The Ministers and High-Level Authorities of the national mechanisms for the advancement of women in Latin America and the Caribbean reaffirmed their commitment to take all necessary measures to accelerate the effective implementation of the Regional Gender Agenda and the international commitments related to gender equality, the autonomy of women, adolescents and girls and the full guarantee of their human rights. They also committed to mainstreaming the gender perspective into national environmental, climate change adaptation and mitigation, and disaster risk reduction policies, initiatives, and programmes. They adopted a Declaration at the Sixty-second Meeting of the Presiding Officers of the Regional Conference on Women in Latin America and the Caribbean.
The intergovernmental meeting was held virtually on 26 and 27 January 2022 and was organized by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), as Secretariat of the Conference, in coordination with the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women).
During the meeting, the special session of the Regional Consultation prior to the 66th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW66) was held, during which the Ministers and High-level Authorities reiterated their commitment to the urgency of accelerating progress towards gender equality and ensuring the exercise of the human rights of women, adolescents and girls in all their diversity.
As a result of the consultation session, the Declaration was adopted and will be presented at the CSW66 as a forward-looking position and contribution of the region to the global multilateral debate. The CSW66, which will be held from March 14 to 25, 2022, has as its priority theme "Achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls in the context of climate change, environmental and disaster risk reduction policies and programmes."
The Declaration demonstrates, once again, the enormous capacity for dialogue and agreement of the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean to promote the commitments of the Regional Gender Agenda as a contribution to the deliberations of the CSW66. In this context, the Declaration approved by the Ministers and High-Level Authorities is aimed at promoting the effective protection of the rights of all women human rights defenders, particularly those working on issues related to the environment, land, and natural resources. It also reaffirms the commitment to address the resilience of women, adolescents, and girls in a comprehensive manner, as well as the need to integrate a gender perspective in international climate and disaster risk reduction funding, ensure greater access to such funding by developing countries, including funding for women's and feminist organizations.
The region's Declaration is an excellent contribution to the Conclusions to be agreed at CSW66. Once again, Latin America and the Caribbean are at the forefront of gender equality and the advancement of women's economic, physical, and decision-making autonomy to overcome the structural challenges of gender inequality and achieve sustainable development. This Declaration, as well as the Agreements of the 62nd Presiding Officers, reaffirm the centrality of the Regional Conference on Women in Latin America and the Caribbean as the main intergovernmental forum in the region for the advancement of an ambitious and comprehensive Regional Gender Agenda. This Agenda is the result of the work carried out over the last 40 years by Governments, United Nations agencies, funds and programmes, international organizations, academia, and civil society organizations, particularly feminist and women's organizations.
The Governments also agreed to request Chile, in its capacity as Chair of the Presiding Officers, and Argentina, in its capacity as Vice-Chair of the Commission on the Status of Women representing the Group of Latin American and Caribbean States (GRULAC), to present the Declaration at CSW66 to be held in March 2022.
It is worth noting that the Executive Director of UN Women, Sima Bahous, was part of the Special Regional Consultation Session prior to CSW66. This was her first participation on behalf of UN Women in the Latin American and the Caribbean region since she assumed her mandate. In her intervention, she mentioned two key aspects for the region. On the one hand, she referred to the organizations of women environmental human rights defenders who face increasing threats and acts of gender-based violence. On the other, the Executive Director referred to the connection of indigenous women with their territory and the defense of water and nature as central axes for environmental conservation, climate change adaptation and mitigation and disaster risk reduction, and how their ancestral wisdom can contribute positively to the circular economy, the ecological transition and the consolidation of clean and safe energies.
In the same direction, ECLAC Executive Secretary Alicia Bárcena said that Latin America and the Caribbean has the potential to become a region that transforms and promotes gender equality and women's autonomy in international decision-making spaces, as well as in the adoption of measures and financing related to the environment, climate change, disaster risk management and reduction, and sustainable development. She added that we are facing a genuine shift in era with global challenges such as climate change, inequality, the growing asymmetries between developed and developing countries, and today, the pandemic. "All of this requires a profound transformation that recognizes the links between the economy, the society, and the environment, and that promotes a greater multilateral cooperation at the global and regional levels", she said.
As part of the Regional Consultation, two panels were organized to present the background documents prepared for the CSW66 priority theme. The panel "Gender equality, women's empowerment, and climate change policies" presented the background document "Women's empowerment and gender equality at the heart of climate action in Latin America and the Caribbean", prepared by ECLAC and UN Women and authored by Lorena Aguilar, ECLAC consultant, a specialist in gender and climate change. The document analyzes the structural challenges of gender inequality and climate change, gender mainstreaming in the climate change policy framework, progress at the regional level, and priority areas for regional action from a gender and women's empowerment perspective.
The panel "Gender Equality, Women's Empowerment and Disaster Risk Reduction Policies" presented the document "Towards Gender Equality and Women’s Leadership for Resilience to Disaster Risks in Latin America and the Caribbean" developed by UN Women and the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR). The report identifies the scope of the inclusion of the gender approach and women's empowerment in the context of disaster risk reduction in the region and develops guiding principles and action-oriented recommendations based on evidence, good practices, and lessons learned.
In this context, it is important to mention that Latin America and the Caribbean is a region highly sensitive to the effects of climate change and disaster risk. In addition, the region has been the most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The CSW66 takes place in a context of growing urgency and demands to address the climate crisis, biodiversity loss, environmental degradation, and environmental pollution, as well as to address disaster risk reduction by putting gender equality and women's empowerment and autonomy at the center.
The 62nd Meeting of the Presiding Officers also provided an opportunity to present the preparatory activities for the XV Regional Conference on Women in Latin America and the Caribbean, which will take place in Argentina in November 2022, and whose central theme will be "The care society: horizon for a sustainable recovery with gender equality."
In addition, the Governments of Latin America and the Caribbean reported on the implementation of the Regional Alliance for Women’s Digitalization in Latin America and the Caribbean, and on national initiatives, and the Regional Fund to support Women's and Feminist Organizations and Movements, of which UN Women is the managing entity. Government representatives also listened to the contribution made by the Committee of Non-Governmental Organizations on the Status of Women in Latin America and the Caribbean (NGO CSW LAC), which presented the Declaration of the Forum of Women and Feminist NGOs in preparation for CSW66.
The 62nd Meeting of the Presiding Officers was attended by 640 registered participants, including delegations at the ministerial level from 39 ECLAC Member States and Associate members. There was a large turnout of representatives and agencies of the United Nations system, intergovernmental organizations, and feminist, women's and civil society organizations in all their diversity.