Dignity and Equality for Women Every Day

For nearly 30 years the Center for Women’s Global Leadership has honored women, and all who support them, on International Women’s Day.

We have seen some real progress in that time, and we continue to see real need. Women work every day, whether their work is recognized or not. Our work contributes to making the world better.

One thing has become clear: labor rights are women’s rights, and the right to work is a fundamental human right.

Further, “labor” doesn’t have a simple, single meaning; it must include unpaid and under-paid work, formal and informal work, and should be recognized for its contribution to the economy. So many toil in slavery-like conditions in the absence of decent and equal conditions of work.

We must acknowledge the work that is required for our world to function: the millions, mostly women, who care for our children and elders; who provide critical domestic work; who are migrant workers, responsible for nourishment; as well as women who hold great influence, from policymakers and elected officials to journalists, to those who work in male-dominated roles, like pilots and scientists, to engineers and line workers in the technology industry.

The non-recognition of women’s unpaid care work in law, policy and practice reinforces the gendered division of labor creating a formidable burden on women, and makes it difficult for them to enter and remain in the labor force without being squeezed for time and forced to make major compromises.

This non-recognition is linked to the general undervaluation of women’s work, especially care functions and domestic work without which, ironically, society would not operate. This non-recognition and undervaluation extends to paid care workers and those who are forced to work in some of the worst conditions, and are often most vulnerable to violence, fraud, and the lack of social protection and abuse, without any legal recourse. As we work to address violence and abuse, we recognize that they are outcomes of discrimination and exclusion.

Meanwhile, active forces try to reverse or challenge our hard-won rights. Women human rights defenders are being silenced through intimidation and violence, or worse, eliminated.

As we reflect on International Women’s Day, at this moment in time, we know that we cannot talk about dignity and equality for women without talking about the systems that structurally reinforce inequality and discrimination: importantly, though not exclusively, in the world of work.

Bridging the labor and women’s rights movements

The Center for Women’s Global Leadership is proud to lead and support a women-centered collaborative effort based on feminist values to end gender-based violence in the world of work, once and for all.

As the originator and global coordinator for the 16 Days campaign, CWGL has partnered with the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), the world’s largest trade union federation, active in 163 countries. By combining human rights and feminists organizations with ITUC we are aligning the power of 300 million people through the 16 days campaign, and engaging with the International Labor Organization to set new global standards to end GBV in the world of work.

Engaging with the ILO offers a long-term, structural step toward a world without gender-based violence. CWGL and ITUC are uniting the women’s rights and labor rights movements under the hashtag #ILOendGBV to ensure that we begin to address and eliminate GBV in the world of work. We hope that when ratified and implemented this will provide critical protection for those most vulnerable to discrimination, exclusion and violence at the intersections of identity such as but not limited to gender, ethnicity, race, caste, class, ability, immigration status, sexual orientation, nationality, age, and other dimensions of identity.

Awareness to Accountability: #ILOendGBV

The 16 Days campaign has engaged over 100 million women and men over 28 years, creating widespread awareness of chronic gender-based violence and harassment against women. It is time to build on that awareness, and move toward accountability for solutions that will end GBV, beginning with the world of work.

Our first goal is to advocate for the new ILO standards to become legally binding in June 2019 at the International Labor Conference. We are organizing under the hashtag #ILOendGBV and have curated and highlighted content showing the direct links between women’s rights and domestic workers; garment workers; with other sector highlights in the queue.

Once the standards have been adopted, CWGL and its partners will turn the power of the 16 Days campaign into a sustained effort to support ratification and implementation, at the national level. We believe this should be the beginning of the end of GBV, in the world of work.

16dayscampaign.org is your platform year round

Like so many of you, CWGL is aware of the progress that has been made since we were founded, 28 years ago. We applaud all feminist efforts and are eager to support and amplify them.

One thing we are offering: a platform, organized under the 16 Days campaign.

  • Supports year-round engagement around long-term strategies
  • Offers resources including individual stories, recommendations issued to governments by UN legal mechanisms
  • Includes information about the ILO process to end GBV in the world of work
  • Downloadable social media images to participate in #ILOendGBV
  • Curated content around domestic work and the garment industry with more sectors to come leading up to the June 2019 International Labor Conference meeting

This platform was created in response to the assessment of the 16 Days campaign, and an explicit desire to share content and organize year-round.

We will continue to improve the experience on the platform, and welcome your feedback.

The role of government: to end discrimination

The Center for Women’s Global Leadership sees the powerful role that governments can play in eliminating structural discrimination. Women’s public and private lives are deeply intertwined. However, governments have failed to fully recognize the value of women’s unpaid care work and domestic activities in the private sphere, how this work contributes to the economy, and how its asymmetric distribution affects women’s opportunities in the world of work.

As we continue to witness many troubling trends — from climate refugee patterns to increasing wealth inequality — we also see the shrinking space for civil society to act and a broader concern about social protection systems and the public provision of essential services and infrastructure.

In this scenario, we must bring a feminist human rights lens, capable of proposing future-ready solutions that result in healthy policies and investments that support the realization for women’s human rights.

Moving forward

At the Center for Women’s Global Leadership, we stand firm in our feminist values and clear in our work, to advance a world without gender-based violence, starting with the world of work. We move toward a vision of peace, beyond war, that is rooted in justice; and we recognize there is much work to do.

We invite you to participate in #ILOendGBV uniting the 16 Days movement with workers unions worldwide. Sign up here to stay in touch.