Programme on We, feminists from 6 countries of South Asia (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka) from diverse fields including human rights, law, activism, research, policy setting, journalism, and academia met in Negombo from August 24th -26th, 2012 for a Regional Feminist Forum on Women's Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. We have over these 3 days discussed and deliberated over issues that concern women across the region and we unanimously adopt this declaration.

WE ACKNOWLEDGE AND ADHERE to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that states that all human beings are born free and equal, in dignity and rights and entitled to the rights and freedoms therein without distinction of any kind, including race, color, sex, language, religion, social origin, birth or other status;

WE REINFORCE AND BELIEVE in the International Covenant on Economic, Social, Cultural Rights.


  1. South Asia has the largest number of people living in poverty and 70% of the poor are women. This denotes the failure of governments to fulfill their obligation to ensure a life with dignity for all.
  2. Women in the region are food insecure, lack basic health care, access to education, employment opportunities and have little or no social security.
  3. The devastating impacts on women's lives and livelihoods in the region as a result of:
    • the changing global economic situation;
    • globalization, privatization, commercialization, militarization, fundamentalism, and religious extremism;
    • conflicts and disasters, both manmade and natural;
    • long standing patriarchal norms, values and practices.
    • climatic unpredictability and other environmental destruction.
  4. Dispossession of and change of use in resources have negative impacts on women's livelihoods.
  5. Women, due to prescribed stereotypical gender roles, bear an unfair and unequal burden in providing food, water, fuel and care for themselves and their families. Lack of infrastructure and poor energy, and technology options add to this burden.
  6. All women work whether paid or unpaid. Women do a lot of unpaid work within the household and in family farms and enterprises. Despite its obvious economic and socia worth, much of the work that women do remains invisible, undervalued, and under-appreciated.
  7. Women from social and economically marginalized groups continue to face multiple discrimination on grounds of caste, race, class, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, ethnicity, language, literacy, disability, and age.

Since national, regional and international economic growth policies and development agendas have not taken due note of the above listed concerns,


  1. Development agendas in our region recognize all women as workers and agents of economic growth.
  2. Development agendas recognize that women traditionally and historically have skills and knowledge for livelihoods that ensure food security for all.
  3. Economic and social policies recognize women as individual rights holders and not just as members of a family, household, or group. Their marital status should not have an impact on their entitlements.
  4. Women should be engaged in decision-making processes at all levels that impact their lives.

At the Forum, we, feminists from South Asia prioritized the following issues for knowledge production, mobilization, and policy reform to advance women's ESCR:

  1. All women in South Asia work and are therefore entitled to universal social security.
  2. Women, as workers and producers, need to be guaranteed individual access, control, ownership and management of productive resources for sustainable livelihoods irrespective of who they are and where they come from.


26th August, 2012