CWGL collaborated with the UN Working Group on Discrimination Against Women to hold a consultation on women and work
WOMEN'S HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE CHANGING WORLD OF WORK
Written by Magali Brosio (Sr Program Coordinator, Economic Policy)
On March 8th, 2019, International Women’s Day and the eve of the 63rd UN Commission on the Status of Women, CWGL had the pleasure of collaborating with the UN Working Group on the Issue of Discrimination against Women in Law and in Practice (WGDAW) and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to organize the first in a series of consultations for the WGDAW’s forthcoming thematic report on women in the changing world of work, which will be presented to the Human Rights Council in 2020. The meeting brought together representatives from human rights organizations, labor right movements, and feminist advocates from around the world to discuss the most pressing challenges and megatrends in relation to women and work.
In their opening remarks, WGDAW experts, Elizabeth Broderick (who is leading the development of the report) and Melissa Upreti (who is also the Senior Director of Program and Global Advocacy at CWGL) explained the nature and scope of the WGDAW’s mandate and the overarching theme of their work, which is to assert gender equality and prevent rollbacks. They put the forthcoming report, and the process for its development, in context by emphasizing that this is a crucial time to produce a gendered analysis of the opportunities and challenges for women in the changing world of work, which, as noted by many, has been lacking in reports more recently published on the subject. The WGDAW’s thematic report will identify promising approaches and make specific recommendations to states for promoting and protecting women’s human rights in the changing world of work. It will be developed through a participatory process that will involve a series of consultations in 2019, in Africa, Asia Pacific, Europe and Latin America and the Caribbean.
During this meeting, several participants underscored the urgent need to focus on the reality of women in informal sectors of work, not only in private companies (including transnational enterprises linked with supply chains), but also in the public sector. Participants agreed on the need to address power imbalances stemming from patriarchy and the current threats against workers’ rights to organize and strike, and highlighted the importance of strengthening international bargaining mechanisms. In addition, they stressed the importance of using broad definitions of “work” and “workplace” that include unpaid care work in the household as well as ensuring the role of the state in protecting women’s rights. Finally, attendees pointed to migration as one of the most critical challenges that women workers face today. This meeting was the first opportunity for stakeholders to discuss these issues together with the WGDAW. It will be followed by an official call for submissions for the report that will be issued by OHCHR later in the year.
CWGL has adopted a programmatic goal to advance substantive equality for women in the world of work which will require ending gender-based violence in the world of work for all women and ensuring that they have the agency and autonomy to determine the terms and conditions of their work in an environment that fully respects their paid and unpaid labor in the public and private spheres respectively. In this scenario, it encourages those working on this topic to be involved and share their expertise with the WGDAW in order to contribute to a report that can be used as an advocacy tool to realize women’s rights to work and at work.
Reporting on Gender-Based Violence: Journalist Consultations in Melbourne & Mexico City
Written by Cosette Thompson (CWGL Consultant)
CWGL's 2016 Assessment of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence Campaign highlighted the roles and responsibilities of journalists in reporting on gender-based violence (GBV), including their contribution towards its eradication. In the context of the lessons learned from this assessment, and since the beginning of last year, CWGL has convened five groups of experienced women journalists from 34 different countries. The purpose of these consultations has been to assess the specific challenges related to the coverage of GBV, as well as the best practices to address them. Many of the 76 journalists and GBV experts that have so far participated in these gatherings will continue to work with CWGL on the development of a standard-setting guide and digital tool aimed at professionalizing GBV media coverage.
(CWGL Journalist Convening in Melbourne)
In February 2019, CWGL organized two such convenings for the Asia-Pacific and Latin American regions. The first one took place in Melbourne (February 4-5) and brought together journalists from Australia, Fiji, Indonesia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, and Samoa. Co-hosted by Monash University School of Media, Film and Journalism, the workshop was also attended by the Asia-Pacific Acting Director of the International Federation of Journalists, and by the newly appointed chief editor of the project, Lagipoiva Cherelle Jackson. Cherelle is a Samoan journalist and media consultant and trainer.
"Journalists can have a critical role to play in shifting the current social norm."
Recommendations from the meeting included shifting coverage from case-based reporting to investigating the root causes of GBV, focusing on story framing, promoting ethical standards and best practices. Participants also emphasized the need to give more prominence to indigenous women’s voices. CWGL Executive Director Krishanti Dharmaraj, stressed in her introductory remarks that, “we want to engage in shifting the discourse on GBV by changing how it is reported in the media. Journalists can have a critical role to play in shifting the current social norm. They can help the general public understand that gender-based violence against women is a violation of most fundamental human rights.”
(CWGL Journalist Convening in Mexico City)
The most recent convening took place in Mexico City (February 23-24) and was attended by journalists from Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Peru, and Venezuela. This consultation highlighted the need to denounce the amplification by the media of fear-mongering messages, the frequent marginalization of GBV reporting, and the lack of focus on systemic causes and intersecting contributing factors.
"In this context, feminism was defined as- a human rights lens that allows us to report on the complexity and impact of structural violence.”
These analyses led several participants to stress the role and responsibilities of journalists, including their “duty to impact public policy” and the acknowledgement that “communication is part of social change.” In this context, feminism was defined as a “human rights lens that allows us to report on the complexity and impact of structural violence.” The pervasive impact of discrimination, harassment, and violence against women journalists themselves informed several key discussions and led to recommendations for strengthening or developing national, regional, or international support networks.
Strategizing in Jordan on feminist peace
In January, our team jumped into 2019 by traveling to Jordan for two key strategy meetings on feminist peace with our partners.
WORKING TOGETHER TO DEFINE PEACE BEYOND THE ABSENCE OF WAR
As a strategic goal in advancing women's rights, CWGL is working to redefine peace and measure it with the indicators of equality, justice, and human rights to challenge the economy of war and violence. On January 11, we held a convening of experts on peace and women's engagement and leadership. In this gathering women, who are experts and practitioners on peace from the MENA region, shared their experiences, the challenges, and priorities in the region. The CWGL team shared a proposal on an alternative peace paradigm and received critical feedback from meeting participants. Important to the conversation were barriers to moving from peace beyond the absence of war, and whether what was proposed could complement or advance existing work on peace.
This convening was a collaboration between Center for Women’s Global Leadership (CWGL) (Global – United States), ABAAD (MENA – Lebanon), and Women and Media Collective (WMC) (South Asia- Sri Lanka). "
FEMINIST ALLIANCE FOR RIGHTS STEERING COMMITTEE MEETING
The Feminist Alliance for Rights, of which CWGL is the Secretariat, is an international alliance of organizations from the Global South and Global North. It aims to amplify the voices of women from the Global South, strengthen feminist movement building, and advance women’s rights and gender equality. The FAR Steering Committee met in Amman, Jordan on January 12th and 13th to discuss the alliance strategies, priorities, and activities for the 2019-2020 period. It reaffirmed its engagement on the agreed priority theme of women and peace (WP) from a feminist perspective.
It was productive, inspiring, and energizing to kick of 2019 with these meetings and women leaders! We are looking forward to embarking on these strategies and to what's next.
2019 is here, and we are ready!
At the Center for Women’s Global Leadership (CWGL), we believe that a world without violence is possible. In a time where misogyny, hate, and inequality are gaining rapid exposure, we aim to achieve equality by ending gender-based discrimination and violence against women. The close of 2018 allowed us to reflect and re-energize, and now we are ready to together take on 2019 and demand human rights standards within this challenging climate, including by:
ENDING VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN IN OUR LIFETIME.
With a focus on violence in the world of work, we are creating space for women workers to amplify the gendered impact of discrimination and violence they face across their work realities to influence strong new standards. As global coordinator of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence Campaign, our global ask for the next two years is to end gender-based violence in the world of work. With our partners, we are shifting the campaign from awareness to accountability and transitioning it from 16 to 365 days to galvanize the reach of 300 million globally.
SHIFTING THE DISCOURSE ON GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN.
We are convening women journalists, and will continue to do so in all regions of the world, to discuss the gendered discrimination and violence that they face and recommendations to employers, governments, and unions in how to protect them. We are also examining the gender dimensions of modern slavery and the plight of domestic workers. With the Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Slavery, we emphasized this issue’s link with male-biased macroeconomic policies and the undervaluation of unpaid care work that results in migrant domestic workers being subjected to slave-like conditions. With this foundational framing, we will continue our work with domestic workers.
AMPLIFYING & SECURING WOMEN’S RIGHTS AS HUMAN RIGHTS.
We launched the Global Feminist Journeys digital timeline to capture the history of feminist activism, which too often remains hidden. We will continue to build on this in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Beijing World Conference on Women as a way to provide insight and hope at a time when women’s rights face the threat of rollback. Today, women human rights defenders continue to face crackdowns. We amplify their courageous efforts by providing spaces for them to speak for and about themselves and their activism.
We wish you a very Happy 2019 and invite you to continue on this journey with us toward true equality!
GBV & Women Workers: Conversations in Sri Lanka & Madrid
Written by MaryBeth Bognar (Program Coordinator, Outreach)
It is almost impossible to talk about 2018 without mention of the amplified testimonies of violence and harassment faced by women workers, in part due to Me Too/Yo También, among other local movements. At CWGL, we aim to achieve equality by ending gender-based violence and discrimination in the world of work for ALL women. In fact, you may have seen this topic taken to action as the global ask of our recent 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence Campaign. We've been regionally convening women workers, and mobilizing the women's rights and labor rights spheres so we can together address this issue in a way that is strong, inclusive, and recognizes the gendered dynamics that exist in work realities for women. Here's where you may have caught us amplifying these issues recently:
Breaking the silence on rural women workers in the U.S. during AFAMMER Congress
(CWGL Executive Director, Krishanti Dharmaraj, presents at AFAMMER Congress)
CWGL Execute Director, Krishanti Dharmaraj participated as one of the 12 global experts and 800+ participants during AFAMMER's 2nd Congress: The Voice of Rural Women in the World. Dharmaraj emphasized that to advance the leadership of rural women, it is essential to end the gender-based violence that they face. In this context, she highlighted the reality of Latina farm workers in rural California where over 80% have been reported to face sexual harassment, as according to Human Rights Watch. "California farm worker women are the heart of the 6th largest economy in the world and they face human rights violations similar to a rural community in the Global South," said Dharmaraj. It's time to demand new standards, which CWGL is continuing to work toward for women's respective worlds of work.
(AFAMMER Congress participants including Congress President Carmen Quintanilla Barba and CWGL ED Krishanti Dharmaraj)
Exposing violence faced by women journalists through the documentary "Velvet Revolution" in Sri Lanka
As part of our strategy to convene women workers, we held discussions in Sri Lanka with women from the South Asia region. While there, CWGL hosted a film screening of the award-winning documentary Velvet Revolution by Nupur Basu in partnership with Centre for Integrated Communication Research and Advocacy (CICRA). The film documents violence faced by women journalists and allowed for further conversation around this topic and CWGL's current initiatives to expose and address it.
Stay tuned for continued conversations and opportunities to engage with us around this area of our work in 2019!
CWGL Faculty Director Presents to Joint Meeting of UN Agency Executive Boards on Inequality
Written by MaryBeth Bognar (Program Coordinator)
Radhika Balakrishnan, Ph.D., Faculty Director of the Center for Women’s Global Leadership (CWGL), spoke at the Joint Meeting of the Executive Boards of UNDP/UNFPA/UNOPS, UNICEF, UN Women, and WFP. Balakrishnan presented during a panel that focused on overcoming inequalities among and within countries, including gender inequality, to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The panel presented an opportunity to discuss how United Nations agencies can position themselves to address inequalities effectively, including by ensuring their reach to those most vulnerable. Balakrishnan provided insight on macro-economic inequalities between countries and this link with discriminatory social norms. In doing so, it’s necessary to look at how economic policy is constructed. “If we took human rights as the overarching framework, how do we use this to assess economic policy?” said Balakrishnan. She went on to emphasize that, “instead of talking about people being left behind, we need to be talking about how they’re being pushed behind.”
It is also crucial to note that macro-economic policies have gendered effects. Looking specifically at the role of unpaid care work in this context, one can see the disproportionate negative consequences that austerity measures have on women. “Macro-economic policies aren’t gender blind, they’re male biased,” said Dr. Balakrishnan. To begin addressing unpaid care work and the inequalities it perpetuates, the “three Rs” should be considered:
- Recognize unpaid care work and measure its impact and value on the economy.
- Reduce unpaid care work’s disproportionate burden on women by adequately investing in infrastructure.
- Redistribute unpaid care work both within the household and by having it taken up by the state.
Further framing the discussion, Balakrishnan demonstrated the link between economic policy’s role in the use of resources, and how these resources are necessary to achieve human rights. “If we took human rights seriously and we were to assess economic policy using fulfillment of human rights as the main criterion, we would have a very different kind of economic policy regime,” said Balakrishnan. In relation to this point, it was suggested that United Nations agencies have the opportunity to come together and think through what this kind of framework could be. The full presentation and panel event can be accessed here.
CWGL Hosts Dr. Natalia Kanem for event:Transforming our Future: Human Rights, Equality, and Peace
Written by Alexa Russo (Research Assistant)
Photographed by Sarah Ragsdale (Communications Intern)
On April 2nd, the Center for Women’s Global Leadership (CWGL) had the opportunity to host Dr. Natalia Kanem, Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), at Rutgers University. After engaging conversations with CWGL and Rutgers Global Health, Dr. Kanem was graciously hosted by Rutgers President Barchi and Mrs. Francis Barchi at a reception with professors and students across Gender Studies, Global Health, and various other disciplines. Dr. Kanem drew many distinguished guests including Abena Busia, Ghana’s ambassador to Brazil.
Pictured left to right: Krishanti Dharmaraj, Dawn Minott, Melissa Upreti, Soeurette Germain, Yakin Erturk, Dr. Kanem, President Barch, Radhika Balakrishnan, Aretha Oliver Crayton
At the keynote event, Rutgers Chancellor Dutta began with introductions, followed by CWGL’s showcasing of its project on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). A panel discussion moderated by Radhika Balakrishnan (CWGL Faculty Director) allowed for a conversation among Krishanti Dharmaraj (Executive Director of CWGL), Yakin Ertürk (former UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women and CWGL Visiting Global Associate), and Alexa Russo (CWGL Research Assistant) on the project’s aim to bring together an analysis of economic structures, underlying gender-based violence, as well as a human rights framework into the implementation of the SDGs. As the panel noted, the SDG’s aim to transform society can only be achieved by confronting the many gendered systems of power that run through the economy, and by utilizing human rights as an evaluative framework and as a set of mechanisms for social change.
Pictured above: Rutgers Chancellor Dutta and Dr. Natalia Kanem
Following the panel, Dr. Kanem’s keynote address discussed how human rights, equality, and peace provide the foundation for UNFPA’s work. While considerable improvements have been made in the realm of sexual and reproductive health, UNFPA’s area of focus, there is still considerable work to be done. For example, globally more than 300,000 women die each year from often preventable complications related to pregnancy and childbirth, adolescent girls continue to lack sexual education, and women and girls’ vulnerability to sexual abuse and assault leads to, among other issues, an increased risk to HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. There are also inequalities within countries that perpetuate these issues among those who are more vulnerable—such as in the United States where African-American women in New York are 12 times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than while women.
Pictured left to right: CWGL staff Rasha Moumneh and Michelle Sucameli, Dr. Kanem, CWGL staff MaryBeth Bognar and Magali Brosio
Pictured: CWGL opening panel, left to right: Radhika Balakrishnan, Alexa Russo, Yakin Erturk, Krishanti Dharmaraj
Dr. Kanem outlined UNFPA’s plan to promote and protect sexual and reproductive health and rights, particularly for those most marginalized, by 1) making concerted and collaborative efforts to collect data from marginalized populations 2) addressing the social, cultural, policy, and legal barriers to sexual and reproductive health, and 3) empowering marginalized groups to claim their rights.
CWGL at CSW62
As it is for many of our friends in the women's rights community, this year's Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) was a whirlwind of feminist energy. With a growing team and program initiatives, the Center for Women's Global Leadership (CWGL) had the opportunity to hold and take part in important conversations, insightful strategy building, and celebrations of progress. Here's a peak into some of our spaces and what we've been up to.
MEET & GREET: FEMINIST ALLIANCE FOR RIGHTS & UN WORKING GROUP ON THE DISCRIMINATION AGAINST WOMEN IN LAW AND PRACTICE (WGDAW)
CWGL and its Feminist Alliance for Rights (FAR) hosted a Meet & Greet for the WGDAW, of which Melissa Upreti, CWGL Senior Director of Program and Global Advocacy, is a member. The event provided the opportunity to hear about the work, forthcoming priorities, and engagement opportunities of the working group.
16 DAYS STRATEGY MEETING
On March 15, CWGL held a strategic planning meeting with key partners to discuss the future direction of the 16 Days Campaign. For the past two years, the 16 Days theme has focused on ending gender-based violence in education. While that theme has resonated very strongly with partner organizations, it was agreed that the 16 Days theme ought to be responsive to movement trends. Taking inspiration from the international campaign to push the ILO to adopt a convention against gender-based violence, the 16 Days theme for the next two years will focus on GBV in the world of work.
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR ENGAGEMENTS
CWGL Executive Director, Krishanti Dharmaraj addressed both the US Caucus and the NGO CSW Orientation. Her opening of the US Caucus framed the role of US women at CSW, specifically regarding what this means in the Trump Era. At the NGO CSW Orientation, Dharmaraj gave a tribute to the late San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee. She also presented at the annual Cities for CEDAW strategy session.
STRATEGY MEETING PARTICIPATION
CWGL recently welcomed Magali Brosio to our staff as Senior Program Coordinator, Economic Policy. As a Feminist Economist, Magali attended the ESCR-Net strategy meeting on behalf of CWGL to discuss the intersection between land and women’s economic, social, and cultural rights.
OTHER CWGL SPACES
- CWGL joined with Global Fund for Women, Urgent Action Fund, Syrian Female Journalist Network, and Women Now for Development to hold a feminist rally for Syrian women in solidarity at a time of intense human rights violations and atrocities in Eastern Ghouta.
- CWGL co-sponsored the event, "Women's Human Rights Advocacy in a Time of Backlash," which included Melissa Upreti, as a panelist. The event covered the unprecedented level of backlash toward women's activists and effective ways to strategize to maintain gains won.
- Radhika Balakrishnan, CWGL Faculty Director, spoke at an event sponsored by UN Women to discuss the latest measures in reaching gender parity within the UN system. She emphasized the important role of civil society in achieving gender parity and the critical issues of adequate financing and budget transparency for gender equality.
- Melissa Upreti spoke on the panel "Closing the Gender Gap: Achieving Gender Parity in UN Human Rights Bodies." The panel emphasized the importance of women representation in international adjudicatory and monitoring bodies as a critical component of gender equality.