Indigenous woman representatives attend the CSW58 as a part of global indigenous leaders

The fifty-eighth session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW58) took place at the United Nations Headquarters in New York from 10 to 21 March 2014. Like each year, this year thousands of civil society activists, representatives of member states, UN entities, and ECOSOC-accredited non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from all regions of the world attended the session under a priority theme “Challenges and achievements in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals for women and girls”.

Global indigenous women leaders also came from across the world to share their stories of marginalization and deprivation, to exchange ideas, make connections and push for change following some advocacy process of caucuses, side events, high-level round table events, morning and evening debriefing, lobby with government delegations to include language in the Agreed Conclusion.

Bipasha Chakma, Research Coordinator of Kapaeeng Foundation attended in the CSW58 session as a part of global indigenous leader, and she was actively involved in this advocacy process to ensure that indigenous women rights in Bangladesh are reflected and their rights are protected in Agreed Conclusion. Besides, she attended as a guest speaker in some renowned universities such as Columbia University, Fordham University and New York University in NYC. She highlighted in different events about indigenous women in Bangladesh suffer disproportionately from a multi-fold of discrimination and oppression based on their ethnicity, race, location and socio economic status together with their sex.

Bipasha Chakma addressed the root causes of violence affecting indigenous women include non-implementation of Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) Accord signed in 1997 between the government of Bangladesh and the Parbatya Jana Sanghati Samity (PCJSS), land grabbing and Bengali settlement program in the indigenous-inhabited regions, militarization, development initiatives in the name of development such as, dams, eco-parks, national parks, protected forest, are the main factors contribute to increasing the risk of sexual violence against indigenous women in CHT as well as Bangladesh. She also highlighted indigenous women are most disadvantaged and vulnerable group in Bangladesh in terms of almost all development indicators like income and limited access to markets, health care, employment, local government, water environment and sanitation, education and ancestral lands face disproportionately high rates of poverty and are also subjected to violence, such as domestic violence and sexual abuse, including in the contexts of trafficking and armed conflict.

Finally, she concluded her speeches with the recommendations to implement CHT Accord of 1997 for peace, security and development of indigenous women in CHT; to take effective measures to prevent all forms of violence and discrimination against indigenous women and to take initiatives on sustainable gender sensitive and gender responsive development projects, legal aid support program for sexual victims, campaigns, trainings, continued education and re-education to address poverty, inequality, underlying social values that shape mindsets and permit gender violence to be part of daily life.

After a collective initiative and effort, indigenous women created a space in Agreed conclusions” during the CSW 58. This documents includes a specific paragraph on indigenous women that states ( p 11): Encourage the participation of indigenous women and girls in the World Conference of Indigenous Peoples, noting the contribution of that conference towards the achievement of internationally agreed development goals bearing in mind that indigenous women and girls face particular challenges in achieving the Millennium Development Goals.