26 April 2022

Following the conclusion of the recent CSW66, WDI has written to UN Women to raise serious concerns about the organisation’s adoption of gender ideology language and to ask them to revert to clear sex-based language as used in CEDAW.

WDI applauds UN Women’s aim to employ language that conveys equality between the sexes and does not convey sex stereotypes but we disagree that gender ideology language, adopted by UN Women without consulting the women it claims to represent, achieves this aim. Furthermore, we do not believe that this is the primary motive for its adoption by the UN.

Gender ideology language uses a definition of women that has been specifically revised to include males. Far from resolving women’s inequality, inaccurate, inappropriate ‘gender’-based language obscures the fundamental sex-based inequality experienced by women all over the world. It does not represent the material reality of the female sex and the lived experience of the vast majority of women, particularly in the Global South.

SOGI/gender-based language uses a specifically revised definition of women which includes males who identify as women within a sex-based cohort. Far from resolving the global inequality of women, the adoption of SOGI/gender-based language, which is both inappropriate and inaccurate, obfuscates fundamental sex-based inequality.

Furthermore, SOGI/gender-based language does not represent the material reality of the female sex and the vast majority of the lived experience of the women on the planet, particularly in the global south.

Among other things, WDI has asked UN Women to:

- Acknowledge the fundamental difference between sex and ‘gender’

- Recognise that defining womanhood in terms of sex is fundamental to the material reality and lived experience of billions of women

- Accept that current UN language protocol is not factual; is leading to confusion on defining sex-based discrimination against women; and leads to confusion and delays in resolving the issue

- Recognise the Declaration on Women’s Sex-Based Rights as a legitimate position on women’s rights even if it is not shared by other UN affiliated organisations

- Promote the Declaration on Women’s Sex-Based Rights as the gold standard protocol for defining the word ‘women’ within all UNCSW66 documents

We look forward to hearing UN Women’s response at its earliest convenience.

Download our formal response.

Read complaints from WDI women following CSW65 in 2021.