Human Rights Council Rights, Peace & Justice

WFWPI Statement on Deteriorating Human Rights Situation of Widows in Ukraine

Please read the statement below from WFWPI on the Deteriorating Human Rights Situation of Widows in Ukraine.

Human Rights Council

WFWPI Closing Statement to the Human Rights Council’s 21st Intergovernmental Working Group on the Right to Development

Please read WFWPI’s Closing Statement to the Human Rights Council’s 21st Intergovernmental Working Group on the Right to Development found below.

Human Rights Council

WFWPI Closing Oral Statement to the Human Rights Council’s 23rd Intergovernmental Working Group on the Right to Development

Please read WFWPI’s Closing Oral Statement to the
Human Rights Council’s 23rd Intergovernmental Working Group on the Right to Development found at the link below.

Human Rights Council Joint Statement

Written Statement to the UN Human Rights Council, and its Special Session on Afghanistan – August 24

Please read our written statement to the UN Human Rights Council, and its Special Session on Afghanistan on August 24:

“Call for Immediate action to protect human rights and dignity in Afghanistan with special focus on women and girls.”


Human Rights Council Rights, Peace & Justice Violence against Women and Girls

Widows’ Rights International – 41st session of the Human Rights Council Written Statement on Early and Forced Marriage

Please click HERE to view and download the full written statement 

Widows Rights International (WRI), Wixamtree, Sand Lane, Northill, SG18 9AD, UK

41st Session – Human Rights Council

Written statement on Early, Forced and Child Marriage

Widows all over the world are the victims of early, forced and child marriage but their situation is  hidden.

Child marriage is allegedly banned in most of the world. However, the United Nations Population Fund estimates there are 650 million girls and women alive today who were married before they were 18 years old. There are many reasons for this. For example, in situations of poverty, girls are  seen as a burden on the family’s meagre resources and the temptation of a dowry upon their  marriage can provide some comfort to the family.

These girls and women lack physical, psychological, legal or social protection. Local laws forbidding  early or child marriage may be unclear, not policed or absent. In terms of forced marriage, this  might relate to girls who fall pregnant through choice or rape being forced to marry the man  involved in order for their families to avoid social stigma.

While the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child states that “a child means every  human being below the age of eighteen years…” the definition continues with a condition “unless  under the law applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier.” So children may be under 18 or  younger, depending on the jurisdiction. In countries even where there is rule of law, this clause engenders disparity and tolerance of abusive local practices towards children and teenagers. For  many reasons, including flight as a refugee due to conflict or natural disaster, the formal recording of  births and marriages does not routinely happen or paper trails are lost. This means that it is difficult  to prove a person’s age, which again muddies their status in the eyes of international law.

Marriage or living in the role of “wife” may involve degrading sexual and emotional abuse. If the  men die, these girls then face social isolation, further abusive practices, extreme poverty and  invisibility. Their potential contribution to society is lost as they are deemed worthless. The term “widow” is subject to unconscious bias, as for many people it means someone of mature  years but in reality among the 300 million widows many are still children under the UN definition,  and many are aged between 10 and 13. The Declaration of the Rights of the Child acknowledges that “the child, by reason of his physical and  mental immaturity, needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before  as well as after birth.”

The existence of child and early marriage may be considered contrary to international doctrine especially given the requirement for “special safeguards and care”, but the resulting medical impact  on girls whose bodies are not yet fully developed for childbirth, the risk of disease from their (much) older partner and their subsequent traumatic descent into widowhood need greater publicity and  consideration at the highest levels of society.  Widows’ Rights International urges governments meeting at the 41st session of the Human Rights  Council to liaise with civil society in their countries to obtain disaggregated data on the numbers and status of widows and to join the Commission on the Status of Women meeting in its 63rd session in  March 2019, in strongly condemning “all forms of violence against all women and girls, which is  rooted in historical and structural inequality and unequal power relations between men and women.  It reiterates that violence against women and girls in all its forms and manifestations, in public and  private spheres, including sexual and gender-based violence, domestic violence and harmful  practices such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation, are pervasive,  under-recognized and underreported, particularly at the community level.2

”1 accessed 2/6/19
2 Agreed conclusions of UN CSW63. accessed 2/6/19

Human Rights Council

HRC39 Statement – Countering Drug Problems by Strengthening Families

“The world spends much more energy and resources managing crises than preventing them. Thus the UN must uphold a strategic commitment to a “Culture of Prevention”, pledged in 2005 but yet to materialize”, explained newly elected UN Secretary General Antonia Guterres addressing the General Assembly. in critique of the body he was to head- and perhaps delineate his strategic priorities
We salute the efforts of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) especially the programs conducted in Latin America called “Strong Families” or “Strengthening Families”. Looking more deeply into these programs it becomes evident that the preventative impact of strong families in relation to crime or drug abuse is very high and based on strong statistical evidence, yet the good news doesn’t seem to travel far.
Strong families deliver the best protection against drugs and crime among young people. Quality relationships based on honesty, good communication skills, care for each other, accountability etc. between siblings and parents and children, can and should be taught and learnt so as to create a climate in families where destructive elements cannot easily invade young people. These qualities that so called “strong families” can naturally access and promote are a very effective deterrent for the debilitating influence of drugs and crime on, especially during their most vulnerable years of adolescence.
The positive effect of the programs of UNODC can be enhanced dramatically through parallel appropriate family-supporting measures provided by respective governments. UNODC has the necessary statistics and research allowing governments to learn how to support and adapt these programs to guarantee the best outcomes. A more pro-active policy of resources sharing and inter agency cooperation in this field could free desperately needed resources to areas like development and higher education.
It is however equally evident that if governments act carelessly in dealing with families or in extreme cases even counteract the positive approach of these programs, drug abuse and crime especially among youth will increase appreciably. Guiding and empowering parents to take on their primary responsibility towards their own children and should be the target of any efforts in crime and drug prevention measures. Governments should not only use repressive means, but show greater willingness to invest human and financial resources in support of positive preventative programs.
The Universal Peace Federation would like to offer the following recommendations:
1) The programs of UNODC should be adapted to other parts of the world, particularly also to nations of the Western hemisphere where drug abuse has dramatically increased due to governmental inabilities in many places, to combat family breakdown and or analyze the phenomenon of unattended and neglected youth properly. The preventative effects of “Strong Families” has not been widely understood, especially in the West.
2) Governments in all parts of the world should make the “Strong Families” Policy a first priority as to combat crime and drug abuse most effectively.
3) More research should be done worldwide in matters of “family education” as to guarantee that governments have the capacities and know-how to support the efforts of UNODC.


Human Rights Council

HRC39 Statement – Women and Trade

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This statement is submitted by Women’s Federation for World Peace International, together with Graduate Women International, Soroptimist International, International Alliance of Women, International Federation of Business and Professional Women, Pan Pacific and Southeast Asia Women’s Association of Thailand, Tandem Project, Mother’s Legacy Project; international NGO’s all committed the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. These goals hold little hope of success if more dramatic measures are not taken to advance opportunities for women and girls as movers and leaders in society – and importantly, their economic empowerment and access to education and knowledge.
Trade provides tremendous potential towards growth and prosperity. However, unethical trade, trade which does not respect the parameters laid down by international frameworks and conventions, can and is having a negative impact on human rights, and especially on women’s rights. Women and marginalised or excluded communities, as consumers, workers or entrepreneurs, are disproportionately affected by unethical trade and policies which do not respect the criteria on which they were established.
In global trade negotiations, WTO, Bilateral trade agreements, FTAs, GSP, EBA, GSP+ etc , marginalised communities, the informal sector and women’s voices are often excluded from policy-negotiations, and even from impact assessments or safe-guard clauses. This leaves women and those at risk from poverty without any protection or livelihood security and continues the demise of women’s rights in general.
Furthermore, most countries now focus their trade policy on liberalisation and open-markets, assuming these macro-economic policies are “gender neutral.” However, experts and activists, such as the Women’s Economic and Social Think Tank (WESTT) have warned that failing to recognise, and work to address, the disproportionate affect of trade liberalisation policies on women could have lasting effects on economies, and on society as a whole. Trade benefit programs that are currently in place must be effectively implemented so as to best serve disenfranchised groups. As well, international conventions on women’s rights, such as CEDAW must be respected in all trade agreements.
1. CEDAW must be respected and implemented by all countries in all trade negotiations. Immediate suspension of trade agreements, trade subsidies or preferential tariffs must be enforced where CEDAW is not being respected or implemented.
2. UN and ILO conventions on equal treatment, decent work and equal pay for equal work, must be implemented and countries who fail to comply with, or report, on such Conventions should have their trade agreements suspended ahead of an investigation into breaches of the Convention.
3. Trade policy is not gender neutral and women must be included equally in all trade discussions, especially as trade imbalances disproportionately affect the informal sector where women are mainly employed and self-employed.


Human Rights Council

201903 HRC40 MMM – Right to Work

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Oral Statement
40th session of the Human Rights Council
Item 3
General Debate – Report of the UN Office of the High
Commissioner for Human Rights on the realization of
the right to work.

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We at Make Mothers Matter thank the OHCHR for the report on the right to work, with a timely and relevant focus on young people. As stated in the report, the world currently hosts the largest generation of young people in history, yet in comparison to adults, they are three times more likely to be unemployed.

Within this group, young women are three times more likely than young men to be unemployed and this is because across many regions and cultures, they are expected to spend a large part of their day meeting the expectations of their domestic and reproductive roles. Women, and especially mothers, spend two to ten times more time on unpaid care work than men1, and the more they do it, the more their employment situation worsens compared to young men. Very worrying statistics…

We at MMM urge States to give unpaid carers social protection, training, and include unpaid care work in pension calculations. We support all policies promoting shared family responsibilities for work in the home, and policies tackling job discriminations faced by women of child-bearing age.

We believe it is a necessity for OECD countries, where birth rates are declining rapidly, to enable women to have a balanced work-family life. In South Korea, the demographic crisis has prompted Moon Jae-In, who calls himself « a feminist President » to introduce policies to extend paternal leave, and to compel employers to allow either parent to work fewer hours.

On this International Women’s Day, let us promote Womenomics! It is long overdue.

Thank you.


Human Rights Council

201903 HRC40 – Right to Healthy Environment

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Oral Statement
40th session of the Human Right Council
Item 3
Clustered Interactive Dialog – Issue of human rights
obligations relating to the enjoyment of a safe,
clean, healthy and sustainable environment

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We at Make Mothers Matter thanks the Special Rapporteur for his excellent report on the right to a healthy environment, with a focus on the right to breathe clean air.

Air pollution contributes to 7 million premature deaths annually. It is also responsible for negative birth outcomes.

Air pollution has a greater impact on certain vulnerable populations, especially children. In developing countries, women suffer the most from household air pollution because of their primary role in cooking.

The recognition and realization of the right to breathe clean air is of critical importance to the realization of many SDGs, and MMM fully supports the report’s recommendations: addressing the issue of air pollution will require action at every level: household, local, national and international.

At the household and local levels, women, especially mothers, must not be considered only as victims: they can also be vectors of transformation, provided they are recognized as such, educated and supported in their multiple roles.

In developing countries, mothers can drive communities to adopt clean cooking technologies introduced by State programs. Around the world, countries that are engaging women in local communities and local governance1 are seeing positive results for the development of the communities.

In developed countries, where air pollution is mainly ambient, one English mother might set a precedent that could inspire the world. Her nine-year-old daughter, Ila, died in 2013 from asthma attacks. The family lived near London’s South Circular road, filled with diesel fumes. When she found out that her daughter’s attacks were correlated to air pollution peaks, she engaged in a battle to put air pollution on her daughter’s death certificate. The attorney general has backed her application and the High Court is being petitioned to authorize it. Rosamund Adoo-Kissi-Debrah is now running for London Assembly. She is just one mother who could change the course of air pollution.

What about empowering other women to make the air cleaner ?


Human Rights Council

201902 HRC40 MMM – Impact of Economic Policies on Families

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Oral Statement
40th session of the Human Rights Council
Item 3
Report of the Independent Expert on the effects of
foreign debt and other related international
financial obligations of States on the full enjoyment
of human rights, particularly economic, social and
cultural rights

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We at Make Mothers Matter congratulate the Independent Expert on the Guiding principles on Human Rights Impact assessments of economic reforms. MMM particularly welcomes the focus on Gender, in Principle 8; “Economic reforms should prevent any kind of direct and indirect form of discrimination based on gender, […] and should promote substantive and transformative gender equality.

As rightly stated, current economic thinking does not take into account the value of domestic and unpaid family care work and its significant contribution to society. Women, especially when they are mothers, still globally carry out ¾ of this essential work1, which also underpins the whole economy.

We believe it is time to make the unpaid work of caring for children, older persons and other dependents, visible and taken into account by policy makers, especially when devising economic policy.

This is exactly what target 4 of SDG 5 is all about: Recognize and value unpaid care and domestic work through the provision of public services, infrastructure and social protection policies and the promotion of shared responsibility within the household and the family as nationally appropriate.

And according to McKinsey, it is also smart economics: addressing the issue of unpaid care work is a key step towards women’s full participation in the economy.

We at MMM also call on States to take a long-term perspective – and assess the impact of economic reforms and policy on families. Parents must be able to provide adequate nurturing care and education for their children, crucially during the early informative years. Children have the right to be cared for, nurtured and educated to reach their full (physical, emotional and cognitive] development potential. They are after all, the future work force.

No economic reform or policy should penalize mothers and families. For too long, families have been adjusting to the economy and the labour market. It is time the economy adjusts to families.