We have an opportunity to fine-tune instruments to advance the rights of indigenous women — Executive Director

Opening remarks by UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka at the high-level side event, “Affirming the Beijing and Lima Plans of Action for Indigenous Women and Girls”, at UN Women Headquarters in New York, 23 September, 2014.


(New York) — First of all, I’d like to welcome everyone for coming here and for being with us today. I’d like to welcome the panelists and thank you for taking the time to be part of this summit.

Today’s theme, as you know, is affirming the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the Lima Plan of Action for indigenous women and girls. It’s about seeing how we can fulfill the ambitions that are reflected in these two iconic documents.

As the world reaffirms its commitment to the implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, we want to make sure we seize this once-in-a-generation moment to bring together the Lima Position with the Beijing Agenda and the post-2015 development agenda, and to together arrive on the other side with the strength to implement all the critical aspects of these documents.

The World Conference on Indigenous Peoples takes place as the post-2015 development agenda is being developed, and as we count down to the Beijing+20 review. On 26 June 2014, UN Women launched a global campaign to galvanize participation, engage younger generations, and renew political will and commitment to accelerate the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform.

It’s good to see that participants from across society are here today including young people as well.

Indigenous women played an important role in the development of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action in 1995. They negotiated with other women to ensure their voices were heard and reflected in the final outcome document. They ensured that the country, regional, and global reviews of the implementation included the consideration of their rights.

Sadly though, we have not achieved all those rights to which we committed ourselves in Beijing. Unfortunately, we have to renew today many of the ambitions that we had in Beijing, because we have not reached that level of implementation.

Indigenous women must be central to the full implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. We now have another opportunity to achieve our aims.

In October 2013, the International Indigenous Women’s Forum (FIMI) and others held a historic conference in Lima, Peru. The outcome was the Lima Position and Plan of Action, which calls for concerted efforts in addressing persisting violence, poverty, discrimination, racism, limited access to services, and productive resources. It also calls for indigenous women to be provided with opportunities to participate in decision-making at all levels.

All of these elements are part of the agenda proposed by the Open Working Group on the Sustainable Development Goals. And they must be central to the post-2015 development agenda.

We must see the next 15 years — 2015 to 2030 —as the last mile for all of these issues that impact women.

In its 2014 session, the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues recommended that UN Women finalize a road map with actions and outcomes for indigenous women and girls as part of our next strategic plan. We look forward to this road map. I strongly believe it will contribute to the implementation of the outcome document of this World Conference.

UN Women recently finalized a review of our investment in indigenous women and girls dating back to 2011. We will use this information to guide our work and produce our first Programme Guidance and Principles on Indigenous Women by the end of 2015.

It is UN Women’s position that the concerns and the leadership of indigenous women and girls are critical to the success of the post-2015 agenda, and to the achievement of gender equality and women’s empowerment. Indigenous women are underrepresented at the political level and at the economic level. 

Full implementation means programming must be urgently scaled up — and it must be delivered with and by indigenous peoples themselves.

Post-2015 is make-or-break. Let us make sure that we draw on the strength of the full Lima Declaration and the full Beijing+20 report, in the context of the post-2015 agenda, so that we can focus on the issues that are make-or-break for indigenous women.

Thank you.