United Nations Advocacy
Given the Center’s unique position within the international women’s movement and the global human rights community, the Center has been instrumental in building and strengthening coalitions to promote international policy and institutional changes, particularly at the United Nations. Over the last two years the Center has contributed to the production of feminist analyses of, and strategies for, alternative approaches to economic policy that are informed by the material realities of women and men.
UN Special Rapporteurs
Since 2010, the Center for Women’s Global Leadership (CWGL) has convened meetings with United Nations experts to broaden understandings of the relationships between human rights obligations and macroeconomic policy and engender the mandate of the experts by using a feminist lens. The consultations are an innovative method for integrating feminist economic approaches into annual thematic reports and country visits of mandate holders. By working with the experts, women’s human rights are more clearly articulated within their reports and discussions with governments. Over the last two years, CWGL has convened meetings with the UN Independent Expert on the Question of Human Rights and Extreme Poverty (2010), the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights to Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation (2011), and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food (2011).
The meeting aimed to contribute to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food’s work on gender equality, including a final report for the United Nations Human Rights Council in 2012. To this end, CWGL brought together feminist economists, including Diane Elson, Stephanie Seguino and Madhura Swaminathan, researchers and advocacy specialists working on various aspects of the food system to offer analysis and recommendations. The meeting: (i) addressed the connections between the realization of the right to food and economic regulation from a feminist perspective; (ii) tabled recommendations to the Special Rapporteur as a means to fulfill his mandate; and (iii) strengthened analyses and policy advocacy of civil society groups around macroeconomics and human rights.
The meeting was coordinated in conjunction with Ms. Catarina de Albuquerque, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights to Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation. The gathering focused on three specific and interrelated issues: to understand how macroeconomic policy can effectively comply with human rights obligations with regards to the rights to water and sanitation; to address the connections between the theory and practice of human rights and that of revenue raising and public expenditure management in the field of water and sanitation; and to engender the mandate of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights to Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation. The meeting was designed to contribute new analysis and perspectives to inform Ms. de Albuquerque’s upcoming reports in 2011. The reports focus on the following areas: the first one to the Human Rights Council on national planning to implement the rights to water and sanitation; the second is the report to the UN General Assembly on the principal challenges in the realization of the rights to water and sanitation focusing on financial resources and their allocation, as one of the major (perceived) challenges. In addition, the discussions at the meeting will feed into the production of a report for those working on economic and social rights that will shed light on some of the difficult issues that need to be grappled with when discussing how far a government is complying with its obligation to realize the human rights to water and sanitation.
Ninth Session of the Universal Periodic Review, United Nations, Geneva, Switzerland: November 5, 2010
CWGL was involved in civil society advocacy for the United States first United Nations Universal Periodic Review which included the development of a cluster report on integrating human rights into macroeconomic policies in the US. On November 5, 2010 the UN and Member States reviewed the status of human rights in the US. Over 200 recommendations were received from over 80 Member States inscribed to speak. Topics ranged from treaty body ratification of CEDAW, CRC, CRPD, CMW, and ICESCR to the abolishment of the death penalty to the elimination of extraterritorial torture. Furthermore, new precedence was set for state responsibility in participating in the UPR. The US administration sent over 30 representatives from the housing, labor, education, and health offices, however, CWGL noted the absence of macroeconomics policy experts. The webcast of the review can be viewed on the UN Human Rights Council website. Following the US's UPR CWGL along with CESR, ESCR-Net, PERI, Urban Justice Center, and USHRN organized a side event entitled, “Building Foundations for Freedom from Want in the Land of Plenty.” Speakers focused on economic and social rights violations in the US including progressive realization of rights, the distribution of resources, amounts of resources used on social expenditure, the implications of unemployment in communities of women and people of color, and moving forward to March 2010. Finally, CWGL participated in a US sponsored Town Hall event. View the CWGL UPR related video and photos.
CWGL endorsed the following cluster reports:
- CERD Joint Report
- Economic & Social Rights Joint Report
- Right to Decent Work Joint Report
- Treaty Ratification Joint Report
- Women’s Reproductive and Sexual Health Joint Report
Facilitating Gender Equality and Social Protection for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, Geneva, Switzerland: June 1-2, 2010
The meeting was organized by the United Nations Independent Expert on the question of Human Rights and Extreme Poverty and the Center for Women’s Global Leadership (CWGL) at Rutgers University. The meeting examined the gender dimensions of social protection and how they relate to the Millennium Development Goals (MDG). The meeting will feed into the Independent Expert’s work on the right to social security and the role social protection systems play in eliminating extreme and chronic poverty. The meeting focused on developing a clear gendered analysis of social protection systems and their relationship with human rights obligations and social policy in general. In the coming months the Independent Expert will be collecting and analyzing the impact social protection schemes have had on achieving the MDGs with a view to encouraging States and other stakeholders to incorporate social protection into their MDG and poverty reduction strategies. In her report she will include a particular focus on gender issues. Independent Expert's report on the MDGs and social protection (English) (2010). Independent Expert's report to the Human Rights Council (English) (2011). (See the reports in additional languages)
On the eve of the formation of UN Women in 2011, CWGL as part of its efforts to bring economic, social and cultural rights to the forefront of policy making within the United Nations continued to urge this new entity focused on women’s rights to embrace and implement an economic and social rights agenda within its work program. CWGL spearheaded a small, global coalition of organizations—including the Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID), Action Aid, ESCR Net—Women and ESCR Group, Feminist Task Force—GCAP, Social Watch, The Feminist Alliance for International Action, Urban Justice Center, and WIDE—in holding UN Women accountable to the human rights framework with a specific focus on ESCR.
Beginning with a brief written submission to the CSW in late 2010 and then the development of a proposal, “Call for UN Women to Design its Policy and Program on Women’s Economic Empowerment from an Economic, Cultural and Social Rights Framework,” in March 2011, CWGL and partners prepared a call to action for UN Women to utilize the human rights framework in their programming.
March 24, 2011: Call for UN Women to Design its Policy and Program on Women’s Economic Empowerment from an Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Framework