Sunday, January 13, 2013

Domestic Workers Deserve Protection

Last week, the International Labour Organization (ILO) released their first ever Global Report on Domestic Workers as follow up to their 2011 passage of Convention no. 189: Decent Work for Domestic Workers.  Upon reading the report, I immediately thought about Global Rights’ work in Brazil, and how Convention no.189 is critical to protecting more women from violence.

Global Rights' and AMNB's report on the
situation of Afro-Brazilian domestic workers
The ILO report captures the size of the global domestic work sector and the extent of legal protection enjoyed by domestic workers. The report concludes that domestic workers are a highly feminized sector (with more than 80% women) who remain largely excluded from the scope of labor laws and hence from legal protection enjoyed by other workers.

Coincidentally, this year, Global Rights and our partner, Articulação de Mulheres Negras do Brasil (AMNB), published a report on the situation of Afro-Brazilian domestic workers. 

We found that the majority of domestic workers in Brazil are of African descent (70%) and suffer from numerous human rights violations. They are at greater risk of violence—including physical, mental and sexual violence. Notably, less than 1/4 of these domestic workers have  legal contracts with benefits.

In February 2012, Global Rights and AMNB presented a shadow report on the situation of Afro-Brazilian women to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). We highlighted the issue of discrimination, especially that suffered by those working as domestic labor. It was at that same session that CEDAW recommended to the Government of Brazil to ratify Convention no. 189 in order to provide full protection for domestic workers.  However, the Government of Brazil has yet to act.

We strongly encourage the Government of Brazil to ratify this convention. By doing so, they will grant their citizens who are employed as domestic workers the legal protections from human rights violations that they deserve. This would be an important step forward not only for the Afro-Brazilian population, but for all domestic workers in Brazil.


Posted by Susan M. Farnsworth

Monday, January 7, 2013

Strengthening The System

“Long road ahead for Afghan women” “Afghan women still suffer abuse”

Our LAB partners including Mafuza Folad, Justice for All Organization
and Suraya Pakzad, Voice of Women Organization.
Each day we hear about turmoil and injustice for women in Afghanistan.  However, among these terrible stories are glimmers of real progress and change, and we’re in the thick of it.

Global Rights and our Afghan partners are at the forefront of strengthening the Afghan justice system so that women are protected from injustice— protected in one of the most difficult places to be a woman. 

Global Rights’ Legal Advice Bureaus provide legal assistance to the most poor and marginalized, primarily women, in Kabul, Herat, Nangarhar and Balkh family courts.  Run by our Afghan partners, the LABs give women direct access to the formal justice system via legal information, assistance and representation. The bureaus enable women to approach the justice system with questions, concerns and bring cases defending their rights—a rare opportunity in Afghanistan. 

85% of our Legal Advice Bureau (LAB) clients are women.
3,152 Afghan women received legal advice from our LABs from 2010-2012.
494 Afghan women were represented by members of our LABs in court from 2011-2012.

We know increasing access to justice is a potent tool to overcome power imbalances in society and strengthen Afghanistan’s justice system.  We also know that by educating and training the next generation of lawyers, judges and justice officials on human rights and women’s rights, women will be better protected from violence.

Since 2010, Global Rights has been working with the Law and Shar’ia faculties at five different universities to provide a hands-on human rights-focused program for fourth year Law and Shar’ia students, both male and female.

2,172 students have graduated from our Young Lawyers in Training Program and Family Law Clinical Education Project. The project expands access to justice through intensive training in Afghan civil and criminal procedure, and in international human rights law for Law and Shar’ia students in their final year of study and it offers practical training in family law matters to Shar’ia students.

224 students have graduated from our Legal Fellowship Program, which places promising young Law and Shar’ia graduates in Afghanistan’s formal justice sector and in local human rights and justice non-governmental organizations where their knowledge and skills in human rights law is immediately put to work.

So, for every negative story I read about Afghanistan, I think about how many Afghans we’re educating, empowering and enabling to uphold human rights. By strengthening Afghanistan’s justice system, we are building a stronger future for Afghan women where their rights will be protected by rule of law. 


Posted by Susan M. Farnsworth