We’ve been resting…

“Caring for myself is not self indulgence, it is self preservation and that is an act of political warfare” -Audre Lorde.

We’ve been resting.

In fall of 2021 WLN took an abrupt, yet necessary, hiatus to rest and evaluate how we focus and expend our energy. Our work on the Universal Periodic Review of the U.S. consumed much of our collective soul requiring our laser focus on the experiences of the horrendous human rights abuses faced by women and girls who were fleeing unthinkable conditions, only to be met with abuse where they sought safety.

As women leaders we recognize the impact of that work and the resulting collective trauma and pushed the pause button so we could nurture ourselves and recover to continue our important work.

We have returned to that work now with a commitment to “adopt the pace of nature. Her secret is patience” (Ralph Waldo Emerson). We are glad to be among you again.

Breathe deeply and Go

California is Now Accepting Applications to Compensate Survivors of Forced Sterilization in Detention

Reparations for Reproductive Justice Behind Bars is a Coalition of community groups that continue to do advocacy work to support women who were forcibly sterilized in California’s Correctional System.  CCWP Reparations 4 Reproductive Justice Behind BarsBack to the Basics, and Belly of the Beast Film along with other groups like California Latina’s for Reproductive Justice, worked to ensure access to reparations for victims of state-sponsored forced sterilization. For more information on the topic you can go to the California Latina’s for Reproductive Justice Website or The Belly of the Beast Film Website.

California is now accepting applications to compensate survivors of forced sterilization. From the California Latina’s for Reproductive Justice:

“The California Forced or Involuntary Sterilization Compensation Program provides reparations to survivors of state sponsored forced or involuntary sterilizations under California’s eugenics laws from 1909-1979 and survivors of involuntary sterilizations in women’s state prisons after 1979.

Applying for compensation is completely confidential and will not impact your Medicaid, Social Security, Food Assistance, or other federal or state benefits and compensation will NOT be considered for community property, child support, restitutions or a money judgment. Visit victims.ca.gov/fiscp for more information.

This program is an important step for California in confronting its shameful history and taking a bold stand against the racist, sexist, and ableist practices that perpetuate health inequities to this day. The CA FISCP was co-sponsored by Back to the Basics Community Empowerment (B2B), California Coalition for Women Prisoners (CCWP), California Latinas for Reproductive Justice (CLRJ), and the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF) in collaboration with the Belly of the Beast filmmakers and team.”

This is work that was lead by women. We are proud to spread the word to ensure access to justice.

Women Lead Network, Alquimia Global and Women’s Economic Empowerment Global are partnering on an exciting event during the U.N.’s 65th Commission on the Status of Women

Join Women Lead Network, Alquimia Global and Women’s Economic Empowerment Global at the U.N.’s 65th Commission on the Status of Women. The Parallel Event will focus on women migrants and refugee’s capacity for resilience under the most challenging conditions. Come join the event by registering on WEE Global’s site

United States Universal Periodic Review Concludes with United States Comments and Outcomes: Human Rights Defenders Respond

March 17th concluded the Universal Periodic Review of the United States with a public response to the more than 300 recommendations by the Human Rights Council. The U.S. stated their acceptance, rejection or reservation of these recommendations during the Human Rights Council Convening at 6:30 AM EDT (3:30 AM PDT).

Afterwards, Women Lead Network joined other Human Rights Defenders to respond. You can view the video below:

See or full statement below:

“These statements reflect the collective work and concerns of Women Lead Network, a collective of women committed to centering women’s experiences in human rights discussions and the Women’s Rights Working Group of the US Human Rights Network.  When we center women’s experiences, we include all who define themselves as women, as well as other birthing and menstruating people

Throughout the Universal Periodic Review, the Women’s Rights Working Group consistently raised the issues of women in the United States by bringing forward 3 themes: Maternal Mortality, Reproductive Access, and Gender Based Violence.  Women Lead Network centered the intersectional experiences of women related to these issues by focusing our attention on women and girls in U.S. immigration detention.

It is with significant relief that we are able to move forward on these issues under an Administration that has promised to look at, and address, many of the concerns we have raised to date.  To be clear, however, our work is not done.  Many of the issues raised by women related to their health, safety and well-being were issues long before the previous Administration rolled back hard-fought protections and continue to be critical for women to enjoy full access to their humanity.

Today in the Biden Administrations response we learned that:

They intend to to develop a plan to fully implement laws that prohibit sex discrimination, to include sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination and address gender inequality including a willing focus on reproductive health access for women “at home and abroad”.

They have committed to addressing racial justice and other forms of discrimination and have begun by instituting various policies including “anti-bias training”

They have committed to “humane” immigration practices, in particular for children, as well as criminal justice reform.

They have committed to “meaningful engagement” with tribal communities when policy decisions are made.

As to ratification of Human Rights treaties like CEDAW, they have stated that they agree with them from a policy perspective and are committed to “working towards ratification”.

In terms of COVID 19 they have committed to meaningful access to healthcare including making it “more affordable” and to protect reproductive healthcare for women.

We also heard comments praising the U.S. for its shift in position on women’s reproductive rights on a global level and its commitment to addressing gender based violence, along with questions about the lack of commitment to some issues impacting women like paid parental leave and continued confusion on the Helms Amendment which continues to frustrate efforts towards women’s well-being internationally.

However, we remain concerned that the lived experiences of women have not fully been reflected in their commitments. 

For example, we did not hear any specific intention to address the human rights of women in detention settings, whether prison or immigration detention, who have been sterilized without consent or sexually assaulted by their detainers. 

We did not hear about a commitment to ensure full access to healthcare for every individual in order to reduce maternal mortality which disproportionately impacts Black and Indigenous Women. 

While we heard some commitments to include protections for sex workers and Trans women, who are disproportionately impacted by gender-based violence, conflation of sex trafficking and sex work continues to create dangerous conditions and limit protections.

And we heard no mention of how they intend to address the impacts of COVID 19 for women, specifically,

*whose job loss has constituted 80% -100% of the reported job losses some months during the pandemic,

*who are disproportionately caregivers, including informal caregivers who have not been prioritized for vaccines,

*are a majority of health care providers who will have long lasting effect of trauma from the pandemic or

*how they’ll address the profound impact on the gaps in women’s careers and education due to their disproportionate responsibility for the at home “teaching” of children during the pandemic.

It is critical, that we remember that while the U.S. may return to its status as a “global leader” in human rights, the experiences of its own women must reflect that position.  It is also critical that we remember that the lived experiences of women in the United States intersect with many of the issues most impactful in all communities.  Criminal Justice, Worker’s Rights, Racial Justice, Health Care Access, Clean Water, Land…all these issues impact women specifically.

So, we call on the Biden Administration and other federal, statewide, and local policy makers to:

*Engage with grass roots women’s groups to facilitate ground up solutions to all domestic problems

*Ensure that diversity is not simply a catch phrase and that Women of Color are centered as leaders in solutions to problems at home and abroad.

*Apply a gendered lens to every problem and solution that is presented: specifically looking to the impacts of any policy, position, approach, or action on women in all their intersectional experiences.”

Women Lead Network and Partner, Alquimia Global, Focus on Issues Facing Refugee and Migrant Women

Women Lead Network and our partner, Alquimia Global, have continued to partner on raising the issues facing refugee and migrant women and girls in the United States. In 2020, WLN partnered with Alquimia to engage in advocacy with the United Nations leading up to the Universal Periodic Review of the United States in November of 2020. As a result, many recommendations were raised by the Human Rights Council addressing the treatment of migrant women and girls in U.S. immigration detention.

Women Lead Network and Alquimia Global are continuing these partnership efforts through the production of a Human Rights Report on Women and Girls in U.S. Immigration Detention (tentative release July 2021). WLN and Alquimia are also partnering to highlight this issue at the UN Women’s Commission on the Status of Women (CSW65).


The sixty-fifth session of the Commission on the Status of Women will take place from 15 to 26 March 2021.  The Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), a functional commission of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), is a global policy-making body dedicated exclusively to promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women. This year’s theme is “Women in Public Life: Equal Participation in Decision and End Violence; Achieve Gender Equality”.

The Women Lead Network/Alquimia Global Event will take place on March 25, 2021 at 9:30am (PT). Stay tuned for registration information.

16 Days Campaign

Women Lead Network is joining organizations around the world for the 16 Days Campaign. Each year between November 25 (International Day Against Violence Against Women) and December 10th (International Human Rights Day) organizations across the globe use the 16 Days Campaign to call for the elimination of gender-based violence (GBV).

In 2020, the campaign’s focus is on informal women workers whose lives and livelihoods have been acutely impacted by COVID-19 and the unprecedented economic crisis that has followed.

Join us on Twitter (@WomenLEADNtwrk), Facebook (facebook.com/womenleadnetwrk) or follow our new Instagram (womenleadn) to follow the campaign.

Women Lead Network partners with Alquimia Global to highlight the Human Rights conditions of refugees pre-UPR

Women Lead Network, Alquimia Global and other human rights advocates will be participating in a final side event in advance of the United States UPR on November 9th.

The event will be held on Friday, November 6th, the final working day prior to the Universal Periodic Review of the United States on November 9th. Download the flyer below

Topics addressed will include:

Indigenous Rights

Sex Workers Rights

Women and Children Refugee’s Rights

Intersectionality of Rights

Final Policy Paper and last advocacy push for the US UPR on November 9th.

In the last weeks leading up to the United States Universal Periodic Review on November 9th Women Lead Network has been busy ensuring that women’s rights are at the center of the review. As participants in the US Human Rights Network’s Women’s Rights Working Group our team partnered with students at the Cornell Gender Justice Clinic to develop a final comprehensive policy brief based on our Response to the United States’ Country Report. This Policy Brief was sent to United Nations Permanent Missions based in Geneva during the month of October. You can download a copy of the brief below.

Women’s Rights Working Group Intervention-Geneva

Women Lead Network participated in a briefing with the EU Delegation to the U.P.R to raise women’s human rights issues. It provided an opportunity to support the EU Delegation as they formulate their recommendations for the U.S. in the upcoming U.P.R. Joining other human rights defenders from around the world, WLN, as part of the Women’s Rights Working Group for the US Human Rights Network addressed the high rates of maternal mortality in the U.S., the lack of access to menstrual and reproductive health care and gender based violence.

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