Grassroots Women Recognized and Represented on UN Women Civil Society Advisory Group
On May 17, UN Women Executive Director Michelle Bachelet announced the members of the Global Civil Society Advisory Group, with grassroots women comprising nearly twenty percent of the membership. The Huairou Commission applauds UN Women for this historic step forward in the agency's development, as well as Bachelet for keeping her pledge to ensure grassroots women's voices are included in decision-making processes.
According to Bachelet in a press release from UN Women the advisory group "will play an important consulting role, and provide strategic perspectives on advocacy on gender equality and women's empowerment and on UN Women's thematic priorities."
Three of the appointed grassroots leaders are Joesphine "Jhocas" Castillo, Haydée Rodríguez, and Violet Shivutse. Each of these women are active leaders in their own communities who have been committed to building and strengthening networks of grassroots women's groups in their own countries of the Philippines, Nicaragua, and Kenya as well as on a global scale. Their expertise includes empowering grassroots women to solve development problems from the bottom up.
Jhocas Castillo is a grassroots community leader and organizer who has worked for 22 years on urban poor issues, including forced eviction and involuntary relocation, land and housing security, and advocacy for basic services. She is trainer and program manager of DAMPA (Damayan Ng Maralitang Pilipinong Api), a federation of peoples' organizations in the Philippines. She represents DAMPA in various networks, including the Land Use Campaign and the Reproductive Health Network. She is also a member of the Philippine Community Organizers Society, a board member of Asian Bridge, a member of Urban Poor Alliance of Quezon City & Integrated Peoples Organization Network of Metro Manila Philippines, and a nominee for Local Housing Board Of Quezon City representing the 3rd District.
Haydée Rodríguez is the current president of the Board of Directors of the Union of Cooperatives Las Brumas, Nicaragua, a collective of women's cooperatives focusing on sustainable agriculture, building resilient communities, and securing land as an asset for women. She has helped twenty cooperatives and a total of 1,200 producers. As a member of the Network of Women and Peace in Central America, the Huairou Commission, and GROOTS International, her organization is also part of the Café Conglomerate through the Ministry of the local government.
Violet Shivutse has worked for more than 10 years as a community health worker and Home-Based Caregiver in local communities in Kenya, providing direct care and support to hundreds of HIV-positive people, including orphans, elderly and the critically ill. She is the Founder and Coordinator of Shibuye Community Health Workers and a
regional Watch Dog Group, which works with local authorities to actively enforce the land and inheritance rights of women and orphans. As a strong leader in the global grassroots women's networks of GROOTS International and the Huairou Commission, Violet has traveled to various countries in East and West Africa to share and mentor other grassroots communities to work collectively to identify their priorities and position their leadership in both national and international development agendas.
These three women leaders were nominated through the Gender Equality Architecture Reform (GEAR) Campaign, which advocated for the formation of UN Women. Charlotte Bunch, who was instrumental in establishing the GEAR campaign which the Huairou Commission was a member of, was also appointed to the Global Civil Society Advisory Group. Other members of the group include feminist scholars, human rights lawyers, and male leaders working on gender and women's rights issues. All appointees have proven track records for their work on women's empowerment and gender equality, and were appointed by Bachelet based on wide consultation with civil society networks.
The advisory group will convene its first meeting at the 67th session of the General Assembly this September. The Huairou Commission celebrates this historic occasion and looks forward to seeing a multi-stakeholder approach to the work of UN Women, including focusing on partnerships and the post-2015 development agenda. It is committed to supporting UN Women's continued development as an agency that represents and advocates for the issues of women around the globe.
Click here to read the official press release from UN Women and see the full Global Civil Society Advisory Group list.