8 March

Women, especially some of them, are the first victims of wars, the Far-Right and the international financial system. All on strike and long live intersectional feminist struggles!

8 March by CADTM International

Against the backdrop of the multidimensional crisis of capitalism, the tragic turn of the ecological crisis, the rise of the Far Right everywhere, and the increasing number of rapes and murders of women [1] during wars, we must remain mobilized and amplify intersectional feminist struggles.

25,000 women and children have been killed in Gaza since the start of Israel’s genocidal war on 8 October 2023. Since the beginning of Russia’s invasion, some 3,238 women and girls have been killed and 4,872 wounded, and the war has displaced some 4 million people in Ukraine, 56% of whom are women. Médecins Sans Frontières reported 18,000 cases of sexual violence in the North Kivu province (Democratic Republic of Congo) between January and October 2023. Victims of the direct consequences of bombardments such as starvation or lack of health care, women suffer all kinds of gender-based violence. What’s more, the migration crisis particularly affects women, increasing their oppression and exploitation.

As the Far right is extending its influence everywhere, reactionary demands jeopardize women’s rights, such as access to abortion,. In the United States, for example, the Roe v. Wade judgment was repealed by the Supreme Court in June 2022, removing the federal right to abortion and leaving each state free to rule on the issue individually. Since then, 14 states have banned access to abortion. As a further example, Javier Milei, elected President of Argentina in November 2023, is taking a hard line on women’s rights. He also wants to repeal the law legalizing abortion.

Moreover, neoliberal capitalism, which has been gaining ground since the 1980s, affects women in specific ways. International financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund IMF
International Monetary Fund
Along with the World Bank, the IMF was founded on the day the Bretton Woods Agreements were signed. Its first mission was to support the new system of standard exchange rates.

When the Bretton Wood fixed rates system came to an end in 1971, the main function of the IMF became that of being both policeman and fireman for global capital: it acts as policeman when it enforces its Structural Adjustment Policies and as fireman when it steps in to help out governments in risk of defaulting on debt repayments.

As for the World Bank, a weighted voting system operates: depending on the amount paid as contribution by each member state. 85% of the votes is required to modify the IMF Charter (which means that the USA with 17,68% % of the votes has a de facto veto on any change).

The institution is dominated by five countries: the United States (16,74%), Japan (6,23%), Germany (5,81%), France (4,29%) and the UK (4,29%).
The other 183 member countries are divided into groups led by one country. The most important one (6,57% of the votes) is led by Belgium. The least important group of countries (1,55% of the votes) is led by Gabon and brings together African countries.

(IMF) and the World Bank World Bank
The World Bank was founded as part of the new international monetary system set up at Bretton Woods in 1944. Its capital is provided by member states’ contributions and loans on the international money markets. It financed public and private projects in Third World and East European countries.

It consists of several closely associated institutions, among which :

1. The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD, 189 members in 2017), which provides loans in productive sectors such as farming or energy ;

2. The International Development Association (IDA, 159 members in 1997), which provides less advanced countries with long-term loans (35-40 years) at very low interest (1%) ;

3. The International Finance Corporation (IFC), which provides both loan and equity finance for business ventures in developing countries.

As Third World Debt gets worse, the World Bank (along with the IMF) tends to adopt a macro-economic perspective. For instance, it enforces adjustment policies that are intended to balance heavily indebted countries’ payments. The World Bank advises those countries that have to undergo the IMF’s therapy on such matters as how to reduce budget deficits, round up savings, enduce foreign investors to settle within their borders, or free prices and exchange rates.

impose austerity policies through debt, both in the North and in the South. These policies have a specific impact on women as they compensate for the withdrawal of the State by working for free (childcare, care of the elderly, etc.) and doubly bear the brunt of deteriorating public services: they cannot rely on them any more and they are a majority among workers. In the North, non-white women are particularly affected by these measures, as they are at the crossroads of racist and patriarchal systems of domination.

In the South, particularly in Africa and South Asia, microfinance institutions are constantly expanding. They often impose insane interest rates Interest rates When A lends money to B, B repays the amount lent by A (the capital) as well as a supplementary sum known as interest, so that A has an interest in agreeing to this financial operation. The interest is determined by the interest rate, which may be high or low. To take a very simple example: if A borrows 100 million dollars for 10 years at a fixed interest rate of 5%, the first year he will repay a tenth of the capital initially borrowed (10 million dollars) plus 5% of the capital owed, i.e. 5 million dollars, that is a total of 15 million dollars. In the second year, he will again repay 10% of the capital borrowed, but the 5% now only applies to the remaining 90 million dollars still due, i.e. 4.5 million dollars, or a total of 14.5 million dollars. And so on, until the tenth year when he will repay the last 10 million dollars, plus 5% of that remaining 10 million dollars, i.e. 0.5 million dollars, giving a total of 10.5 million dollars. Over 10 years, the total amount repaid will come to 127.5 million dollars. The repayment of the capital is not usually made in equal instalments. In the initial years, the repayment concerns mainly the interest, and the proportion of capital repaid increases over the years. In this case, if repayments are stopped, the capital still due is higher…

The nominal interest rate is the rate at which the loan is contracted. The real interest rate is the nominal rate reduced by the rate of inflation.
(up to 200% in Sri Lanka). Women debtors are under pressure from creditors, who sometimes drive them to suicide. What’s more, in some countries like Sri Lanka, the influence of these institutions has led to a ban on community and solidarity lending between women.

Women are also the main producers of basic commodities Commodities The goods exchanged on the commodities market, traditionally raw materials such as metals and fuels, and cereals. in developing countries. They are heavily impacted by climate change and destructive agribusiness.

In recent years women have clearly been at the forefront of vast mass protest movements and popular uprisings against the established order, exploitation, violence and racism. They are also at the forefront of environmental and peasant battles, in defense of land and water, human rights and against repression.

Against this backdrop of clear attacks on women’s rights, the CADTM International network is more mobilized than ever. Recently, CADTM Africa’s feminist coordination organized a women’s capacity-building seminar in Yaoundé, Cameroon. Among the demands expressed by the 38 participants were the following:

- To federate and organize actions around the fight for the cancellation of illegitimate debts and against extractivism, emphasizing their impact on women.
- Fight for feminist audits of debt and mega-projects financed by international financial institutions.
- Listen to what women have to say and take their needs into account
- Demand reparations for the damage caused to populations, and to women in particular, as a result of the implementation of development projects with negative impacts on the living conditions of local communities.
- Denounce abusive microfinance, which exacerbates poverty, and the harassment of women by microfinance institutions, and develop alternatives: 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. -free or very low-interest loans for marginalized populations.

The fight goes on!


[1When we refer to women, we mean anyone who defines themselves as women. The term “woman” is used here as a political category to denounce relations of domination that take place within the gendered and patriarchal order in which we live. Gender relations and related struggles are obviously not limited to two genders; gender experiences and identities are multiple.

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