Press Releases

A Women's Human Rights Agenda for the G8

Posted on: Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Keywords: Environmental Justice, Economic Justice, Peace Building, Human Rights Advocacy, US Foreign Policy

On May 18, leaders of the world’s eight largest economies (the G8) will gather at Camp David, a walled-off retreat reserved for the US President and his guests. There, they will make decisions that will affect all of us, no matter where we live.

This unjust distribution of political power means that sustainable alternatives to harmful policies are ignored, and voices of the global 99% are silenced.

But women's human rights advocates refuse to be ignored. We know that women worldwide are creating solutions to the crises we all face, including poverty, economic injustice and militarism. We are putting forward our own G8 agenda. We need your input to craft it.

Visit to share your ideas and to join our effort. Together, we can demand policies that protect women’s human rights worldwide.

And download a PDF version of MADRE's G8 agenda by clicking here.

Poverty and Economic Injustice

This Is the Reality:

Income Inequality: G8 policies protect the richest at the expense of the rest. When governments value private profits above the public good, poverty and instability result.

Labor Rights Violations: The rights to unionize and to be free from gender discrimination are essential. But workers worldwide are routinely denied protection for internationally recognized labor rights.

A Broken Aid System: Aid today is insufficient and ineffective. It often does not reach where it is needed most. It does not address the root causes of poverty and inequality. What’s more, aid delivery perpetuates dependency and is conditioned on policies that enrich the G8.

This Is Our Vision. Women Demand G8 Policies That:

  • Recognize the many ways women fuel economies, from performing unpaid work as caregivers to sustaining informal economies.
  • Safeguard access to basic services, like health, housing, education, water and sanitation.
  • Support proven strategies to end poverty—like investment in social safety nets and girls’ education.
  • Ensure that aid delivery is effective, transparent and boosts local efforts.

Add your voice at

Food Sovereignty

This Is the Reality:

Food Price Crises: The neoliberal embrace of deregulated markets has allowed financial traders to speculate in food staples, causing prices to shoot up. Waves of food crises have gripped communities worldwide, as basic foods are priced out of reach.

Unfair Trade Policies: Massive subsidies by G8 nations have protected corporate agribusiness while destroying the livelihoods of farmers in the Global South by flooding local markets. What’s more, countries have been pressured to produce agricultural commodities for export, not food for eating.

Industrial Agriculture: Small-scale farmers have been hurt by G8 policies that prioritize monoculture and industrial farming. This has destroyed biodiversity, worsened climate change and increased the use of polluting fertilizers and pesticides.

This Is Our Vision. Women Demand G8 Policies That:

  • Invest in small-scale, sustainable agriculture. The G8 has already committed to provide $20 billion for this through its L’Aquila food security initiative—but it has only raised $1.1 billion.
  • Empower women farmers, who feed local communities using sustainable methods that must be supported by governments. 
  • Work towards not just food security, but food sovereignty. People have the right to healthy food raised sustainably and to decide how their food is produced.
  • Protect food as more than a mere commodity. It is a human right that must be guaranteed.

Add your voice at


This Is the Reality:

Denial of the Right to Health: G8 governments are abdicating their responsibility to provide comprehensive health care for their people. They tell us that free markets can do the job. Instead, women pick up the slack, shouldering the responsibility of providing care to their families.

Attacks on Reproductive Health and Rights: In the name of “traditional values,” right wing forces have launched new political attacks. At the global and local levels, women’s access to family planning is at risk—jeopardizing women’s health and safe motherhood.

This Is Our Vision. Women Demands G8 Policies That:

  • Protect and implement the right to health worldwide, as a priority over protecting corporate profits.
  • Remove policy constraints on countries of the Global South to provide health care to their populations.
  • Recognize that the right to health—including reproductive and maternal health—is inalienable and non-negotiable.

Add your voice at

Democracy and Accountability

This Is the Reality:

Greed Without Accountability: G8 governments have shielded the bankers and corporations responsible for the financial crises that have devastated communities across the globe. Rescued by government bailouts, they are quickly returning to business as usual.

The Next Phase of the Arab Spring: The revolutions of the Arab Spring were made possible and accelerated by women’s leadership. Women have created new opportunities to have a say in their future—but they are already confronting a backlash from fundamentalist forces.

Unfair International Institutions: Global governing power is concentrated in the hands of wealthy nations—and the G8 is a prime example. But countries of the Global South are organizing to demand a space at the table.

This Is Our Vision. Women Demands G8 Policies That:

  • Recognize the financial meltdown as a result of a neoliberal economic model—one that also threatens our food, energy and environment.
  • Address the demands of the Occupy Wall Street movement and its counterparts worldwide—including an end to impunity for criminal acts by banks and corporations.
  • Stand with women leaders against rightwing backlash.
  • Democratize global policy-making spaces. The G8 is not an alternative to the United Nations.

Add your voice at


This Is the Reality:

War in the Name of Rights: G8 governments have used women’s human rights to justify war. We’ve seen this charade in the US/NATO invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. Instead, these occupations put women’s human rights at risk.

“War on Terror”: Policymakers have used post-9/11 fears to distort our definitions of security. Proponents of the so-called “war on terror” promote xenophobia and anxiety to distract from human rights abuses, like torture at Guantanamo Bay.

The Next War: Hawks are pressing for a pre-emptive attack on Iran. This would violate international law and spread massive suffering—and activists are already mobilizing against it.

This Is Our Vision. Women Demands G8 Policies That:

  • Recognize that women are disproportionately harmed by war and armed conflict.
  • Confront violence against women, including rape, as a weapon of war.
  • Reject all attempts to justify human rights violations by invoking the “war on terror.”
  • Embrace a definition of security that protects human rights. This must include economic security, as well as an end to violence against women—in times of war and peace.

Add your voice at

Public Services

This Is the Reality:

Rampant Privatization: G8 policies have embraced privatization of public goods, including basic services like electricity and water.

Extreme Austerity: In the wake of global financial crises, many governments are still struggling. But they are foisting the worst sacrifices on those least to blame, by slashing public services. In Greece, drastic austerity programs have reduced living standards by 30%.

This Is Our Vision. Women Demands G8 Policies That:

  • Reserve basic necessities like water as public goods to be managed locally and democratically.
  • Invest in public services that sustain people through crisis.

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The Environment and Natural Resources

This Is the Reality:

Land Grabbing: Small-scale women farmers in the Global South produce most of their families’ food. But their communities are being dispossessed by corporations to make way for industrial agriculture and biofuel plantations.

Extractive Industries: G8 governments have misdirected vital investment dollars into industries like oil and mining. In communities from Peru to the Congo, people are confronting the harmful practices of extractive industries on their land—often facing brutal retaliation.

Climate Change: We are fast approaching a global point of no return—irreversible climate change, including droughts and famines, unpredictable farming seasons and intensified disasters.

This Is Our Vision. Women Demands G8 Policies That:

  • Promote the sustainable use of resources. End policies that push cash-strapped governments to pursue short-sighted resource exploitation.
  • Provide access to financing for climate change adaptation at the grassroots level. That is where climate change is most acutely felt and where the most innovative solutions are emerging.
  • Increase investment in renewable energy sources.
  • Take urgent action to address climate change: impose caps on greenhouse gas emissions and work towards zero-waste, low carbon economies.

Add your voice at

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Kat Noel, Website & Media Coordinator
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