US Human Rights Network Blog

US Human Rights Network Blog



USHRN Statement on the 63rd Commission on the Status of Women Priority Theme 

Mar 11, 2019


The US Human Rights Network thanks the Commission on the Status of Women for the opportunity at the sixty-third session to address social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls. Founded by feminists of color, the Network is comprised of approximately 300 U.S.-based member organizations—representing thousands of individuals—working to strengthen a human rights movement and culture within the United States. We are led by the people most directly impacted by human rights violations and work to secure dignity and justice for all.


In the U.S., under the Trump administration, we have seen undeniable, egregious, and unapologetic violations of human rights which disproportionately impact women and girls (including cis-gender and transgender women/girls as well as gender non-conforming people). The progress of women and girls is being arrested by the cutting of funds to essential services on which they rely. The legitimacy of protection systems themselves is being undermined.


Any policy effort seeking to meaningfully achieve gender justice must comprehensively address the realities of women of color and indigenous women. This means confronting the lived realities and movements of women color and indigenous women and understanding how race, gender, class, sexuality, citizenship status, and other social identities function independently and together to create unique experiences of oppression.


For example, the U.S. criminal justice and immigration systems fail to adequately protect domestic violence survivors and disproportionately target black, brown, and indigenous women for punishment. This includes using the systems to interfere with parental rights, mass incarceration and detention, re-victimization of domestic violence survivors, the targeting by law enforcement of victims of trafficking, and specifically for girls of color, the sexual assault-to-prison pipeline. 


Further, the strength of social protections, in the form of social security and other governmental programs should be based on a minimum standard that is in compliance with human rights law, so the standard is maintained regardless of the political composition of the government. 


Economic, social, and cultural rights for women include the right to an adequate education free from harmful Eurocentric cultural models, and bullying/targeting based on sexual orientation and gender expression. It also includes free, prior, and informed consent for indigenous peoples defending their cultural and land rights. 


Women experiencing homelessness in rural areas have extremely limited access to resources which can lead to health issues and sex trafficking. Also, social protections must be extended to protect women who are domestic and farm workers, as they are more likely to be targeted for sexual violence.


Sadly, the U.S. does not recognize housing as a human right and it does not take adequate steps to alleviate the impacts of homelessness, cultural erosion and disruptions caused by gentrification, and sky-rocking housing markets.


In conclusion, social protection systems require full funding and structural reconstructing in order to ensure women and girls’ equal and fair access to public services. We recommend that the United States instruct its institutions and agencies to comply with its human rights obligations regarding women and girls. Further, there must be a recognition that groups who experience multiple forms of discrimination due to intersecting identities experience them differently. Any effective policies must be informed by those groups and financing should be matched to follow those communities.