Governments owe a debt toward women, not toward banks

10 October 2012 by World March of Women

Dear friends of WMW,

Under the slogan *“Governments owe a debt toward women, not toward banks. Marching together for decent, sustainable lives”*, our sisters from Europe have officially launched their campaign against debt and austerity. You can follow the actions in the different countries to the WMW European

The campaign is being built in alliance with other social movements and organizations such as CADTM. Among the various actions already carried out for the campaign is a video with testimonials by women, and the Portuguese NCB’s initiative to organize a feminist, anti-austerity protest.

Find attached the manifest of the campaign. We request you to share this information widely among your contacts.

In feminist struggle and solidarity,

WMW International Secretariat

Governments owe a debt toward women, not toward banks

Marching together for decent, sustainable lives

In this dark period of austerity, it is with indignation that we observe the worsening standards of living for women on our continent, particularly in Southern Europe. In many European countries, the economic crisis has been used to concentrate wealth and power in the hands of the few, overexploiting the workforce, limiting democratic practices, repressing social and citizens’ movements, and increasing hate and divisions between different sectors of the population.

European leadership is plundering our lives and our rights, driving our society into a state of emergency in which we, as women, are most affected by both budget cuts and the conservative policies of liberal
governments that want to impose values based on a “return to the home” and the model of the nuclear family, against which feminists have fought so hard. We, as women, suffer the effects of the economic and social crises differently, because we are positioned differently in the hierarchies of economic, political, social, cultural and symbolic power. The division of labor is an expression of the hierarchical organization of functions and people, as well as social ideas and representations of the technical divisions of the productive process and the social relations involved in that process, and which distribute workers into different activities.

We demand decent lives in which people are the central focus of life, lives that value care Care Le concept de « care work » (travail de soin) fait référence à un ensemble de pratiques matérielles et psychologiques destinées à apporter une réponse concrète aux besoins des autres et d’une communauté (dont des écosystèmes). On préfère le concept de care à celui de travail « domestique » ou de « reproduction » car il intègre les dimensions émotionnelles et psychologiques (charge mentale, affection, soutien), et il ne se limite pas aux aspects « privés » et gratuit en englobant également les activités rémunérées nécessaires à la reproduction de la vie humaine. -taking in the face of an economy that is not just some abstract idea or a series of faraway decisions, but rather that defines and affects the everyday lives of the people. Lives that are at risk because of the austerity policies driven by the financial markets that push States to rescue banks when the duty of governments is, instead, to rescue the people.

Marching together for women’s right to economic sovereignty

Women cannot have economic sovereignty under the capitalist system. The imposed austerity measures call the economic autonomy of women into question, increasing their unemployment rate and duration, the instability of their employment, the wage gap between men and women, and gender differentiation in retirement pay and other pensions. Women, who already accounted for the majority of the poor, will, under these measures, be even poorer and, consequently, more vulnerable to gender-based violence.

Cuts to public investment, for example, in support services and facilities for minors and the elderly, and the commodification of access to housing, are among the obvious impacts of the crisis, which have largely hindered women’s independence. In addition, cuts in State welfare expenses always entail an increase in unpaid housework and care-taking (typically performed by women). In this way, companies have access to a workforce that is always available, which can be hired during booms and dismissed during crises.
There is a major risk of widening the inequalities in the uses of men’s and women’s time in the family. The culturally-accepted idea that women belong to the reproductive sphere and that men no longer have any
material or emotional responsibility in caring for the home, and the children and the elderly in the family, is taking firmer hold. All this is on the rise through neo-conservative, austere thinking, which seeks to impose
values of “women back to the home” and “family” and welfare policies of submitting individual rights to a single, exclusive family model, which makes real avenues for women’s emancipation more difficult.

Conceptions of the economy and employment must include women’s work as part of the productive sphere, work that is not performed in traditional” work environments like factories, offices, etc. We want to see social justice policies, job stimulus policies and non-discriminatory / emancipatory policies, that guarantee social and labor rights and avenues for economic and social development.

The political and public development of a culture of recognition of work with the associated rights is both necessary and urgent, in all spheres of life, as is the inclusion of gender equality in all matters of public policy. We have the right to decent lives, not just to survival.

Marching together for women’s right to a life free from violence

We live in patriarchal societies based on gender violence that results in the death and injury of thousands of European women every day. This involves physical, sexual and psychological violence, but also symbolic
violence that subordinates women, in which area the State has shirked its responsibilities.

We denounce the double, and sometimes even triple, discrimination suffered by immigrant women, black women, women with disabilities, lesbians, Romany women, young women, elderly women and transsexuals, all of whom are denied their basic civil rights and have been directly affected by these regressive policies.

We demand regard for a life without violence, whether perpetrated by the State, policies, security forces, our sisters, or the stereotypical, discriminatory images that restrict women to pre-determined, subordinate

Marching together for people to be the central focus of life

The people’s well-being must be the central focus of all political, economic and social activity. Unfortunately, we are witnessing quite the opposite phenomenon: the stigmatization of people, the underestimation of their abilities, the deterioration of their standards of living, and their loss of all
possibilities of escaping this situation created by the financial sector. Private, often hidden, interests are put before the public interest Interest An amount paid in remuneration of an investment or received by a lender. Interest is calculated on the amount of the capital invested or borrowed, the duration of the operation and the rate that has been set. , and hegemonic policies and ideas have been devastating in terms of public
opinion, generating feelings of insecurity, fear about the future, depression, isolation and a breakdown in social interactions.

We want to be a part of the solution, but we cannot accept the hegemonic myths and narratives, which are so indulgent and defeatist, which treat markets like “neutral,” “innocent” structures and which tend to legitimize the current austerity policies based on an ideology of competition, maximizing and centralizing profits, and rejecting all forms of social responsibility.

Marching together for women’s right to health

Faced with the privatization of healthcare and a sexist, hetero-patriarchal health model that denies women’s right to control our own bodies, we demand that our bodies cease to be used as the battlefield for chauvinistic power plays and that our sexual and reproductive rights be fully recognized and guaranteed.

Since the start of the crisis, we have seen a very troubling and harmful reduction in investments in national public health services across Europe. In some cases, this has even led to privatization, which has a very
significant impact on some of the most important aspects of women’s lives, like family planning, support during pregnancy and motherhood, abortion, and the prevention of sexually-transmitted diseases, to name just a few.

Full access to high-quality public health services and treatment for everyone, regardless of their socioeconomic background, place of residence, ethnic group, sexual orientation, religion or gender identity,
must be ensured.

In this, as in other areas, we cannot and will not accept profoundly conservative values that seek, once again, to take control of our bodies and our lives.

Marching together for women’s right to a sustainable livelihood

We need to develop economic alternatives that place the sustainable development of human lives, the environment and collective well-being at the center of the economic and regional fabric. We want control over our own lives!

Food sovereignty for the people, and defending the primary sector and small production firms, in which women have always held a fundamental, yet highly invisible, role, must be a priority.

We reject the infinite growth production model that depletes the planet’s resources, and we reject the privatization of access to essential natural resources like water and land, of which women are the primary victims. They way in which women’s work is exploited as an inexhaustible resource by patriarchal, racist capitalism is very similar to the way in which nature is exploited. The crisis in the system is, in fact, a crisis of its organization and structure. The process of commodifying people’s relationships with nature and with their bodies must be confronted.

Marching together for women’s right to education

In view of the current policies restricting the population’s access to education, we demand the right to universal, free public education, that is not sexist and that promotes equality as an educational model focusing on people and their training, and not on the production of “manpower” for the capitalist system.

We reject the privatization of education. Education is a core human right, not a business.

We will defend free access to culture and reject its gentrification. We demand policies that enable universal access to culture and that defend and promote the culture of all peoples, in the face of the homogenizing
discourse of capitalist globalization.

Marching together for women’s right to political sovereignty

Faced with societies that are becoming less and less democratic, in terms of how decisions are made by private bodies, and faced with the crisis of representativeness in public institutions and the criminalization of social movements, it is clear to us that our democracies have been hijacked and that we urgently need to free them.

We need to build mechanisms that represent citizens’ movements, from a feminist perspective, for the critical, moral and democratic examination of political and financial options. We demand a feminist citizens’ audit of public debt, with the goal of canceling all illegitimate debt.

We need a Europe that respects its States’ sovereignty and that guarantees Guarantees Acts that provide a creditor with security in complement to the debtor’s commitment. A distinction is made between real guarantees (lien, pledge, mortgage, prior charge) and personal guarantees (surety, aval, letter of intent, independent guarantee). democratic control by all its citizens. A Europe of the people that defends the rights of nations without States to determine their own
futures Futures A futures contract is a standardized advance commitment, negotiated on an organized futures market, to deliver a specified quantity of a precisely defined underlying asset at a specified time – the ‘delivery date’ – and place. Futures contracts are the most widely traded financial instruments in the world. .

We want democracy in all aspects of our lives.

We, as women, want to control our lives and build a more just society that will put an end to the capitalist, patriarchal system and that will allow us all to enjoy decent lives.

This is our pledge.


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