84th session of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination
GI-ESCR at the 84th session of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women
GI-ESCR presented its work on public services and gender-just transitions.
To encourage further reflection and discussion with Committee members, we shared insights of our research and advocacy in relation to the advancement of women’s rights.
GI-ESCR’s work in reversing the commercialisation of public services indicates that public services play a decisive role in the transformation of asymmetrical and unjust power relations between women and men. Drawing from its briefs reviewing the UN and regional normative framework for States’ obligations regarding public services, and its brief “From gender-responsive to gender-transformative public services”, GI-ESCR has highlighted that progress in women’s rights has been put at risk by escalating and intersecting crises, such as the inequalities and environmental crises, and compounded by the Covid-19 pandemic. In many countries, this progress in women’s rights has also been curtailed by the increasing privatization of services essential to the realisation of economic, social, and cultural rights. In light of these challenges, public services enable societies to tackle not only the consequences, but also the systemic and underlying factors underpinning gender inequality.
At CEDAW, GI-ESCR advocated for a gender-transformative approach to public services that lies on requirements identified in international human rights law. GI-ESCR has encouraged further reflection and development of these, drawing inspiration from the perspectives taking place within other bodies and systems. In this regard, GI-ESCR’s views is that similar standards to those that were developed by the African Commission, particularly those put forward in the 2022 General Comment on Social Services, would be appreciated at the UN framework. A more comprehensive interpretation on women’s rights and public services by CEDAW would provide further clarity as to the States obligations regarding public services to promote women’s economic, social, and cultural rights. This clarity would be fundamental to guide States, civil society organisations and rights holders on the appropriate measures to improve public services and gender equality in their countries and in the global community. Additionally, recognising that public services are key to tackling gender inequalities, GI-ESCR has encouraged that the Committee deepen this perspective in their monitoring of States as a priority issue.
With regards to climate change and gender-just transitions, GI-ESCR has shared the findings of its research on the power of economic, social, cultural, and environmental rights to constitute a transformative agenda to drive gender-just transition through collective and democratic processes. Drawing from its papers Renewable Energy and Gender Justice, Towards a Gender-Just Transition, Setting a Roadmap for a Feminist Green Transformation, GI-ESCR has shared its views on the importance of of addressing energy poverty, energy governance, energy consumption, and energy policy and project development as a human rights and gender equality issues.
Recognising the work of the CEDAW Committee as fundamental to push the frontiers of the human rights framework, we have advocated for a more systematic and comprehensive mainstreaming of environmental concerns within the analysis of women’s rights at the Committee to realise rights within planetary boundaries. Similarly, we have suggested adopting and using the just transition concept to guide way forwards and combat “false solutions” to the environmental breakdown that may exacerbate gender inequalities and lead to human rights abuse. Finally, we have encouraged the Committee to tackle this issue by adopting new human rights standards applicable to the rapid phase out of fossil fuels and the shift towards renewable energy.
As a long-standing partner of CEDAW, GI-ESCR also took this opportunity to highlight its contribution to the work of the Committee, particularly with regards to promoting an innovative and progressive understanding of economic, social, and cultural rights. Finally, it has addresses comments and questions of Committee members and reaffirmed its availability to continue supporting CEDAW in taking these issues forward.