Raising Her Voice

Empowering women to engage effectively in governance

Oxfam Statement to the 65th Commission of the Status of Women, March 2021

Full statement here: https://undocs.org/E/CN.6/2021/NGO/83 ;

Statement Extract: 

Oxfam affirms that the substantive representation and participation of women
in all their diversity in public decision-making is critical for social progress, and the
fulfilment of human rights for all. Women have long organised and led environmental,
social justice, peace, labour and political movements to provide care and support in
times of crisis, challenge injustice and inequality, and build sustainable futures. These
efforts are often unpaid or underfunded and carried out by women who already
shoulder the responsibility for family and community wellbeing. Since COVID-19
emerged, women human rights defenders, feminist leaders and activists have not only
responded to the crisis but have begun to imagine and describe the deep, fundamental
changes we need for a future that is just, equal and safe.

Yet, the full, equal, and meaningful participation of women in the platforms and
processes which affect their lives is still a distant goal. For example, 2019 statistics
from UN-Women showed women only represent 25 per cent of national parliaments
worldwide and the labour force gender gap among adults 25 to 54 years of age has
stagnated at 31 per cent for 20 years.

The impact of COVID-19 is further eroding efforts to achieve gender equality.
Global reporting reflects how women are losing their livelihoods faster yet are less
likely to be included in pandemic response decision-making bodies. Women are
disproportionately represented in unrecognised and underpaid front-line care
capacities, while they are also responsible for care in their homes and communities.
The shifting of funds to pandemic response has hindered women’s access to sexual
and reproductive health, while the virus has resulted in a marked increase in domestic
violence globally.

Without diverse women’s voices at the table, the unique challenges of this
moment – the deepening and interconnected crises of inequality, climate, genderbased violence, as well as restrictions on women’s access to healthcare and the gendered impacts on paid and unpaid labour – are less likely to be heard, understood and addressed.

Evidence shows the tangible and beneficial impacts of transformative feminist
approaches to policy development and resource allocation – and the critical role of
diverse women’s voices, priorities, and power in these processes. Increasing women’s
influence in decision-making results in better use of resources, better policy
outcomes, and surer pathways to sustainable peace. For example:

– An analysis of 181 peace agreements signed between 1989 and 2011 found that
peace processes that included women were 35 per cent more likely to last 15
years. (R. Coomaraswamy, 2015)
– In the private sector, more women on managerial teams have shown to boost
innovation capacity. Women identify products and services that not only meet
consumer needs but solve societal problems. (Business & Sustainable
Development Commission, 2017)
– Confirmed deaths from COVID-19 in countries with women at the helm are six
times lower. This is partly due to these leaders’ faster responses to the pandemic
and greater emphasis on social and environmental well-being over time.
(G. Azcona et al., 2020)

Oxfam strongly supports international feminist leadership efforts and joins
organisations worldwide in calling on governments, multilateral institutions, the
donor community, private sector, and civil society members to recognize and provide
long-term support for women’s political voice and leadership. Women’s leadership is
required if we are to truly erase the gendered inequalities of our social, cultural,
economic, and political systems.

We urge Member States to promote the full, equal and meaningful participation
of women in all their diversity in decision-making at all levels including through
institutional reforms and quotas, and in line with commitments made in Sustainable
Development Goal 5.5, Security Council resolution 1325 (2000), the Convention on
the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and its General
Recommendation 30. We urge governments to define new standards of governance
that are powered by ideas of feminist, collective and transformative leadership, which
concentrate decision-making in the hands of women at community level, and put
social wellbeing before individual or corporate wealth.
Oxfam has recommendations on six key areas which we urge Member States’ to

Read full Statement here: https://undocs.org/E/CN.6/2021/NGO/83 ;

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