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Rights in times of crisis

Dec 08, 2008

Unregulated economic policies have curtailed international commitments to end poverty and achieve gender equality says Social Watch's new report Rights is the Answer. It argues for revamping the global financial architecture through a rights-based approach to overcome the current crisis.

Social Watch Report 2008: Rights is the answer

Publisher: Social Watch, 2008

The report argues that the unusual combination of financial crisis, food crisis, energy and climate crisis requires a new approach based on human rights.

Commemorating the 60th Anniversary of Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the report documents how governments are falling short in their commitment to eradicate poverty and achieve gender equity through the testimony of civil society groups in 59 countries.

Social watch

This annual report is published since 1996 by Social Watch, an international NGO watchdog network monitoring government compliance with their international commitments. 

The grassroots activists and civil society analysts from around the world that contributed to the report show how the pervasiveness of extreme poverty and gender inequity is intimately linked to the immediate effects of the current triple crisis and to longer term structural issues ingrained in the global financial architecture. 

The growing income inequalities both within and between countries spurred by capital flight, tax evasion, and privatisation have slowed down the progress on key social indicators to a near halt over the last two decades. According to the Social Watch calculations, universal compliance with the Millennium Development Goals is now an impossible feat, if the world governments maintain a “business as usual” attitude. 

For instance, In India, economic growth continues to soar at annual rates above nine percent but the wealth created is not being redistributed to women, who make up 63% of the informal workforce, or to members of lower castes or minority groups, of which 35% and 31%, respectively, live below the poverty line.

The Gender Equity Index computed by Social Watch shows that gender inequality is still a worldwide issue: the global salary gap between women and men is estimated at 32%, women politicians make up a mere 17.5% of members of parliament, and 60% of the world’s countries have made no progress in recent years in expanding access to education for women.

The report’s main message is that the multiple crises currently affecting the world require a “rights-based approach” and provides examples on how the current financial architecture has ignored or openly violated those rights and triggered spiralling inequity all around the world.

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