World Courts of Women on Poverty in the U.S. - September 30, 2011

Testifying and Witnessing Poverty as a Human Rights Violation

Date: September 30, 2011 (exact dates and locations TBA)

The U.S. World Court will focus on the hidden yet, brutal issues of poverty in the United States, making visible the invisible, listening to those voices that have been dispossessed, denigrated.

The World Court of Women will put the United States on trial for human rights violations. They will connect the affects of globalization and struggles in the U.S. to the struggles of poor people throughout the World.

In 2011-2012 there will be four regional Courts in the West, Midwest, South and East, leading to a national Court in Philadelphia. The U.S. World Court will be the first World Court held in the United States following over thirty eight World Courts of Women.



The World Courts of Women exist to rewrite our histories, reclaim our memories, and find new visions for our times. The Courts of Women are public hearings that exist to share voices of survival and resistance from the margins. Those gathered at the World Court on Poverty in the US: Disappeared in America PMA, along with the host organizations, seek to break the silence on poverty as a violation of both women’s rights and human rights. We reject the myth that dire poverty only exists outside of the boundaries of the US and demand an end to the tremendous violence of poverty that impacts our children, our families, and our communities. The effects of globalization, the increase in wealth disparity, and dismantling of the social safety net have pushed our communities into destitution while corporate powers and banking institutions have profited tremendously at our expense.

We link our struggles here in the United States to the struggles of poor people throughout the World.  We are committed to uniting the poor as the leadership base for a broad movement to abolish poverty everywhere and forever.  This resolution of action is a reflection of decades of work and we are lifted up by the efforts of many organizations that have fought tirelessly to eliminate injustice.

• We are the mothers of children experiencing the pangs of hunger.
• We are the families who have lost our homes to foreclosure due to the tremendous greed of bankers and politicians.
• We are the incarcerated fathers who were ripped from our families by the prison industrial complex.
• We are the homeless veterans who have been abandoned by the government we fought to protect.
• We are the mothers who fear and suffer from the separation of our families due to our immigrant status.
• We are the millions of uninsured in this country who suffer and die daily due to lack of adequate health care.
•We are the youth that have been thrown away by a government that has continuously revoked all our after-school programs, public libraries, and recreation centers.
• We are the workers who struggle every day to make ends meet while corporations reap billions in profit from our labor.
• We are the immigrants who work tirelessly in a country that denies us basic human rights.
• We are the educators that find ourselves incapable of developing the leadership of our youth while schools are shutting down and funding is cut back.
• We are the women who survive and resist in a world that perpetuates tremendous violence at our expense.

Poverty is not just found in urban centers; it is widespread across the United States. This is one of the world’s wealthiest nations; there is no reason people should go hungry or homeless.  In country full of abundance, everyone should live in a healthy environment with access to education and just health care. A “feminization of poverty” grows within this country, where women and their families have become one of the groups most affected by the economic crisis.

A growing number of issues and concerns have arisen across the United States, particularly those that affect women: mothers and their children who go hungry, incarcerated fathers who have been ripped from their families, safety issues of women and their families, families who have lost their homes from foreclosure, homeless veterans who have been abandoned, millions of uninsured or underinsured, a lack of reproductive rights and the right to choose, domestic and sexual violence, youth that struggle to attain their right to education and a safe environment to gather, workers needing multiple jobs just to scrape by, immigrants who work even as their basic human rights are denied, and state mediated and condoned violence. Why does it seem that in the U.S. there is more of a focus on profit than people?

By acknowledging and acting upon the grievances of women and their families, The World Court of Women is one step towards a United States for the people. The World Court process will challenge the national consciousness and what is determined as traditional, typical, and natural roles for women. This process also highlights the interconnectivity of rights - women’s rights are inexorably tired to workers’ rights, economic rights, and the basic human rights of all. We seek to reframe our pursuit of justice and reimagine what constitutes an ethic of care. We refuse incrementalism – we want justice for all! This powerful vision for the rights of the most destitute is bolstered and strengthened by the World Court on Women and Poverty. 

The World Courts methodology is designed to expose poverty’s existence in the midst of plenty and advance the vision and principles of the right to economic justice as a means to end violence against women and the poor. Its focus is to build intersections by geographic region that will enable us to move forward together, position the movement to eliminate poverty as a both a women’s right and a human right issue, and engage and empower poor people to participate in the World Court process.

Rallying emerging and existing leaders in the movement to end poverty is essential as we demand the U.S. uphold the principles of economic justice as guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In that regard, all World Court findings will be presented to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland. In many ways, the World Court of Women will put the United States on trial for human rights violations. These actions will connect the affects of globalization and struggles in the U.S. to the struggles of poor people throughout the World.


More on World Courts of Women:

Read the full text of the Resolution of Action created at the U.S. Social Forum in Detroit, 2010.