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Mobilising for a gender-sensitive treaty on business and human rights

November 2, 2017

Last week, from 23 to 27 October, WILPF participated in the third session of the UN Open- ended Intergovernmental Working Group (OEIWG) on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights. During the session, we raised the need to integrate a gender perspective into the Draft Elements for the binding instrument presented by the OEIWG Chair and in cooperation with 13 NGOs partners we submitted a joint written contribution focusing on three key areas.  

Since the first OEIWG’s session, WILPF has consistently been advocating for the integration of a gender perspective into the legally binding instrument that the OEIWG is mandated to elaborate. In order to draw the attention of States to this issue, we developed a written submission jointly with 13 other NGOs, which focuses on three key areas: mandatory gender impact assessments of the impacts on human rights of business operations; gender sensitive justice and remedy mechanisms for business-related violations; and ensuring respect, protection and an enabling environment for women human rights defenders.

WILPF further emphasised the importance of integrating a gender perspective into the treaty through a side event organised with partner organisations entitled: “Mind the gap: A feminist approach to the binding treaty”. The event was live streamed, has been recorded and is available to watch 

During this side event, women human rights defenders working on corporate accountability in Indonesia, South Africa, Myanmar, and Burkina Faso shared their struggles and experiences in challenging business-related human rights abuse. They explained the specific harmful impacts of corporate abuse on women, as well as the gendered risks faced by women human rights defenders, including in cases involving mining activities in Burkina Faso, and the privatisation of social grants services in South Africa that has disproportionately negatively impacted black women. Barriers that women face in seeking justice against corporate abuse were exemplified with the experience of Indonesian women fighting against the privatisation of water. WILPF presented the above-mentioned joint written submission.   

 WILPF also co-sponsored a side event on “The Cost of Impunity: The Cross-regional Fight of Affected Communities and Human Rights Defenders for Effective Remedies” 

This event brought together experiences of human rights defenders from different regions. Their interventions demonstrated the need for specific language in the international instrument that addresses the risks and challenges faced by defenders on the ground, including the specific ones faced by women human rights defenders. The event was live streamed, has been recorded and is available to watch. 

We also reiterated and elaborated on the importance of a gender perspective in the treaty and on our recommendations in joint oral statements with partner NGOs. The general statement read by AWID urged States committed to women’s rights and gender equality to recognise corporate human rights abuse as deeply gendered, and as a women’s rights issue and to engage constructively in the process.  A  joint statement by FIDH focused on the specific protection needs of human rights defenders working on corporate accountability, including those of women human rights defenders. The statement read by WILPF called for mandatory and independent gender impact assessments of corporate activities. Finally, the last joint statement delivered by APWLD highlighted the need for gender-sensitive access to justice and remedies to be taken into account in the treaty.

Sanam Amin from APWLD in the joint statement by WILPF, AWID, APWLD, CIEL, and FIAN on the need for gender-sensitive access to justice and remedies

WILPF will continue to work with partners to ensure that a gender perspective is reflected fully into the next steps on the legally binding instrument.

Learn more about our feminist mobilisation for this treaty by following us on Twitter at #Feminists4BindingTreaty.

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