HRC 53 SRI Statement to the Annual full-day discussion on the human rights of women: Social Protection

Published on June 30, 2023

Annual full-day discussion on the human rights of women

Afternoon panel: Social protection: women’s participation and leadership


Thank you, President

Action Canada makes this statement on behalf of the Sexual Rights Initiative. 

Privatisation and  financialization of social protection transfer responsibility and risk, to the individual instead of the state. This has two important consequences: first, it absolves the state from its obligations, and second, structural oppressions, which create and entrench inequalities, continue to operate without any challenge. To put it simply, the rich get richer; the poor get poorer, the powerful gain more power and the marginalised are more disenfranchised.  For instance, around the world, health systems have been eroded, undermined and weakened by decades of neoliberalism, austerity, privatisation and structural adjustment programs and an emphasis on minimising State intervention and relying on a discourse of “personal responsibility.”1

This is only possible through the worldwide exploitation of women and girls’ reproductive labour, in particular marginalised women and girls. Within the neoliberal logic, the ‘family’ is accorded a central role as the enforcer of norms and stereotypes, a substitute and scapegoat for state’s dereliction of social protection and where women and girls’ reproductive labour is exploited in service of a never-ending reservoir of free or cheap labour. 

Panelists, in order for social protection measures to be meaningful, it requires not only meaningful participation and leadership of women and girls but also a collective effort by states, civil society and other stakeholders to enact and implement transformative measures, which includes ensuring the right to bodily autonomy for all. It also requires that transnational corporations are held accountable for human rights abuses and that people are not sacrificed for profit.  Our question is what is the relationship between international financial institutions, human rights and social protection and how can this Council ensure greater accountability for the blatant anti-human rights agenda of International Financial Institutions? 

1. Macassa G, McGrath C, Rashid M, Soares J. Structural Violence and Health-Related Outcomes in Europe: A Descriptive Systematic Review. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2021; 18(13):6998., page 10.