Women's Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

The Women’s ESCR Working Group focuses on the following four areas: Capacity-Building, Resource Creation, Norm Development, and Networking.

Capacity Building

Women’s rights and women’s development groups have been working on issues related to health, education, employment, water, housing, food and social security for a long time, but often without the support of the human rights framework. The increased recognition of ESC rights in new constitutions and court decisions is increasing the profile and importance of working with this framework.  ESCR-Net is serving a vital resource for women’s groups seek support to build their capacity to utilize these standards to demand realization of women’s ESCR.

  • The WESC WG is carrying out a series of regional exchage dialogues and workshops on how to use the International Mechanisms to Claim Women’s ESC Rights in Africa,” one of a series of regional workshops. So far two regional workshops have been organised: LAC Workshop (November 2014) and Africa Workshop (June 2015)
  • ESCR-Net has partnered in the Women’s Human Rights Training Institute, which is bi-annual training of lawyers from Eastern Europe and Central Asia on women’s human rights litigation (European and UN mechanisms).  This Institute is lead by the Bulgarian Gender Research Foundation also in partnership with Center for Reproductive Rights and Network of East West Women.  

  • ESCR-Net is supporting groups globally, particularly through South-South solidarity-building, to increase their capacity to use legal advocacy to realize women’s human rights, particularly focused on ESCR.

Resource Creation

The intersection between women’s rights and economic and social rights has not been the historic focus of either the women’s rights or mainstream human rights communities. Because of this, very few resources specifically focusing on women’s ESC rights exist, and even fewer provide guidance on how working at the intersections of these two areas of rights-claiming will enhance and deepen that advocacy or litigation. The Women and ESCR Working Group is continually developing a range of resources (for grassroots groups to active litigators) to support women’s rights and human rights groups to further integrate this focus in their work.

Norm Development

The Women and ESCR Working Group has chosen to focus on normative development of women’s ESC rights due to the current context in which rights and obligations on women’s ESCR are reflected in an array of international treaties and agreements (CEDAW, ICESCR, CRC, CRPD, Beijing Platform, etc) with little coherence or harmonization.  It is critical for the realization of women’s ESCR, as well as for access to justice for violations, that the scope of these rights and the corresponding State obligations are clear.

  • Since 2009, ESCR-Net has been collaborating with members to organize thematic briefings with the CEDAW and ESCR Committees, as well as other relevant UN bodies, including the Working Group on discrimination against women in law and in practice, to discuss harmonization of approach. 

  • ESCR-Net is supporting collective amicus curiae submissions and other forms of legal support in cases involving women’s ESCR to support a robust approach to women’s ESCR at the domestic, regional and international level.     

Networking for Women’s ESC Rights

ESCR-Net plays a critical role in linking groups across regions and languages on issues of women’s ESC rights to share knowledge, build solidarity and increase the network for collective support and action.  The Women and ESCR Working Group aims to increase the sense of ownership and participation of member organizations engaged in women’s human rights issues to ensure projects and priorities are responsive to the realities and interests of Network members. 

  • Facilitate working group meetings as possible. Next meeting TBD