Human rights and dignity of Dalit women: report of the conference in the Hague, 20-25 November 2006

Human rights and dignity of Dalit women: report of the conference in the Hague, 20-25 November 2006

Summary of the first conference on the rights of Dalit women

This report summarises the proceedings and the outcomes the 1st Conference on the Rights of Dalit Women held in The Hague, Netherlands. The conference highlights how in South Asia – that is, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka – Dalits have endured discrimination based on work and descent for centuries, and this discrimination continues today.

The report documents:

  • a background and summary of the conference
  • The Hague Declaration on the Human Rights and Dignity of Dalit Women
  • outcomes of the working groups
  • testimonials from Dalit women
  • statements by United Nations rapporteurs .

The declaration makes a number of recommendations to the governments of Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka including:

  • disaggregate all criminal, economic, social and political data on the grounds of gender and caste
  • evolve and implement a comprehensive strategy to address impunity and ensure criminal justice for Dalit women
  • grant powers to make legally binding recommendations to relevant national human rights institutions to establish an independent complaints and monitoring mechanism to address the discrimination and violence against Dalit women
  • enact domestic violence (prevention and protection) laws that acknowledge the unique vulnerability of Dalit women
  • provide support to establish informal organisations for Dalit women to freely discuss the social, domestic and development issues in their own community and to strengthen leadership within local governance structures
  • mandate proportional representation of Dalit women elected into parliaments, legislatures and local governance systems
  • restore land earmarked by governments for Dalits and register them in the name of Dalit women or jointly with men, and also acquire and distribute surplus land by implementing and reform acts and distribute land to Dalits in proportion to their populations in each country
  • issue legal title to land possessed and enjoyed by Dalit women and men, in the name of Dalit women or jointly with men; grant each Dalit family five acres of land registered in the name of Dalit women; allocate and distribute sufficient budget for the purchase of land and distribute to Dalit women; ensure payment of equal and living wage to Dalit women without discrimination
  • ensure Dalit women enjoy equal access to and share of common property resources, in particular water resources, and provide budgetary support to create common property for their own
  • enact appropriate legislation to prevent displacement of Dalits and alienation of their land in the name of development projects and schemes in the context of economic globalisation
  • allocate sufficient budget for full primary and secondary level education of all Dalit girls, including funds for staff in schools and infrastructure, and vocational institutions.
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