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14 Sep 2020

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

Mary Robinson Speaker Series | Building a Just Recovery: Workers' views on the post-pandemic economy

Mary Robinson Speaker Series 2020

Re-watch our discussion on building a just recovery from COVID-19, streamed live on the Resource Centre Digital Platform. Our panel, led by Mary Robinson, shared views from the ground on the impact of COVID-19 on workers, and discussed how investors, companies, governments and civil society must all work together to build a more equitable post-pandemic economy.


The COVID-19 pandemic has both exposed and exacerbated deep inequalities between companies and the workers and communities they depend on. Too often, businesses hit hard by the pandemic have pushed the worst impacts to the very bottom of their supply chains, to the most vulnerable workers. Those workers – already low paid and often in precarious positions – now risk losing everything through exposure to unsafe and unhealthy working conditions or supply chain disruptions that have left millions without a pay check. There are many possible paths to recovery, but a rapid return to business-as-usual will serve only to perpetuate these deep inequalities. Rather, this is a moment to reimagine and rebuild an economy that serves and respects the rights of all its participants. This year’s first-ever digital Mary Robinson Speaker Series will welcome labour voices from hard-hit communities and regions and global thinkers, who together will discuss the path to a just recovery.

A discussion led by Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and Chair of The Elders.


  • Anannya Bhattacharjee, International Coordinator, Asia Floor Wage Alliance
  • Mónica Ramírez, Founder & President, Justice for Migrant Women
  • Leah Eryenyu, Research, Advocacy and Movement Building Manager, Akina Mama wa Afrika
  • Thulsi Narayanasamy, Senior Labour Researcher, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre
  • David Pitt-Watson, Co-Founder, Hermes Focus Asset Management
  • Sharan Burrow, General Secretary, International Trade Union Confederation

Anannya Bhattacharjee, International Coordinator, Asia Floor Wage Alliance

Anannya Bhattacharjee is the International Coordinator of Asia Floor Wage Alliance, a global supply chain campaign for living wages and a violence-free workplace for garment workers in Asia who are mostly women and who produce most of the world’s clothing. She is the President of Garment and Allied Workers Union (GAWU) in North India. She is Founding member and Advisor to Society for Labour and Development, a Delhi-based labour and human rights NGO. She works closely with the USA-based Jobs with justice/Global Labour Justice on international strategy.

Mónica Ramírez, Founder & President, Justice for Migrant Women

Mónica Ramírez is an activist, author, civil rights attorney, social entrepreneur and speaker engaged in direct service and advocacy on behalf of farmworkers, Latinas and immigrant women. Ramirez created the first legal project in the US focused on addressing sexual harassment and other forms of gender discrimination against farmworker women in 2003, which was incubated at the Migrant Justice Project of Florida Legal Services. She later scaled this project and founded Esperanza: The Immigrant Women's Legal Initiative of the Southern Poverty Law Center in 2006. In 2017, Ramirez wrote the “Dear Sisters” letter, published in TIME Magazine on behalf of Alianza members, which lent the support and solidarity of Latina farmworkers to the women coming forward to report sexual harassment in Hollywood, went viral and helped spark the TIME’S UP movement.

Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation

Sharan Burrow is an international advocate on labour standards, corporate responsibility, climate change, investment in infrastructure and the green economy, global migration and employment. She has represented workers and civil society groups in global policy discussions in United Nations bodies, including ECOSOC, the Governing Body of the International Labour Organisation as well as at the G20, World Bank and International Monetary Fund. She has served as a member of the Stakeholder Council of the Global Reporting Initiative and the UN Global Commission on International Migration. She maintains close working relations with civil society organisations across a range of areas in promoting social justice, human rights and development.

David Pitt-Watson, Co-Founder, Hermes Focus Asset Management

David Pitt-Watson is a Scottish business and social entrepreneur and author. He is a Fellow at Cambridge Judge Business School, and has been active in initiatives to promote responsible investment, including co-chairing the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative and leading the Royal Society of Arts Tomorrow's Investor Project. He is an independent non-executive at KPMG and an advisor to Aviva Investors, Sarasin & Partners LLP and Ownership Capital. For over twenty years he has advised policy makers issues of industrial and financial policy, corporate governance and financial market regulation.

Thulsi Narayanasamy, Senior Labour Researcher

Thulsi has over a decade of experience working on human and labour rights issues with a strong grounding in community and worker-led struggles in the global South, particularly across Asia and the Pacific. She has worked on refugee and migrant worker rights, labour rights in agricultural and manufacturing supply chains, customary land rights in Melanesia, land grabs by the extractives industry and conducted considerable research into international corporate practices that generate systematic human rights violations that disproportionately affect women. She previously led the Asia programme at UK charity, War on Want, leading policy, advocacy and campaign work on labour and land rights. She is also the former Executive Director of Australian NGO, Aid/Watch, which advocates on international aid, trade agreements and foreign investment policy and practice. Thulsi has engaged as a media commentator on social and economic justice issues and written extensively on the same.

Leah Eryenyu, Research, Advocacy and Movement Building Manager, Akina Mama wa Afrika

Leah Eryenyu is the Research, Advocacy and Movement Building Manager at Akina Mama wa Afrika. She has a keen interest in the intersection of economic exploitation and gender oppression. Her work looks at economic governance focusing on tax justice, corporate accountability, and decent work for women, particularly those in global value chains in the horticultural sector.

The Mary Robinson Speaker Series

Every year we convene a panel of experts from across the field, who are led in discussion by Mary Robinson, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. Find out more about our flagship annual event, including recordings of the past decade of discussion around a range of topics.