The Rights that Shape Women’s Lives: Why We Must Re-Commit to Bringing Economic and Social Rights Home on International Women’s Day

It has been over two decades since women took the international stage by a storm demanding the world recognize that women's rights are human rights.  On the heels of that call, women also began to demand we bring human rights home here to the United States.  That work remains before us.  Indeed, just as the global community affirmed that women's rights are human rights, here in the United States we dismantled welfare as a right for all those who needed it and turned it into a conditional and temporary benefit for those the government deemed worthy, threatening the economic survival of women all over the country struggling to care for children in conditions of poverty.  

Fast forward to today's economic crisis, and women are continually threatened by our government’s failure to ensure economic and social rights.  Because of our still deeply gendered society, the real life consequences of human rights denials fall disproportionately on women.  Caregivers, mostly women, are filling the gap of our still privatized healthcare system.  Women struggle to pick up the slack in communities facing inadequate funding of our schools.  Women suffer disproportionately the ever widening sinkhole of poverty into which so many of our people are falling.  The lack of power afforded low wage workers means not only that women disproportionately struggle to survive on sub-poverty wages, but also suffer unstable work schedules (despite childcare responsibilities), and abuse and sexual harassment at work is still an invisible epidemic for low-wage workers overall.  Women's rights are indeed human rights, and economic and social rights in particular are the rights that shape women's lives.  We must build a women's movement with the power and resolve to effectively demand economic justice through human rights.