Consumable women and girls in misguided slash-and-burn policies
Oxfam: Austerity measures and their gender-based harms are a form of gender-based violence
Governments around the world are exposing women and girls to unprecedented new levels of poverty, peril, overwork and premature death due to near-universal “burn-in” efforts to recover their economies from the pandemic and bring the pandemic under control. ‘inflation .
A new report from Oxfam today, “The onslaught of austeritysays four out of five governments are now locked into austerity measures, slashing public services like health, education and social care rather than pursuing wealth taxes and windfall taxes. More than half of these governments are already failing their women and girls, providing no or barely any gender-responsive public and social services. They treat women and girls like expendables.
“Women bear most of the physical, emotional and psychological consequences of these cuts to crucial public services because they depend on them the most. The road to post-pandemic recovery rests on the lives, hard work and safety of women and girls,” said Amina Hersi, Oxfam’s Head of Justice and Women’s Rights. “Austerity is a form of gender-based violence.”
Austerity is not inevitable, it is a choice: governments can continue to cause harm by cutting public services, or they could raise taxes on those who can afford it. A progressive wealth tax on the world’s millionaires and billionaires can yield nearly $1 trillion more than governments expect to save through cuts in 2023.
Recent reports from UN agencies show that women and girls are already living in dire situations and Oxfam believes that austerity policies contribute to:
- More women and girls joining the 1.7 billion who already live below the poverty line of $5.50 a day;
- Integrate the unequal rate of women “returning to work”, who between 2019 and 2022 only captured 21% of all projected employment gains, with many of these jobs becoming increasingly exploitative and precarious;
- Women are being thrust into even greater care responsibilities, even though they have already worked 512 billion extra unpaid hours in 2020;
- Women and girls face even more difficulties in obtaining clean water – the lack of which already kills 800,000 of them each year – as well as affordable food, given the sharp increase in costs;
- More violence, even though one in 10 women and girls have experienced sexual and physical violence from an intimate partner in the past year. To cut budgets during lockdown, 85% of countries closed emergency services for victims of gender-based violence, according to a UNDP study.
With more than 85% of the world’s population expected to live under austerity measures in 2023, this already horrific situation will get worse, even if governments’ priorities are clearly elsewhere: 2% of what governments spend on army are enough to put an end to interpersonal relations between the sexes. violence-based violence in 132 countries.
“Austerity policies blend patriarchy and neoliberal ideology to further exploit the most oppressed in society and deliberately dismiss their needs,” Hersi said.
“It’s not just a gendered policy, it’s also a gendered process in its ‘everyday’ – the way it permeates the daily lives of women in particular, in their incomes, their care responsibilities, their ability to access to such essential services as health, water and transport, and in their overall safety and freedom from physical violence at home, at work and on the streets,” said Hersi.
The report shows that women are doubly affected by cuts to services, social protection and infrastructure: first directly, by rising prices or loss of jobs; and then indirectly, because they are made “shock absorbers” of society and are expected to survive and take care of everyone when the state backs down. For example, despite the terrible impact of food price inflation, and with more than 60% of the world’s people suffering from hunger, the IMF asked nine countries, including Cameroon, Senegal and Suriname, introduce or increase value added tax which often applies to everyday products, including food.
The report says governments are pursuing their economic policies in a vacuum of gendered data. Less than half of the data needed to monitor Sustainable Development Goal 5 to achieve gender equality is currently available. Only around 35% of reported health data is disaggregated by gender, and data is even scarcer for non-binary and queer people who are almost invisible in data collection and surveys.
“This lack of systemic data on economic violence perpetrated against women and LGBTQIA+ people means that governments are making their economic decisions in the dark,” Hersi said.
“Women are enlightened by a false choice between the state either providing social and public services or paying down debt and attracting investment and growth. It’s not necessary,” Hersi said. Governments should adopt feminist and human-centered economic policy choices to address inequalities and support the well-being of marginalized gender, racial and ethnic groups in all countries, the report says.
Oxfam calls on all governments to end austerity and seek alternatives such as feminist budgeting and progressive taxation, where taxes are invested in universal social protection and public services, placing the specific needs of women, girls and non-binary people at the heart of politics-making. It calls for decent work through the full implementation of International Labor Organization labor standards, especially for women in the informal and care economies.
Oxfam is calling on the IMF to stop imposing painful and failed austerity measures and to suspend austerity-based conditionality on all its existing loan programs. It also calls on wealthy countries to urgently advance debt cancellation and debt-free financing for low-income countries.
Notes to Editors
To download “The onslaught of austerity Oxfam report
The #EndAusterity Campaign#EndAusterity Campaign launched during the End Austerity festival on September 28, 2022. , The Bretton Woods Project, Global Social Justice, Action Aid International, WEMOS, Ibon International, the Fight Inequality Alliance, Center for Economic and Social Rights (CESR), Third World Network, INESC -Brazil, Equidad de Género: Ciudadanía, Trabajo y Familia, and the Campaign of Campaigns.
For more information and to arrange interviews, please contact:
Matt Grainger (+44-07730680837) [email protected]
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