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Blog by Daria Ukhova, Ph.D student, Bremen International Graduate School of Social Sciences and Inequality policy consultant for Oxfam GB
Why the moral imperatives for women´s empowerment trump economic reasons
What are the effects of inequitable economic growth on gender inequality? Researcher, Daria Ukhova, shares evidence of how income inequalities in emerging economies can exacerbate inequalities between men and women.
‘Women’s empowerment is not just a fundamentally moral cause, it is also an absolute economic no-brainer‘, said Christine Lagarde, the IMF’s Managing Director, at the Women 20 conference last week. According to IMF calculations, getting more women into well-paid jobs would improve growth and reduce economic inequality. The conference, organised for the first time in the run up to the next G20 summit, reflects a trend of gender equality rising up the agenda. The need to reduce economic inequality to improve economic growth and development is being increasingly recognised by various international and national actors, and women’s empowerment has moved centre stage in these debates.
This increasing recognition of the role of women’s empowerment – especially, in the economic domain – in Even It Up could be considered a positive development. But I would argue that, as feminists, we miss a very important point if we don’t look at the reverse causal relation and ask what impact the inequitable growth actually has on gender relations and gender inequality.
As a feminist economist Diane Elson argues ‘economic growth is a gendered process in which old forms of gender inequality are weakened but new forms of gender inequality emerge‘. Arguably, economic growth accompanied by growing or persistently high economic inequality could produce new more acute forms of gender inequality or make the old forms morph in rather dangerous ways.
Gender inequality in emerging economies
In my current research I focus on a group of emerging economies that Oxfam works in, i.e. BRICSAMIT (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa, Mexico, Indonesia and Turkey), to explore the interrelatedness of various forms of gender inequality and economic growth accompanied by growing/persistently high levels of economic inequality. As the most economically and gender unequal countries in the world, emerging economies represent good cases for such analysis.
The literature review and expert interviews I have carried out so far indicate two areas in which the effects of inequitable economic growth on gender inequality could be observed particularly vividly: unpaid care and gender-based violence.
Rapidly declining fertility rates, aging populations and intensified internal migration (caused by massive geographic inequalities) are key features of most of these countries. These trends result in increased care burdens for increasingly economically active women, as the number of elderly relatives per woman is steadily increasing, while grandparents as providers of childcare are becoming less available.
Growth of economic inequality also means that unpaid care is acquiring different meanings for women from different economic groups, with the care burden being redistributed from richer to poorer and migrant women. Reduction in access to publicly funded childcare (e.g. like in Russia and China during market transition) increases the care burden of poorer women even further.
Economic inequality and gender-based violence
The effects of economic inequality on gender-based violence are also clearly traceable across the BRICSAMIT countries. In South Africa in the 2000s, growth of economic inequality has been taking place in parallel with an increase in gender-based non-intimate and intimate murders, while overall homicide levels have been decreasing. Sexual violence in India is also being increasingly linked by experts to growing socio-economic inequality. In China, sexual harassment at work similarly needs to be analysed in terms of its economic drivers. As one of my Chinese interviewees pointed out:
‘Sexual harassment in the workplace is a serious issue. Women want to have a job. If they speak out, they’re afraid to lose the job. It’s very subtle. There are power relations (between managers and staff) being intersected with economic inequality. It is partially linked to economic inequality (… ) But this is also men’s mentality – they think that since they have money, they could do whatever they want.’
While it should be recognised that economic inequality alone clearly can’t account for the phenomenon of sex selective abortion, the experiences of China and India show how increasing economic gaps between families perpetuate and exacerbate culturally-grounded practices of gender discrimination:
‘In the present state of development and income inequality in India, there are many parents who have to some extent a capitalistic attitude. That actually generates two things –son preference and gender bias against females for human capital accumulation.’
Finally, we also need to view the phenomenon of domestic violence in the context of increased economic inequality. As one of the interviewees from China emphasised, the current economic system encourages competitiveness, which often results in increased tensions between partners.
These examples demonstrate the need to move beyond instrumentalist approaches to gender equality and women’s empowerment. They show how gender inequality transforms and morphs under inequitable economic growth in the emerging economies. To paraphrase Christine Lagarde’s argument, women’s empowerment should be not only an economic no brainer, but also a fundamental moral cause in the fight against growing economic inequality.
To see Daria´s full research, please visit the following link http://policy-practice.oxfam.org.uk/publications/gender-inequality-and-inter-household-economic-inequality-in-emerging-economies-561198
In this short video presentation, Adhemar Mineiro from REBRIP outlines why WTO negotiations can have a huge impact on agriculture and particularly small farmers. The next WTO Ministerial meeting will be held in Nairobi, Kenya in December 2015, and civil society´s role in highlighting issues of food security and food sovereignty will be key if small farmers are to be considered a central part of food systems.
By Adhemar Mineiro, CUT/DIEESE advisor and member of REBRIP
Originally posted at http://www.rebrip.org.br/noticias/o-novo-banco-de-desenvolvimento-a-partir-da-cupula-de-ufa-1a7b/
Two elements are essential to understand the developments with respect to the New Development Bank, decided upon by the BRICS in their 6th Summit in Fortaleza, and now with defined temporary directors as of the 7th Summit in Ufa, Russian Federation. The first is that, starting now, the bank, according to point 15 of the declaration, approved at the end of the meeting on July 9, begins to operate with the purpose of supporting investments in infrastructure and sustainable development projects in the BRICS countries and developing countries and emerging economies.
“We welcome the entry into effect of the New Development Bank Agreement signed at the 6th BRICS Summit in Fortaleza. We also welcome the inaugural meeting of the Board of Governors of the NDB, held on the eve of the Ufa Summit and presided over by Russia, as well as the work done by the Temporary Board of Directors and the Pre-Management Group aimed at launching the bank as soon as possible. We reiterate that the NDB will serve as a powerful tool to finance investments in infrastructure and sustainable development projects in the BRICS and other developing countries and emerging market economies and to improve economic cooperation between our countries. We hope that the NDB will approve its first investment projects at the beginning of 2016. We accept the proposal that the NDB should cooperate strictly with the new and existing financing mechanisms, including the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.”
It is not exactly clear what this means, and this will begin to be worked out and made explicit as the directing bodies of the bank, now established, begin their operation. However, beyond a general orientation, there are many things to be determined starting now, which should encourage the social organizations in the five countries to work more closely on the theme. It is noteworthy, however, that the meeting of organized social organizations with the approval of the Russian presidency of the BRICS in Moscow put such little emphasis on this discussion close to a week before the Ufa meeting, referring to the bank in only one paragraph (4 of the sub-item “Sustainable Development,” of the final declaration of that meeting, circumscribing the NDB without a deeper discussion on what so far has been the main effective result of the coordination of these countries, together with the Contingency Reserve Arrangement. The big question, the debate and the pressure to perform now is how the New Development Bank can serve another development strategy rather than that so far dominated by financial capital at the global level, where most of the BRICS countries were limited to a secondary role as suppliers of agricultural, mineral and/or energy commodities in a project of unsustainable development.
The second important element of the Ufa Summit on the theme of the NDB is the so-called “Memorandum of Understanding” between the new bank and the development banks already existing in each of the BRICS countries (BNDES, in the case of Brazil). This document, although it only provides guidelines, establishes areas and means of cooperation between these institutions, showing that beyond its own operation, the NDB has an informal objective of “coordinating” and supporting financing of a development strategy in the five countries.
The big question that remains is, after all, what is this strategy?
Thomas Dunmore Rodriguez commented on the post, Social Movements Help The United Nations Human Rights Council To Stay The Course On Creating A Binding Treaty For Transnational Corporations 2 years, 2 months agoIn reply to: Diana Wanjiku wrote a new post, Social Movements Help The United Nations Human Rights Council To Stay The Course On Creating A Binding Treaty For Transnational Corporations This article was originally posted […] View
This great link tells the story of what happened in Geneva https://storify.com/StopCorporate/occupyunsquare
Press release from Addis Ababa:
New research comparing tax policies in Indonesia, South Africa and Brazil has revealed how national tax policies reinforce inequality, and how the broken international tax system is amplifying the problem. A new report ´Cross-country research on tax policy and inequality: A Comparative study of Indonesia, South Africa and Brazil’ produced by CSO networks International NGO Forum on Indonesian Development (INFID, Indonesia) and South African Network on Inequality (SANI, South Africa) shows clearly what tax policies are regressive and failing to deliver sufficient funding for good quality public services.
While Indonesia, South Africa and Brazil are developing countries with recent strong economic growth, this has been accompanied by severe inequality.
“Regressive tax policies in Indonesia, South Africa and Brazil has meant that these countries’ poor are paying proportionately more taxes than rich people. The tax burden on middle class workers is bigger than the one placed on industry, holding back these countries’ tax collection potential that would provide important funding for universal and better quality public health and education services. This is totally unfair and unsustainable in the long term”, says Yustinus Prastowo, one of the co-authors of the study.
The study concludes that Indonesia, South Africa, and Brazil rank among the very top of the world’s nations who are suffering massive tax evasion as a result of international taxation loopholes, which often favour the most wealthy and multinational corporations.
Denise Dube, Acting Tax Justice and Extractives Officer for SANI/Economic Justice Network said “The Addis Financing for Development conference is a crucial opportunity to correct an outdated international financial system, which has put the world on a path of poverty, escalating inequality, and caused years of austerity. The international tax system is broken and unfair. We are living in an ever-more globalized world, where the mutually reinforcing connections between local elites and global elites must be addressed. We call on the States gathering in Addis to commit to go further than the current G20 /OECD-led international tax reform and support UN-led global tax reform where developing countries can participate and have their interests heard on an equal footing.”
“These three countries can play an important role, as part of the G77+China Group, to urge the establishment of an international tax body. They should help to guarantee broader participation of all countries in tax justice,which will not only help to solve the tax problem in their countries, but also benefit all developing countries” said Siti Khoirun Nikmah, another co-author of the study.
The report will be launched on July 12, 2015 during the CSO Forum that precedes the UN Third Conference on Financing for Development in Addis Ababa.
Sue Rooks, Oxfam International Media Officer at firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to Editors
Interviews with the report co-authors Siti Khoirum Nikmah, NGO Forum on Indonesian Development (INFID) and Yustinus Prastowo, INFID may be arranged following the launch at the side event entitled “Working track on Tax Justice & DRM” at the Hotel Deselegn, during the FFD3 CSO Forum, on Sunday July 12, 2015.
CSO networks International (INFID, Indonesia) and South African Network on Inequality (SANI, South Africa) are part of the “Empowering CSO Networks in an Unequal Multi-Polar World” programme.
The study may be found at http://csnbricsam.org/tax-policy-and-inequalitycomparative-study/
The 3rd UN Conference on Financing for Development (FFD3) will be take place on July 13-16, 2015 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. This conference will be attended by delegations from governments, private sector, and hundreds of civil society activists. The conference outcome will influence the adoption of global post-2015 development agenda. It is hoped that the outcome will support momentum to correct the international financial system that has thus far failed to eradicate global poverty and reduce inequality.
Hi @nikmah Why don´t you add a photo to your profile, so we can all see you?
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