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Banner design saying Governing Poverty, Risking Rights

Across the world, control measures in social policy risk subjecting people in poverty to increased stigmatisation, surveillance, segregation and criminalisation. This forum explores the human rights consequences and policy alternatives.


"There’s nothing left" - women’s future under the Conservatives in the UK

With a Conservative victory in the UK election, even deeper cuts are looming for women already in poverty and at risk, and the suffering will become entrenched.

Our Lives: Poverty then and now in the UK

A report launched today, Our Lives: Challenging attitudes to poverty in 2015, captures the humanity of the experience of poverty and calls for change as radical as the social reform in the 1940s.

The cuts hit home: austerity in Oxford

Across the UK different services are bearing the brunt of cuts in different areas. In Oxfordshire, the county which encompasses the Prime Minister's constituency, domestic violence and homelessness services are facing a staggering 38% cut in funding. 

Redecorate, repopulate: what next for the E15 mums?

A group of young mothers have petitioned local government and occupied abandoned homes in Newham, London, calling for ‘social housing not social cleansing’. Here they discuss the growing movement to combat the housing crisis and prevent evictions.

Whose recovery?: Gendered austerity in the UK

The impact of government spending cuts, combined with structural sexism in the UK, means that for British women, news of an economic recovery means nothing to their daily lives.

The underclass of carers: grandparents in the UK

Hundreds of thousands of children in the UK are brought up by family members who are not their parents. These ‘kinship carers’ - overwhelmingly women - save the taxpayers billions, but with little support from social services often endure poverty, ill-health and isolation.

CSW: Arguments for reducing the intense time burden of women's unpaid care work

Unpaid care work is one of the major barriers to women's rights, economic empowerment and poverty reduction. Will the work of the UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty, and the frantic efforts of women's rights advocates at the CSW in New York this week, get unpaid care work on to the post-2015 agenda ?

Lower aspirations for higher education

The British university system was until recently seen as one of the best in the world. Now students pay dearly for the privilege of supporting big business, says Barbara Gunnell 

Forced sterilization and impunity in Peru

Between 1995-2000, 300,000 women in Peru, mostly poor indigenous peasants who did not speak Spanish, were forcibly sterilized by the Fujimori government. The Peruvian feminist movement has been trying to bring Fujimori and his officials to trial for this crime against humanity ever since. Last month the case was thrown out for a second time.

US Republicans and their “Female Troubles”

As the 2014 midterm elections loom on the horizon, American Republicans fear they may lose a sizable female vote because they have spent the last eight years vilifying women and voting against their major concerns.

Austerity policies in Europe are fuelling social injustice - and violating human rights

A new report by the Council of Europe provides detailed evidence that austerity measures have corroded civil and political rights and made economic, social and cultural rights less attainable.  Will the governments of Europe recognise the social cost of austerity – and can ‘human rights’ work as a tool of resistance?

The war on women: The newly invisible and undeserving poor in America

The U.S. Congress is fighting over how much to cut food assistance to needy families. Everyone knows that women and their children are the poorest people in America, but strangely, the faces of women have disappeared from the debate and have been absorbed into abstract “needy families.” 

Ending the stark choice: domestic violence or destitution in the UK

The introduction of the Destitution Domestic Violence concession in 2012 giving some migrant victims access to public funds was widely welcomed. However, while many have long waits for benefits, others still do not have a safety net to escape violence.  

Challenging neoliberal population control

Racist and patriarchal ideas underpin the new ‘family planning’ initiatives promoted by DfID, USAID and the Gates Foundation which deny women in the global South real control over their bodies. The appropriation of the notion of ‘women’s right to choose’ for neoliberal population control must be challenged, argues Kalpana Wilson

The new normal: housing and protest in Britain

Action is stirring in response to the country-wide housing crisis. Severe shortage and cuts to housing benefits leave the UK struggling to put roofs over heads. Some local authorities and tenant groups are trying to rebel; they need concerted support.

Squeezing the poor out of London

From April 2013 major changes to benefit provision in Britain will likely change both the social and spatial make-up of our cities. The squeezing out of poorer residents from London and elsewhere, raises an important question: exactly who has the ‘right’ to the city in contemporary Britain?

The vicious circle of poverty and injustice

Although the fundamental injustice of poverty cannot be remedied by lawyers alone, legal aid is crucial to a fair and effective justice system. No government that makes it harder for the poor to navigate through the justice system can claim poverty reduction as a priority, says Kate Donald

The bleak mid-winter of the Coalition - let's see some heat

As huge swathes of Britain are beggared and left bewildered by the upheavals and moralising that we have already endured, and placated by scapegoating of the poor and other groups like immigrants, Labour must dig deep to set things straight.

Don’t blame the bankers or politicians. Blame your unemployed neighbours

Britain’s Coalition Government has announced further cuts to benefits and social services. But while it demonises those out of work, where is its strategy for jobs? ­­

Spain: from 'los indignados' and '15 M' to the first strike by society

400,000 evictions, a hunger strike by Carmen Armaña, and the suicide of Amaia Egaña as the eviction police came up the stairs to put her family out on the street, have brought mass anger and fury at unjust political and financial decisions in Spain, says Liz Cooper

Where have all the jobs gone?

Jobs are disappearing in the UK, wages are dropping, and there is a shocking absence of political debate about the changing nature of work and the disappearance of full-time secure employment.

UK feminists: fighting for rights not privilege

The utter disregard for women that austerity represents has galvanised and united women at a time where we are attacked from so many angles. But we are not only visible in response to austerity. There are explicitly feminist acts and discussions everywhere. There is no denying that we are making a sound, says Aisha Mirza

How women are paying for the recession in the UK

It was predictable and in fact predicted. The British Government’s austerity programme has turned back the clock on women’s rights and hard-won economic gains.

The women who make a drama out of rough justice

A London-based theatre company founded by two women prisoners will take a play about trafficked girls to the UK’s Latitude Festival this weekend. Lucy Perman talked to openDemocracy 50.50 about the play and why prison is no solution for the women who find themselves on the wrong side of the law.

Staying alive in Britain : can the poor afford it?

As the number of families in Britain with at least one working parent fall below the poverty threshold and 'payday loans' show a steep rise, Barbara Gunnell asks : who benefits from the British bargain-basement low-wage economy?

The 'Obamacare' challenge to American individualism

Why don't Americans want universal health care ? And what is it about American political culture that causes the uninsured, the poor and the ill, to accept the status quo? Ruth Rosen reports

Welcome to my home, welcome to my hell

The scandal of those in Britain with no shelter at all is well-known, but what of the "housed homeless" and the hundreds of thousands of sub-standard and squalid living spaces in the towns and cities where the poorest try to raise their families?

"Food sovereignty" as a transformative model of economic power

The argument is being made that “food sovereignty” is an organising principle so demonstrably strong that it has the potential to transform economic power. Can we really invest in it as the ecological principle to take us into the 21st century? Jenny Allsopp reports from the AWID Forum 2012

Women defining economic citizenship

How can we empower women to participate in existing economic structures and also transform them? We need a model of economic power and citizenship that is not simply about sustaining capital or growth, but sustaining and celebrating life itself.  Jenny Allsopp reports directly from the AWID Forum 2012. Here are parts two and three of her report.

Reclaiming care as a fundamental end in itself

In the global context of economic insecurity and emerging 'care crises', there is a real risk that the development industry becomes complicit in compounding women’s burden of unpaid care and entrenching traditional gender roles -  something we must guard against, argues Emily Esplen

Legal aid: a welfare service?

As the legal aid bill reaches its final stage, Britain’s welfare state is set to take another debilitating blow. In this extract from ‘Public Service on the Brink’, Rebekah Carrier considers the obstacles that prevent lawyers working in the system from acknowledging the uncompromising reality of the coalition’s proposed reforms and from conceiving an alternative vision for the future. 

Legal aid and arbitrary power

Today marks the final reading of the legal aid bill in the Lords. If - as seems likely - the bill goes through, 'ordinary people' in Britain will be shocked to discover how thin is their access to law when things go wrong. Deborah Padfield, whose work has for several years been funded by legal aid, considers a measure whose significance echoes through our democratic system.

Gender and destitution in the UK

The real migration scandal in the UK are the people forced to live without any recourse to public funds. Migrant women who leave violent husbands, and women who have been trafficked into the UK to work in the sex industry, face the additional trauma of destitution, says Jenny Phillimore

The feminisation of poverty and the myth of the 'welfare queen'

Governments are constructing social policy based on misrepresentations and stereotypes about poor people and welfare claimants, rather than by reference to the structural inequalities that affect everyone, argues Kate Donald

How far have Human Rights advanced when poverty is so widespread?

If the measure of a society is how it treats its most vulnerable, then societies everywhere have cause to be ashamed. In a changing and dramatically unequal world, the global human rights system must prove its worth, says Vijay Nagaraj
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