“Women Need a Bigger Voice at the G20 Summit”
Ahead of the G20 Summit in April 2009, Rosa Lizarde of the Global Call to Action Against Poverty (GCAP) explained that the unique impacts of the global economic crisis on women must be taken into consideration in high-level talks AND that more women are needed in the dialogue and decision-making processes of such summits. Six months later and another summit on, the crisis and the need to pay attention to and to involve women continue.
Nergui Manalsuren of IPS Interviews Rosa Lizarde of GCAP’s Feminist Taskforce
UNITED NATIONS, Mar 12 (IPS) – Activists are calling for an economic bailout plan for women and demanding that their voices be heard at the decision-making table ahead of the G20 summit of the world’s biggest economies in London on Apr. 2.
Rosa G. Lizarde, a member of GCAP, the Global Call to Action against Poverty, told IPS during the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women this week that the taskforce is calling for women to be central to crafting solutions to the financial crisis – particularly since 70 percent of the world’s poor are female and the primary food providers for their families and communities.
Excerpts from the interview follow.
IPS: On International Women’s Day, Mar. 8, you launched the global Internet campaign, “20 Days to G20”, highlighting the connections between the feminisation of poverty and the global financial and economic crisis. What are the impacts of the current crisis on women?
RL: Well, there are many impacts of the crisis on women, primarily exacerbation of the food and energy crises. There is a very large percentage of women in the agricultural sector providing food for families, [so rising prices] creates more hardship for women and families, and has an impact on communities. In turn, those stresses create increased tension, which in turn increases violence against women.
Women also tend to be last to be hired and first to be fired during times of economic hardship. Particularly around the cuts that the private sector makes, there are reductions which impact women receiving services such as health care, education, and other social services. So the burden of the financial and the economic crisis falls on women.
IPS: How does this campaign hope to change the outcome of the G20 meeting?
RL: One of the reasons why we launched this “20 Days to G20” was to make those links between the feminisation of poverty and the financial, food, energy, and the climate change crisis. And to have women included in the dialogue and the decision-making of the economic and financial summits – not just the G20 meeting, but also at the upcoming conference on the economic and financial impacts on development. We want to ensure that particular attention is paid to the specific needs of women and girls due to the disproportionate hardships that they bear.
IPS: How much funding should be made available for gender equality and women’s empowerment, particularly for the eradication of poverty?
RL: Well, as Sylvia Borren, co-chair of GCAP, has said, the funds that go to the economic bailouts don’t trickle down to women, but impacts of the financial crisis do trickle down to women. One of the issues is to look at how, during this time of crisis and negotiations within and amongst governments, to be able to bail out some of the hardships that women are facing.
Some people have mentioned that 0.7 percent of all bailout funds should go to the developing countries, and that a portion of that certainly should go to assist the conditions of women during this time. So there’s no exact estimate that we’re calling for, but we’re saying that we want to be included in any decision around funding.
IPS: What are some key policies that could provide immediate and long-term relief for women who are affected by the current financial crisis?
RL: Some of the key policy points we have outlined in the platform policy paper directed to the upcoming G20 meeting around the issues of justice, accountability, jobs, and the climate change. We’re calling for the eradication of poverty and inequality, within that we want to ensure that needs of women and girls are addressed because it is estimated that 70 percent of the poor are women.
In terms of accountability, we want to ensure democratic governance of the global economy, and we call for the support of the U.N. to serve as the heart of the solutions for the financial and economic crisis.
Within the area of jobs, we call for decent jobs and public services for all with particular attention to be paid to identifying and responding to the specific needs of women and disenfranchised communities.
Around climate, we want governments to commit to investing in women as one of the most effective ways to advance sustainable development and to help to combat the climate change devastation.
IPS: Are there enough women in the dialogue and decision-making processes of the economic and financial summits?
RL: I think if we look at the members of the G20 and the heads of those governments, the members of the Stiglitz Commission that are meeting today [Mar. 10] as a matter of fact and have been meeting these past couple of days to provide alternative solutions to the financial crisis, we see that women are not represented as they are in the general population, which is 50 percent.
So I think that until we achieve that 50 percent representation, we can’t say that women are represented equally. Currently, at the table of the G20, the U.N., and other commissions, we know that women are not equally represented at the negotiating [and] decision-making table – that’s the fact.
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