Trade unionists reaffirm human rights-based approach is critical for achieving the goals of the 2019 annual Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women

The Global Union Federations has released a response to the outcome document of the 63rd UN Commission on the Status of Women Unions.

The 63rd Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW63), which took place 11-22 March, resulted in Agreed Conclusions that largely set out a comprehensive approach to making social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure optimal for achieving gender equality and advancing the rights of women and girls.

Global Union Federations welcome Governments’ commitments in the Agreed Conclusions

In their Statement, the Global Union Federations (GUFs) welcome many aspects of the commitments made by Governments in the Agreed Conclusions: addressing significant gender gaps in labour force participation, wages, income pension, social protection and working conditions; ensuring universal access to affordable quality essential, effective health-care services and medicines; adopting gender-responsive migration policies and the protect the rights of indigenous women and girls, women and girls of African descent, and women and girls with disabilities; or recognising the role of social protection, public services and sustainable infrastructure in measures to eliminate, prevent and respond to all forms of violence against women and girls.

Agreed Conclusions acknowledge contributions made by trade unions and civil society

As expressed in the Statement: “the Agreed Conclusions recognise the importance of international labour standards and the ILO’s Decent Work Agenda, for which we stress the need for their respective ratification and effective implementation. It is also positive that the Agreed Conclusions acknowledge the contributions made by trade unions and civil society in representing and defending the interests of women, and the Conclusions stress the importance of their engagement in the implementation of the above measures.”

Global Unions reiterate Governments’ responsibility to implement Agreed Conclusions

The GUFs also express “regret that the final conclusions fall short of reinforcing the State’s responsibility in realising women and girl´s human rights,” and concern that “private sector actors were highlighted and assigned a legitimate role [in the Agreed Conclusions] in ‘coordination’, ‘consultation’ and ‘engagement’ in the provision of social protection, public services and infrastructure”.

Furthermore, the GUFs pointed out that the “public nature of social protection, public services and sustainable infrastructure was not addressed in any way in the Agreed Conclusions, nor was the need for systems, programs and services to be publicly funded, publicly delivered and managed. “Systems, programs and services should also be publicly governed and made accountable to the public, in order to ensure good governance practices in the interests of women and girls in more vulnerable situations.”

Finally, the Statement emphasises reiterate “the primary responsibility of governments to implement the commitments outlined within the Agreed Conclusions for gender responsive and transformative social protection systems, quality public services and sustainable infrastructure, which will ensure women and girls enjoy the material basis to exercise their full human rights”.