WG-USA approves action on refugees and SDGs at AGM 2017

At its Annual General Meeting in Milwaukee October 13-15, the WG-USA body approved the adoption of 2 new resolutions for its program and action
related to its mission and goals for the coming year.

Full information on WG-USA’s advocacy and resolutions
is available at this link

2017.1.R16

ACCESS TO EDUCATION FOR REFUGEE WOMEN AND GIRLS

Proposed by: Advocacy Committee Women Graduates – USA

 The 10TH Annual WG-USA General Meeting resolves that:

  1. WG-USA shall actively inform its members about the human rights violations of refugees including the violation of their most basic rights and the right to education to the best of their knowledge.

  2.  WG-USA shall engage and support its members in investigating barriers to education for refugees such as lost/missing personal identification, inappropriately long stays at detention centers with no access to educational institutions, requirements of needing to provide previous education documents, inappropriate use of placement tests for children, and inappropriate evaluation of preparedness for enrolment and lack of funding to support education of refugees in general.

  3. WG-USA shall support its members in the advocacy of all human rights for refugee women and girls and particularly the right to timely and appropriate education, with federal, state and local governments. This support will occur through frequent, systematic, and detailed updates to WG-USA membership of the status of refugee women and girls (children) relative to their access to education.

  4. WG – USA shall partner with domestic and international non-profit agencies advocating for and providing services to, refugees, in order to magnify its voice and work on behalf of refugees.

  5. WG- USA shall express its concern to the United Nations that the right to education for all refugee women and girls should be upheld and safeguarded and that member nations shall pass and put into action legislation supporting refugee women’s and girls’ access to quality education.

Supporting Statement:

Amongst the plethora of the issues facing refugees is the lack of access to quality education during resettlement and the inability to document previous education in order to get jobs and /or placement in educational institution.  These two aspects are key to financial, mental, and emotional survival of the refugee.  Reports from several NGOs including UNHCR and UNICEF indicate that for an entire generation of refugees, education may be inadequate or absent.. In addition, some are prevented from obtaining employment or furthering their education because of missing documents.

“Education is the best thing in life,” said a 12-year-old girl in Jeb Jannine, Lebanon. And yet, a large number of Syrian refugee children are not in school, despite efforts by governments and UN agencies. – UNHCR, The Future of Syria: Refugee Children in Crisis.

In summary, this resolution aligns with the mission of WG-USA to gain opportunities and empowerment for women and girls through education.


2017.2.R17

GENDER EQUALITY INCLUSION FOR MEASURING SDG PROGRESS

WG-USA RESOLVES: to monitor and advocate for gender equality in accountability methods and criteria used by the United States Department of State in the progress reporting of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), those which we determine are priorities for WG-USA; these methods and criteria should be applied at the local and state levels by any entity which implements the SDGs.   

Supporting Statement : 

The 2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) differ from the 2000 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by applying to all countries, rather than just ‘developing’ countries, and it covers a more comprehensive set of issues, therefore better addressing the complexities of sustainable development and reflecting the whole spectrum of human rights. And unlike MDGs, the SDGs also has a central focus on achieving equality across all seventeen (17) Goals, as well as two specific Goals (#s 5 & 10) addressing inequality issues. The Agenda also recognizes the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development, as among its foundations. 

During negotiations for the passage of the SDGs, and in spite of sustained lobbying especially by civil society organizations (CSOs), the final text of the 2030 Agenda includes only a weak voluntary process of reporting or monitoring of compliance, and not the much stronger “accountability” measures preferred. Moreover, compliance with gender-related goals and targets also requires gender-responsive accountability mechanisms that are not included. This means, at a bare minimum, that women should be full participants in any oversight or accountability process and that women’s human rights standards must be those against which public decisions are assessed. 

In seeking accountability, there are at least two different tracks to address: SDG-specific ‘follow-up and review’ mechanisms (i.e. those processes and platforms established specifically to monitor SDG progress in each country), and external mechanisms that exist to monitor other sets of obligations or commitments which are nonetheless related to the SDGs and could be local, national, regional or international. These mechanisms include human rights monitoring bodies or commissions, e.g. on gender equality, climate change, environmental sustainability, access to education, public health or food security.

Several principles are identified in the 2030 Agenda that the voluntary follow-up and review processes at all three levels should follow, including that they will be “people-centered, gender-sensitive, [and] respect human rights”, but there is no express recognition of the critical role of independent monitoring, data collection and reporting, raising the risk of review mechanisms based entirely on governments’ official reports. Civil society organizations and other stakeholders need to pressure for improvements in the process.  

Suggested Resources: 

U.S. Dept of State – https://www.state.gov/s/partnerships/releases/reports/2017/268159.htm 
USAID – Sustainable Development Goals: https://www.usaid.gov/globalgoals 
Make Watered Down SDGs Work, AWID (Ass’n for Women’s Rights in Development) http://www.alliancemagazine.org/

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