UN women’s committee in latest guidance urges better protection of indigenous women and girls


The UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) is calling on states to immediately develop and implement comprehensive policies to better protect the human rights of indigenous women and girls everywhere.

In its latest guidance, formally known as General Recommendation No. 39, the committee decries the numerous human rights violations and abuses still directed at indigenous women and girls and calls for their effective, and meaningful participation in decision-making, and their inclusion by states, while also respecting their cultures, identities, and traditions.

“Indigenous women and girls are disproportionately affected by gender-based violence, as well as inequality and discrimination, and remain beset by limited access to justice, education, decent employment and healthcare, simply because of who they are,” said Gladys Acosta-Vargas, the Chairperson of the committee.

“Discrimination against indigenous women and girls is unacceptable and must be meaningfully addressed by all states by removing all the structural barriers they are faced with and ensuring that their individual and collective rights are fully respected.”

The 23-member committee acknowledges in its guidance that indigenous women and girls are also affected by intersecting forms of discrimination linked to sex, gender, indigenous status and other characteristics and factors, and calls for the protection of indigenous women human rights defenders and environmental activists.

It notes that the world’s indigenous population is estimated at 476.6 million, more than half (238.4 million) of whom are women and girls.

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