At the Fourth Annual World Water Forum, held this past week in Mexico City, the Women's Caucus called on the conference attendees to uphold women's human right to water by including women in decisions related to water usage and sanitation and by taking gender issues into consideration when making policy. They cited the United Nations General Comment 15 to the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights which says that "The human right to water is indispensable for leading a life in human dignity. It is a prerequisite for the realization of other human rights." The Women's Caucus proposed many recommendations for action, including: recognizing women as full partners in water and sanitation efforts; recognizing intentional contamination or withholding of water as a crime against humanity; developing gender equity policies for institutions that deal with water; and creating gender-sensitive and gender-balanced responses to water crises.
The UN Secretary General Message on World Water Day (March 22) echoed the importance of including women in water policy, as "In many cultures, including indigenous societies, women are the guardians of water. They are the ones who often spend long, arduous hours searching for and carrying water. They need to be able to participate more meaningfully in decision-making on how water is used and managed, so that their countries can make full use of their knowledge, skills and contributions."
Other activists at the World Water Forum protested the privatization of water resources and distribution and called on attendees to amend international law to recognize a right to water and to allow the UN to police violations in order to prevent the estimated three million deaths from contaminated water each year reports OneWorld US. While the right to water has been acknowledged in various covenants and UN resolutions, the US and other influential nations have not upheld the documents.
Media Resources: OneWorld US 3/21/06; Women’s Caucus Declaration, 3/18/06; UN Secretary-General Statement 3/22/06
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .