How are inequality and discrimination shaping data about COVID-19, and who is being left invisible and uncounted? On the launch of her new book on data and human rights, Sara (Meg) Davis speaks to social worker and rights activist Jolovan Wham in Singapore, who describes how thousands of migrant workers are being detained in overcrowded dorms, and were missed by the official mobile contact tracing app. In Geneva, Dr. Shirin Heidari (GENDRO) and Marina Smelyanskaya (Stop TB Partnership) address the global need for feminist principles and respect for human rights to gather data on COVID-19. Davis’ new book, The Uncounted: Politics of Data in Global Healthis available from Cambridge University Press.
Tina Alai (Kenyan human rights lawyer), Karyn Kaplan (Asia Catalyst), Margaret Mbira Omondi (Women Concerns Center, Kenya) and Prem Pramoj Na Ayutthaya (Rainbow Sky Association, Thailand) meet online to compare notes on how COVID-19 is fueling violence against women, from girls in evacuation camps in rural Kisumu, Kenya, to transgender women isolated in lockdown in urban Bangkok, Thailand. They found some surprising commonalities. Community-based activists and human rights advocates like themselves are putting marginalized communities at the center of their work, and finding ways to work together, using international human rights standards, to find a way out of this crisis.
With restrictions in many countries on nongovernmental organizations, and sweeping new laws coming into play in response to COVID-19, is space closing for civil society, journalists and other whistleblowers in global health? Leading international activists and journalists debated this question from national and international perspectives, on 19 May 2020, as part of the Graduate Institute’s 73rd World Health Assembly week. Co-organised by the Global Health Centre, STOPAIDS and Medicus Mundi International.
Gargeya Telakapalli, Research Associate, People’s Health Movement
Mercy Korir, Medical Doctor; Journalist, KTN News, Kenya
Mike Podmore, Executive Director, STOPAIDS; Chair, Action for Global Health
Nadejda Dermendjieva, Executive Director, Bulgarian Fund for Women
Thomas Schwarz, Executive Secretary, Medicus Mundi International
Moderated by Meg Davis, Special Advisor, Strategy and Partnerships, Global Health Centre
Episode 2 of the Right On Podcast: Human Rights Activists Respond to COVID-19 explores criminalization and policing. Many countries are now seeing the most significant deployment of law enforcement and national defense forces since World War II. Should they be arresting people who refuse to follow lockdown regulations? Or will aggressive policing, abuse and criminalization only undermine trust and fuel the virus? Should we also be considering the labor rights of frontline police officers? Can human rights offer us a way forward out of this crisis?
No easy answers, but it was a real delight to explore these questions with three inspiring activists who are also friends: Edwin J. Bernard (HIV Justice Network), Felicita Hikuam (AIDS and Rights Alliance of Southern Africa), and Mikhail Golichenko, a Russian lawyer. Actually, Patrick Eba suggested, on the first episode, that we talk to the HIV Justice Network, and it was a great suggestion. The second episode is now being edited and will air Friday, May 15, 2020 on Apple, Spotify, Soundcloud, and Stitcher. Continue reading →
The COVID-19 lockdown has proven economically devastating, and to enable people to move freely and start national economies moving also, many governments are exploring digital contact tracing. Mobile phone apps that track individual movements can enable real-time health surveillance and case management. However, once it exists, that data on health and individual movements can pose real threats for everyone—particularly for women and girls, and for marginalized and disfavored groups. Racing to embrace digital contact tracing without putting laws and policies in place to address the stigma surrounding the epidemic, and to protect the rights of those most marginalized, risks undermining the goal of epidemic control. Continue reading →
In this first episode of Right On: Human Rights Activists Respond to COVID-19, we talk to three leading human rights experts: law professor Scott Burris (Temple University), Patrick Eba (UNAIDS country director, Central African Republic) and Yaqiu Wang (China researcher, Human Rights Watch) and ask them: What are the tradeoffs we should make between individual freedoms and the greater public good? What are tradeoffs we just cannot not accept? And what can we learn from over 30 years of fighting for human rights in the response to HIV and tuberculosis? Moderated by Meg Davis in Geneva.
I am excited to announce the first episode of my newest podcast project: Right On! Human Rights Activists Respond to COVID-19. In the midst of the first wave of this crisis, it seems a good moment to spark a larger conversation that sustains, nourishes and grows the global health and human rights movement.
Beginning May 1, every two weeks I’ll sit down with a few inspiring activists and experts from academia, the UN and civil society – from Africa, Europe, the Americas, Asia, everywhere – to hear their views on tough ethical and legal questions and share about their lives and journeys as local and global leaders.
The first episode will air May 1: “When the virus comes in the door, do human rights go out the window?” when I’ll sit down with Prof. Scott Burris (Temple University), Dr. Patrick Eba (UNAIDS), and Yaqiu Wang (Human Rights Watch). See more about these amazing speakers here, and sign up to get a message when the episode is ready to hear online. We’ll continue the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.