An Open Letter to the Organisers of Women Deliver and the Generation Equality Forum : High-Level Forums on Women’s Rights Must Not Ignore the Rights of Criminalised, Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women.
We, the undersigned, call upon the organisers of Women Deliver and the Generation Equality Forum to ensure that these high-level forums on women’s rights are inclusive of all women, particularly criminalised, incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women.
The Generation Equality Forum, convened by UN Women in 2021, was the largest forum on women’s rights in the last 25 years. The forum launched a series of ambitious actions to progress gender equality and billions of dollars were pledged by philanthropists and governments to support this agenda.
However, a key group of women and girls were left out of this process — criminalised, incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women. Women’s incarceration is increasing at a faster rate than for men, up 60% compared to 22%, since 2000. The women’s prison population has increased by over 100,000 in the last ten years. There is a wealth of evidence that shows women’s incarceration is closely linked to gender-based violence, poverty and discriminatory laws.
Despite these glaring statistics, women’s incarceration was not a feature of any of the six Generation Equality Action Coalitions — key thematic action areas chosen for the global community to focus on for the next 5 years — including ones focused on Gender-Based Violence and Economic Justice and Rights. Women with lived experience of the criminal justice system were invisible throughout the forum, despite the sixth Action Coalition being focused on Feminist Movements and Leadership.