7 March 2022 by CADTM International

We are feminist, internationalist and anti-capitalist activists of the CADTM from different parts of the world. On the occasion of the 8th of March, International Day of Struggle for women’s rights, we want to emphasize feminist demands and struggles against debt, which is a tool of domination and of FINANCIAL COLONIZATION of our homes, our bodies and our territories. We are therefore launching this manifesto open to all who want to support and disseminate it.

Debt oppresses people in both the Global South and the North (whether through structural adjustment Structural Adjustment Economic policies imposed by the IMF in exchange of new loans or the rescheduling of old loans.

Structural Adjustments policies were enforced in the early 1980 to qualify countries for new loans or for debt rescheduling by the IMF and the World Bank. The requested kind of adjustment aims at ensuring that the country can again service its external debt. Structural adjustment usually combines the following elements : devaluation of the national currency (in order to bring down the prices of exported goods and attract strong currencies), rise in interest rates (in order to attract international capital), reduction of public expenditure (’streamlining’ of public services staff, reduction of budgets devoted to education and the health sector, etc.), massive privatisations, reduction of public subsidies to some companies or products, freezing of salaries (to avoid inflation as a consequence of deflation). These SAPs have not only substantially contributed to higher and higher levels of indebtedness in the affected countries ; they have simultaneously led to higher prices (because of a high VAT rate and of the free market prices) and to a dramatic fall in the income of local populations (as a consequence of rising unemployment and of the dismantling of public services, among other factors).

policies or austerity imposed by international financial institutions) and has particularly devastating consequences for women* (as well as for the most vulnerable groups of the population) as workers, small-scale producers and peasants, users of targeted services, and people “assigned” to 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. , etc.

The current health and economic crisis has only worsened living conditions in the world, deepening not only precariousness, inequality, poverty and the level of indebtedness of the working classes, but also making it difficult to imagine new horizons. Under the pretext of the urgency of dealing with the health crisis, the global context is characterized by unprecedented levels of public debt, which will be used as a tool of blackmail in the coming years to impose more austerity and privatizations on the people, with even more disastrous consequences for women* [1].

Who bears the ’costs’ of social reproduction and care work in this context? Women*

In order to prioritize the repayment of ILLEGITIMATE PUBLIC DEBTS, worldwide cuts in public spending:

  • deprive us of our right to health, education, housing, etc.
  • forces us to resort to private debt, such as micro-credits to women at abusive rates to meet the basic needs of our families (food, medicine, rent, etc.);
  • shackle us to violent households, male violence and directly attacks our emancipation.
  • perpetuate the invisibility and devaluation Devaluation A lowering of the exchange rate of one currency as regards others. of care work and social reproduction (for which women are largely responsible).
  • condemn us to accept increasingly precarious and poorly paid jobs.
  • deepen the current model of extractivist production and development. Based on the reprimarisation of the economy, in order to obtain foreign currency, which leads to the loss of territories, more inequality and marginalization, and to the increased presence of transnational corporations (TNCs) protected by free trade agreements. It is mainly women who lead the struggle against these companies, in defense of our territories, cultures and ways of life.
  • etc.

This is how the ’debt system’ works, how financial colonization is imposed on our homes. This is how public and private debt are linked and serve to perpetuate capitalism and patriarchy.
BUT, without this free or underpaid work done by women*, the system collapses! In fact, this capitalist and patriarchal system has a long-standing social debt to women. Who depends on whom? The system needs us to keep working. If women stop, the world stops... Reversing these logics, we ask the question: WHO OWES WHO?


Our current challenge as feminists is to radicalize the processes of struggle that we are already building from a perspective of plurality of subjects and resistance to the current model. We have to dismantle this mode of life based on injustice and exploitation and to move towards new ways of connecting with each other, focusing on the sustainability of human life on earth.


[1When we refer to women, we mean anyone who identifies and/or identifies as a woman.

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