Women from the South Declaration
The African women political leaders meeting at the International Conference “Women Building Bridges” held in Madrid on 19th and 20th May 2022, together with their Latin American and Spanish colleagues, hereby make public the following declaration.
1 The principle of gender equality, including the prohibition of any discrimination based on gender, sex, sexual orientation or gender identity, should be formulated as a fundamental principle of international and national law.
2 Not only should we continue to demand the immediate repeal of any discriminatory legislation and policies but we should also continue to promote the implementation of laws and measures for gender equality from an intersectional and inclusive perspective. We demand adequate financing for equality policies, gendered public budgets, and the creation or strengthening of monitoring, supervision and accountability mechanisms.
3 We should strongly denounce and combat any attempt to roll back the recognition of women’s rights. Any ideological or political strategy designed to discredit or undermine feminist movements must be strenuously rejected.
4 Traditions and practices that run counter to women’s rights need to be eradicated. Such practices are not culture. They are human rights violations. To put an end to such injurious practices it is not enough to pass laws banning them. Other measures must be taken such as dialogue with community and religious leaders, raising awareness and educating the members of local communities including men.
5 Women’s participation in politics must be promoted. Quotas are not enough; we demand equal representation. The participation of young women in politics should be specifically promoted and intergenerational alliances set up to bring together younger women and women who are veterans in politics. It is not only a question of numbers but rather about how the presence of women should help to raise the standard of leadership and transform power structures.
6 As women we need all forms of violence against women, including political violence, to be prevented, documented, prosecuted and punished. Protection must also be granted to women who have been forced to leave their country behind in order to protect their own lives that were in danger because of their commitment to defending human rights or the environment.
7 We demand public policies to protect women’s health, including sexual and reproductive health and mental health, as well as more investment in research to guarantee it. Increased spending on weapons, which is widespread today, should not entail a reduction in health and social spending.
8 We ask for recognition and respect for the work done by civil society in promoting equality, especially the work done by grass-roots organisations. Activists must be adequately protected and women’s organisations supported.
9 We should fight corruption and demand actions be taken to combat it through intelligent cooperation conditionality mechanisms so that corrupt practices are penalised without making the population even more vulnerable. The development of policies that work for equality and the inclusion of citizens requires the design of new taxation systems and action to be taken against tax havens.
11 The Women, Peace and Security Agenda is a human rights instrument and as such we should continue to support its integration into international human rights protection frameworks because the Agenda does not belong solely and exclusively to the United Nations Security Council.
10 The economic empowerment of women is essential to guarantee their autonomy. We want access to credit, not just to microcredit. We should promote digital literacy. Digital tools facilitate women’s access to credit, and technology helps women to be able perform all kinds of jobs.
12 Women cannot be left behind in the new digital environment and economy. It is important to increase the participation of women in STEM careers because the digital space is the latest means being used to perpetuate discrimination, by reproducing prejudices and stereotypes that are harmful to women. The patriarchy’s technology will continue to oppress women unless it is
deprogrammed by women for women so that the algorithms included in digital applications do not contain any gender bias.
13 We should acknowledge and underscore the transformative power of films and the audio-visual sector and support and promote the role of women in these sectors, as well as the importance of journalism and communication for democracy and the feminist cause, which is the cause of equality.