Time to Hold Feet to the Fire: Human Rights in the US

A report of the first US regional meeting of the Feminist Alliance for Rights (FAR)

Twenty representatives of women’s organizations from 12 states came together at Rutgers University in February to discuss and strategize around how social justice movements in the United States can engage with international human rights tools and measurements. The group included community organizers, academics, lawyers, and activists working on a range of human rights issues from immigrant rights and incarceration, to reproductive rights, violence against women, Indigenous women’s rights, racial relations, economic and social rights, international human rights law, and climate justice.

As a particularly critical strategy in these politically challenging times, this meeting sought to create a space to identify key points of intersectionality within US social justice organizing, as well as links with global movements, with a future goal of connecting this work with human rights tools such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Our discussions focused on how to build solidarity across diverse social justice organizations in the US, and on strategies to inform FAR’s priorities and next steps. It is specially important to build solidarity within different thematic areas of work in the US, and to facilitate spaces for international exchange of information and practices. The participants recognized the challenges to deal with current and historical impacts of racism and economic inequality within the United States, as well as the need to have open discussions about US exceptionalism around the world.

As Cindy Weisner from Grassroots Global Justice noted: “While we have set the context to discuss the impacts of colonialism and imperialism, we need to understand the complexity and nuances among ourselves and how we build our struggles collectively, deconstructing privilege from a place of working together.”

The meeting provided an important space to understanding complex struggles for women’s organizations, as we deal with social and economic inequality, racism, discrimination and violence in the United States and in other countries.

Far’s Steering Committee member Stephanie Franklin observed that “Intersectionality makes for rich and vibrant conversations. We have to build our collective work with concrete actions that bridge across our differences, and ultimately strengthen our collective voice and influence. Fighting colonization, militarism, imperialism, poverty, economic inequality, and climate change should be on our collective radar for transformation.”

In the context of building collective actions, we can count on our existing analyses and tools, as Darakshan Raja, from the Washington Peace Center, explained: “based on our broad strategies, we need to create collective tools for organizing and communications to strengthen and amplify our efforts”.

To conclude, FAR’s Steering Committee member and executive director of the Center for Women’s Global Leadership, Krishanti Dharmaraj, reminded the group that the meeting was an important first step to build the North American regional network with Canadian organizations, as we also strengthen our internal dialogues in the US.

About FAR:

FAR is the newly transformed alliance previously known as the Post-2015 Women’s Coalition. Building on the successes of women’s coalition efforts around the United Nations (UN), we are an alliance of feminist, women’s rights, women’s development, grassroots and social justice organizations who will monitor and engage with these emerging processes as a political opportunity to challenge, reframe and contribute to the global human rights agenda from a critical feminist perspective. FAR’s issue areas are: Peace and Security, Ending Gender-Based Violence, Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR), Economic and Social Rights, Climate Change, Cultural, Indigenous and Land Rights.

For more information about FAR, please email us: feministallianceforrights@gmail.com

 

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