New York– January 26th, 2012

Intervention by the Women’s Major Group on the Zero Draft meeting, 26 January 2012

Thank you chair, my name is Azra from Pakistan, working with women farmers. I represent the women’s major group.

The zero-draft fails to raise our enthusiasm, it lacks ambition, concrete proposals for global instruments necessary to address the shortcomings of the last 20 years, concrete targets and time lines and funding mechanisms. The emerging crisis of climate change increases the urgency for an outcome document that reflects the urgent need for environmental justice.

Many women’s lives and livelihoods suffer from the current injustices. We feel that the sections 1 and 2 should strongly voice the failure of the neo-liberal system, where corporate interests have priority over human lives – and should acknowledge that small adjustments are not enough. A major paradigm shift is necessary.  

The zero draft, however, continues to use the term growth, instead of sustainable development. It also mentions “structural adjustment” policies, which have been propagated by the IMF and led to privatisation, commodification of nature, social inequity and hunger. 

We welcome the paragraphs on Gender Equality, and we acknowledge the strong support from many of the Member States for this issue. But, gender equality is integral to sustainable development and ought to be part of the Vision statement, as well. 

The entire section on gender would be strengthened by moving it to the beginning of section V, before paragraph 64, so that it applies to the entire section. We have specific proposals for strengthening the gender equality language, which should include a reference to women’s rights as human rights and concrete targets

Issues of land, energy and food are crucial to women.  Women produce much of the world’s food but also disproportionally experience negative impacts from the extractive sector and from agroindustry – landgrabbing, agrofuels, mining, poisoning with pesticides. Measures to ensure food sovereignty for local communities will support production of their own healthy, nutritious food, and reduce dependency on the agro-chemical industry and food dumping from the North. 

We are concerned by a major gap in the Zero Draft – there is no section on Health and Wellbeing, whereas Rio 1992 strongly addressed environmental health. A section on health is important for women to ensure, for example, protection from reproductive damage from the nuclear and chemical industry, as well as sexual and reproductive rights and health

A new Council for Sustainable Development would need concrete global instruments for women and girls to obtain redress. Such as a special rapporteur or an ombudsperson or an international court on the environment

We note several issues we would like to see agreed to at Rio+20:

  1. The Social Protection Floor including access to free medical care and education is vital to women who make up the majority of the poor.
  2. Global implementation of Rio Principle 10 on access to information, justice and participation to ensure that corruption and abuse do not continue to hamper transition to equitable and sustainable societies.
  3. The precautionary and polluter-pays principles need to be fully implemented, therefore:
  4. An independent technology assessment and monitoring body at the global level is critical. In my country we have seen the great damage from technologies such as GMOs aimed to enrich corporations and bind local farmers in dependence. I am proud that Pakistan has banned many of Monsanto’s activities. But many other technologies are threatening our lives and livelihoods, from nanotechnology to geo-engineering.

We count on you, Governments, to support the women of the world, to ensure our human rights and our full participation in equitable and sustainable societies. Thank you Chairs!

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