Radio WIBG: Najla Mulhondi: Linking feminist struggles and the debt system

At the plenary session of the summer university of the CADTM, Amina Amzil from Attac Morocco reminded the audience how the Structural Adjustment Programs SAPs have changed the development of emerging countries in the neoliberal global market and what it means for women.

SAPs are the austerity programs of the South. The World Bank with the FMI institutionalize the neoliberal measures of austerity in the “there is no alternative” dogma. The World Bank impeded any plans for development of public investments instead becoming an instrument of economic blackmail for developing countries disregarding human rights.

Amina Amzil explained that in Morocco 78% of the GDP is engulfed in the debt repayment, slimming budget for education and health care reducing public services. Women are particularly hit by these cuts. Still, 52% of women are illiterate compared to 33% of men. The World Bank ordered a drastic cut of 30% in public employment the traditional sector in which women find services and work. Now, women unemployment is higher in all sectors; in particular 25% of women with higher education diploma are unemployed while women constitute only 6.7% of higher education graduate. In addition, women suffer of lack of access to health care especially evident with a maternal mortality rate of 112/100000 one of the highest in the region. Finally, SAPs were completed with trade agreements that open the emerging countries to the rich countries rendering women vulnerable as perceived as docile and exploitable in informal sectors.

Being a member of the CADTM in Liege (Belgium), Najla Mulhondi would not miss its annual meeting.

For Najla, the agronomist, the public debt system meant globalization of agro-industry merchandize that works only because of the existence of inequalities. But this year, she said, she had to focus on the link between feminism and the public debt system. Realizing that inequalities are gendered, she attended the “feminist struggles” workshops of the CADTM.

We talked with her after the workshop moderated by Christine Vanden Daelen entitled “Some pedagogical tools to arm women against all kind of austerity.”

This workshop presented some educative tools for women, chiefly vulnerable women, to regain control over the neoliberal discourse and understand that they don’t owe anything on the contrary their work has been largely utilized for free. Najla makes the connection with the land grabbing and globalized markets that forced the farmers of the South to produce crops, roses etc, for the North.

In her interview in French, she mentioned the issue of “all these natural resources purloined from the South”, she said, “I don’t know how one/we will give back to the countries in the South, we’ll have to ponder.”

Clearly, in these unequal relationships feminist struggles bring about another solidarity to open what has been closed by this neoliberal order.

Listen to Najla who felt the need, “to spread this new openness.”

For a longer interview with Najla, in French:

 

(Photo Credit: 50-50 Magazine)

Radio WIBG: Emilie Paumard: Women’s oppression and the debt work together

Emilie Paumard

Emilie Paumard

Emilie Paumard opened the plenary session of the 4th summer University of the CADTM. She presented the debt crisis in only 12 minutes. She used cynical humor to explain how seven years ago in the North neoliberal capitalists realized that the subprime crisis was also an opportunity to dismantle social protections that had emerged in Europe over the past 50 years. These countries’ labor and sexual and reproductive laws went too far; they had to be put back in the ranks. They just had to rewrite history.

And so it came to pass.

It was not deregulation of the finance economy or financial derivatives products that caused the mess. It was the people, the women, the workers! They lived beyond their means, they should return to the “traditional” oppressive way of life! It was not 30 years of neoliberal politics!

Emilie explained that the experience of the South, ravaged by Structural Adjustment Programs, gave her the necessary insights into the system of debt and creditors to become active in the North. In addition, as a woman and as a lesbian woman, she is subjected to a system of oppressions and restrictions.

She sees the citizens’ debt audit as an important public tool that can be vector of grassroots organizing to lead to transformative initiatives. That is most needed to face this cynical and dreadful system that dispossesses the population of their rights.

The secretive functioning of the financial speculative market pulled apart necessary regulations to protect the public system. This allowed the derivative markets to become 10 times the world GDE while political discourse bragged about controlling the banks. Emilie

Paumard believes that the citizens’ debt audit allowed the oppressed population to comprehend and then organize the struggle against these opaque mechanisms that serve the neoliberal elite.

This is a feminist struggle. Now, listen to Emilie Paumard:

For a longer interview with Emilie, in French:

(Interview and photo by Brigitte Marti) (Video interview by Brigitte Marti and MarieHélène Le Ny at 50/50)