This year’s session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) — a major international gathering on women's human rights — took place under the shadow of recently escalated anti-immigrant, anti-refugee, and anti-Muslim policies of the United States.
These have prevented many women from exercising their rights to political participation at UN Headquarters. And those most impacted are women and their families, far from UN spaces, who face hate crimes, criminalization, detention, deportation and family separation due to restrictive migration, refugee and asylum policies.
We, the undersigned organizations with a presence in the US and commitment to women worldwide, noted with alarm this dangerous entrenchment of the right-wing populism and authoritarianism that threatens human rights and gender justice. It is against this backdrop that we gathered at CSW to:
- Renew strategies to reclaim international democratic spaces, address the current global political climate, and defend the full range of women’s human rights and the international norms and institutions meant to uphold them.
- Protest the racist and Islamophobic policies that bar access to UN Headquarters. Amplify the demands of those who have been excluded, and reassert our commitment to the human rights of migrants and refugees, without discrimination.
- Deepen a process of consultation and collaboration rooted in international solidarity with women who have been historically marginalized and those who are most at risk from the authoritarianism of a growing number of countries, particularly Muslim and Arab women and migrant and refugee women.
We stand together for gender justice and freedom of movement for all, and we unite around these shared principles. (Spanish and Arabic translations available.)
We spoke out, and policymakers heard us. When the UN Secretary-General addressed a town hall of women's rights activists, we placed an empty chair before him, to symbolize women blocked from participation due to xenophobic policies. Prompted by our action, he spoke out against policies that discriminate on the basis on nationality and religion.