Rights of Marginalised Women

IWRAW AP remains committed to the realisation of rights of all women and seeks to find more inclusive ways to make the human rights claims of marginalised groups of women visible and effective. It is essential to challenge and dismantle the systems of oppression that perpetuate structural inequality for groups of women that face exclusion, invisibility and a denial of rights in their day to day lives. We are guided by the following principles to ensure that the rights of marginalised groups of women are addressed systematically across all of our areas of work:

Inclusion: Ensure participation of marginalised groups of women across our programmes and ensure respect for diversity and valuing individual or group differences while recognizing our common humanity and universal rights and freedoms.

Intersectionality: Incorporate an analysis that explain how forms of oppressions interrelate and often reflect multiple forms of discrimination.

Accessibility: Be cognizant of and respond to the needs of groups of marginalised women to ensure their meaningful access and participation in our programmes.

Accountability: Follow processes to document, monitor and evaluate the engagement of marginalised groups of women in our programmes.

Solidarity: Build solidarity within and across issues, locations and movements.

We understand marginalised groups of women to include:

  • Women whose lived realities of discrimination and inequality are not yet reflected in the political demands and/or ideological frameworks of the ‘majority’ and require assistance framing claims in line with CEDAW and other relevant international human rights treaties
  • Women whose identities/communities are criminalised, marginalised and disenfranchised by the State and other actors in terms of recognition of their rights and/or access to resources, opportunities and justice; and/or underrepresented in policy and decision making

Within this definition, we recognise that marginalised women are not a homogenous group. That is why we have preferred to use the term ‘marginalised groups of women’.

We agree to use the term ‘marginalised groups of women’ as opposed to the term ‘women at the margins’ to acknowledge the fact that the marginalisation of certain women is a consequence of explicit and implicit actions by those occupying spaces of power and privilege to exclude others. This enables us to take responsibility for our complicity in systems of oppression by which we too have contributed to the marginalisation of certain women.

Programme in Action

In June 2018, we embarked on a partnership with the Asia Pacific Network of Sex Workers (APNSW) to implement a three-year programme aimed at enhancing the technical capacity of sex workers’ rights advocates in South and Southeast Asia to engage with the international women’s rights framework and provide support to national sex workers’ rights advocates to undertake a sustained strategy on CEDAW activism. We thereby hope to strengthen the meaningful participation of sex workers’ rights advocates in the CEDAW review process.

The first Regional Training on Use of CEDAW to Advance Rights of Sex Workers took place in Chiang Mai, Thailand in December 2018 and involved 20 activists from Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Laos, Myanmar, Nepal, Singapore, South Africa and Thailand.


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