Today, as the United Nations begins its annual gathering on women’s rights, a coalition of international women’s, LGBTQ, and immigrant justice organizations have launched a joint initiative called: No Borders on Gender Justice.
This coalition, participating in the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), highlights that this year’s session takes place under the shadow of escalated anti-immigrant, anti-refugee and anti-Muslim policies of the United States. The organizers point to the new executive order by the Trump Administration, set to take effect this Thursday, as the latest in an exclusionary trend that prevents women from exercising their rights to political participation at UN Headquarters.
Yanar Mohammed, President of the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq, spoke out in solidarity with women’s rights activists excluded by these policies. “This is not the time to keep us out of the meeting rooms, out of the decision-making spaces and away from our sisters at CSW,” she said.
An Indigenous Ixil women’s rights activist from Guatemala, who requested not to be named, said, “I was denied a visa to travel to the US for CSW. Coming from Guatemala or from Central America, we know the obstacles and discrimination that have stood in the way of us accessing international spaces in the US, like the UN in New York. This is a barrier to our work for human rights, worsening in this political climate of fear and exclusion.”
Organizers of this initiative have emphasized that the risk extends not only to access to CSW. Also at risk is rights advocates’ access to UN and international advocacy spaces year round. Moreover, those most affected are women and their families, far from UN spaces, who face hate crimes, criminalization, detention and deportation due to xenophobic policies.
The No Borders on Gender Justice initiative seeks to renew strategies to reclaim space to defend the full range of women’s human rights, protest racist and Islamophobic policies that bar access, amplify the demands of those who have been excluded, and deepen collaboration with women most at risk from authoritarianism.
Organizers have also released a platform of principles, available here. The organizations co-sponsoring this initiative are: MADRE, Just Associates (JASS), Center for Women’s Global Leadership, AWID, Urgent Action Fund, Women in Migration Network and OutRight Action International.