International Women’s Day is the time to reflect on progress achieved concerning gender equality and women’s human rights, obstacles encountered, and call for transformative change. Unfortunately the situation we face nowadays is one of backlash.
The 2017 theme for the International Women’s Day focuses on women in the changing world of work, Planet 50-50 by 2030.
The world of work is changing with significant implications for women. On the one hand, technological advances and globalization bring unprecedented opportunities for those who can access them. On the other, there is a growing informality of labour, income inequality, and humanitarian crises.
Women continue to work in the most vulnerable segments in the informal economy with little or no access to decent work, adequate remuneration, pensions, social protection and healthcare, leaving women at great risk of falling into or remaining in poverty, experiencing workplace violence and unable to fulfill their economic rights.
The question to be asked is: what can be done? A lot of measures can be taken in a lot of fields, like measures to eliminate gender gaps in work and employment measures to redistribute paid and unpaid care and domestic work, to eliminate violence at work, etc. The second question to be asked is the following: Will these measures have any effects? In my view, the answer is negative. Why is it so?
In the view of IAW the answer lies on the lack of an enabling environment at all levels for the empowerment of women and the realization of their human rights. This lack of an enabling environment is produced by development models that support market-led growth only. These models contribute to the persistence of unequal power relations between women and men and reproduce gender inequalities, exploiting women’s labour and unpaid care work.
These patterns are based on a new form of capitalism disorganized, globalized, neoliberal. This form of capitalism has replaced the State-managed capitalism of the post-war era. It relies heavily on women’s wage labour, especially low wage work in service and manufacturing.
Neoliberalism is driving poor people, in particular women, poor classes, poor countries deeper into poverty. Feminist organizations should work to ensure that human rights are the ethical framework for macroeconomic policies. They should participate in reforming dominant economical policies that is neoliberal policies including the development, implementation and evaluation of these policies.
We all know that the women’s movement is the most critical factor in the implementation of gender equality policies. The women’s movement should strive for the full promotion of the human rights of women through the full implementation of all human rights instruments, especially CEDAW.
We should demand a new development model that is not based solely on economic growth but prioritizes people over profits as well as social solidarity. A new development model that regulates as well the role of the private sector through binding frameworks that align their actions with human rights and sustainable development objectives.
We should also work for human rights accountability for all actors, international financial institutions, multinational corporations, national governments. This is a new field of activism that the women’s movement should follow in order to see progress in its struggle for gender equality and the realization of women’s human rights.