CEDAW Committee Adopts General Recommendation on Indigenous Women and Girls

On October 26, 2022, the Committee of the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Again Women (or CEDAW) adopted a General Recommendation (39) on Indigenous Women and Girls.

Indigenous women’s groups and their allies including several Channel grantee partners (the International Indigenous Women’s Forum or FIMI, JASS, and WHRI) have been waging an advocacy campaign for several years for a General Recommendation.

The General Recommendation represents a groundbreaking achievement of collaborative advocacy and should create many ripples of impact.  Channel is proud to have supported work on this General Recommendation starting in 2015.  

General Recommendations serve a purpose: the CEDAW Committee makes recommendations on any issue affecting women to which it believes the States parties should devote more attention.  

In advance of the official Recommendation release, Indigenous women’s groups made concerted efforts to strategize about how best to ensure that it translates into something concrete that Indigenous women and girls in all their diversity around the world can use for their activism and advocacy efforts.    

FIMI created a website to pull together resources about what CEDAW can mean for Indigenous women and girls and created a short video primer too. They also released a Handbook on CEDAW and the General Recommendation on Indigenous Women and Girls. 

The Women’s Human Rights Institute (WHRI) has a history online which details the way a broad alliance of organizations together embarked on a process to campaign for the CEDAW Committee to adopt a General Recommendation on Indigenous Women.  Initially known as the Indigenous Women’s Alliance for CEDAW, this coalition grew out of the synergy between the existing work of the collaborating organizations and the collective knowledge-building undertaken together to explore the ways in which CEDAW and women’s human rights tools and standards could be mobilized to better support the struggles of Indigenous women.   

Colectivo Ixpop, an Indigenous women’s group based in Guatemala, which worked on this campaign since its inception created two videos to help explain the CEDAW and the campaign for a General Recommendation (in Spanish with English subtitles): Qué es la CEDAW: Colectiva Ixpop – YouTube Recomendación General: Colectiva Ixpop – YouTube. Additionally, in 2021, Ixpop developed an operational plan and communications strategy, including meetings, training sessions, and advocacy campaigns, to “strengthen the initiative and its impacts.” Through funding from Power Up!, a consortium consisting of Ixpop members, Ixpop has been able to develop and implement this plan to promote the General Recommendation. 

Through this incredible work, the Ixpop Collective and its member organizations have become a point of reference in the effort to pass the General Recommendation. They are recognized as key conveners for gathering inputs for the Recommendation and for its validation in local, regional, and global advocacy spaces.

MADRE also created a website with background info and the opportunity to take action.