Women’s rights, labor rights did not cause the Greek mess

In Spain women’s right to a safe abortion is under attack. In Greece women fight for the right to have a safe delivery and for the right to have children.

In a conversation about recent developments in women rights in Greece, Sonia Mitralias reported that the birth rate has diminished by 15%. Furthermore, giving birth, once free of charge or a societal responsibility, now costs real money. Women without social security, citizen and immigrant alike, now pay as much as 10 times more than before. Isolated and more vulnerable women’s babies are kept in hospital until the mothers can pay for the delivery. Many wonder how many babies have been offered for adoption as a result of payment default. Syrian refugees have been targeted as well.

Women are being taken hostages. They are taken by the neoliberal assault on civil society that occurs through the institutionalization of a debt economy run by unelected and non-transparent bodies, such as the Troika. The Troika consists of “experts”, neoliberal trained economists, who only know how to apply twenty-first century versions of vicious, failed Structural Adjustment Programs. The principles are exactly the same: bypass all democratic processes; reduce any and all political and social resistance; target all public agencies and then claim they were responsible for the crisis. According to these `experts’, if they could only control “those women” and their reproductive uterus, the financial problems would be resolved.

The Troika proclaimed the reforms they demanded were “necessary and painful.” Necessary for what, painful for whom?

None of the Troika’s measures have helped the Greek people. The debt that was 129.3% of the GDP is expected to reach 200% in 2020. Only now, finally, has the European Parliament begun to officially question the Troika’s strategy and work. This moves comes late for a number of Greeks, especially women.

When the financial deregulation spree hit Europe in 2007, Greece was actually in pretty good shape. At that time, it had a good health care system and labor laws to protect the civil society. Then came the systematic attack on the social structures of `certain countries’, including Greece. Those who created the problem magically came up with solutions that blamed and attacked everyone but themselves. In fact, they profited and grew more powerful.

This absurd situation is developed to enslave women to unpaid work, which happens when public sectors are reduced and women’s reproductive rights threatened. Women and men know the offered solution is only more debt, more shackles, more targeted pain and suffering. Women and men are saying NO!, and organizing to defend women’s rights, labor rights , and human dignity.

(Photo Credit: Lefteris Piatarakis/AP)

About Brigitte Marti

Brigitte Marti is an organizer researcher who has worked on reproductive rights and women's health initiatives in France and in the European Union and on women prisoners' issues in the United States. She is a member of Women Included, a new transnational feminist collective, that is part of the Women 7, a coalition that advocates for the inclusion of women's rights in the G7.