“Writeshop” Articulates Key Issues in Women’s Economic Rights
On 7-9 December 2017, the International Women's Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific (IWRAW AP) organized a “Writeshop on Women’s Economic Rights” to address women’s right to work and women’s rights at work in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The meeting brought together 27 women’s rights activists, lawyers, academics, factory workers, migrant domestic workers and trade unionists from South and Southeast Asia, Albania, Belarus and Uganda to collectively articulate the priorities that need to be addressed in order for their rights to be realized.
Led by first-hand testimonies of women factory workers, migrant domestic workers and members of women workers’ unions, the conversation highlighted the many dimensions of women’s relationship to work. Discussed at length were on-the-ground impacts of current macro-economic conditions, including global and regional perspectives on the gig and digital economies. Particular attention was paid to the impact these conditions had on women workers in both formal and informal sectors.
Their stories illustrated the challenges faced by home-based workers, street vendors, farmworkers and more. Together, they culminated into a collective prioritization of eight key issues and cross cutting elements related to women and work:
- freedom of association, organizing and collective bargaining
- wage equality
- visibility and recognition of work, including unpaid work
- social protection and social security
- safe working conditions, including health, maternity and protection from sexual harassment and violence against women in the workplace
- contractualization and flexibilization of labor
- access to productive assets, markets, resources and skills for women workers
- economic, social and cultural rights, including women’s participation in decision making and neoliberal context in relation to women’s work
IWRAW AP will use these eight key issues as the basis for a written guide on how women’s rights activists can use the UN human rights treaty bodies to hold states accountable for protecting and fulfilling women’s right to work and women’s rights at work in formal and informal employment.