DECLARATION OF THE FEMINIST ORGANIZATIONS FORUM AT THE PLENARY OF THE ECLAC XII REGIONAL CONFERENCE ON WOMEN IN LATIN AMERICAN AND THE CARIBBEAN

**The Feminist Forum Declaration was read by Magaly Pineda, during the first day of the ECLAC XII Regional Women's Conference held this week in Dominican Republic.
 
DECLARATION OF THE FEMINIST ORGANIZATIONS FORUM AT THE PLENARY OF THE ECLAC XII REGIONAL CONFERENCE ON WOMEN IN LATIN AMERICAN AND THE CARIBBEAN 
“Women’s autonomy in the digital economy and the information society”
 
Mrs. Alejandrina Germán, Minister of Women’s Affairs of the Dominican Republic, Mrs. Alicia Bárcena, ECLAC Executive Secretary, Mrs. Sonia Montaño, ECLAC Division for Gender Affairs’ Chief, delegates of the member States at the Conference, delegates of the U.N. agency system, Civil Society representatives. 
 
Ladies and gentlemen participants of the XII Regional Conference on Women: 
 
We are indigenous women, Afrodescendant women, peasant women, mixed-heritage (mestiza) women, physically challenged women, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual and heterosexual women, female sex workers, women living with HIV, young women and elder women. We are women and feminists who, for three decades, have been building democracies with social justice and gender justice, in the region with the deepest disparities in the planet. We are here because one and the same ideal has called to us: to make human rights be in fact universal for all people.
 
As civil society feminists and women actors, we articulate our voices and efforts through activism, to promote and guarantee the exercise of Human Rights, sexual rights and reproductive rights, as well as for peace and violence-free lives, by searching for economic and social alternatives to ensure social justice.  
 
Feminists have constantly mobilized strategies along with the citizenry to generate processes of change, both at the individual and the collective levels, in favor of people’s autonomy and human rights. Thus, we denounce and reject the harassment, criminalization and judicial processing of social movements’ protests, as these constitute a Human Rights violation. 
The Beijing Platform for Action already included new technologies as a space where global topics, imaginaries and information would be debated, and as tools for building equality. 
 
Twenty years later that the new information and communication technologies (ICTs) have evidently transformed the economic, political, and cultural spheres, the means of production, interpersonal connections, education, political action and public services. However, this spectacular development has not benefitted all social groups in the same way. 
 
Digital gaps persist, and this has repercussions for the exercise of women’s rights, as it limits their full participation in the digital economy and adversely affects their autonomy. This situation requires that international and regional political bodies and governments make urgent decisions and assume concrete commitments.
 
We know that the time for equality—called for by ECLAC in 2011—is urgent and that equality is indispensable to fight against the structural inequality whose basis are the colonial, patriarchal, heteronormative and racist patterns. We know it because indigenous, Afrodescendant, rural and migrant women still face sometimes insurmountable hardships, when there are no public policies that protect and ensure their rights, and punish abuses, racism and xenophobia. 
 
Civil and political rights, and the expansion of democracy have not gone beyond the mere intention of including women as political actors, due to the male-centered character of the institutions, which has condemned this Beijing 95 achievement to a chimera, producing persistent underrepresentation of women in the spheres of power. 
 
Faced with our continent’s poverty, women continue to be the most victimized. Thus, the issues on which commitments were made by the governments of Latin America in 1995 in Beijing, as well as in Cairo, at the World Summit on the Information Society, and in a long list of regional and international declarations and agreements, must have long-term relevance and commitment, because building equality and quality of life for women is an essential condition to guarantee access—with equal opportunity—to the society of knowledge and information. 
 
As long as we do not eliminate inequality, a reduced group of people will continue to concentrate for themselves from the most ominous privileges to the most basic resources. Under these conditions, access to the internet, the digital social networks or the new technologies will not be guaranteed, given that meeting people’s core needs and guaranteeing their most basic rights for achieving quality of life are not guaranteed. Even less so are the spaces that can make facing the challenges of the technological paradigm and the digital economy a viable endeavor. 
 
It is necessary to recognize that the right to education originates for people at birth and that it continues to exist throughout a person’s life, such that education must be of quality, secular and free of charge, and also equitably available and accessible, in both urban and rural areas. Along these lines, we affirm and claim adult education and literacy as an inseparable part of the right to education. 
 
We have an important challenge. We have barely advanced on the road to transforming educational paradigms so they may promote equality between men and women, and fight against racism and all forms of discrimination. 
 
Similarly, it is a priority to stimulate girls and female teenagers to choose to study and develop in the scientific, technological and innovation fields, and support their staying in those fields, in order to train the new generations, as participants, creators of software applications and digital content, and as female citizens that are aware of their rights within digital environments. 
 
Regarding indigenous and Afro-descendant peoples, intercultural education must be promoted—education that is based on re-invigorating the first peoples’ languages, identities, cultures, and views of the world, and the recovery of historical memories, using ICTs in relevant ways, as tools that allow access to digital learning systems at educational institutions both inside indigenous territories and outside of them. 
 
With the goal of promoting and ensuring the appropriation of the ICTs as tools for equality and justice, as the Feminist Organizations Forum, 
 
WE DEMAND FOR THE STATES:
1. To ratify, reaffirm and intensify the work to make the Brasilia Consensus a reality and make it have full effect, in addition to the regional consensus agreements adopted in previous conferences on women in Latin America and the Caribbean, as well the Montevideo Population and Development consensus. The commitment to equality must be strengthened in the discussion of the new post 2015 global development goals. 
 
2. To reaffirm and develop policies and action plans to make a reality of the commitments and goals of the World Summit on Information Society and the Information Society Action Plan (eLAC 2015), by strengthening the Working Group on Gender through the active participation of women’s organizations.  
 
3. To direct political, economic and institutional resources to achieve gender equality and justice. It is essential for the States to allocate budgets that are large enough and long-term in order for the institutional mechanisms for women’s advancement to be able to fulfill their oversight function regarding policies for gender equality in each and every government sector. 
 
4. To ensure that sufficient public funds are aimed at gender equality and intercultural dialogue, and to channel resources—public resources, south-south cooperation resources and resources from the government banks and corporations of the region’s investments—to contribute to the financial sustainability of women’s and feminist organizations, in favor of women’s autonomy, equality and participation. 
 
5. To ensure the production of data to allow for establishing a solid base to adopt and assess policies on gender. To strengthen ECLAC’s gender equality observatory and civil society observatories / mechanisms, such as ISOQuito, by incorporating the evaluation of women’s advancement in all aspects of the Information Society. 
 
6. To guarantee communication within indigenous and Afro-descendant territories, in consultation with the peoples, by eliminating current gaps and giving priority to women, young people and girls in the rural environments, who have the least access to them.
 
7. To guarantee recognition of the right to non sexist and quality education that promotes the strategic appropriation of the ICTs, by promoting public access points and an information and communication infrastructure that ensures quality connectivity that is also affordable and universally accessible.
 
8. To provide incentives to use, promote and regulate appropriate technologies and free software, as a means to democratize knowledge, and have free access and autonomy, bypassing the large transnational companies that dominate, monopolize and condition the market. 
 
9. To establish mechanisms for monitoring and evaluating at the national and international levels, with feminist organizations’ participation, in particular, regarding nanotechnology, biotechnology and geotechnology. 
 
10. To guarantee processes that are respectful of the environment in production, consumption and waste management of technologies. 
 
11. To guarantee that new technologies be tools to facilitate accountability and access to information, through transparency laws and the use and promotion of open data. To fight against information control and electronic espionage such that they are not used in any way to criminalize advocates for human rights and social movements’ activists. 
 
12. To formulate national regulations aimed at eliminating sexist and discriminatory content in the media. To generate guidelines for the media to develop content that incorporate different age, gender, race, ethnicity, indigenous people and sexual orientation perspectives; in the process, guaranteeing compliance with current legislation that mandate public and private media to include in their programming content that disseminate the cultural and linguistic values of the first peoples and cultures, as well as their sociocultural and political realities.
 
13. To pass, implement and monitor national and regional laws and policies that confront violence against women and girls in the media and the ICTs, taking into account the nature and specific risks of these environments and, in all their diversity, women’s increased vulnerability. 
 
14. To incorporate the innovations of digital agendas built from civil society organizations in order to promote transformative responses and accelerate social change, and thus eradicate gender stereotypes, inequality and all forms of violence against women and girls. 
 
15. To guarantee that the commitments our regional governments assumed at the World Summit on the Information Society are in fact implemented in the creation of a supportive environment, without which a dynamic digital economy that fully includes women cannot be developed. We highlight: respect for freedom of expression, the right to privacy and the establishment of a legal framework to protect personal data. 
 
16. To reaffirm the secular character of the States is fundamental to eliminate discrimination against women and to ensure the full exercise of their Human Rights, including that of communication, knowledge and access to information. 
 
To conclude, we express our absolute rejection of the “Sentence of Hate”, through which the Constitutional Court of the Dominican Republic attempts to legalize and legitimize the arbitrary policy of taking away the citizenship of a collective, which would adversely affect thousands of Dominican men and women of Haitian heritage, which is a complete absurdity, in the context of the duty that each State has to protect their children from every form of discrimination and guarantee the recognition of each child’s legal personhood. 
 
Equality within the Information Society! 
Information Society to achieve Equality!
We do not want new technologies for old hierarchies!
 
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, October 13, 2013