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Women's groups' on Peru and Panama deals

In the bustle of the last week we didn't get a chance to point out a statement issued by the U.S. Gender and Trade Network (USGTN) to Congress voicing rejection of the fast track process and concern about the May 10 trade "deal." But despite our delayed reaction, it is worth noting. The Gender and Trade Network, members of which include the Center of Concern, International Labor Rights Fund, and the American Friends Service Committee, among others, was joined on this letter by fourteen additional groups including the National Organization for Women (NOW), who took the opportunity to highlight the price that women and those they support are paying for our current, misguided policies.

The current trade framework provided in TPA and realized in the proposed agreements with Panama and Peru will continue a trade agenda that assaults women’s economic, social and political rights, supporting unequal structures of power, loss of livelihoods, deterioration in public health and shrinking policy space.

We, and our allies, seek a trade policy that puts social well-being and human rights at the center. Trade is not an end in itself, but a vehicle for social and economic development. Trade agreements in service of development foster sustainable livelihoods and decent work for all members of society, social cohesion and authentic democratic processes that enable all people to be social, political and economic subjects of their own lives and the life of their societies.

Threatening public health, increasing unemployment and worker exploitation, limiting access to essential services, and destroying local farm economies are just some of the grievances addressed in this gendered account of the shortcomings of our current model. Each of these recurring problems is an atrocity in and of itself. Together, they represent a system which is in danger of reversing myriad landmark achievements that have reinforced both women's rights and human rights the world over.

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