HRC 56: SRI and AWID statement to the annual full-day discussion on the human rights of women: Panel 2: Human rights economy and women’s rights

Published on June 28, 2024

Annual full-day discussion on the human rights of women

Panel 2: Human rights economy and women’s rights


Thank you, President.

Action Canada makes this statement on behalf of the Sexual Rights Initiative and the Association for Women’s Rights in Development.

Human rights economy seeks to prioritize investment in economic, social and cultural rights, as well as the right to development. However, the transformative potential of a human rights economy will remain hollow without addressing the global financial architecture as a colonial structure that exerts control over countries in the Global South through debt burdens, austerity measures, structural adjustment programs and loan conditionalities through international financial institutions. UNDP has documented that “on average, low-income countries are likely to allocate more than twice as much funding to servicing net interest payments as they do to social assistance, and 1.4 times more than to healthcare. Debt servicing accounts for 60% of education expenditures in these nations.” 

For instance, in Sri Lanka, the current economic crisis is a clear example of the devastating consequences of international financial institutions’ neocolonial and neoliberal loan conditionalities. Following 17 IMF loans, and with debt repayments reaching new heights, it is the Sri Lankan people who are bearing the brunt of shortages in medicines, food and essential products.

The macroeconomic measures imposed by these institutions primarily serve the interest of private and corporate institutions and are built on an extractive and exploitative logic of growth that are inherently classist, sexist, racist and ableist. Yet states ignore this reality, weaponize identities (such as through pinkwashing) and profit from the perpetuation of human rights violations.  

This same neoliberal economic system is responsible for the colonial domination and dispossession that we are witnessing in Palestine, Congo and Sudan. It goes without saying their liberation is a feminist cause. How then can this multilateral body discuss a human rights economy and women’s rights, when states, especially Global North states, make profit off of these atrocities and genocide, and moves us all further away from a genuine human rights economy?

Thank you.