self-Managed Abortion Safe & Supported (SASS); Women’s Resource Center; Women’s Rights Center NGO; Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights; Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights, Africa; WO=MEN Dutch Gender Platform; Women’s Human Rights Education Institute; Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF); Woodhull Freedom Foundation; Work for Equality; Working Women’s Resource Centre; Young Bhutanese Coalition of New York; Youth Advocacy Network (YAN); Youth Association for Development; Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Rights; Y-Peer Albania; Yuwa; YWCA Auckland; Work for Equality.
[v] See, e.g., CEDAW Committee & CRC Committee, Joint General Recommendation No. 31 & General Comment No. 18: On harmful practices, (2014), paras. 68-9, U.N. Doc. CEDAW/C/GC/31-CRC/C/GC/18 (2014) [hereinafter CEDAW Committee & CRC Committee, Joint Gen. Recommendation No. 31 & Gen. Comment No. 18]. See also CRC Committee, Concluding Observations: Mongolia, para. 51(a), U.N. Doc. CRC/C/MNG/CO/3-4; ESCR Committee, Concluding Observations: Australia, para. 28, U.N. Doc. E/C.12/AUS/CO/4 (2009) and ESCR Committee, General Comment 22 on the right to sexual and reproductive health, paras.7-8.
[vi] ESCR Committee, Concluding Observations: Australia, para. 28, U.N. Doc. E/C.12/AUS/CO/4(2009); WHO, About social determinants of health, supra note 2, see also ESCR Committee, General Comment 22 on the right to sexual and reproductive health, paras. 7-8.
[vii] Report of the Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice, Discrimination against women with regard to health and safety, U.N. Doc A/HRC/32/44, para. 76, available at https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G16/072/19/PDF/G1607219.pdf?OpenElement
[viii] See e.g. Report of the Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice, Women Deprived of Liberty, U.N. Doc A/HRC/41/33, 15th May 2019, available at: http://ap.ohchr.org/documents/dpage_e.aspx?si=A/HRC/41/33, paras. 37-38. ESCR Committee, General Comment 22 on the right to sexual and reproductive health, para 30.
[ix] WHO, About social determinants of health, supra note 2.