Women Interrogating Trade & Corporate Hegemony (WITCH)

This is the newest programme of APWLD that focuses on building the capacity of women’s rights organisations to understand the impact of trade and investments rules on women’s human rights; and increase the power of feminist movements to interrogate and halt the growing power of corporations. The programme works with APWLD members and other social movements to demand spaces and political decisions for trade and investment frameworks that promote, protect and fulfill human rights and promote Development Justice.

We work to make trade and investment agreements in the region adhere to human rights obligations and incorporate the voice and demands of Asia-Pacific women on development justice.

Policies that support neo-liberal globalised development that drive privatisation, deregulation and competition have always had the most negative impact on the poor. Women comprise 70% of the world’s poor who will bear the brunt of these negative impacts. Trade agreements take power out of the hands of the people and governments into the hands of wealthy countries and large corporations, and these in turn impose constraints on policies safeguarding environment, labour laws, and intellectual property among others. While being promoted as a means for sustainable development, trade agreements promote disenfranchisement, erode social protections for health care and education and drive the migration of poor people under conditions of great personal and financial risk. Trade agreements also facilitate environmental destruction on the search for profit, making poor people even more vulnerable when disasters strike.

More trade agreements like Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement are emerging with the same intent to cement corporate power: Trade in Services (TiSA), the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTiP) and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), that still being negotiated.

APWLD is at the forefront of strengthening and building cross movement collaborations for trade and economic justice. We have capacity building programmes and developed tools and resources to enable women’s rights movements to effectively engage and understand trade and investment agendas their impact on women’s human rights. We have also developed campaign resources comprised of evidence, data and tools to promote human rights and development justice in trade and investment policies.