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    Digital inequalities were already high among girls, women and other marginalised groups before COVID-19 but as the pandemic led to an increased digitalisation of life, these disparities have increased dramatically. COVID-19 lockdowns have meant that girls are unable to go online at internet cafes, public Wi-Fi spots, schools or friends’ houses. In homes, access to technology is often shared with and monitored by family members, further limiting girls access to and use of technology.  

    With restricted or no access to the internet, girls are at risk of missing out on online education following school closures, suffer increased social exclusion, and they may not have access to reliable and relevant information about the pandemic and about sexual and reproductive health. The lack of digital access also had serious economic and health implications with the impossibility of working remotely and the maintained exposure to COVID-19.

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    It is true that in all countries there is economic and social inequality, which has a greater impact on the rights of women and girls, black and indigenous people, people with disabilities, migrants, among others.

    There is no doubt that this scenario is also a consequence of inequality between countries, mainly between the Global North and South. This inequality should not be reduced only to the distribution of vaccines or foreign debt. These are manifestations of a long history of colonialism and oppression in different forms that is more evident today than ever.

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    This is the moment to radically reimagine our systems and institutions so that they serve the people. The pandemic has shown that when states choose to, they can act swiftly to implement policies and spend resources that would have been unthinkable two years ago.  At the Human Rights Council, we must recognize this moment for what it is -a chance to breathe new and transformative life into the human rights system and everything that it is supposed to stand for.

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    Transitional justice mechanisms must respond to historic causes of violence and conflict by addressing structural oppressions that affect people based on their race, class, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, amongst others. Redress comes only when acknowledging how intersectional oppression continues to operate through associated stereotypes, stigma and discrimination, including those related to race, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression.  Intersectionality is crucial to ensure a truth and reconciliation process.

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    At some point there was hope that the Council would be a place where states would answer for their actions and where people could seek remedy for human rights violations - but that hope has faded over time. During this pandemic, the UN’s international cooperation mandate has given way to States’ and corporate interests. Barriers to entering multilateral spaces including denial of visas, ECOSOC status requirements, unsustainable cost of travel, lack of translation, lack of access for people with disabilities, technology access and safety issues, and so-called efficiency measures that restrict civil society participation, all take away the nuance and expertise that civil society brings in pursuit of social justice and equality. All of this is symbolized by the empty chairs throughout the UN.

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    During this pandemic, we have seen that the UN can change and create processes for better participation of all, including civil society. We have seen modalities evolve to allow for video statements and other remote modalities that had long been demanded by activists but were treated as impossible -- that is until States needed them too. But we have also seen the instrumentalization of the pandemic to restrict civil society space nationally and internationally, the UN’s budget crisis impact on its ability to fulfill its mandate, including with regards to civil society participation, delayed reports and other outcomes, and the drive for expediency leading to the renewal of ‘efficiency’ measures that obstruct rather than advance broad participation.

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    young people continue to face challenges and need to get more involved in order for these commitments to materialize. The adolescent fertility rate remains high, at 65 births per 1,000 girls aged 15-19 years, contraceptive prevalence rate is currently 46.2%, and high levels of teenage pregnancy is reported as 100 per 1,000 with associated high levels of unsafe abortion. These figures indicate a need for a review of and improvements to sexual and reproductive health and family planning services in Seychelles. Young people are also among the most vulnerable regarding Gender-Based Violence as substantial proportions are victim of sexual abuse. Moreover, these gaps are exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and prevent us from reaching our full potential.

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    Although laws around gender equality and women’s rights in Somalia have advanced in the past years, there are important gaps that need addressing to effectively guarantee and protect women’s rights. If the recommendations are to have a positive impact on the lives of women and girls in Somalia, the government will need to take urgent and decisive action.

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    Sex work is deeply intertwined with the public and policy debate on immigration in Denmark. Many street-based sex workers in Copenhagen and other big cities are migrants and are subjected to intersectional discrimination, including xenophobic and racist violence. The anti-migrant, xenophobic and racist sentiment is also frequently expressed by political leaders and senior ranking government officials. Government funding continues to be drastically cut from many sex workers’ organizations and organizations supporting migrants. Absurd and inaccurate reasoning is often provided for these funding cuts, such as conflating sex work with “human trafficking and illegal migrant work.”  

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    Esperamos que el Estado Paraguayo cumpla efectivamente con la implementación de estas recomendaciones aceptadas ya que en las revisiones anteriores ha recibido y aceptado recomendaciones similares que aún no se han implementado.

    Al mismo tiempo lamentamos que Paraguay no haya aceptado las recomendaciones recibidas sobre el aborto. Consideramos que ninguna recomendación relacionada con la discriminación y la violencia de género y con la salud sexual y reproductiva puede ser apropiadamente implementada si el aborto se encuentra penalizado.

    Solicitamos que Paraguay revise su posición sobre este tema y que para la implementación de las recomendaciones aceptadas el gobierno paraguayo trabaje de manera conjunta y colaborativa con los movimientos y las organizaciones de la sociedad civil.