Soffa Lecture- 10.3.19


Good afternoon, I’m Guido Podestá. I’m vice provost and Dean of the international division I’m pleased to welcome you to the J. Jobbe and Marguerite Jacqmin Soffa Lecture. for almost two decades this lecture series has brought distinguished women women Leaders from around the globe to campus to share their perspectives and expertise on critical issues Past lectures have covered a wide variety of topics such as the role of mothers and the mother searching for children who vanish and their Argentines military dictatorship in the 1970 organizing for economic rights in India Universalizing women’s human rights and the importance of gender inclusion the International division colleagues across campus work to make sure the study students are able to add an international dimension to their Uw-madison experience in the hopes that they become active global citizens Lectures such as this one are a great asset in this mission As they educate and inspire our students who will become the next generation of global leaders In consideration in considering the impact of these hearings we are especially grateful To the general generosity and vision vision of mrs. Soffa, an alumna of the University of Wisconsin earned her bachelor’s degree in 1946 her late husband J. Jobe Soffa was a 1947 graduate of the Wisconsin School of Business. I Would like you to join me Even though she is not here in showing our appreciation to the Soffa family and we have to represent this year And we’ll also like to recognize university partners who have been key in organizing in this event the Human Rights program The global division, the study centre and the Department of gender and Women’s Studies At this time, I would like to invite Ellie Mary Tripp. Ellie is a distinguished professor of political science and gender and Women’s Studies and chair of the department of gender and women’s studies here at uw-madison to introduce the speaker. Thank you Welcome thank you for coming I’m deeply honored to introduce our Soffa ecturer today. But before that do that, I would like to also thank Marguerite soffa and the soffa family who have known for quite some time now For their support for this important annual lecture I would also like to thank Vice provost Guido Podesta, who is Dean of the international division for his support in making this lecture possible The lecture is sponsored by the human rights program which was established in 2013 and has become a focal point for human rights activities events and lectures like this one on campus The human rights program is supported by the international division and coordinated by the global Legal Studies Centre. I Would like to thank the human rights program lectures subcommittee but also the chair of the human rights program Alex Huneeus Who knows I was practicing this before but Huneeus and its executive director Dr. Sumudu Atapattu as well as Laurel belman Matthew wilbear for their hard work in coordinating this lecture? So now back to our speaker. It gives me great pleasure to introduce Charlotte Bunch She’s someone I’ve been in awe of for decades She started out as an activist in the civil rights movement and then went on to the women’s rights movement and the anti-war movement But she soon started working on global feminism as a human rights activist This became her life’s passion to expose human rights abuses against women and get governments to do something about it As an activist a teacher and writer. She has worked with women’s organizations around the world and in the u.s To bring about a different way of seeing women in the world. She has promoted Multilateralism within the u.s. Women’s movement arising out of a belief that we are all connected to the rest of the world She has also promoted coalition building around the world Charlotte bunch has spent her life fighting for women’s rights and in particular she is known for her work in shaping the international discourse around Violence against women and in advancing the frame that women’s rights are human rights It’s a frame. That was famously put forward by Hillary Clinton at the Fourth World Conference on women in Beijing And Bunch was a key force behind the Vienna Tribunal for women’s human rights That was held parallel to the UN World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna in 1993 And this is where this idea of women’s rights as human rights first became popularized Internationally and also at this conference a special UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women was created Charlotte bunch has argued forcefully in such international fora that violence against women is a violation of international human rights and States have an obligation to hold perpetrators accountable and to bring bear bring to bear positive measures she was critical in getting this idea to become adopted in UN plans and UN treaties and Has sought almost her entire life whether it was at the Nairobi UN conference on women in 1985 the Vienna conference on human rights in 1993 the Nairobi UN conference in 1985 and many many other venues to put violations against women’s human rights at the center of the discourse She’s also been a consultant to many UN Bodies and recently served on the Advisory Committee for the Secretary General’s report to the General Assembly on violence against women Bunch is founding director and senior scholar at the center for women’s global leadership at Rutgers University She’s also a board of governors distinguished service professor in the Women and Gender Studies department Bunch has won many honors for her work including her induction into the National Women’s Hall of Fame And President Clinton’s selection of bunch as a recipient for the Eleanor Roosevelt award for Human Rights She has served on boards of numerous organizations as currently as a member of the Advisory Committee for the Human Rights Watch Women’s Rights Division and also on the boards of the Global Fund for women and the International Council on human rights policy She once said that she did not start out as anyone important in the UN or as a UN official But she grabbed the mic and started her advocacy in the UN and she did this on her own Ever since then well with others, but she started it I started on her own ever since then she’s been passing the mic around to other women around the world and For them to give voice to their concerns and so now we passed the mic back to Charlotte bunch today so we can hear more about what she has to say on the dance of feminism with human rights Reflections on three decades of global women’s human rights organizing join me in welcoming Charlotte Bunch. Thank you very much I think I have to correct that and say that nobody ever does anything completely on their own but I Think the point that I was trying to make and want to make to students in particular Is that most of us myself included were not born global feminists We weren’t born doing this work. I grew up in a small town in New Mexico probably not unlike many small towns in Wisconsin and Minnesota in this area and my first introduction to global realities was through Methodist missionaries who came and talked about their work in different parts of the world and That was important because they were the only women who came into my life who looked like they had exciting lives. So my first profession that I thought I would be was a Global missionary because I wanted to travel And in that world at that time in the 50s That was kind of the only image I had of how you could travel as a woman Oh and still be good because I did still think I needed to be good. I kept thinking that Until I was part of the furious lesbian feminist collective in the seventies and got my chance to be bad For a while Oh Or to be bad for the good, however You want to put it but I do think it’s important that We don’t imagine that all the people on the global stage Were born there. There are a few that our children, they’re diplomats and they tend to know how to make things happen but most of us Come from all over the world. And I think that was a real advantage for me and doing work internationally I didn’t come from New York City. I do live there now and they have become a New Yorker it seems but I Didn’t come from a place that saw itself as a center of the universe and I think one of the most important things About working with women internationally is to decenter ourselves As bell hooks once said from margin to centre which I’ve always found really helpful to decenter ourselves of the United States to stop thinking of ourselves as the center of the universe and to learn about and hear about The way the world looks from someplace else So in that regard coming from a small town or a state that isn’t on the coast has some advantages in being able to hear other people and to reflect that reality Oh You mentioned thank you that my politics really started in the after I stopped wanting to be a missionary. I got involved in the black civil rights movement and learned There was a secular way to be good and also have an active interesting life as an activist Oh, I was in North Carolina and I saw as many people have oh People who I met through interracial Methodist student movement because that was my entry point discussion groups black people who were then in the newspapers being beaten up and put in jail and My reaction was how could this happen in the United States? Sounds familiar, right? How could this happen in the United States? It’s kind of scary to me how that cycle of thinking returns When they look at some of the things that are happening in the world today And although I’m not going to be directly talking about what’s happening in the world today I think that all of the things I am talking about in terms of Feminism and human rights and how these two movements have Reinforced each other and I think taught each other many important lessons is at the center of what’s happening in the world today, which is primarily a backlash against human rights against all those movements Around racial justice economic justice gender justice, all those movements that have imagined a different world so in that sense It is about what we do today what we do today in the face of this kind of backlash against 30 40 50 you name it years of movement activity I’d say 30 40 50 because it does influence how you think about it where you entered and in many ways the 60s and particularly Everyone’s talking today about the years of the Nixon impeachment but I think not only of the impeachment or the threat of impeachment that caused Nixon to resign but also the 1968 Riots and rebellions the 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago when the police were sent out against students in the streets and i think We are in a certain kind of way in a very different moment and yet in a moment that has some Familiar memories for me a moment that reminds me of that first shock I had when I said how could this happen in the United States? And what does it mean for us to? change our country both within domestically and internationally So that these things don’t happen and I think we’re going another one of those crossroads Many people have been using different words for the moment We’re in today But one of those crossroads where we have to make some decisions once more we are not the first Nor maybe the last probably to face these kinds of questions about the direction that we want to go and what is the role of human rights of Social justice in our vision of our country and of the world we want to create so Looking at how human rights and feminism have danced together an image I’d like to use because I think they’re still Distinct strands of movement and yet the last three decades in particular has seen a particular intersection of these two movements that I think has Strengthened both of them and I want to reflect on that from both sides Obviously I come to this from the feminist angle but it is I think a Strengthening that is now under challenge In fact, I would say that human rights is very much under challenge today if you didn’t see it among other things Trump has called for a new Commission to go back to natural human rights Whatever he thinks that is Which is to redefine human rights to take out all the progress of the last 40 or 50 years? To define human rights to deny asylum as he started to do against women who are victims of violence in their own country to deny obviously asylum to victims of human rights in almost every possible way if you’re going to limit refugees to the miniscule number that he’s proposing so it’s important I think to look at how we bring these ideas together and what we need to do to reinforce that strengthening that they have brought to each other in order to Resist but not just resist this authoritarian Patriarchal direction that Unfortunately is not only Trump but also Modi and Kashmir Sisi and Egypt Many other countries could add to that list in the Philippines Etc to resist that tendency to look for simplistic answers in authoritarian order again and to gloss that over with a kind of nationalist populism one of the most horrific things for me of the recent period of speeches at the UN when the UN General Assembly opened a couple of weeks ago and I I didn’t go there I wasn’t there but I was watching it on the television or in the newspapers was the reassertion of the nationalist agenda The reassertion we should be most concerned by Trump But not only by Trump by many of these strong men figures that nationalism is first the reassertion of a kind of a kind of sovereignty that rejects any governing global principles That rejects that we as a world have something to say to each other About how we live and of course that means rejecting first and foremost international human rights norms But also of course it flies in the face of the climate crisis which is a human rights as well as a geographical and environmental and racial crisis of the first order all of these things are what I think we are facing and To me looking at how do we build? The world that they are rejecting and how do we reinforce That is an important effort? So my focus will be mostly what I said in the topic that I gave Four or five months ago the Topic kind of changes every day, doesn’t it? the last 30 years, but it really for me personally goes back to the 60s and for any of you it could go back to Whatever point you’ve kind of joined in these struggles, and I hope it goes on into the future As I said my work began on feminism and human rights in the in the eighties with the founding of the Center for women’s global leadership at Rutgers and the vision that Really animated that was a sense that the only way we were really going to get women’s human rights violations and particularly violence against women, which was kind of the Not the only issue but it was the paradigm through which I thought you could see so many of the issues Was to get this understood as a human rights concern To get it on the agenda of the world as a question of human rights So let’s start with why human rights? Why why wasn’t just being a feminist or women’s issue enough and I think for me It wasn’t I didn’t invent it Hillary didn’t invent it Polly Marie spoke about it back in the 40s Probably you could go even back to the French Revolution and say well if de Guiche was talking about women’s rights are human rights When she was demanding that women be included in the French Revolution, which is after all the way of the quotes Rights of Man phrase tends to get Talked about as its origins Oh None of us invented it I think you can find the seeds of human rights and therefore women’s rights as human rights in many different historical moments Some friends of mine who worked with the network of women living under Muslim laws Which is a feminist network working with women in predominantly Muslim countries and cultures Have produced a book and a slideshow that shows women’s rights activists in the Muslim world since the time of Muhammad and one of his wives so, you know, you can take this history from any point and see that there were people who Understood that you couldn’t imagine human rights as a guiding principle that was supposed to reflect the values of and freedom that human right stands for without incorporating All of humanity and particularly if you don’t incorporate one half of humanity You’ve already undermined the very notion of human rights. So this is a long struggle. Oh And interestingly when we began to do the work at the Center for Women’s global leadership Many of my friends in the u.s. Said what we, you know, we see what you’re doing for women elsewhere But we don’t really need you in rights here Knowing rights is great for Latin America, you know maybe for some other issues and other parts of the world But we have our own national laws and they’re good enough. And I said, this is American exceptionalism on the Left We have the same Tendency to be Exceptionalist to think that somehow we have better ways of seeing things than what the global world has produced even though Eleanor Roosevelt and women were very much a part of the creation of that document We very rarely claim the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a founding document for human rights in the US Perhaps because we’ve had so many struggles in the last decade or two And I don’t think this is only about Trump it goes Oh I’ve seen that many more people in the US are now talking about Poverty as a human rights issue in the u.s They’re talking about women’s health as a fundamental human Right even Obama before they told him to stop doing it was saying health is a human right if you look at his campaigns he says health is a human right when he’s trying to do the health care reform all his Advisors are like, you know, we don’t use that language for social economic rights issues than the US, you know We just keep human rights over here in the political and civil sphere so Even though I don’t have any doubt, but what he believed it was a fundament human right And that’s why he did dedicated so much of his first year to it that language disappears and it disappears because Even in progressive circles in the u.s. We tend to still think human rights is out there It’s not what we are dealing with here in our country. I hope that’s changing right now as we see the more blatant Violation of human rights and we see our president coming up with a new definition or trying to and Hopefully we’ll be better able to make those global/local connections But human rights was important to me as a feminist because I think it is the prevailing global Secular ethical vision it’s not religious, but it’s not anti religious it can be brought together with any religion that’s willing to deal with the ethical issues of human rights and many of the more progressive religious groups do in all the faiths it is secular in that it can be Part of the state’s agenda, but it’s not the state It is about all of the institutions it tends in the UN Charter To be a little too state centered Oh and that’s been one of the critiques that feminists have made and I think that’s changing and one of the things that I think feminism has Encouraged in the human rights movement is to take more seriously state accountability for what non-state actors are doing whether those non-state actors are members of your family or multinational corporations or death squads or extra military forces we see in the world today a vast array of non-state actors that are if you take a statist approach to human rights outside of that protocol so I think it’s very important that we think of it not just as about what states do although that is where the declaration centers it but is what states have a responsibility to do and not do and to provide for citizens in that sense It has been and is used by people around the world as a framework for fighting exploitation It was used by anti colonial forces by groups fighting against military dictatorships It’s used today quite creatively by indigenous people and the declaration of human rights of indigenous People was for me one of the most inspirational ways of thinking about how human rights connects to other Kinds of issues that go beyond the traditional state citizen relationship And it is used to frame the condition of people Who seek some kind of Who feel themselves oppressed and Exploited and seek some kind of dignity in that sense? It was only natural that we as feminists Wanted to frame the condition of women in human rights terms if you read the any of the human rights documents But going back to Universal Declaration. We asked what does torture mean for women? What is slavery mean for women today? What is bodily integrity from a womens perspective? what does it mean to have security of your body if not control over your Reproduction so that all of these issues and I will say that I have been really pleased with the way that many human rights Organizations have picked up those principles the Amnesty International work on how to frame issues of reproductive rights and human rights terms. It’s quite creative it would never have happened without this dance of human rights and feminism coming together and I think each of these has Asked us to frame human rights in terms of all people’s lives and to get beyond the notion of any group having a special interest and this was also one of my concerns about the way that the u.s. Talks about women’s rights or even Racial issues I always as a special interest as if it were not somehow the interest of all of us The interest of all of us how people are treated in relation to rights. I think it’s also therefore because it Demands that we look beyond just our own experience, you know, one of the key ideas of feminism That was so powerful was the personal is political, but the political is not just your personal experience And I think that we sometimes Tend to narrow ourselves to thinking we can only speak to our experience I believe that we have to speak to all experiences. That doesn’t mean we speak for other people It means we learn from other people about to speak about how to speak about the conditions that oppress them so The notion that you have to be something to speak about it to me is not a human rights notion The human rights notion is you learn about the things that affect and oppress other people in Order to speak out against those forces from the perspective of those who are most affected by them to me That’s a feminist principle that again Intertwines with human rights and with an understanding of global citizen responsibility. I don’t think that’s co-opting I think that’s being a proper and appropriate and Effective ally of any other movement. So let’s come back to these questions to claiming our common humanity to Understanding that you cannot build a movement only from one place You must build it from the point of view of many different lives and that has many terms in feminist discourse, of course intersectionality is the kind of language of that in the way in which gender Is informed by race class sexuality, etc But we have I think in human rights terms the term indivisibility that also recognizes that one issue affects another your ability to Exercise your civil and political rights is often conditioned on your social and economic situation so to think that people can have all their civil rights whether women or any other citizen when they are completely Marginalized economically and socially is not to take fully account of that I remember one very good example of my early years of working with Amnesty International on women’s human rights and somebody said well in one of our chapters, we don’t have any women I Said well, when do you meet? well we meet in the evenings. And so what provision do you have for childcare? Oh There might be a problem there and then it went even further I Discovered that in this particular country in this particular place that the women couldn’t go out at night Without permission of their husbands or their families so How how was it that Amnesty International could have a meeting and not see that the freedom of movement And you know not just women’s rights as a separate sphere but the freedom of speech the freedom of movement the freedom of assembly Were being denied and that they didn’t have women because the conditions didn’t exist for the women to come to their meetings so how were they going to address that I mean there many different ways you could decide to address that but the first step was to recognize The ways in which the human rights conditions did not exist for women who wanted to be in that particular place these are these are examples that I give because in some ways they’re very simple and sometimes I think when we say intersectionality in that Socio-economic rights affect political and civil you think oh, it’s just too complicated, but often the solutions Solutions may be complicated but to see what the issue is is sometimes quite simple the final thing that I want to say about why it was so important for Feminists and I think what I would think say is the biggest progress of the last 30 years in the women’s Human Rights is the access that it has given to women to all the mechanisms and media attention and Well mechanisms are such a terrible word, but that’s what we use in the human rights universe sorry for the word by mechanisms I mean there are special reporters that report on violence against women or human rights defenders or the right to food of the right to housing Today those reporters in the UN Human Rights system Wouldn’t think of reporting on any of those issues without including how they affect women how they how they are gendered how they Specifically affects women or the working groups making recommendations wouldn’t make recommendations now Reports and recommendations are not of course the achievement of the social change But it’s usually a necessary first step and I think in that regard women now have a great deal more access to being able to document to talk about to reach the public stage and To do these kinds of reports that the last two Special Rapporteurs on culture and the UN Human Rights system Have been feminist women who’ve done amazing creative work on Thinking about culture from the perspective of women’s lives That I think if I could require for every student in every University and the United States would completely change the so called cultural debate because they talk about which I will talk about in a minute culture as something that also belongs to women as something that isn’t imposed simply from some authorities but is also Belongs to women women have the right to be shaping it women are shaping it. And what would it mean for a Gendered perspective to come into that work. There’s all kinds of this really amazing creative work. There’s a Woman, who is the special rapporteur right now on our disappearances and arbitrary Judicial disappearances. She’s the one Pursuing that the UN must take up the khashoggi case. I Think there’s something about it. It’s not a women’s issue But there’s something about her having the sensibility of what this case means for the ability of people to be disappeared That’s so important So there’s there’s a really night and day Difference in the ways in which women are interacting with that? the problem of course, is that as Human rights has become more gender sensitive and I think more infused with feminism it has become more dangerous to governments and There is greater resistance. If you look at the forefront of resistance to human rights in many parts of the world today One of the key claims, is that human rights? is Being Imposing a universal standard Now, what does that usually mean? The first issue that comes up is something about women? the notion that There is a culturally specific Issue of human rights is almost always couched in relation to women or sexuality it may be LGBTI Sexuality as well as women’s sexuality almost always couched in the Language that is about the advances that we have seen in the last 30 years in the area of including the private sphere the so-called private sphere in incorporating the feminist critique of public and private into human rights practice and We see governments in many parts of the world reacting against that We see it in all kinds of ways. There’s there’s now talk in Latin America about gender ideology in the schools So what’s it mean to be against gender ideology in the schools the the phrase that people use in Spanish is “no te metas a mis hijos” which is don’t put your hands on my children It’s basically say we don’t want you to tell our children Anything about their bodies or sexuality or to teach them anything about gender in? Hungary Then the last year to gender studies has been banned from the universities. I Think there’s about a dozen more countries. Somebody here might know that have followed the Hungarian example, why is gender studies being banned? I don’t think it’s for our most esoteric debates, I think it’s because they understand that this is a form of Looking at the patriarchal relationships of the society and the kind of human rights They don’t want so whatever the issue in a way Human rights has been expanded very significantly by its Engagement with feminism it has strengthened the social and economic part of human rights Because women have understood that You can’t separate political and civil rights from social economic rights? It’s added to the addressing as I mentioned of non-state actors Because so much of what happens to women is not necessarily just the state directly. Oh and it has also increased the understanding of the indivisibility of Rights and therefore linking one area of rights to another Many governments don’t want to see that happen So you see in the UN today as I mentioned to wanting to narrow human rights, but you also see Lots of other governments saying we don’t want to abide by those treaties Australia said we don’t want to abide by the treaty signed by previous governments So I think if we’re going to resist these things we have to see how and why they are linked why it is that the combination of Feminism and human rights. It’s been such a powerful force and it is a force that I think is not gone I think it’s very much out there. It has widened the constituency for Human Rights. I do a lot of work with organizations that defend Women’s human rights defenders or defend all human rights defenders including women, but women and men and When you look at who is now reporting on Abuses of themselves as activists and defenders they’re more and more Feminist activists who are being attacked for their feminist activism There are more and more men from the LGBT movement who are being attacked for their Feminists or their inclusion of sexuality as a human rights issue, there are more and more indigenous people. Who are challenging the particularly women who are challenging the Industries the mining and extractive industries and These are being killed. I mean we have we have famous examples like Berta and Honduras but we also have many other everyday examples of people being under attack because they have understood that They cannot Resist this kind of extraction or this kind of attack on their human rights? without challenging the intergovernmental order So the intersectional analysis all of this has widened the constituency. We now see environmentalists people of color many people who identify with the UN rights vision where once it was kind of the specialty of human rights lawyers Oh, Human rights lawyers are still critical. I’m not I’m in a law school. Um, I believe in the role of human rights lawyers It’s absolutely crucial to defending this but it isn’t just human rights lawyers who are under attack now Defenders are activists coming from all kinds of movements and in the defense of those people We have a new Energy that is being generated about how communities must defend ourselves of collective security that human rights is not just the individual as We often thought of it who speaks up, but it’s about the collective security of a group of a group that is challenging at challenging the rights of or Challenging the invasion of their rights by corporate powers or by other groups in this of course There’s been a major emphasis on the question of war and conflict The question of that women began to raise really through Bosnia and Rwanda and the International tribunals of the 90s has now become a major focus of groups that work on peace and security to be addressing the rape and violation It has been of women but we all know when I finally saw a news release the other day that Finally men are now talking about the rape for example the Rohinga men, I saw a headline this week. I think that’s important. I think it’s time that we understood that rape and sexual violence from men to men is another manifestation of a gendered understanding that the way to Humiliate and defeat men is to treat them like women Is to abuse them and to rape them and I have been sort of wondering when are men going to raise that issue Not the issue of we’re all so abused as if women were abusing men the same way men were abusing women But they’re also being abused usually not by women but by the powerful interests by the powers that be the powers that represent the state or represent the opposition forces and rape has been almost invisible and I think it’s probably very important that you cannot imagine a group of human rights organizations or people that are under attacked like the Rohinga in Burma Raising the issue of rape without the feminist movement having come there so I think this you know This is what I want to say about how it’s changing the discourse in all of our movements to see these connections Women are using human rights differently men are understanding their own Their own The abuse they suffer in more gendered terms as well all of this I think is crucial to understanding the important Pinpoint role that a gendered ideology plays in oppression in the world In the denial of rights and and it’s not new to say that I mean people have been saying that for 50, 100, 200 Years, but to understand it in all the diverse manifestations Is to understand it in the world today these things get reinvented It isn’t like it’s just what happened once it gets reinvented now That’s all the problems but I think there are so many more people talking about and seeing this that what I want to say is encouraging to me is The growth in the constituency of people who are willing to talk about these issues As I mentioned with the raw anger men I’m sure there must have been a sense of total desperation for them to cross that Masculinity barrier to actually talk about being raped This this is the one of the greatest humiliations for men to actually put that on the table what it means for us to get this kind of conversation going in the human rights world, but it’s also the young people who are now speaking up in Latin America, for example There’s a movement of young people called ni una menos or not one more This is a massive movement of young women against violence against women happening over and over again from one country to another This is a constituency of young women and men. Oh that is Ready For making political change, but doesn’t yet know where to find that You see it all over if you’re if you’re following these things on facebook or you follow them on any other source of information And miles and miles. I can’t even remember what the issue was miles long chain of women in India Demonstrating over some aspect of women’s rights miles long. Oh People are ready to take action but there is a need for for leadership that understands how to how do we mobilize this in the US and also globally I see it with the transgender Activists who are coming out now to talk about what’s going on in the shadows for them. You see it in all kinds of places on campuses But it isn’t yet It hasn’t yet become the new face of human rights And I think the face of human rights has to become this face which is not just feminism but is highly informed by gender and feminism that can answer and Not deny these questions too often Our movements have said when the gendered questions or sexuality comes up. Oh, well people are not ready for that But it is those very questions that open people up to seeing the whole picture and And whenever we hold back and repress those questions and say no. No, not yet Don’t don’t don’t put the transgender people in the front. Don’t put the women who are Challenging Their their gendered roles and lesbians that whoever it is the sex workers Don’t put them in the front because that will turn people off but it is actually the contradictions that these issues expose that I think takes us to the next stage and It is at the heart of The backlash against human rights that we are facing today which is a backlash against those fundamental principles of bringing the Public and the private together those feminist ideas that from what happens to you personally? You see the patriarchy you see what it is from those ideas that say Intersectionality that all of the different issues are linked so I feel we’re on the verge of but we haven’t yet quite seen it an ability to build a broader coalition That links all of these questions of Mary Robinson is now leading in climate Justice, Mary Robinson many of you may know was the High Commissioner for Human Rights from Ireland and she was one of the first defenders of abortion rights in Ireland Ireland has you know given abortion rights well
How can Mexico just did you know? There are moments of these things happening that tell us that actually the repressive forces are so Strong and authoritarian right now precisely because they’re trying to hold back. They’re trying to hold back Changes that are happening. Oh That is what we certainly know in the u.s. Because all of us live it every day when we watch Trump get more and more desperate and trying to hold back and you know, we might get rid of him, but if we don’t get people to understand What that was about that. It was not only this crazy guy, but an ideology that’s trying to push back Against the changes that have been happening In this country and globally and if we don’t do it in time Because the climate justice has put all of us on a different timeline You know, I used to say well it takes generations and it does but we don’t have generations for getting a few things together We have to move faster. So that’s I want to have time for some questions and discussion so I’m gonna stop but I did want to just say one thing about culture because I do think that Our fear to claim or to Be clear that Challenging culture is always a part of you It’s always a part of change You can’t talk about Change in the world in any time period and not talk about changing culture We have to recognize we are Up against it with gun culture in the United States if we don’t change our gun culture We are going to have a problem Culture is not some sacred traditional thing that somebody had You know a thousand years ago most of those visions of a thousand years ago. It was like this are fake anyway If you read history most of them weren’t even that way even a thousand years ago But why should we want to be where we were a thousand years ago or five hundred years ago or fifty years ago Why should we want to make America that kind of great? That wasn’t great for many of us What you know, what are these cultural myths that are being covered up by this term culture. I am now of a feeling that we must Demystify this language because it is getting in the way of the kind of change that really needs to happen And we shouldn’t be shying away from it culture is not static It’s not supposed to be static It’s supposed to be something that changes As people change their values and what they want to see and do in the world and as they address problems So I I no longer want to see culture or religion misused as excuses for patriarchy there really is no religion in the world that I’ve been able to look at in which the cultural Trappings are essential to the core ideas the cultural trappings come out of fifteen hundred two thousand four thousand whatever a number of years ago when Patriarchy was going fine. Why should we have to have religions? Entrapped in those old cultural attitudes the core values of almost all religions have nothing to do with those trappings So we have to break through that’s one of the key Things that’s stopping us and I think we also have to break through the notion Universality means everything everybody will have everything the same Universality of human rights means everyone has the right to have their human rights Respected it doesn’t mean that our lives are all the same or that how we experience violation is always the same Diversity is not the opposite of universality. In fact, I think diversity is The way you realize universality seeing all the diverse ways Something happens is what helps us to make changes that actually bring everybody Into the picture rather than the opposite so these these arguments that have been used Against women’s rights in particular and now are being used against any kind of human rights Because if you go to the Human Rights Commission and Geneva, it’s not just women’s rights that they’re attacking now They’re actually attacking the core notion Of there being any global values those global values can change but if we are going to have a universe in which there is a fundamental set of core principles that we call human rights and that we try to live by we have to defend them not as Something imposed from the West but of something alive that’s coming from many parts of the world. Oh and that reflects the discussion going on globally I Was going to say something about inequality and indivisibility, but I really want to answer your questions So I promised I would end before five o’clock. So then have some questions and answers Let me just say I don’t think this is the worst of times. I think this is the time before the new breakthrough The 50s looked pretty bad and that brought us the 60s 60s had their problems but that certainly births many of us into the lives We’ve led Each period breaks open something new And I think that we are on the verge of that but time Is of the essence? Climate change is putting us on a different block so it’s time to re mobilize the kind of global movement that human rights can stand for with feminism as one of its core principles and bringing those movements together with anti-racist anti supreme white supremacists Pro and Pro environment and other movements in the Effort to save a world, but to save a world that we all want to live in. Thank you And comments if you don’t want to turn it into a question just make a comment and I’ll comment back Could you do you mind standing up so we can all see you? What what you think about the figurehead child or the minor and especially Becoming a figurehead for that kind of humanistic, you know, unbiased look, you know, various causes and various things when they are not necessarily legally fully represented as humans or having a different kinds of rights than adult rights. does that make sense? Yeah, yep, that’s an interesting point, oh, well I I knew the first of all I would just say that I think the the children Speaking up is a very powerful thing in our society And and I think it’s powerful be precisely because as they are saying it’s their future That’s at stake as well. And to me. I’m not worried about that being unbiased I I think there’s always bias. The question is just being clear about what your bias is so you aren’t Masquerading as if there isn’t bias, so that doesn’t bother me but I think that the the question that you raised that’s really important is how else can these Minors speak up when they don’t have access to voting and to all those other things So in that sense, the very fact that they are not yet legally of age is a powerful statement It’s a powerful way of their speaking No I know that that can also be manipulated so I don’t want to tell naive I know that adults can manipulate children, but insofar as What you’re referring to and the examples around the climate and the examples around gun culture It doesn’t feel to me like that’s being manipulated. It feels to me like an incredibly authentic and I Would say as an adult kind of despairing voice Which says you know do something. Oh, I’d say they do say to something, you know do something So to me, I think it’s so it’s a way You know whenever people don’t have access to the formal channels of power What one thing they almost always look for is how else can you speak what are the other channels to speak so to me? It’s a very creative Example of that and also one that is is meant to and should shame us that we are We are creating a situation. I mean even my friends are saying You know, I have to talk to my child about why they’re doing gun drills into schools. I mean, I think this is this should if anything can Shame us and it’s a very important voice Just you know stand up, so everybody can see you and hear your question. Thanks All right. Thank you. You could say your name – I always like to know people’s names. Yeah. Thank you for inspiring lecture I’m a student from UWM, and I’m from China you’ve mentioned that when the human right became more gender sensitive it became more dangerous and I find as all I kind of change in China’s case when I’m Doing some activity with my friends back to China. We are kind of do not that want to The women right to be directly linked to the humor on the other way no, like we should be but things China didn’t have a very good reputation on the human rights like internationally, so the Chinese government kind of sensitive towards all the things related to human rights in I feel like if we link the women’s rise towards the humans, rather a cost like causes more where we are burdened towards the like the movement I’m just curious like is there any ways to address this Yeah, I think you make a really important point. Oh, I I was in China two years ago meeting with some of the LGBT and women’s rights groups, and they said Really pretty similar to what you said? that more Actually more so than women’s groups than the LGBT groups which were more inclined to use human rights But I think that that your point is well-taken there may be places China and there may be other places in the world to where at least in the moment It does not help in terms of government repression to Use the human rights terms I don’t have a problem with that just as I don’t have a problem with somebody not naming it feminism if that’s a problem Where they are I think what’s important is that you do understand the connections to human rights principles and Build relationships with people that can protect each other, but there may be strategic reasons Such as what you’ve just said and interestingly The My understanding and you can correct me at the Chinese five who were arrested for acts for talking about sexual harassment in public were partly arrested because the government was saying We don’t want you to take this into public spaces It’s okay. If you talk about this privately. Oh, so I think there are really there are different conditions in different countries for how you move on these questions and there are places where It may be more dangerous than helpful to use certain terminology. Those are strategic questions and I think can be Can be managed but I think what I’m appealing to is for Those who think they’re out of the human rights tradition of the feminist tradition to see more clearly why each of these is so important to the other in Defending and moving forward. Oh, but you’re you’re right. There may be moments when it’s not helpful to say that Although I was really amazed at how much? Activism there was in China Underneath what we don’t see. Oh Here I’d be interested in your comments about that because some of my friends I was there two years ago say it’s gotten worse It’s harder now so I You just stand up because people hear you better even if you don’t have the mic I Felt like like in general. It’s getting better because the young people I’m more more realized importance of Speaking out. But at the same time the government are also starting to put more attention on pressing the women rights movement because before that would like the women rights movement is not that strong and now like government kind of realized this this is a big problem and started to like pay attention Pressing those comments, especially on the online most of the activity actually start online Great great, thank you. Yeah, we could talk about that more but let’s go ahead and with other people. Yeah. Oh you’re you’re right You’re recognized you people sorry Two quick questions, I hope One was you said we’re on the verge of building a broader coalition? I guess I want to know what’s gonna push us over the verge How can we get there? and I also once heard you say that one of our challenges is that there’s a gap a big gap between those of us who have been helped by these feminist principles and and human rights principles and those Who haven’t yet been helped and how do we address that? Do you think it’s any better now? And or how do we get better and addressing that gap? Thank you. Oh, I can’t answer the first question I don’t know how I wish I knew how I feel like we have to be We have to be in that conversation to get to the how so I think what I’m encouraging right now is just to Get out of our silos and put ourselves in more of those conversations And whatever that means locally or nationally in different situations because I don’t have the how Believe me if I did I’d probably be doing something else right now. I’m trying to get it out there in the world. Oh The second question absolutely. In fact, that’s the page. I skipped over. Oh I hear conversation about inequality. I don’t think it’s gotten better I think it’s one of the great shames of the world today both domestically and internationally And I think the gap that has created For those of you who didn’t hear me say it because I said it some other place, but I’ll say it again is one of the big problems that feminism in particular but probably all movements face, but for feminism it’s particularly difficult because Many of us live very different lives today as a result of the feminist movement but many women Who were not in that feminist movement? often for economic reasons or for Geographic reasons or whatever other reasons are Being left behind and they are paying the price Because they’re the social and conservative movements are trying very hard to keep their women They don’t want their women to follow what we’re doing. And so I think that accounts for the additional layer of oppression of women that we see in many places in rural communities and certain religious groups and I think again that’s both within the US and you can see examples internationally, so the challenge for us is To find again I don’t know the exact way to do it, but define channels of conversation particularly with women and with LGBT men or any other socially progressive for various reason men who come from and are in those places who want to Try to address that gap and to try I mean the challenge Policy-wise is to take class and economic inequality more seriously in our politics I mean that’s very clear the challenge in terms of what do we do? while we say that and trying to make that happen I think is again about trying to initiate some Conversations where it’s possible I’m not saying just to beat their head against the rock but to try to find ways to initiate conversations That would offer us the chance to get beyond some of those barriers and to figure out What are the kinds of addressing of inequality? Obviously all kinds of tax proposals. I mean, let’s ask Elizabeth Warren. I’m she’s got a plan for it No, but seriously there are all kinds of economic proposals that we could make that would at least begin to address some of that gap and that’s Where we have to go in the long run? but thank you for bringing up because it is one of my real concerns because I think we as women can sometimes We as feminists can sometimes dismiss the women Who we view as not being open to feminism and there sometimes are very good reasons. Why? That doesn’t work to the event to their advantage in life And if we don’t open channels and change some of the conditions of their lives We can see why Hi hi, thank you very much for your lecture. It was very very inspiring I was kind of needing to like to hear that that we can like hope for the future Thank you very much my questions about your career I wanted to know if you ever felt unsafe Doing what you do or if there was a particular moment or if this is current in your life I am from Brazil and To work with that I feel that we are like always second guessing like do we really want to work in the country that most kill human rights defendants in the Americas so I mean About that and how can other countries do – I don’t know speak up for those defenders that are in the field and not located like New York or Washington DC in the big big organizations. Thank you I Am very Privileged that I mostly work with other organizers I I don’t go myself. I am NOT the field person in some other country. So I don’t necessarily feel that unsafe When I’m doing my work But I feel the unsafety of so many of the women that I work with And I definitely feel at moments like, you know, will I ever see this person again? because the violence that they work with can be quite intense I Probably feel as unsafe in the US as anywhere because we have so many guns around so in that sense, it’s not about my personal safety, but I think you reach a really important point which is in Central America the The women’s human rights defenders that I know about are really trying to create More collective security for themselves because they realize that can’t depend on the state It’s probably a useful principle for us to realize we can’t depend on the state and to think about collective security as well, but I think that One of the biggest ways we can we can never create safety for this work Completely. It’s it’s not it is risky work. It’s not always going to be safe work But we can create linkages so that women and men Who are doing dangerous work Have places to go Have places they can contact if they feel danger There are there are a lot of human rights programs that sort of are for Getting people out but often those programs don’t work for women because they have children and they have complications in their lives and family care and So we need to create more ways that Women can do that the Central American group has Created a safe house in another city where they can sometimes take people and their children. It’s very it’s a very challenging work and I agree with you that We need to be paying more attention to that But it’s not it’s not the work that I mostly do. I’m Mostly not in the field. I’m mostly in meetings. Oh and trying to bring Information and take information back for what we can do at the policy level so I Think that it’s important, however to You know that some of the To realize that that there is There is no absolute security we tend in the u.s. With all our 500 versions of insurance and all the rest to think that you know that you can buy security and certainly money can help you be more secure than not but I Think sometimes even we don’t know and we have to do things anyway and I mean even in the impeachment debate, I’m like We don’t know what effect it’s going to have on the election in 2020. We don’t really it’s true We don’t really know but we’ve reached a point where that can’t be the basis of what we do because The situation is so bad that if we’re going to ignore that then what’s the point of the 2020 election I mean I’m a pragmatic person but there’s a point beyond which You can’t predict everything and operate as if security or certainty was The principle in in human rights work or in social change So thank you for the question it’s definitely important in Central America in particular but also every day on the women’s human rights Defender network I hear about somebody being arrested or somebody being killed. It’s it’s a very real thing out there Could you speak about the International alliances that are being formed within the United Nations pushing back against women’s rights and in particular They’re all the USB. It’s kind of shocking to watch the curse the last Committee on the status of women hearings and the US role in that Yes, I mean it’s it’s really shocking and really quite upsetting to see the u.s basically forming alliances with the Other strongmen I’m not sure which specific when you’re referring to but You know in voting on Women’s rights reproductive rights issues. We are definitely with the most conservative with the Vatican with the most conservative countries the most Dependent Catholic countries that depend on Catholic Church aid with the Islamic fundamentalists in some cases with countries that are Supposedly the Ones that we are fighting in other situations Maybe you have a specific example that you could give people because I think I’m think I’m being general. But yeah Right, right Reproductive rights LGBT rights where we’re clearly on the wrong side And making alliances. I mean we saw this throughout the Beijing conference also where um not the Beijing conference in the backlash against the Beijing conference and But now we see it even more extremely in the u.s. Alliances I mean we see it in the world today. Look look, I mean what what are the top who are Trump’s favorite? Friends, these are not the countries you want to be aligned with you. I Wish I could remember the specifics of that csw debate but yes Yes, hello professor, my name is Julius and I am population Institute fellow with the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and public health, and I have a question in regards to your work with policy systems for women of color For men of color as well as indigenous members What types of policies and programs are helping them to advance in this society rather than standing in the shadows? Now in relation to any particular areas or just more generally Well for I mean if you if you take for example Women in politics in the United States There are several interesting trying to remember the name of it There are several interesting developments of women of color in Looking toward More women being elected in politics. I mean you have What does it call the shit though? she the african-american Organization called she something or others and anybody know what I’m talking about Yes, they just had a conference and it’s called the she Just There are two words, I mean it’s funny because not funny but there’s a there’s a woman Kimberly Payne this her name who’s part of this movement Who was was speaking in my class on I’m trying to remember the exact name, but I think that there are many different policies that Women of color in particular have been promoting lately around issues of violence in society Leadership and then of course the black lives movement leadership in this election where women of color as a decisive Constituency for the Democrats are heard and that’s what this she Can’t believe I can’t get the right name of it. But um the she for Something movement and I think in terms of Looking more broadly at the society I mean there’s there’s all kinds of organizations working on policy specific to racism to questions of racial advancement, you know, I’m Personally, very interested in the reparations movement I think it made some very interesting proposals for how we might think about reparations in relation to the US Political scene and and the purpose of reparations as a as a group For both native indigenous peoples and people of color African Americans I mean There’s so many I don’t even know which one specifically to refer to but in my work with women and politics this The She the people, thank you. She the people is the name of the movement, right? oh, I think is one of the most interesting because they really are putting out there that if the Margin of support for Democratic candidates. The highest support is among African American women or women of color in the US What is that constituency want to see what are the demands to be made? And I also think that’s true with the Ways in which the black lives matter has been bringing the constituency and what those questions would be etc Indigenous peoples. I actually work more internationally with the female feminist Women’s international Thank you, the international indigenous women’s formas initials are in Spanish or female so And they have been really putting out a very strong platform for Indigenous women’s leadership in the UN and bringing indigenous women into the different arenas where in fact, I think I Was probably deeply influenced by the paper They did on violence against women and how it interfaced with violence against indigenous peoples around the world and what they’re for the report the secretary-general that I worked on and the special rapporteurs on violence needed to include about the intersection of Indigenous rights or the rights of racial minorities in relation violence against women, of course We know in Canada. There’s been the Trail of Tears movement around this question I don’t know of a comparable one in the US, but there probably should be Hello Thank you. As everyone else has said for this talk. It’s really inspiring and wonderful I’m Scarlett, and I am also from a really small Community in Indiana very very rural and there are a lot of women like you were speaking to Before that have been very influential to me in my life, but are not on board with these concepts And so I am curious if you found Any success in engaging from a grassroots level about these topics and rural communities And if so, if you have any tips or feedback about how to make that happen or do you feel that? I don’t ever think it’s futile To have a few times to have the conversation. Um if for no other reason than just for you to understand better How someone else sees it for thinking about you know? What what we need to do in the future. It may not be I Don’t think it’s ever futile it may not be your priority at any given time and it hasn’t been mine personally, and so I admit to that I I left the small town that I grew up in when I was 18 years old and I haven’t spent a lot of time there Oh since but I do think that the there are points of entry to those conversations and Often one of the reasons that I got involved in the work Initially on violence against women is that I found it is a point of entry for many many women in many different situations for talking about Why women Experiences what what are those experiences? I don’t think you can walk in out of the blue and Just start that conversation that that has to go with Having a much deeper connection already, but where there is that connection? I find that it’s a conversation that usually gives women a chance to talk about how they experience themselves as women and what the problems are more than More than sort of abstract conversations about issues in general Because it’s it’s an issue. There’s no I mean as as There is no woman in the world who hasn’t Experienced the fear of violence at least some time Even if nothing more than you know walking to your car in a dark parking lot. I mean that the experience of the possibility of being assaulted and having violence is very close to most women at least in some way or two if not themselves to their fears for their daughters or to their experience with someone else and so I do think it is a starting point but I think ultimately it’s in policy terms we have to really challenge the the Roots of the inequality that’s grown in our society. Ultimately, I mean Yes, you can have the conversation and it’s always good to have the conversation But unless we really begin to address the roots of those policy questions. I Don’t think we’re going to get beyond a certain level of discussion Now, my name is Ann Walsh Bradley Perhaps in addressing the roots of some of the policy questions we have to address Who are the policy makers and a question arose over here about what can we do? mm-hmm, and I know personally I fluctuate between the hope that you spoke of at the end of your initial comments and the despair that I see you spoke of hope in Oaxaca and in Mary Robinson and in Ireland And yet three days ago of course of Morocco You have the imprisonment of a journalist woman for premarital sex and sentenced to a year in prison So there’s back and forth. And so the way that I think I deal with it and what can you do? is Vote Here now That’s the way I would deal with it here in in the United States and here more specifically I guess in Wisconsin and to those who think that Small-town people don’t make a difference we celebrate right now this year the hundredth anniversary of women’s right to vote and in the state of Wisconsin in that small little town in southwest Wisconsin called Richland Center It was considered a hotbed of women’s radicalism and it was there that this young woman named Ada James in Nothing town Richland Center. I know because that’s my hometown Decided that women needed the right to vote and indeed Wisconsin as you may know was the first of All states to ratify the amendment that a hundred years ago gave us the right to vote. So Times I go to bed and sometimes I wake up and I think you know, what good is it? All right even choose That’s right you can choose hope You can choose despair some of you know, Shirley Abrahamson. She is a good friend of mine She often says to me, you know, a lot of life is attitude. So choose a good one and that’s and the hope allows me to move forward the despair doesn’t and so that’s one thing that We can do I guess personally But then you just can’t underestimate The power of not just you voting but getting out others to vote at least here in this country Things are perhaps a little more complex other places No, thank you. And I think I Know we’re coming to the end of the time so I would just say a little Phrase that I have pinned to the bulletin board over my desk is hope as a practice It you know a hope is a decision it’s a practice We can also despair I certainly have many moments of despair over the last couple of years I’m not saying that that one shouldn’t allow feelings of despair. But hope is a practice because It is the way in which we do not become paralyzed and Luckily right now. We still live in the country where we can do things a Lot of bad things have happened, but we can still do things. I don’t know about you all but I just finished watching The Handmaid’s Tale so it’s very in my mind to You know not forget that those things too could also be constrained And so a hope is a practice I don’t have the I don’t feel I want to take my privilege to not be helpful and That doesn’t mean any particular action. It can be whatever there are plenty of opportunity in everyday life to challenge racism homophobia sexism misogyny American arrogance. Oh, you know If you do nothing more than just challenge those conversations when you hear them and you’re there That’s something because we want to reach a point where people question themselves about those kinds of attitudes Obviously voting. Oh and I think if Wisconsin is a bellwether We need people in Wisconsin to vote and we need some people working On that vote and and making sure that we have the candidates we need There are many other things you can do in your everyday life I’m in the community and then there are those of us who are policy wonks but not you don’t have to be a policy wonk or a professional Activist to find meaningful things to do about the situation every day and so I think hope is a practice and hopefully we can practice it into being and I’ve seen enough and I’m sure you’ve seen enough to know that Any one moment in time gives way to another so why not be working for the hopeful one as opposed to? The Handmaid’s Tale and Julia You know we can we could think our way into despair or we can practice our way into hope

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