Friday, 14 August 2009

Invest in women - GCAP

The interviews below by Sabina Zaccaro appeared in IPS news 8 July 09.

"If we invest in women, many problems will be solved. We know that from microfinance and from many other examples," says Sylvia Borren of the GCAP gender task force. "With food prices doubling they had to choose which child to feed..." Stories collected by women's organizations* show that if you invest in women and the family, economies become sustainable.

2.8 million more children could die by 2015 because of the the triple aid, economic and food crises. The problem is funding. The World Bank estimates $60 billion are needed to fight infectious diseases and strengthen health systems in the developing world. G8 leaders agreed in 2008 but allocated no funds.

"Investing in women's health as part of aid policies has to be considered a priority, as it will give to the poorer countries a better chance to solve the crisis in a prospect of development," 56 women parliamentarians from Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas begged the G8 2009 summit. Sexual and reproductive diseases cause huge economic losses in developing economies, reducing women's productivity by 20-25 percent. The problem, said Cristiana Scoppa of Women in Development (Italy), is even worse in Africa where companies are asking "the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and trade unions to find solutions".

"Where adaptation to climate change is already a reality, women are not acting as passive victims," said Beatrice Costa of ActionAid. "Women farmers [in the Ganges basin] are now starting to replace rice with bananas, because these are more resistant to floods or drought." They know they must "diversify and adapt" but they need specific programmes and dedicated funds. (photo courtesy of IAAHP)

"Of course it's about money, and the money is there," said Sylvia Borren. "Not even a third of the 30 billion dollars requested at the UN high level meeting on the food crisis one year ago has been forthcoming, when $20 trillion dollars have gone to the corporate bailout and the banks. G8 leaders have made the wrong choices. "They have chosen to desperately bail out an economic system that we all agree is broken, they are not listening to the Stiglitz Commission (of experts of the UN General Assembly on reform of the international monetary and financial system), which has provided us with 400 pages of good solutions...they are not listening to the trade unions, the ILO, the civil society."

In March 2009 the Stiglitz commission called for a new reserve currency and a UN global economic council to replace the outmoded Bretton Woods system -- the dollar-based IMF and World Bank, which are controlled by the rich nations and serve their aims, to the detriment of the poor, creating a permanent cycle of debt and underdevelopment, often called the new colonialism.

*See women's stories from South Africa by Agenda, from Indonesia by John Pilger in The New Rulers of the World (2002, part 1 & part 2); from Uganda, A survivor's guide: Annabella's story (2006) a teenager surviving HIV/AIDS; video Against All Odds: Women Partnering for Change in a Time of Crisis (2007); Radio Feminista podcasts of US women activists at USSF 2007 y en español; indigenous mothers of Huelga Mundial in Bolivia.

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