The effects of the financial and economic crisis on women in Europe

13. März 2013

WILPF IB meeting in Madrid, 22 to 24 February 2013

WILPF alerts on the tragic consequences of the austerity policies of the European Union, particularly for women. By the pressure of financial markets, the policy in Europe is shaped by drastic reduction of public spending, privatisation, wage and pension cuts and the reduction of social security, sometimes also by tax increases that hit in particular the poor and vulnerable.

Women are affected by it in the first place: the unpaid work of women increases, the state withdraws from the social security. Thus also increase pressure and stress, dependency, violence, roll back in traditional roles and exclusion from access to resources. Instead of investing in poverty, civil conflict resolution and human rights, the promotion of prevention against HIV, abortion centres, family planning, pre-and post-natal health care and preventive health services are being reduced. The gap between rich and poor is growing. The austerity measures in the name of debts (that we call illegal), install a new way of domination, neglecting individual and collective needs and put Europe in a deep humanitarian crisis and chaos. It puts in danger democratic participation of women and the functioning of democracy as such.

This split in the society threatens social peace and cohesion. The result is growing violence within the societies and the rising of neo fascist movements attacking especially the most vulnerable part of the societies, besides women, ethnic minorities, migrants and refugees, also children, persons with disabilities, the elderly, people with HIV/Aids, and indigenous persons.

The EU stands not only for social sell-out, it is also directly involved in global conflicts over resources and strategic influence and created with FRONTEX a militant institution to exclude immigrants. Europe’s armament industry and arms trade is one of the greatest destruction causes worldwide( But “you get what you pay for”). In a cynical way, a growing coordinated production of arms is even given as a solution out of the economic crisis (citation Barroso/van Rompuy 1 week after the Peace Nobel Prize!)

WILPF supports the proposal for a European campaign from the movement “Women against austerity” under the title „Give priority to the people and the women instead of banks and creditors. We also support the multi-coloured campaign  in Spain (green – schools, white – , red – blue-….)reflecting the whole range of problems created in the societies through the social cuts.

WILPF takes into account the Manifesto of the European Women’s Lobby on the effects of economic and financial crisis on women in Europe (see annex1)and will strongly cooperate with EWL on it.

WILPF is addressing the European States to respect protect and fulfil their human rights obligations regarding economic, social and cultural rights progressively, using their maximum available resources. This requires states to adopt and implement law and policies that aim to achieve incremental improvements in universal access to basic goods and services such as health care, education, housing, social security and cultural life.

WILPF is supporting Audits for public debt on all level of decision making to identify the illegitimate part of the debt to cancel and not pay

WILPF is actively campaigning in shifting of budgets (you get what you pay for!!) – and Genderbudgeting

We call on all sections to support the collection of signatures for the EPI (European popular initiative) against the privatisation of water: www.right2water.eu

WILPF will invest in discussing discuss the following concrete topics  with academic women – critical economists:

  • Alternatives to the European fiscal pact
  • Financial analyses: You get what you pay for – reduction of arms production and stop arms trade (from small weapons to nuclear and chemical weapons….) not only for crisis regions but worldwide
  • Cooperation with the de-growth movement
  • Decentralised instruments of  food distribution, health care, local money
  • Tax politics – Bank control

Annex 1 EWL:

In light of the above and many other considerations we call on the European Commission, the European Parliament and national governments to implement the following measures in order to rectify the impact of the crisis on women.

  • Recovery plans and structural adjustment programmes have to iintegrate a gender perspective Systematic gender sensitive analysis of the impact of the crisis and prior to implementation, the responses thereof.
  • Gender budgeting as a standard methodology of all public budget processes.
  • Create jobs especially in the public sector and invest in social infrastructure (education, health, child and dependent persons care) which would also ease the disproportionate burden on women to enable them to participate in the labour market.
  • Attribute higher value to jobs in the caring sector
  • Commit to work around the deconstruction of the stereotyping of women in education, work, the family and society in general.
  • Guarantee the individualisation of social security and taxation rights in order to break women’s dependency on their partners and/or the state.
  • Cooperate with EU-level trade unions to support/enforce gender equality.
  • Close the gender pay gap by 2020.
  • Implement measures to combat the on-going process of feminisation of poverty which has been exacerbated by the recession.
  • Develop alternative accounting measures to ensure that women’s unpaid care work is recognised in national accounts systems with the aim of ensuring that the redistribution of unpaid domestic work is equally shared with men.
  • Implement all directives and policies developed on gender equality with an emphasis on outcomes.
  • Adopt binding legislative measures, including at the EU level concerning the equal participation of women and men in private boards and in the political sector, promote parity in decision making in the economic and financial sector as well as private companies in order to ensure democracy and better governance, particularly financial governance.
  • Set up a liaison network among EWL and civil society organisations to become involved in the G20 process and meetings in order to ensure that gender equality is duly taken into account.
  • Take strong measures to combat all forms of violence against women including the financing of support services for women victims of violence and ratify the CoE Convention on the prevention and combating of violence against women and domestic violence.
  • Strengthen the voices of women in Europe who call for an immediate reform of the global financial architecture to fully integrate gender equality and women’s rights, and put an end to the constant search for unlimited growth and maximisation of profits.