PRESS RELEASE: US gender plan lacks the ‘power’ in ‘empowerment’

Wed, 11/30/2011 - 00:00 -- content_manager01

Women’s organisations from around the world have chosen not to endorse the current Busan Joint Action Plan on Gender Equality and Development that US Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton will launch today. The group are releasing a position statement on the plan which expresses concern about the overwhelming focus on promoting women as vehicles of economic growth, rather than rights holders in the plan. Women’s Groups who have been engaged in the BetterAid civil society platform are particularly concerned about the plan’s narrow focus on developing economies rather than developing women’s enjoyment of rights.

“What this plan fails to recognise is that there should be Power in Empowerment. We all know that increasing the number of women available in the labour market can be very profitable. But does it result in better development outcomes or rights for women? Not from our experience” said Azra Sayeed of Roots for Equity, Pakistan. Empowerment needs an enabling environment rooted in concrete rights for women. Women’s Organisation within BetterAid are therefore calling for a re-think of the proposed plan and call on governments to use a human rights based approach to development plans, particularly those aimed at women.

Yesterday women’s groups heard more about the draft plan during a side event where the WorldBank, US Government and Regional Banks, cited examples of economic growth resulting from increased use of women’s labour or increased access to debt. “We heard quite a bit about the potential economic growth women can generate, but we didn’t hear anything about guaranteeing decent work, sovereignty over land and resources, or shifting economic and social systems that impoverish and discriminate against women” said Kate Lappin, from the Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD).

“Of course we welcome any new money that governments commit to women’s rights. But those commitments should be driven by a real commitment to the enjoyment of women’s rights and to strengthen their autonomies, not a desire to generate economic benefits”

“A human rights-based plan should be developed in dialogue with women’s rights organisations and gender equality advocates among others to contribute to democratic ownership, accountability, participation and be informed by the collective expertise of women globally” said Katia Uriona, Coordinadora de la Mujer/Bolivia.

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