Final declaration of the Bamako “Women, Debt and Microcredit” seminar

29 November 2017 by CADTM International

We, women of the CADTM Africa network, from Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Gabon, Guinea, Conakry, Mali, Morocco, Niger, Congo Democratic Republic, Republic of Congo, Senegal, Togo, as well as Argentina have met for the 3rd session of the seminar “Women, Debt and Microcredit” in Bamako, Mali, from 15 to 19 November 2017.

Since the 1980s microcredit institutions have proliferated on our African continent, particularly addressing women.

Whilst the global crisis of the capitalist system, which affects all areas of our lives - economy, finance, energy, social rights and relationships and even our civilisation - increases poverty and precariousness, the States disengage from social policies (health, education, water and electricity distribution, employment, and accommodation), thus making life even harder, particularly amongst women.

The multi-lateral trade agreements and the ever greater debts that are pressed onto our countries plunge the populations into a vicious circle of austerity, unemployment and poverty: multi-national corporations and agribusinesses chase small farmers from their lands; the plundering of our natural resources (forests, reserves of minerals, oil, water, land, etc.) destroys, pollutes and turns our territories into lifeless deserts. At the same time, while merchandise and capital enjoy almost total liberty of movement, vast populations, held to ransom by wars and conflicts provoked by Multi-national Corporations, are prohibited from seeking a place to live in peace or work outside of their own countries. Walls are springing up everywhere.

The few social advances won with the “independences” are endangered by policies of austerity: reduction, privatisation, liberalisation of public services and their budgets; wage cuts; lay-offs and rampant unemployment, all justified by the leaders as necessary to meet a so called “obligation” to pay the debts.

It is in this situation that the promoters of micro-credits promise to deliver us from poverty and emancipate women. In fact, it is the opposite that happens: we find ourselves trapped in a spiral of over indebtedness, launching infeasible micro-projects that, instead of keeping our heads above water, push us deeper into poverty, stress, humiliation and violence. We are at the end of our tether! Our families and social structures are breaking up and our 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. are ripped away from us.

In spite of it all we do not despair. Alternative possibilities exist: subventions, zero 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. loans without discrimination, socially and collectively managed community projects, etc. Our struggle is for their existence.

We also demand that both the micro-credit institutions and the public debt be audited in order that illegitimate debts be abolished.

We insist that all women - as well as all the men – who are the victims of the micro-credit institutions be compensated for the wrong they have suffered.
We call for the renewed development of free, high quality, public services and increases in the funds available for social spending.

Let us unite in our struggles against the public and private debt systems, free trade agreements that humiliate and exploit the people, plunder and destroy the environment, push whole populations onto the migration routes and whole families onto the streets, forcing them into mendacity, prostitution and sometimes to suicide.

Let us strengthen our solidarity with all the populations caught in the webs of micro-credit, financial institutions and their political cronies, and all the bloodsuckers who exploit our wealth and energies

Our struggle will not end as long as there are women labouring under the burden of the debt system, and the financial and micro-credit institutions.

An ka ta Kelègni be kè Naniou Wéyaal Xeex BI Fanghé NTA Niéméné Kunuana ké na kutatama النضال مستمر Esae ndum ya ke osu Ô wé sou iman em Wriwri lé yi édji ¡La lucha continúa!

Translated by Mike Krolikowski in collaboration with Christine Pagnoulle.

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