Radio WIBG: Christine Vanden Daelen: Fighting the debt system is a feminist struggle!

8 October 2015 by Brigitte Marti

Christine Vanden Daelen

The CADTM summer university was articulated around five themes, one of which was Feminist Struggles. Christine Vanden Daelen was the coordinator of the workshops on feminist struggles in a time of debt and austerity.

According to Christine Vanden Daelen, debt is a dictatorial system over states, first in the South and now in the North, that oppresses populations. The system is supported by a network of international institutions that purport to work for the development of these states while imposing constraints and controls over their sovereignty.

For Christine, becoming aware of these mechanisms is key.

CADTM’s motto reads, “Create alternatives that free humanity from all forms of oppression: social, patriarchal, imperialist, racial…”

Christine Vanden Daelen joined the CADTM eight years ago after becoming aware that a social movement that intends to work against this system must have a feminist approach. The CADTM is also a feminist network as declared in its charter.

The 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).

programs in the South and the austerity measures in the North have impacted the most precarious populations. 70% of these populations are women. Women are the most dependent on social protection and public services, and so are the first ones to be dismantled by this system of debt. Thanks to work distribution, women comprise the vast majority of the public sector workers and the reproduction/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. unpaid workers without which the society would be scrambling.

Christine says women have no debt to repay. It is the state that works in liaison with all the instigators and actors of the system of debt that should be paying them.

For a longer interview with Christine (in French) :

Brigitte Marti

Member of Women Included



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