Women and Work

Women’s rights to and at work, as provided for in the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), International Labour Organization (ILO) Conventions and other legal and policy frameworks, continue to be systematically violated around the world. On May Day 2017, a short video featured WESCR WG members in countries ranging from Bangladesh to Lebanon to the Philippines to Trinidad and Tobago, revealing systematic violations of women's rights to and at work around the world and highlighting women’s collective resistance to this exploitation and discrimination.

Women and ESCR Working Group members presenting at a parallel session at CSW 61

WESCR WG members have identified a few priority areas to address through collective action, including recognition of and remuneration for unpaid domestic and care work; the gender pay gap and the need for a common living wage; workplace violence against women; and the prevailing neoliberal economic model that affects women’s rights to and at work.

Recent activities have included two parallel sessions at CSW 61 (United Nations Commission on the Status of Women) as well as a strategy meeting (New York, March 2017), during which members led discussions on the impact of global economic policies on women’s rights, shared specific cases and grassroots struggles of women directly impacted by various forms of injustice and systemic inequality (with a focus on domestic workers, the care economy and the exploitation of workers) and considered strategies for utilizing the international human rights framework to advance women’s rights to and at work.  

The regional workshop in Lebanon to advance Women’s ESCR in the Middle East and North Africa in August/September 2016

Previously, WESCR WG led a joint briefing (Geneva, November 2015) with members of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) and the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) aimed at advancing women’s ESC rights and substantive equality, including in relation to work. In August 2016, members and allies at a North Africa and the Middle East regional workshop considered the impact of neoliberal economic policies and related development models on women’s enjoyment of ESC rights, with a focus on employment.