25 June 2012

Africa: Women's Major Group 'Disappointed and Outraged' At the Rio+20 Outcomes

press release

Last week's Rio+20 Conference brought together 50,000 NGOs, policymakers, and activists from around the world to discuss sustainability. Unfortunately, many groups, including organizations that support reproductive health and women's rights, went home disappointed with the final outcome document, The Future We Want. In a statement released Sunday, the Women's Major Group (WMG) at Rio+20, which represented over 200 civil society women's organizations, expressed anger and frustration at the results of the final outcome document.

Sascha Gabizon, Executive Director of Women in Europe for a Common Future (WECF), noted: "Two years of negotiations have culminated in a Rio+20 outcome that makes almost no progress for women's rights and rights of future generations in sustainable development." Among the document's most notable omissions are the issues of reproductive rights, access, and the links between gender and climate change.

"The lack of recognition of reproductive rights as essential to sustainable development was especially disappointing," said Anita Nayar, Executive Committee Member of Development Alternatives with Women for A New Era (DAWN). Reproductive rights are universally recognized as human rights, and the 1992 Earth Summit document, Agenda 21, and the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development Program of Action already made the connection between reproductive health and sustainable development. However, The Future We Want fails to even mention sexual and reproductive rights. The document is also devoid of any firm commitments to improving women's rights to land and property, effectively depriving half the world's population of access to vital natural resources. Combined, these two oversights fail to acknowledge the ways in which women are more frequently and adversely affected by climate change.

Gabizon concluded, "At Rio+20, governments had a historic chance to take bold steps to end poverty and environmental destruction, to protect the rights of the most vulnerable members of our societies, to take concrete measures to fully implement women's rights and women's leadership. We now risk increased poverty, inequities and irreversible environmental damage." However, a positive development at Rio+20 was the introduction of the term 'Buen Vivir', meaning 'to live well', in discussions and ministries. "Buen Vivir means to take a major turn away from "throw-away" societies in which nature and culture are only considered for their inherent monetary value, to sustainable societies where women's rights, indigenous peoples rights and indeed, all human rights to live well in harmony with nature are seen as the Future we Really Want, which is also the Future We Need."

Click here to read the full press release.

Seyyada Burney is a Research Intern with Nourishing the Planet.

Copyright © 2012 Worldwatch Institute. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 2,000 reports a day from more than 130 news organizations and over 200 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.