Global South Women’s Forum on Sustainable Development

IWRAW Asia Pacific began to mobilise Global South women’s rights organisations around the 2030 Agenda in 2016. The first GSWF was held in Cambodia in 2016, and the second in Rwanda in 2017. The Forums brought together women from different parts of the Global South who addressed the conceptualisation of sustainable development as a women’s rights issue and strategised around working collectively. In 2018, the first regional convening of the GSWF took place in Jordan with a focus on the Middle East and North Africa. A second regional convening was held in 2019 in Malaysia focusing on women’s human rights in the world of work in Southeast Asia. In 2020, the GSWF took place virtually for the first time as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, bringing together activists, community leaders and professionals on the theme Feminist Macroeconomics, Power, and Justice. In September 2021, IWRAW Asia Pacific will be organising a virtual Global South Women’s Forum on Sustainable Development under the theme Connecting Gender Equality to Environmental Justice – Global South Feminist Visions of Environmental Justice.

The Global South Women’s Forum (GSWF) is key to IWRAW Asia Pacific’s work, welcoming diverse local and regional communities to lead dialogues which directly involve their lived realities. It is important to create spaces for women’s rights organisations and marginalised communities on the ground, including gender and sexual minorities, ethnic and racial minorities, women and girls living with disabilities and others to share stories of their experiences of inequality and discrimination and community resilience while enhancing their knowledge and capacity to build stronger activists and communities to build back equal. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has posed considerable and additional risks for those already most marginalised and impacted by extreme weather events caused by climate change like hurricanes, cyclones, volcanoes and other disasters. The huge shift to virtual communication and engagement has allowed groups and communities who were once far removed from climate convenings and conversations the opportunity to engage; however, it has also pushed communities further away from decision-making spaces and processes. The pandemic has caused more intense state surveillance and actions of some communities like women, ethnic and racial minorities especially Indigenous communities and LGBTIQ+ people, and has also increased instances of violence and murder.