Challenging Injustice, Advancing Human Rights

The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee advances human rights through grassroots collaborations.

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June 24, 2016, Rights Reading

June 24, 2016

Our weekly roundup of what we’re reading: a few select articles from the front lines of human rights that we don’t want you to miss.

1. “Nepal’s Earthquake Widows Struggle to Survive,” Gopal Sharma, The World Post, June 22, 2016.

More than a year after the two earthquakes that killed over 9,000 people in Nepal, many women have to “fend for themselves in a country where widows face hostility, abuse, discrimination, and even enslavement.”

UUSC partner organization Women for Human Rights (WHR) contributed much of the information in Gopal Sharma’s article, including this quote from Lily Thapa, founder and head of WHR. “There is superstition and stigmatization. Widows have no status.”

With half a million widows throughout the country, the problem is a serious one, made worse by child marriage, often to much older men. When their husbands die, these young widows can be abandoned by their families, or if they remain with their in-laws, can be confined and treated like servants. Superstition holds widows responsible for their husbands’ deaths; they are treated more harshly the younger their husbands were when they died.

In responding to the earthquake by working with WHR and other women’s rightsto groups, UUSC’s plan reflected its overall approach to disasters: we asked who’s most likely to be overlooked or ignored, who’s doing the most innovative work to empower these marginalized people, and how can we help? In Nepal, this meant focusing on women, girls, children, Dalits, and indigenous peoples.

UUSC funding for WHR is targeted specifically to support its efforts to decrease violence against women and to support earthquake survivors. Learn more about how UUSC and WHR are collaborating in this effort by clicking here.

2. “Unitarians Picket Wendy’s Over Tomato Suppliers,” JD Malone, Columbus Dispatch, June 23, 2016

UUSC representatives attending the UU General Assembly (GA) in Columbus, Ohio, last week weren’t just there for GA itself. They also joined a march on a downtown Columbus Wendy’s restaurant to show solidarity with the Coalition of Immolakee Workers (CIW) and the Fair Food Alliance to demand that the fast food chain join all its major competitors in signing the Fair Food Agreement, a CIW initiative that requires participants to pay one penny more per pound of tomatoes in return for payment of higher wages for food workers, along with better health care and working conditions.

The article by JD Malone includes information provided by a Wendy’s spokesperson about their “encouragement” to suppliers to support human rights, and also puts the threat to Wendy’s business from the Fair Food Alliance boycott in the context of other risks to the company’s bottom line.

Still, the march in Columbus is only the latest in a years-long struggle to bring improved compensation and working conditions for Wendy’s workers, and organizers show no sign of giving up. Click here to learn more about where you might expect to see people marching and chanting, “Why not, Wendy’s?” and how you can join these protests until this last holdout among fast food restaurant chains signs the Fair Food Agreement.

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