The Feminist Alliance for Rights, the Continental Network of Indigenous Women of the Americas (ECMIA), the Center for Women’s Global Leadership (CWGL), the United States Human Rights Network (USHRN), Chirapaq, and the UN Working Group on discrimination against women and girls co-sponsored a side event at the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) to discuss the issue of violence and harassment against indigenous women in the world of work. This event highlighted the gender and race discrimination that indigenous women face in the world of work, a concept that expands the traditional notions of worker and workplace to include a broader recognition of persons affected (e.g., job seekers or workers whose employment has been terminated) as well as different circumstances or settings where violence and harassment occur and have negative consequences for women’s employment, health, and safety. As the representative from Chirapaq noted, in many countries, a disproportionate number of domestic workers and informal workers are indigenous women, increasing their vulnerability to violence and denial of justice. The presenters discussed the importance of having a new international instrument from the International Labor Organization that focuses on ending violence and harassment in the world of work, including GBV and sexual harassment, which was eventually adopted in June 2019. Presenters at UNPFII also highlighted the opportunities indigenous women’s organizations have to engage with women’s rights mechanisms (e.g. Working Group on discrimination against women and girls and the Special Rapporteur on violence against women), to amplify indigenous women’s voices and strengthen their advocacy strategies, which currently include attending the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and engaging with the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples.
Finally, the presentation covered how CWGL is supporting the process for the adoption of the new standards on GBV and sexual harassment through the 16 Days Campaign. Founded by CWGL in 1991 as the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence Campaign, with the involvement of feminists from the Global South and Global North, the campaign has been used as an awareness-raising and organizing strategy to ensure women’s rights are recognized as human rights, and to call for the elimination of all forms of gender-based violence around the world. More than 6,000 organizations in 187 countries have participated in the 16 Days Campaign, reaching 300 million people. The start and end dates for the campaign were chosen to link violence against women and human rights and emphasize that gender-based violence against women is a violation of human rights: November 25, the International Day Against Violence Against Women, and December 10, International Human Rights Day.
We are grateful to Rosalee Gonzalez, a Steering Committee member of FAR, and Tarcila Rivera, a member of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, for their tremendous support and leadership organizing this meeting.