Press Release

Joint Statement on Gender Equality and Violence against Women

July 10, 2017

Joint Statement by independent UN and regional women's human rights mechanisms: the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW Committee); the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women (SRVAW); the UN Working Group on the elimination of discrimination against women in law and practice (WGDAW); the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights’ Rapporteurship on the rights of women; on the consideration of Sustainable Development Goal 5 by the High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development.

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Geneva/Washington D.C. - In anticipation of the 2017 meeting of the High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, a group of independent UN and regional  women's human rights experts called for a human rights-based approach in the review of Sustainable Development Goal 5 in line with global and regional instruments on gender equality and violence against women and the work of their respective monitoring mechanisms.

States will gather on 10-19 July for the High Level Political Forum (HLPF), the UN intergovernmental forum that constitutes the main, global level review mechanism for the follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs. 

In their review this year of progress on SDG 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls, and all of its targets, States should bear in mind their human rights obligations and seek to build on and complement the work of global and regional human rights mechanisms that monitor progress on women’s human rights. Above all, as they engage in their progress review of SDG 5, the States participating in the HLPF must bear in mind that elimination of discrimination and gender based violence are not merely targets, or means of achieving progress in development, but concrete legal obligations that States have committed to protect and fulfill. They must confront the growing backlash against women’s universal human rights and the persistent discrimination which impedes, inter alia, the elimination of violence against women.

The international and regional human rights system includes a number of independent women’s human rights mechanisms that work for gender equality, and that are charged with monitoring State progress on these issues, including all of the targets and indicators of SDG 5. These independent mechanisms, as already established accountability mechanisms, have developed strong frameworks and roadmaps for achieving gender equality based on understanding of the interconnectedness and indivisibility of women’s human rights and the important linkages between SDG 5 and other goals. They can thereby contribute to strengthened implementation that delivers results for all women and girls and men and boys.

Integrating the work of these global and regional women’s human rights mechanisms can help the HLPF to take advantage of complementarities, avoid duplication, and to establish a realistic and objective assessment of progress and challenges in achieving SDG 5 and all other interrelated goals and targets covered by the mandates of these international and regional mechanisms.

It is of crucial importance to take advantage of the work of international and regional mechanisms and reporting of States in order to ensure a full understanding of progress towards the achievement of the SDGs. As the thematic background note on SDG 5 recognized: “To fulfil the promise to ‘leave no one behind’, the monitoring of progress on SDG indicators can benefit from wider human rights reporting. Human rights monitoring and documentation methodologies, which include qualitative indicators and context-specific analysis, are critical complementary tools to indicator selection and measurement to enable a fuller understanding of whether States are meeting their human rights obligations, towards women and girls.” The work already being done by women's human rights mechanisms includes qualitative and quantitative indicators, including on such topics as elimination of discriminatory laws in all spheres of women’s lives, women’s economic empowerment, health including reproductive health,gender related killings of women (femicide rate), numbers of shelters, and issuance of protection orders.

Thus the HLPF review process could draw on the States’ reporting processes to the CEDAW Committee, GREVIO, MESECVI and the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights, and the country visit and thematic reports of the SRVAW, WGDAW, and the African and Inter-American rapporteurs, and their concluding observations, recommendations and decisions.. These evaluations already consider many of the elements of SDG 5 and its targets as well as the other SDGs while the global UN and regional mechanisms, as already established organs of accountability for women's human rights and empowerment, stand ready not only to monitor progress but also to give guidance and to provide context specific roadmaps to States and other stakeholders in implementing Goal 5 and all of its targets and other related SDGs, and stand ready to participate in this SDG review process as independent women's human rights review mechanisms.

Above all, the SDG process must not in any way derogate from States obligations to promote, protect and fulfil women’s human rights in all fields of life, in accordance with existing international human rights law, customary law and treaty obligations.

No. 095/17