Almost three months ago we developed FAR’s Feminist COVID-19 Policy Statement to demand that States adopt policies and measures to respond to the coronavirus crisis in accordance with human rights standards and principles. The call was endorsed by more than 1600 networks, organizations and activists worldwide. Since then, we have seen the multiple ways in which organizations and activists in the Bahamas, Mexico, Philippines and Tunisia, and in many other countries, have utilized FAR’s Policy Statement as a tool to support advocacy strategies to uphold women’s rights at the national and local level. We have just received news that an organization in Democratic Republic of Congo has been able to mobilize other women’s organizations to draft a response plan to COVID-19 based on FAR’s statement.
The process of developing FAR’s Feminist COVID-19 Policy Statement aimed to ensure inclusion by using a “bottom-up approach” to seek input on an initial draft from members around the world. Comments received from members were integrated and a final version was circulated on March 30. On April 3, we were approached by the Secretariat of the Global Network of Sex Workers Projects (NSWP), who expressed disappointment that FAR’s Feminist COVID-19 Policy Statement did not explicitly name “women and transgender sex workers and people who use drugs in the list of marginalized people.” We acknowledged the inadvertent omission and engaged in a dialogue with NSWP to address their concern. Since the document had already received 1300 endorsements, we proceeded to make a simple modification by inserting the phrase “including but not limited to,” in order to signal that the document should not be interpreted narrowly to apply exclusively to the groups that were listed. We have since invited NSWP to join FAR to ensure their timely engagement in FAR’s processes in the future, as a member.
This process has inspired FAR’s Steering Committee to prepare a Statement of Inclusion that will going forward clearly reflect FAR’s recognition and inclusion of a broad range of vulnerable and marginalized groups.
Members of vulnerable and marginalized groups based in the Global South and from those in the Global North who are interested in weighing in on this process may do so by joining FAR.