More than 30 people from all areas of Asia participated in the women’s pre-conference at 8th ILGA Asia held in Seoul, South Korea, from August 18th to 24th 2019. The following outcomes has been prepared as the basis for next women’s pre-conference and continuing conversations.
Women experience intersecting forms of discrimination and violence at various degrees and forms throughout our lives. However, we persist in the face of such hardship. In the Asian context, women are often forced to confirm gender norms and are often met with stigma and violence. Even in the face of this, women resist and find ways to work against situations which would seek to oppress us. Our experiences are often belittled, looked down on or ignored, whether intentionally or not.
We value and amplify all women’s experience, which includes trans women, women with disabilities, poor women and so on. When addressing women’s issues, we emphasise that the solution to gender violence should come from the most impacted community.
Thus, we demand space to tell our stories. In the face of arbitrary persecution and dangerous situations, we urge the international community to listen to our experience and support our organizing for bringing meaningful changes. We care deeply for all women of diverse backgrounds and see the following problems in the situation as it stands.
Questions we raised and discussed at this pre-conference are highlighted below:
Bodily autonomy: Gender norms across borders have long dictated how one expresses themselves. Women’s dress and gender expression are heavily influenced by political, particarical, and traditional ways of expression which can lead to low self-esteem, mental health problems and dissatisfaction. Women are continuously disrupting the norm and breaking the rules through claiming their autonomy. Whilst issues regarding bodily autonomy and gender expression do not exclusively impact women, the ways in which these impact women are different from other identities.
Colonization: The history of colonialism has shaped the norms and social status of women, which results in backlash from society when it comes to gender-related policy implementing, for example, sex education is still considered as taboo in some area.
Security: Women in different locations face complex issues around security. The levels and types of activism which can occur in these spaces vary as well. Climate change and natural disasters disproportionally impact women, and are more likely to place women in vulnerable positions both physically and economically. Another serious issue for security for women is the state-sponsored censorship and surveillance on the general public.
Education: Education matters for how our society progress. There is a lack of access to education (including formal school, complehensive sexuaity education, Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights, Human Right Education and LGBT+ identity education) that speaks to women’s needs in all ages. An unequal distribution of educational resources among women negatively impacts women of marginalised identities.
Marginalized groups: Women hold multilayers of identities that have been socially and historically marginalised, which includes but not limited to SOGIESC, ethnicity and race, social, economic and culture, health and conditions, immigration status included stateless, refugee and asylum seekers and migrants, sex workers, people living with HIV and AIDS, women in prison and many others which diverst women from accessing basic needs and and rights.
Patriarchy, Fundamentalism, Militarism and Globalisation: From households to military bases to national politics, social institutions are actively fueling gender violence against all women. Women, especially queer women, are using creative strategies to challenge patriarchy at its root--family! As queers, our movement is at the frontline of imagining alternative intimate and family structures. From how we dress to how we form our family, we creatively combat the patriarchy in their daily lives and find ways to refuse traditional gender norms.
States: We are women, and we demand protection from social and legal institutions. Many times, due the lack of consideration of women experiences in policy making process, women often suffer from insufficient law and policies. Women’s experiences and considerations should be taken into account when writing and enforcing laws and policies.
Customary Law: There is an intersection between fundamentalism, militarism, patriarchal and globalization which reinforce injustice within justice systems. This is rooted in cultural, religious and practical considerations in many contexts which unequally, negatively impact queer women on the basis of their Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation. Women in many spaces are unable to access and come under the protection of judicial and customary law due to their Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation.
Education: We recommend broader support for education targeting both queer women and their family members, who can build a ground floor to uplift all people. At the end, Asian families are the first and often the last support system people turn to in harsh situations. Through investing in gender-inclusive education of families, we can increase allyship and utilise those in power to aid in the fight for our rights.
Documentation: To advance our shared goals as Asian women, we need to build our coalition on strong mutual understanding of each others’ experiences and stories. Without evidence-based documentation of all women’s experiences on the ground, these stories will be lost. Thus, we urge greater emphasis on documenting the lived experiences of women across this region.
Capacity building: Provide capacity building support directly to women and women-led groups who are working on the above issues. We urge the philanthropic partners to go beyond program-based funding models but instead promote core development of women’s rights advocates and their teams.
Networks: We recommend active engagement with grassroots organisations which work with women and give access to a network so that greater strategic alliances may be built across organisations in support of each other’s goals.
Solidarity across borders: We recommend greater engagement with local, regional, and national organisations across borders so that all may be aware of the issues taking place in other areas and show solidarity in order to keep up the good fight.
We call upon ILGA Asia to adopt this statement as supportive of the Asian Queer Women’s movement. We recognise that there is much work yet to be done but draw hope from the work of many women’s groups across the region. We call to action ILGA Asia and ILGA world for its ongoing support of Asian Queer Women’s movement the work and rights of women in this region in building networks and power.