Human rights, gender equality, wellbeing, social-economic and environmental justice

To promote the interrelation and progressivity of human rights of all people in a healthy environment, with accessible global public goods respecting planetary boundaries. Structural inequalities and environmentally destructive behaviour are not natural, but political choices. Our long term planetary and human wellbeing continue to be conditional to systemic transformations for socio-ecological and financial justice: on the way we produce and consume, on how the global economy and global and sexual division of labour are structured.

The dimension of gender equality:

No country or region alone can face the current multidimensional crises: COVID-19, health, financial, economic, debt, humanitarian, environmental and multilateralism. These challenges have exacerbated and deepened inequalities, showcasing now more than ever structural challenges that need to be urgently addressed. Because of the sexual division of labor, women have been subsidizing the entire global economy by means of unpaid domestic and care work. This has been underscored during the COVID pandemic with the disproportionate number of women as care-takers subsidizing national economies. The responses to the COVID-19 crisis have triggered a regression in ensuring women’s human rights and stressing their precarious conditions, more pronounced in those cases of multidimensional discrimination.

Gender equality and respecting, guaranteeing and protecting women’s human rights are more relevant than ever. The interconnectedness in a globalized world surfaces macro challenges that need to be addressed at the macro level, so that those solutions at the mezzo and micro level have the optimal conditions to thrive. Moreover, without macro solutions, those efforts at local, national and regional level may not suffice to reach the sustainability level that is needed to deliver the promises of a sustainable development process in which no one is left behind, and in which there is both accountability and redistribution in the case of those who are too far ahead.

It must be underscored that the macro-economic point of entry to the gender equality agenda refers to the subsidy of the entire global economy derived from the unpaid domestic and care work that falls on the shoulders of women. No siloed, sectorial or empowerment activities will suffice if this agenda is not properly mainstreamed along with the recognition of women’s human rights. The recognition of the value generated by women and communities in the form of unpaid labor should lead to comprehensive public policies regarding time use and the sexual division of labor, but also to question the extractive logic in relation to natural resources that the orthodox economy has on the environment and to so-called “reproductive” work. Addressing this agenda requires in itself articulated measures.

By means of distinguishing paid and unpaid work, it is easier to expand the analysis to precarious work in the informal dimension of work, as well as the formal work. The making of precarious sectors due to the entrance of women into sectors prior dominated by male presence is a phenomenon that affects not only women, but also the men employed in those sectors: there is no equalizing towards higher standards, but to lower standards. Circular economy at the local level needs to be linked to larger processes that require democratization -such as food systems, strengthening unions, and setting in place the condition to universal social protection floors. A change in the legal systems, a promotion of transparency and accountability, of institutional capacity and coordination, as well as to facilitate a bottom-up participation of relevant actors.

The “right to care,” a right recognized in the LAC region in the Montevideo Consensus, needs to be acknowledged widely, emphasizing the right to care as well as the rights of care-takers, and the shared responsibility between the State, the private sector, communities, families, men and women. This means setting in place the infrastructure, public policies and norms, as well as a shift in time use, so that this transformation can happen. Evidently, these measures place at the center the rights of children, people with disability, the chronic ill, the elderly, and others who require care, without antagonizing with women’s human rights (because up to this moment, women have been seen only as care-takers, without their rights being acknowledged).

To promote a macro-economic approach to gender equality means to shift the priority from the exchange of financial flows and goods, to an economy that puts at the center people and their wellbeing, in all the diversity of human life and across the life cycle. This will allow to promote differentiated measures for every group of population in accordance with their needs and interests.