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Inspiring activities and results of the Women's Major Group and WECF at the Rio+20 summit

An overview of some of the positions and activities of the many, which were organised by members of the Women’s Major Group during the 2 weeks of the Rio+20 negotiations and events from 13 – 22 of June 2012, Brazil

16.07.2012 |WECF International Newsletter




Women's Caucus on the 18th of June in Rio

Inspiring activities and results of the Women's Major Group and WECF at the Rio+20 summit

Dear Friends of WECF International,

This is an overview of inspiring activities, commitments and results at Rio+20 achieved by members of the Women’s Major Group and WECF during the 2 weeks of the from 13 – 22 of June 2012, Brazil.

Contents:

  • 1. 200 women's organisations active at Rio+20 Sustainable Development Summit in Brazil
  • 2. Key gains and losses in the Rio+20 negotiations
  • 3. Women’s Rio+20 Good Practice Award Ceremony
  • 4. Post Rio+20 Commitments by the Network of Women Ministers and WECF
  • 5. Women’s Major Group Side Events at Rio+20 official summit
  • 6. Women’s plenary speech in the opening session with heads of state, 20th of June 2012, Brazil
  • 7. Women speakers in the Sustainable Dialogue Days
  • 8. UN Women – Women’s Leadership Forum
  • 9. Women’s demonstrations and press actions at Rio+20 summi
  • 10. Other women’s activities in preparation of Rio+20 and during the Rio+20 summit
  • 11. People's Summit: over 20,000 people participated in the People's Summit which took place in parallel to the United Nations summit
  • 12. Preparations for Rio+20 in French and Arab speaking Africa
  • 13. Press Releases of the Women Major Group and WECF during Rio+20

For photo's of the Women's Major Group and WECF activities browse our Picasa photo album on the event!


The Women's Caucus met daily during the Rio+20 summit; here some of the participants


1. Two hundred women's organisations active at Rio+20 Sustainable Development Summit in Brazil

200 women’s organisations from around the world have been preparing the Rio+20 summit for the last 2 years. Coordination was assured by 3 organising partners – WECF, DAWN and VAM - and a core group of very hard-working women’s networks including WEDO, GFC, ENERGIA, and many others such as APWLD, RESURJ, ICADE, Feminist Taskforce etc. The Women’s major group has a list serve (WomenatRioMarch@Googlegroups.com) with over 300 subscribers, which will continue to be active in the follow up of Rio+20, to join contact wecf@wecf.eu

Focal points for the negotiations of the Rio+20 outcome document

The women’s major group had several focal points for the negotiations focussing on different parts of the draft outcome document. Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights and references to Cairo and Beijing had DAWN as focal point, and were also covered by RESURJ and member organisations of IPPF. Focal point for Forests and biodiversity was Global Forest Coalition. The food security section focal point was Asia Pacific forum for Women, Law and Development (APWLD). The section on energy was covered by ENERGIA and by WECF. The sections on trade, technology, capacity building, chemicals, mining, energy and water had WECF as focal point.  DAWN covered chapters 1 and 2. WECF also covered Means of Implementation (MOI) including Sustainable Development Goals(SDGs). The section on gender and women’s empowerment was covered by all above groups including WEDO and ENERGIA.


2. Key gains and losses in the Rio+20 negotiations from the perspective of gender equality and women’s priorities

Coming to Rio, it was already clear that the outcome document would be weak. The draft document of 2nd of June contained some very worrying language against human rights, women’s rights, indigenous people’s rights, and against the precautionary principle.

From that point of view, the final Rio+20 outcome document is better in many areas then at the start of the final round of negotiations, and it is certain that members of the Women’s major group have contributed to the “damage control”.

However, from a historic perspective, we have lost a lifetime chance to take bold steps to end poverty and environmental destruction, to protect the rights of the most vulnerable members of our societies, to take concrete measures to fully implement women’s rights and women’s leadership. We now risk increased poverty, inequities and irreversible environmental damage. This is not the future we want, nor the future we need. See our position statement on the final Rio+20 outcome document here (in English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, German and Dutch).

See for an analysis of the Rio+20 Outcome Document Key gains and losses in the Rio+20 negotiations from the perspective of gender equality and women’s priorities containing the following sub-chapters:

  1. Women’s rights under attack at Rio+20!

  2. Trade against women’s rights and health!

  3. Gender equality and women’s empowerment – some small steps forward!

  4. The human right to water, sanitation and food – defended!

  5. Technology assessment – acknowledged but too weak!

  6. Future Generations: no voice!

  7. Radioactive pollution: hushed and hidden!

See the Women’s position statement for other issues including energy, climate, green economy, mining etc. as well as WECF's position statement going to Rio: key recommendations for the Brazilian 16th of June draft version of the Rio+20 text


3. Women’s Rio+20 Good Practice Award Ceremony

On the 21st of June eleven projects by women received the Women’s Rio+20 Good Practice Award, from the women ministers of the Network of Women Ministers and Leaders for the Environment. The awards ceremony was remarkable not only in the participation of eight female high-level ministers  from Mexico, South Africa, Brazil, Nigeria, Denmark, Iceland and Switzerland, but also, and quite centrally, in the compelling success stories of each of the prize winner’s local projects.

150 applications were received of which 16 were selected as winners. Eleven of these received their award during the Award Ceremony on June  21st in Rio. First place winners received a medal, a certificate, a gift and, most importantly, a check for $1,000 (USD) in honour of their achievement.  The five categories of competition were:  Food Sovereignty, Climate Adaptation, Decent Jobs and Health, Water and Sanitation and Sustainable Energy. The Award received support from BMZ and GIZ Germany and was co-organised with UNEP and the Women's Major Group.

The six winning initiatives of the Women Rio+20 Good Practice Award show-cased sustainable development projects by women from Asia, Africa and Latin America.

The winning project show how:

  • Food security, land tenure and schooling for women leads to increased empowerment of women in the Republic of Guinea.

  • Ecuadorian traditional farming methods contribute to women's poverty reduction and awareness of the value of indigenous plants and seeds.

  • Resilience to climate change in Guatemala involves mapping of risks, and clever women’s sustainable agriculture system to adapt to the increase of floodings.

  • Brazilian woman recycler organises street waste pickers in cooperatives, improving health and safety conditions and making sure their children all go to school.

  • New, affordable and sustainable water and sanitation facilities become a reality for women of the fishing communities around Lake Victoria, Uganda, whilst protecting the lake on which their livelihoods depend.

  • Rural Energy Technologies such as solar-food drying create income for women living in poverty in India.

The award reminded the Conference participants that women are the change makers of their communities “just put them in charge - show them where the resources are – give them the opportunity and they will turn this world upside down!” – as one of the winners put it.

The winner from Brazil, - who like her mother had been a waste picker in the streets of Rio de Janeiro all her life - was in tears, saying this was the first time anyone had recognized her work as being useful, normally, she told the audience that "many people treat me like waste - like filth - whereas I am a worker just like them".


Left: Minister of Infrastructure of Switzlerland, H.E. Ms Doris Leuthard, receives solar-dried fruit-paste from Kalyani Raj, All India Women's Conference, winner of the first prize in the category "Sustainable Energy". Right: Rehema Nmangenda of Katosi Women Development Trust Uganda speaks a word of thanks to H.E. Lulu Xingwana Minister of Women Affairs of South Africa, during the Women Rio+20 Award Ceremony.


4. Post Rio+20 Commitments by the Network of Women Ministers and WECF

On June 20th, the Network of Women Ministers and Leaders for the Environment met and were joined by leaders from UNEP, UN WOMEN, UNDP, IUCN, and civil society members of the network including WECF and others to present their commitments for Gender Equality and Sustainable Development actions post Rio+20. WECF was one of the initiators of the commitments. UNEP commits a.o. to Ensuring that gender perspectives are fully integrated and implemented through UNEP’s Programme of Work and in UNEP’s support to its partners and stakeholders. WECF commits to support the Network with the organisation of an annual Women's Good Practice Award and empowerment of 20,000 women. The program and the commitments can be found here.


Co-chairs of the Network of Women Ministers and Leaders for the Environment, signing the commitments, from left to right, Amina Mohammed, Deputy Executive Director UNEP (secretariat of the network), Sandra Herrera, Deputy Minister of Environmental Regulation and Promotion, Mexico, Rejoice Mubudaphasi, Deputy minister of water and environmental affairs, South Africa, and Tomoko Nishimoto, director DRC, UNEP.


Photo: After signing the commitments - some of the signatories.  Photo courtesy of UNEP


5. Women’s Major Group Side Events at Rio+20 official summit

The Women’s Major Group organised 3 side events, on June 13th, 15th and 22nd. See the reports, press releases and photos:


Women’s side events on 13th and 15th of June 2012, Rio de Janeiro


6. Women’s plenary speech in the opening session with heads of state, 20th of June 2012, Brazil

The women’s major group was given one speaking slot during the 3 days of the Rio+20 summit. We nominated our colleague from Egypt to speak on behalf of the Women’s Major Group.  We are very proud of her intervention, which was developed as a common effort of the women’s major group and can be found here:

Intervention by Hala Yousry from Egypt during the Opening Plenary at Rio+20


7. Women speakers in the Sustainable Dialogue Days

Hortencia Hidalgo, Lourdes Huanca Atencio, Sharan Burrow, Sheila Oparaocha, were among the women which had been nominated by Women’s Major Group members and spoke as panellists during the Dialogue Days, see for a report ISSD: http://www.iisd.ca/uncsd/rio20/sdd/16jun.html


8. UN Women – Women’s Leadership Forum

Sascha Gabizon, Anita Nayar, Caroline Usikpedo-Omoniye and Hala Yousry were among the women’s major group speakers along side Michelle Bachelet and Gro Harlem Brundland during the full-day Women’s Leadership Forum organised by UN Women on the 19th of June. For copies of speeches and photos go here.

On the 21st of June, UN Women organised a second invitation-only event with former and current heads of state, Dilma Roussef President of Brazil, Helle Thorning-Schmidt’s prime minister of Denmark and many others.


Left: Michelle Bachelet, Under-Secretary General of the United Nations and head of UN Women, speaking with Gro Harlem Brundland, former prime minister of Norway, and author the the UN report "Our Common Future" on Sustainable Development. Right: Sascha Gabizon of WECF discussing with Gro Harlem Brundland, at the start of the UN Women, "Women's Leadership Forum" at Rio+20, on June 19th 2012.


9. Women’s demonstrations and press actions at Rio+20 summit

The women’s major group organised a large demonstration in the central courtyard of the Conference center, with more than 100 participants on June 19th, protesting against the deletion of reproductive rights in the text.

Our Japanese colleagues spoke at a press briefing on the inexplicable omission that radioactive pollution was not addressed in the Rio+20 text and on June 22nd organised a demonstration to call for action at against radioactive pollution.


Women’s demonstration inside the Rio+20 conference 19th June 2012 (photo's courtesy of John Lloyd Smith)


Demonstration by Japanese NGOs and WECF to call for action at Rio+20 against radioactive pollution on 21st of June 2012  (photo courtesy of Judit Szoleczky)


10. Other women’s activities during the Rio+20 summit

Women’s activities at the Rio People’s Summit and other places

Many other events were organised by members of the Women’s Major Group, including the event with Vandana Shiva, Marina Silva and Ted Turner  organised by Women Earth and Climate Caucus (oolake@jps.net), as well as the market place on gender organised by IUCN and WEDO (www.wedo.org), and the many events organised by Development Alternatives with Women for a New era - DAWN (coordinator@dawnnet.org).


11. People's Summit: over 20,000 people participated in the People's Summit which took place in parallel to the United Nations summit.

Many events were organised by women’s organisations at the People’s Summit, including the large women’s demonstration on the 18th of June. A total of 50.000 people took part in the global demonstration organised on June 20th. The more than 2200 workshops were summarized into one consensus document, which calls for some of the key points which the Women's Major Group has been defending, including an end to violence against women, and rights for local women farmers and communities to stop unsustainable development in their communities such as landgrabbing for biofuels, imposing GMOs, opening (uranium) mines and deforestation, see (cupuladospovos.org.br).

Notes of Women's Workshop at the People's Summit  ‘Facing Environmental, Food and Economic Crises. Women’s Experiences and Initiatives’ People’s Summit, June 16th, 2012


12. Preparations for Rio+20 in French and Arab speaking Africa

Six Women's organisations in French and Arab speaking Africa organised awareness raising workshops and consultations on their specific needs and views for the Rio+20 Sustainable Development Summit and translated Women's major group position papers into Arabic and French.

In Senegal, REFDAF (Women's Network for Sustainable Development in Africa) organised a workshop in Dakar in March 2012, publishing their key recommendations for Rio+20. In Chad, the network of women of the indigenous Mbororo People brought together policy makers and indigenous women in N'Djamena. in Tunesia, the women-lead environmental organisation APEDDUB consulted on the most innovative and interesting sustainable development ideas to be implemented after Rio+20, in Congo Brazzaville the organisation Fondation Femmes Africaines organised a seminar to engage women in their country's preparation for Rio+20. In Congo DRC, the organisation AGF organised a day to reflect on the countries policies on environment and sustainable development from a gender perspective on June 15th.

The partners from Egypt translated the women's major Group Rio+20 statement into Arabic, and FFA Brazzaville into French, they can be found here.


13. Press releases of the Women Major Group and WECF at Rio+20

Find our press-releases here:

Rio+20: Women “Disappointed and Outraged” Women’s Major Group Releases Final Statement on the Outcomes of Rio+20: "We believe that the governments of the world have failed women, future generations and our beautiful but fragile planet earth"

24.06.2012 | Women's Major Group Press Release

Grassroots women from around the world receive prestigious "Women's Rio+20 Good Practice Awards" - Grassroots women from around the world receive prestigious "Women's Rio+20 Good Practice Awards" from eight women Ministers in 21 June Ceremony and Reception at Rio Centro

22.06.2012 | WECF Press Release

Rio+20 - WECF sponsors June 15th Forum on Phase-Out of Nuclear Energy by 2020 - On the Opening Day of the Rio+20 Peoples’ Summit Women in Europe for a Common Future Presents Forum Calling for Global Phase Out of Nuclear Energy by 2020

15.06.2012 | WECF Press Release

Women Mobilize at Rio+20: Demanding a Just and Sustainable Future - Sascha Gabizon (WECF) says, “Rio+20 could be our last chance to mobilize world leaders and civil society to assure a real paradigm shift away from greed and unsustainable growth towards societies based on human rights and gender equality”

13.06.2012 | Women's Major Group Rio+20

Many thanks to all the women who contributed !!

Contacts for further information:

Organising Partner WECF International: secretariat@wecf.eu or    chantal.vandenbossche@wecf.eu

Organising Partner DAWN: coordinator@dawnnet.org

Support from WEDO: eleanor@wedo.org

Support from GFC: isis.alvarez@globalforestcoalition.org


About WECF International

Women in Europe for a Common Future (WECF) is an international network of over 130 women’s and environmental organisations in 40 countries, working in partnerships to demonstrate sustainable development alternatives at the local level and sharing lessons learned and promoting sustainable policies at global level. We have offices in France, Germany and the Netherlands. Our work concentrates on the women’s leadership and gender equality in sustainable development and environmental protection, focussing on thematic areas of chemicals safety, sustainable energy, safe food and rural development as and safe water and sustainable sanitation. WECF receives donations from foundations, private donors and institutional sponsors.

Follow us on: Twitter: @WECF_INT @WECF_NL @ProjectNesting or on Facebook

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