Our response COVID-19

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As the pandemic and escalating climate crisis has exacerbated inequalities and reminded us of the centrality of care in our societies, ESCR-Net held a CSW66* parallel event entitled “Centering Care In a Feminist Intersectional Approach to Loss and Damage” (24 March 2022). During the event, women's rights advocates and feminist activists from across regions reflected on advancing action to ensure the rapid, equitable, ecologically sustainable, and just transition away from fossil fuels to a zero-carbon, regenerative care-based society focused on the well-being of people and the planet.

In a historic statement released this week, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD or Committee) starkly warned that “only 15.21% of the population of low-income countries has received even one vaccine dose, creating a pattern of unequal distribution within and between countries that replicates slavery and colonial-era racial hierarchies.” As the Committee notes, under the International Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, States are obligated to eliminate all forms of racial inequities, be they by purpose or effect.

Data is necessary for the realization of human rights. Without it we cannot understand the prevailing human rights situation, we cannot make informed policy decisions, and we cannot assess the effectiveness of those policy decisions. But there is a human rights data gap. 

The ability of governments to provide basic public services, and ensure the fulfillment of economic, social, and cultural rights has been increasingly hampered by indebtedness; leaving them virtually unable to respond to major crises. Powerful countries that control international financial institutions, like the IMF, can allow these economies to meaningfully respond; they just need the will.

Over five decades ago, the first codified global human rights instrument on racial injustice, the International Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly. As we celebrated the 56th anniversary of the ICERD a few months ago, it is disheartening that two years since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, inequalities in vaccine and healthcare access continue to deepen along racial and intersectional lines.

The COVID-19 crisis has shown why a social pact on care is urgent to end the structural inequalities and the growing feminization of poverty in Latin America, which according to the the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) would would affect 118 million women in 2021, 23 million more than in 2019.


In the face of the pandemic, women in all their diversity – in the unions and factories, in farms and indigenous communities, in urban poor centres, in structured organisations or informal movements – continued to mobilise and put themselves at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19. While continuing their ongoing, and the  struggle against the deepening political and socio-economic crises inherent to a patriarchal, colonial, racist and imperialist system.

Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) are international agreements for the protection of intellectual property monopolies (including patents, trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets etc.) monitored by the World Trade Organization (WTO). TRIPS obligates member states to...

Nearly 200 ESCR-Net members and allies joined together to amplify the voices of our communities who have been most affected by the inequalities exacerbated by the WTO’s refusal to pass a comprehensive waiver on the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement on COVID-19 vaccines and therapies.  

The pandemic has exposed not only the failures of the current global economic order dominated by the system of capitalism, of which tax havens and tax abuse disguised as tax minimisation strategies and wealth or asset management are a major component, but also widened the pre-existing socio-economic inequalities between rich and poor countries even further. The alarming revenue gaps plaguing countries in the global South is more than just numbers. They are indicative of the urgently needed investment in public services and provisioning of those services to realizing the rights of the most vulnerable communities.