Women of Europe stand up against the illegitimate debt and the austerity policies

18 September 2012 by Sonia Mitralias

Speech of Sonia Mitralia for the Sumer School of UK FEMINISTA

We, Greek women are experiencing a terrible regression of our lives: extreme insecurity and misery, dependence, violence, exclusion of millions of women from access to vital 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. , and most of all, unemployment combined with the forced transformation of women in good housewives that is what the neoliberal capitalism is promising to the majority of great women! Because of all that we need not to be left alone, we need your help, your solidarity!

But facing such a situation, we need more: in order to resist such regression here in Greece, in order to resist on a local level we need your own resistance in your own country, we need to resist in Europe all together! Yes, we need to build a European feminist mass movement against austerity and illegitimate debt! This is the aim of our today’s meeting!

We have to be together because the austerity policies, that is the drastic contraction of public spending, the cuts in the public services, the dismantling of social protection, the cutback of salaries and pensions, the tax increases for poor people, the privatizations, the abolition of labor legislation and of collective bargaining, all this disaster made disappear the feminist conquests in Greece. This could be very soon your own reality everywhere in Europe!

These policies kill the future of democracy here in Europe. They give birth to a world of absolute blind violence, a world without rules where everything is now permitted. This world paves the way for the extreme right and the fascists, for their crimes against freedom, ethnic and sexual minorities, their hatred against the women and feminist rights.

In Greece, nothing works anymore! We are experiencing a real social crash! The austerity measures, applied in Greece by the European Central Bank Central Bank The establishment which in a given State is in charge of issuing bank notes and controlling the volume of currency and credit. In France, it is the Banque de France which assumes this role under the auspices of the European Central Bank (see ECB) while in the UK it is the Bank of England.

ECB : http://www.bankofengland.co.uk/Pages/home.aspx
, the European Commission and the International Monetary Found, have destroyed in less than 3 years a European society whose construction took more than half a century. That is something hallucinating!

These austerity measures taken in order to bring down the public debt are absurd: their result is the exact opposite. The debt becomes bigger and bigger while the country sinks in a monstrous recession for the fifth consecutive year, something unique in human history! The consequences are already more than tragic: unemployment rate has reached 24% and specialists expect it to rise up to 34% next year. 55% of youngsters are unemployed while salaries and pensions are cut up to 50% or even 60%. No doubt about the real aim of such barbarous policies: answering a question by a Greek leftwing eurodeputy in the European Parliament in Strasburg, the head of the Troika Troika Troika: IMF, European Commission and European Central Bank, which together impose austerity measures through the conditions tied to loans to countries in difficulty.

IMF : https://www.ecb.europa.eu/home/html/index.en.html
admitted cynically that the final objective of all this is “to harmonize Greek salaries and pensions with the ones in Bulgaria and Romania”. That is 150 to 200 euros!...

But there is more and worst than that. The whole Greek welfare state is destroyed and dead. The result is that all services assumed previously by the State, from kindergartens to hospices for the elderly or even health care are now taken in charge by…women in family. And all that for free, not paid, in what could be called… the hold up of the century!

The enormous amounts of money economized by this classic neoliberal operation go directly to the payment of the public debt. Why? Because according to the neoliberal dogma, the priority is given to the creditors and the bankers and not to the needs of the citizens. Have you ever heard about all that? No, nobody even mentions this monstrous hold up involving hundreds of billions of Euros. The fact is that only the first and main victims of this operation, that is we the women, can speak, denounce and most all mobilize and fight against this hold up. Because it is not just more and more unpaid work for us but also, and may be most of all, a general attack against the rights we obtained thanks to our struggle these last 40 years.

In fact, such a privatization of public services through the unpaid work of women has to be justified ideologically in order to be accepted. That is why women have to be presented as “naturally” dedicated to their family, to their husband and children, to their homeworks. Why? Because, they say, that is the “mission” of the women, to be the slave of the others and in our present case, to be the substitute of the welfare state! You know well the name of this “ideological” alibi: It is called patriarchy, the worst kind of the old good patriarchy, going now hand in hand with the most recent and barbarous expression of neoliberal capitalism…

This marriage of capitalism and patriarchy means for us women something very concrete: that we have just one choice, to become the slaves of our kids and our elderly parents, of our unemployed sons, brothers and husbands, that is of all those who cannot afford anymore to have their own apartment and are obliged to regroup in the same house. And we sisters, daughters or mothers, we have to nourish, clean, serve and take care of all these people because “these from above” decided that the women in the family have now to do the job done previously by their State!...

It is not difficult to imagine what all this means for our physical and mental health. It means suffering, nervous tension and premature aging…

Can we accept such a present and such a future? Is it possible not to do all we can to resist such a perspective? The answer is that we have to mobilize and organize our resistance now and before it is too late. And having always in mind that nobody else could do that in our place.

In a few words, our task is to elaborate feminist alternatives in order to fight for a radically different model of society as well as to build a European feminist movement against the austerity policies and the illegitimate debt.

The first step in this direction will be made thanks to a tour of conferences and meetings in France by European feminists from Portugal, Spain, Greece, England and Hungary. These meetings in ten French Cities will take place from the 22th of October to 8th of November with the help of the local committees of the French audit campaign of the public debt (CAC). What is important is that this tour of conferences and meetings will deal with a subject such as “Illegitimate public debt, austerity, social crash and feminism” and will bring together feminist organizations, social movements and trade unions…

This kind of initiative is a new way of organizing on a European level, which gives the opportunity to mobilize those from below and link the women organizations between them on a local as well as on an international level. We are already preparing other tours in Spain and may be in England for the next months…

But you have to know that the most important initiative existing now throughout Europe is the one called process for the Alter Summit, which constitutes a first step towards the building of a European unitary mass movement against austerity policies, with the participation of big trade unions and social movements (see www.altersummit.eu). Its first appointment is in Milan this week end, then there will be 3 days of important meetings in Florence on the 8, 9 and 10 of November and finally mass demonstrations probably in Athens, next spring.

We want to be part of this European mass movement which is now under construction. We want that our feminist proposals and demands be adopted by this movement and included in its program.

That is why we propose to organize a feminist seminar against austerity policies in Florence on the 8th, 9th and 10th of next November. The objective of this seminar will be to launch the debate about the feminist alternatives for another Europe and to initiate the regroupment of feminist forces on our continent.

Thank you…

* Sonia Mitralia is a founding member of the Greek Women Initiative against the debt and the austerity measures as well as of the Greek audit campaign of the public debt and of the European coordination of CADTM.

Other articles in English by Sonia Mitralias (11)

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