Celebrate International Women’s Day!

Photo of women artisans from around the world

International Women’s Day is a day to celebrate women’s various achievements all around the world each year. This year’s theme is #BeBoldForChange. Below, we’re highlighting inspiring and bold women artisans who make the goods from UUSC’s online store, The Good Buy. The Good Buy makes it easy for you to find and support inspiring mission-driven, women-led businesses.

Meet Veronica, born and raised in a small town Bolivia. With effort and hard work, she raises llamas, enabling her to collect the wool for weaving and also to sell wool to other artisans. Read her full story here!

Read more inspiring stories of the strong women from around the world The Good Buy partners with who run cooperatives, own businesses, and transform their communities in the rest of the Meet the Maker series.

Rights Reading

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. This week’s Rights Readings highlights focus on our work supporting immigrant rights, specifically Central American migrants.

Hundreds of Central American moms and kids released from detention in Texas, Esther Yu Hsi Lee, Think Progress, December 6, 2016

Hundreds of families were released from family detention facilities last weekend. Though Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) claims the release was not part of any court ruling, the release of families comes after a judge’s ruling that detention centers could not be licensed as child-care facilities. Advocacy groups are helping the approximately 470 mothers and children from Central America find temporary accommodation or get in touch with relatives.

The release of these families is a huge win for immigrant-rights groups. Many of them have come across the border fleeing extreme violence and seek asylum here in the United States. These families, including mothers with small children, are then locked up in detention centers with inadequate medical care, poor and restrictive conditions, and a “prison-like” environment. One of the family detention centers recently banned the use of crayons, a creative and healing outlet for children. Advocacy groups, including UUSC, are hopeful and continue to call on the Obama administration to end family detention altogether.

UUSC partner, RAICES, is currently looking for volunteers through the UU College of Social Justice. Learn more and apply here!

US Border Patrol uses desert as ‘weapon’ to kill thousands of migrants, report says, Rory Carroll, The Guardian, December 7, 2016

“The known disappearance of thousands of people in the remote wilderness of the US–Mexico border zone marks one of the great historical crimes of our day.”

No More Deaths, a UUSC partner, and La Coalición de Derechos Humanos released part one of a report detailing how the “U.S. Border Patrol has engineered the death and disappearance of tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants by using the desert wilderness as a ‘weapon’”. The report, Disappeared: How Border-Enforcement Agencies Are Fueling a Missing-Persons Crisis, draws on over 500 missing persons cases and close to 60 border crossers. Since 1990, tens of thousands who have crossed the desert are still missing, including 1,200 in the last year.

In response to the report, U.S. Customs and Border Protection released a statement blaming the deaths on lying smugglers. The statement defended their actions and pointed to their past attempts to search for missing persons.

The next two reports from No More Deaths and Derechos Humanos will continue to show how the border patrol has aided in the death and disappearance of migrants in the desert through destruction of vital water and food supplies left by humanitarian agencies. Click here to read the full report or take action now to end the crisis of death and disappearance.

Global Women’s Call for Climate Justice

UUSC staff supporting women's global call to climate action

From Oct 28 to Nov 6, UUSC is joining our allies and grassroots partners in the Global Women’s Call for Climate Justice: Ten Days of Action campaign. The campaign is a lead up to the UNFCCC COP 22 annual meeting held in Marrakech, Morocco.

The Global Women’s Call for Climate Justice seeks to amplify the experiences of women and children, who are the most vulnerable amongst us, in addressing the injustices caused by environmental injustices and climate change. It also seeks to elevate the various ways that women around the world are taking action to implement sustainable solutions to adapt to and mitigate the effects of these problems. 

We are encouraged by the voices and the actions that women around the world are taking to address this catastrophe. Women are stepping up and showing us and the rest of the world what works.  

Women experience multiple challenges in part due to the various roles they play – they are mothers, wives, daughters, farmers, caregivers, etc., not to mention the inherent attributes that they experience from just being a woman such as giving birth, nursing their children, and menstruating every month. These various layers that women play need to be taken into consideration when we’re thinking about long term climate actions – whether its adaptation or mitigation or whether it involves financing or politics. Planning our strategies from a women’s rights perspective ensures that we are advancing gender equity, which then produces a number of outcomes that are just and sustainable. A classic example of this is happening right now in many parts of Africa, where rural women farmers are fighting for their rights to access land. Accessing land gives them the security to be able to take care of their families, to farm their lands using agroecological methods that reduce emissions, and to protect them and their children from being exploited and displaced. 

UUSC is proud to be a part of this initiative, and we stand with our allies in demanding that our global leaders advance climate justice and gender justice at COP 22 and beyond.  

Diapers in Detention Week of Action

Along with our partners at Interfaith Immigration Coalition, UUSC is organizing a #DiapersInDetention week of action from August 29th – September 1st to put national attention on ICE. Here’s how you can help:

SIGN AND SEND A LETTER TO YOUR LOCAL ICE OFFICE VIA OUR ONLINE ACTION

Families fleeing violence have a legal right to seek asylum and their detention violates international human rights law. Now, instead of growing up with blankets and binkies, their children are behind bars and locked doors. Tell Your Local ICE Field Office: Jailing babies is the last straw. End family detention. Keep families together and free while they pursue asylum.

SUPPORT THE MOTHERS ON HUNGER STRIKE IN BERKS FAMILY DETENTION CENTER IN LEESPORT, PA

Twenty-two mothers who have been in detention with their children for up to a year have launched a hunger strike in protest of their protracted imprisonment. This follows a misleading statement by Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson that, on average, families are released within 20 days. Call Thomas Decker of the Philadelphia Regional ICE office to demand their immediate release: 215-656-7164.

SEND A BABY SHOWER CARD TO ICE

If you are not near one of the ICE offices or a family detention facility, pick up a baby shower card at the drugstore, write a message that says “Baby jails are the last straw. It’s time to end family detention and keep families together. No more diapers in detention!” and send it to:

The Honorable Jeh Johnson
Secretary of Homeland Security
Washington, D.C. 20528

Before you drop it in the mailbox, take a picture of it and tag it on social media with #DiapersInDetention, @UUSC, and @ICEGOV.

HOST A “BABY SHOWER” FOR ICE

If you live in one of the 24 cities with an ICE Enforcement and Removal Office, help organize a “baby shower” for ICE to call attention to the increase of babies and toddlers being held in detention. You can find a map of the offices here, and sign up to lead or attend an event here.

Events can be held Monday, August 29 – Thursday, September 1. A guide for organizing events is available, and national organizers will assist you with planning and media coverage. If you are interested in hosting an event, please do your best to register by August 12.

SEND A LETTER TO THE EDITOR TO YOUR LOCAL PAPER

Our partners at the Friends Committee on National Legislation have created an easy tool to help you write to your local newspaper.

Stop the Deportation Raids

Thousands of women and children fleeing violence are targeted for raids and deportation this month. Tell the Department of Homeland Security to offer them protection instead.

Rights Reading

International Women’s Day Edition

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. “Nurse Freshta Poupal: ‘I had women throwing their babies at me to safety,’” by Fariba Nawa, Women in the World/New York Times

“‘As a critical care physician, I’m accustomed to seeing traumatic things, but this situation is different,’ Hakimi said. ‘Being a refugee myself and seeing my own people with so much hope in their eyes crushed and devastated is something I can’t explain. It’s not all despair, but we can’t let this problem slide by and assume it will disappear. I think it will get worse before it will get better.’”

This article details how dozens of Afghan Americans, many of them women who were once refugees themselves, are working to help Syrian, Afghan, and Iraqi refugees arriving in droves on the Greek island of Lesbos. This is what solidarity looks like, and we’re truly moved by the work these volunteers are doing to support refugees in Greece. UUSC is also working in Lesbos, partnering with PRAKSIS (which, translated from Greek, stands for Programs for Development of Social Support and Medical Cooperation) to deliver much-needed support — including transportation and winterization kits for babies — to arriving refugees.

2. “Empowering Women Refugees,” by UNHCR (the U.N. Refugee Agency) Staff, UNHCR Tracks 

“Her family fled their home in Syria after violence engulfed their neighbourhood. They tried to make a life closer to the border with Jordan, but were driven to flee again after barrel bombs hit their home.”

This striking photo essay highlights the strength and resilience of women who have been forced from their homes, have sought safety elsewhere, and are slowly building new lives. Women face particular challenges as refugees — whether it’s increased risk of sexual violence and trafficking or fewer educational and job opportunities. That’s why in its work with partners throughout the world, including with refugees in the Europe and the Middle East, UUSC strategically attends to women’s rights and needs.

3. “Women Are The Ones Fighting The Tough Environmental Battles Around The World,” by Marlene Cimons, ThinkProgress

“But these three represent thousands of other women globally who are engaged in local battles against climate change and other environmental conflicts, often at significant personal risk and with great courage. These women understand that the struggle for environmental justice also is a fight for gender equality, land rights, economic and cultural rights, and food security, among other things, and that local activism can be a critical portal to the political process and policy decision-making. It seems fitting to recognize them on International Women’s Day.”

Highlighting the stories of three women environmental justice activists, this article outlines the ways that issues of environmental justice — including climate change, food sovereignty, and more — disproportionately affect women. And it also shows the amazing ways that women are taking action around the world to stand up for their rights. It reminds us of all the inspiring women we partner with to advance the human right to water — like Maureen Taylor of the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization in Detroit, the members of the Tanzania Gender Networking Program, and many others.

4. “16 Courageous Women Standing Up to Violence,” by Kristin Williams, Yes! Magazine/The Institute for Inclusive Security and PRI

“‘Discrimination and inequality are so deeply rooted in our country,’ she says. ‘It doesn’t only affect me as an individual,’ but is the cause of Myanmar’s 68-year civil war, the longest-running in the world.”

In case you need a little more inspiration heading into the weekend, check out these short profiles of 16 women working to end violence. From Sudan to Myanmar (also known as Burma), Mexico to the Ukraine, these women are making vital change and getting us closer to a world in which all can realize their full human rights.