The Covid-19 crisis has laid bare deep inequalities within and between societies borne from interlocking oppressions that predate the crisis. Responses to the pandemic have demonstrated how market, religious and nationalist fundamentalisms consolidate and collude to expand the political, social and economic power and influence of anti-rights actors and corporations, at the expense of the most marginalized.
Around the world, anti-rights actors were swift to instrumentalize the crisis by:
- deprioritizing sexual and reproductive health services as non-essential services
- cracking down on feminist and social movement organizing and dissent and pass sweeping legislation to ban abortion.
- advocating for policies that hold up patriarchal and hetronormative ideals of the family unit.
- scapegoating LGBTIQ persons, immigrants, Black and Brown people, and ethnic and religious minorities.
The Covid-19 pandemic is also a stark reminder that the dominant economic model is failing us. Government responses revealed that the status quo puts profit above human life - and particularly the lives of women, the poor/working class, the disabled and those in the Global South. The production of vaccines - global public goods - is being held at ransom by Big Pharma corporations with the aid of economically powerful governments that continue to uphold intellectual property rights and obstruct mass production and distribution of vaccines for all.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, feminist and gender justice movements have articulated key principles and demands for socio-economic recovery plans. These include: investment in social infrastructure and systems of care; recognizing and protecting the rights of those who perform essential labour, including migrant and undocumented workers; re-structuring the labour markets and supply chains to abolish exploitation, abuse and discrimination; centering human rights and climate justice in economic policy; avoiding austerity by all means, and more. These principles and demands must be listened to.
Demands to States:
- stop instrumentalizing Covid-19 to stifle bodily autonomy and justify human rights violations
- uphold rights related to gender and sexuality as universal and inalienable, indivisible, and interrelated to all other rights
- engage with local, national and regional feminist and gender justice organizations and adhere to the policy demands and socio-economic recovery needs they are putting forth, such as the Feminist Bailout Manifesto
- ratify ILO C190 and C189
- support TRIPS waiver and address structural barriers posed by the Intellectual Property Rights regimes, and the unfair regulations and penalties they impose on access to medicines, especially vaccines.
Demands to the Human Rights Council:
- take a coordinated approach to stop anti-rights mobilization in the international human rights system
- prioritize meaningful participation of feminist and social justice movements and reinstate concrete measures to this end.
This statement was presented by AWID at the Human Rights Council Annual Full-day Discussion on the human rights of women on “Gender-equal socioeconomic recovery from the COVID-19 Pandemic.”