Civil society statement on the occasion of the Women Foreign Ministers Meeting

Women’s movements and civil society groups more broadly have always been drivers of social and political progress, and are key actors in advancing greater peace and security across the globe.

September 20, 2018

We, the undersigned organizations, call on Women Foreign Ministers gathered in Montreal, on the eve of the High-­‐Level General Debate of the 73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, to make concrete and accountable commitments to women human rights defenders and women’s movements:

  1. RECOGNIZE: Explicitly recognize the legitimacy of women human rights defenders and women’s movements, and publicly support and acknowledge their contribution to the realization of more peaceful, just, and inclusive societies worldwide.
  2. PROTECT: Ensure a safe and enabling environment for women human rights defenders and women’s movements, supported by legislation, social programs, public institutions, and accountability mechanisms at all levels.
  3. SUPPORT: Support, strengthen and fund women’s movements, and defend their right to engage in public life and discourse without fear of punishment, reprisal, or intimidation.

Women human rights defenders include lawyers, journalists, peacemakers, trade unionists, grassroots community activists, politicians, youth leaders and anyone who is a woman peacefully advocating in support of human rights. They are on the forefront of movements to prevent conflict and promote social justice, peace and security.

Women’s movements and civil society groups more broadly have always been drivers of social and political progress, and are key actors in advancing greater peace and security across the globe. From women’s suffrage and civil rights, to LGBTI rights and the fight against HIV/AIDS, they are the most effective at identifying and advocating for the needs and rights of the individuals and communities with which they work.

Yet women human rights defenders are at a heightened risk of experiencing human rights violations, including forms of gender-­‐based and sexual violence, threats, harassment, and defamation campaigns linked to their status as women. These risks are compounded for those whose race, ethnicity, religion, caste, class, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, nationality, Indigenous identity, or disability exposes them to multiple and intersecting forms of marginalization.

Women human rights defenders and women’s rights movements are frequently targeted because their activism is seen as challenging traditional gender norms, such as through working to defend sexual and reproductive health and rights; the human rights of women and girls; or the environment, land, and territory.

Women human rights defenders and women’s movements’ contributions to public debate and decision-­‐making should be celebrated, not criminalized, and recognized and supported by states. This requires the adoption and implementation of legislation and systems of justice and accountability that recognize and protect women human rights defenders, as well as policies and funding mechanisms that promote their active, free, and meaningful participation in the development, implementation and monitoring of public policy.

Welcoming the precedent-­‐setting nature of this Women Foreign Ministers Meeting, and the collective power of your voices, we call upon you to reference the above points and commit to concrete actions in your country’s statement during the High-­‐Level General Debate during the upcoming United Nations General Assembly.

Endorsed by:

Canadian Organizations

  1. Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada
  2. Aide International à l'Enfance
  3. Alberta Pro-­‐Choice Coalition
  4. Association Québécoise des Organismes de Coopération Internationale (AQOCI)
  5. Barbra Schlifer Clinic
  6. Canadian Council for International Co-operation 
  7. Canada Partnership for Women and Children’s Health
  8. Canada Women’s Foundation
  9. Canadian Federation of University Women
  10. Canadian Union of Public Employees
  11. CARE Canada
  12. Catholics for Choice Canada
  13. Child Care Now -­‐ Un Enfant Une Place
  14. Coady Global Institute
  15. Comité de solidarité/Trois-­‐Rivières
  16. Community Society to End Poverty-­‐Nova Scotia
  17. CSI-­‐Corcovado
  18. Everywoman's Health Centre
  19. Fédération du Québec pour le Planning des Naissances
  20. Federation of Medical Women of Canada
  21. FEM International
  22. Global Women’s Rights Project
  23. Greenpeace Canada
  24. Guelph Resource Centre for Gender Empowerment and Diversity
  25. Human Rights Research and Education Centre, University of Ottawa
  26. Humanité & Inclusion
  27. Inter Pares
  28. L’Association des religieuses pour les Droit des Femmes
  29. Migrante-­‐Ottawa
  30. Mines Action Canada
  31. MiningWatch Canada
  32. Montreal Center for Genocide and Human Rights Studies
  33. Native Women’s Association of Canada
  34. Nobel Women’s Initiative
  35. ONE Canada
  36. Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants
  37. Pacific Peoples’ Partnership
  38. Pax Christi Toronto
  39. PEI Family Violence Prevention Services
  40. Plan Global Canada
  41. Projet Accompagnement Québec-­‐Guatemala
  42. Public Service Alliance of Canada
  43. Sisters Trust -­‐ Canada
  44. Soeurs auxiliatrices du Québec
  45. South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario
  46. Terre Sans Frontières
  47. The Grandmothers Advocacy Network
  48. The MATCH Global Women’s Fund
  49. The United Church of Canada / L'Église Unie du Canada
  50. The White Helmets Canada
  51. The World Federalist Movement -­‐ Canada
  52. The WPS Group
  53. Unifor
  54. USC Canada
  55. Veterinarians without Borders Canada
  56. Village Monde
  57. West Coast LEAF
  58. Women’s Shelters Canada / Hébergement femmes Canada
  59. World University Service of Canada
  60. World Vision Canada

Global Organizations

  1. Advocacy and Legal Initiatives
  2. Afghan Women’s Skills and Development Center
  3. AFTURD
  4. Asia-­‐Pacific Human Rights Information Center – Hurights Osaka
  5. Associazione Italiana Donne Per Lo Sviluppo / Italian Association for Women in Development
  6. Al Firdaws Society
  7. Allamin Foundation for Peace and Development
  8. Alliance for Choice
  9. ALRANZ Abortion Rights Aotearoa
  10. ALTSEAN
  11. Amnesty International
  12. Associação para a Cooperação sobre População e Desenvolvimento
  13. Association of War Affected Women
  14. Ataa al Kheir for Charity and Awareness Work
  15. Center for Democratic Education
  16. Center for Health and Gender Equity
  17. Center for Supporters of Human Rights
  18. Centre for International Studies and Cooperation
  19. CISS / International Cooperation South South
  20. Coast Education Centre
  21. CODEPINK for Peace
  22. Consortium on Gender, Security and Human Rights
  23. CUSO Global
  24. Equilibres et Populations
  25. European Women’s Lobby / Lobby Européen des Femmes
  26. Federación de Planificación Familiar Eslatal
  27. Federation des Femmes du Quebec
  28. Federation of Muslim Women Association in Nigeria
  29. FONDO LUNARIA
  30. Fonds pour les Femmes Congolaises
  31. Front Line Defenders
  32. Gbowe Peace Foundation Africa
  33. Gender Action for Peace and Security -­‐ UK
  34. Global Campaign for Women's Right to Safe Abortion
  35. Global Center for Research on Women
  36. Global Center on Cooperative Security
  37. Global Civil Society Action
  38. Global Fund for Women
  39. Global Justice Center
  40. Human Rights Watch
  41. INPADE-­‐FOCO Foro Ciuadadno de Participación por la Justicia y los DDHH
  42. Ipas
  43. Jagori Rural Trust
  44. Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice
  45. JOICFP
  46. Just Associates (JASS)
  47. Justice, Gender and Human Rights Association
  48. Libyan Women Forum
  49. Liga Internacional de Mujeres por la Paz y la Libertad
  50. MADRE
  51. Medica Mondiale
  52. Mediterranean Women's Fund
  53. Mercy Corps
  54. National Council of German Women’s Organizations (Deutscher Frauenrat)
  55. Neem Foundation
  56. Ohana Koa – Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific
  57. Oil Change International
  58. Osservatorio solidarietà della Carta di Milano
  59. OXFAM
  60. PAIMAN Alumni Trust
  61. Peace Track Initiative
  62. Peace X Peace
  63. PeaceWomen Across the Globe
  64. PRO.DO.C.S
  65. Promundo-­‐US
  66. Prospera Global Network of Women’s Funds
  67. Publish What You Pay
  68. Qadims Lumiere
  69. Realizing Sexual and Reproductive Justice Alliance
  70. Reconstruction Women’s Fund
  71. Rescue Me
  72. Sisters Arab Forum for Human Rights
  73. Slovak-­‐Czech Women’s Fund
  74. Solidarietà e Cooperazione – CIPSI
  75. Solidarité Feminine pour la Paix et de Development Integral
  76. Stop Rape Italia
  77. Taso Foundation
  78. Terra Nuova Italy
  79. Tevgera Jinen Azad/Free Women's Movement from Turkey and Kurdistan
  80. The Coalition of Finnish Women's Associations
  81. The END FGM European Network
  82. The Gender & Development Network
  83. Uhuru Community Development Project
  84. Ukranian Women’s Fund
  85. UNISON
  86. Urgent Action Fund for Women’s Human Rights
  87. URGENT ACTION FUND OF Latin America and the Spanish-­‐Speaking Caribbean
  88. Wi’am Palestinian Conflict Transformation Center
  89. Witness Somalia
  90. Womankind Worldwide
  91. Women Cross DMZ
  92. Women Deliver
  93. Women for Afghan Women
  94. Women for Development NGO, Armenia -­‐ Women’s Alliance for Security Leadership
  95. Women for Women's Human Rights
  96. Women Fund Tanzania
  97. Women In Global Security
  98. Women on Web
  99. Women Peace Network, Myanmar -­‐ Women’s Alliance for Security Leadership
  100. Women's Assembly of Peoples' Democratic Party
  101. Women's Refugee Commission
  102. Women's Rights Center
  103. Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network
  104. Women’s Global League for Peace and Freedom
  105. Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights
  106. Women’s March Global
  107. YouAct – European Youth Network on Sexual and Reproductive Rights
  108. Young Leaders Entrepreneurs Tunisia -­‐ Women’s Alliance for Security Leadership

Contact information

Paula Baker
Media Relations
Oxfam Canada
(613) 240-3047
paula.baker@oxfam.org