“We can’t go backwards” – Powerful statement by Sanne van de Voort at the CSW General Discussion

On the 22nd of March 2022, Sanne Van de Voort, Advocacy Officer at WECF International, delivered a powerful statement to Delegates of the CSW during the General Discussion. Read or watch the statement below.



Thank you Chair, my name is Sanne Van de Voort, and I am speaking on behalf of Women Engage for a Common Future. Today I’m not only representing my own organization. I stand in solidarity with those thousands of women (in all their diversity) that cannot be here today to raise their own voices. They cannot be here because of inequalities: from discriminatory visa restrictions to vaccine inequity to financial restraints or conflicts and war. The absence of civil society is unjustifiable and will reduce the outcomes and impacts of this CSW.

We recall that the Military is one of the world’s biggest emitters of greenhouse gasses, toxic chemicals and radioactive materials. There cannot be sustainable development without peace. We express our profound solidarity with all the victims of current wars, and our thoughts are with the thousands of victims of Russia’s unprovoked war against Ukraine. We call on governments to immediately halt all military interventions and to solve political disagreements through dialogue with women at the peacetables, as agreed in Security Council resolution 1325 and 2242.

Feminist, community-based, Indigenous, afrodescendant and youth-led organizations are already leading the fight against climate change and gender inequality. They lead oppositions to neocolonial projects and extractive industries, leading the way to real climate actions through transformative models and shifting power balances. They are committed to protecting our planet.

At the same time, women, in all their diversity, face intersectional oppressions perpetuating traditional gender roles, sexual and gender-based violence, and under-representation in environmental and climate decision-making. Financing hardly reaches these organisations working on innovative solutions. This must change.

We say no to false, nature-based solutions and we advocate for ecosystems-based approaches and gender-just transitions.

Yes, dear Delegates, we are aware this is not a COP. At this CSW you do have the opportunity to put gender equality at the top of your Member-States’ climate and environmental agendas! Work outside of your own silos.

We need climate, environmental and disaster-risk policies, financing & action to become gender-transformative. 

We call on you to make progress. Only a few countries in the world have adopted a national gender & climate action plan so far. Commit to your promises on gender equality and start this process yourselves. And make sure include civil society all along the way.  

We can’t go backwards: not on human rights, nor on climate action!