Climate change, armed conflict major issues in Asia Pacific region

Climate change impact, rights of indigenous peoples and armed conflict which often goes unrecognised by the state emerged as major issues in the Asia Pacific region as the Asian and Pacific conference on gender equality and women's empowerment — Beijing Plus 20 review got under way on Monday.

As countries in the region debated the draft ministerial declaration, climate change, and the rights of indigenous people were added as these issues have assumed grave importance 20 years after the Beijing conference. Civil society organisations, which responded to the review of the progress made in the goals of the Beijing platform for action, felt the single greatest barrier was the lack of a binding accountability mechanism. Time-bound targets, mentoring and adequate funding and so much more was required, according to these groups which met earlier over three days here to debate the achievements of the Beijing targets.

Eni Lastari, who spoke on behalf of the civil society organisations, said they had identified some key areas where there was a gap. Genuine accountability means the least powerful should hold parliamentarians and officials accountable for violations of human rights of women. Access to justice, remedies and reparation were the most important aspects to protect human rights, she pointed out.

Apart from this, there was concern over rising fundamentalism in the region, and the space for women to articulate had shrunk. While the Beijing platform recognised the victimisation of women due to armed conflict, governments were increasing military expenditure and half the countries were affected by subregional conflict, she added.

Another unfinished agenda was the right over sexuality, reproductive health and rights which continue be violated.

Roberta Clarke, regional director, UN Women, said this region had the highest rate of son preference, and one dare not be complacent even if there is progress. She called for contributions of men in gender equality and exponentially increasing funding for programmes. The catastrophic climate change impacts in the region had to be addressed and she said investments in gender equality should be increased and men should be equal partners.

The Indian government, in its response to the Beijing goals, said that it had met with significant success specially in achieving some of the Millennium Development Goals. The target of reducing poverty by half, reversing the trend of deadly diseases and providing drinking water were on track, and the Beijing platform had given a robust framework as now every activity was assessed for its gender impact and there was remarkable success for decentralised decision making. Over one million women were elected to local self government bodies and the government was making special efforts to curb the declining sex ratio. The Swach Bharat campaign would ensure total sanitation for all by 2019 and this would improve health and reduce violence against women.

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Printable version | May 25, 2022 6:32:38 am |