“When Women Stop, the World Stops”
We want alternative development models that center people and planet, uphold human rights, food sovereignty and climate justice. We want decent work and living wages for all women. We want unpaid care work to be fairly recognized, reduced and redistributed. We want gender-based violence to end. We want corporate abuse to stop. We demand just access to resources, power, and opportunities. We demand that our voices be heard, heeded and protected. We want systemic change, and we want it now!
(Political Statement - Women’s Global Strike 2020)
All Womxn Work!
We the undersigned feminist networks, trade unions, social justice movements and organisations demand public policies that end the exploitation of womxn’s paid and unpaid labour in households, communities and workplaces, whether formal or informal, public or private sectors. We demand recognition that all womxn work, and that both paid and unpaid care and domestic labour is indispensable to human, economic and social progress. In particular, the inequitable gender division of labour in the care economy - including health - has put womxn at the front and centre of a global pandemic, too frequently in the most exploitative, unprotected and derided terms.
We refuse to allow these injustices to persist.
Whose debt is it anyway?
The COVID-19 pandemic has sent economic shockwaves across the global economy with countries of the Global South already experiencing the worst of this meltdown including currency depreciations, capital outflows, loss of export earnings, commodity price collapses and reduced tax revenues. In response, the IMF, the World Bank and the G20 have been asked to take exceptional measures around cancelling debt service payments from 2020 and take additional measures to ease the financing crunch that has hit most countries in the Global South. So far, their response has fallen far short. The diversion of public resources from the COVID-19 emergency to debt repayments is unacceptable. We consider it legitimate for governments to cease debt servicing during the emergency and recovery.
We believe that the financial crises ravaging countries now has not been caused by the pandemic, but by a global financial architecture that depletes public finances through illicit financial flows, tax evasion and avoidance; that rewards speculation over investments in the real economy, and that incentivises irresponsible, corrupt and unjust borrowing and lending. Sustainable development is starved of finance by a neocolonial system that is overwhelmingly rigged towards creditors, rich countries and corporations with the collusion of a small elite in the Global South. This skewed system of debt and finance leaves off its balance sheet the loss of global wealth through: (i) environmental damage and climate change (ii) the reproductive debt owed to womxn for their unpaid care and domestic work (iii) the loss of income by womxn through the gender pay gap (iv) the depletion of public goods, care infrastructure and institutions through underfunding and privatisation (v) the loss of communal assets through land and natural resource grabs (vi) the shortfall in finance by donor countries to meet their international ODA obligation of 0.7% of GDP and (vii) the cost of military interventions and manufactured conflicts to protect resource interests.
We do not believe that debt cancellation is an act of charity or generosity - it is a minimal condition for rebalancing an imperialist system of wealth accumulation. We don’t owe them, they owe us!
When Womxn Stop, the World Stops
The myth that technology will progressively replace the global labour force conveniently dismisses the physical, emotional, sexual, intellectual labour done by womxn for social reproduction in homes, communities, markets and the global economy. It neglects the unpaid family labour that rural womxn put into agricultural and subsistence production that keeps households from the brink of malnutrition and starvation. The myth that it is foreign capital that creates growth has been purposefully constructed to devalue the work of millions of womxn public sector workers. After decades of insisting on their disposability, only now have the high priests of capitalism had to admit that these workers deliver essential services without which markets would collapse: nurses, doctors, administrators, emergency and social workers, community outreach workers, teachers, cleaners, transport and sanitation workers. Decent work, living wages and universal social protection programmes do not hold back economic growth; rather they are the bedrock of socio-economic resilience. The fallacy that the informal economy - where womxn are concentrated - is marginal, has been exposed with the realisation that it is the means by which the majority of households in the Global South earn their livelihood.
Never has the slogan of the Women’s Global Strike Campaign been more obvious: “When Women Stop, the World Stops.”
Hollowing out State Capacity, Stripping Public Wealth:
The COVID-19 pandemic brutally lays bare States’ inexcusable neglect and underfunding of the range of critical infrastructure and public services that support positive public health outcomes, putting ever heavier burdens on womxn’s labour and time to fill the gap. Neoliberalism as an ideology of profit over people has left some of the wealthiest countries unable to meet the challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic. For forty years macroeconomic policies in developing countries have followed World Bank and IMF prescription of austerity, resulting in: (i) unsustainable and unpayable debt (ii) cuts and/or freezes in public health infrastructure, research, services and staffing (iii) stripping away of all worker rights, especially targeting public health workers (iv) privatisation of health, water and sanitation services making them inaccessible and unaffordable for the majority (v) net capital flight of precious resources (vi) unsanitary housing and workplaces. Warnings to reinvest in public health systems and universal health care following successive health crises like Ebola, SARS, MERS or Zika have gone unheeded by the very institutions who claim their mandate is to support countries finance these human rights obligations. The hollowing out of the state has left much of the response to the double disaster of the pandemic and the lockdown to the mobilisation of community spirit and voluntarism led by womxn.
While we do this work in the spirit of feminist solidarity and love, we reject the exploitation of womxn’s unpaid and underpaid labour as a low cost social safety net!
Cycles of Crises Escalating Violations of Rights:
For decades it has been clear that neoliberal macroeconomic policies geared towards extracting profits for international finance capital have been catastrophic for developing countries and their populations, the majority of whom are children, adolescents and young adults. The COVID-19 pandemic has hit on top of rising economic volatility, looming debt crises, worker precarity, social and political instability and environmental disasters. The resulting social crises and conflicts not only saddles womxn with increased care burdens; womxn, trans and non-binary, migrants, refugees, indigenous people, people living under occupation, people with disabilities also experience new waves of gender based violence as political and religious extremists of all stripes use popular discontent to ramp up misogyny, racism, queerphobia, xenophobia, sectarianism and hate. The neoliberal system has deprived two whole generations of young people of the full enjoyment of their social, economic, political and civil rights, including their right to a healthy life on a healthy planet. Critically, neoliberalism has hollowed out States and their capacity to fulfill their human rights obligations and to respond to crises and disasters. It is telling that key government departments that are directly responsible for people’s welfare have become the poor relations of state bureaucracies, defunded and dependent on donor funding to address the deluge of social problems confronting populations.
Breaking IFIs’ Stranglehold over National Policies and Development Finance:
Regardless of these dire social consequences, the International Financial Institutions (IFIs) and corporations, who hold the key to unlock billions of dollars of development finance, have relentlessly used their mandate to impose an extractivist economic model that favours new waves of free trade and investment agreements, intensified privatisation and financialisation of economies, all to transfer more wealth and power in the hands of a few. Even in the midst of the current global pandemic, the response of these institutions so far has been to double down on the very conditionalities that will prevent States from pursuing the macroeconomic policies required to mitigate the economic, political, and social devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic.
New research shows IMF funding agreements have been holding down public spending by imposing unnecessarily low inflation targets in 80% of countries, deficit targets in 96% of countries and by freezing or cutting public sector wage bills in 78% of countries – so most governments cannot employ more teachers, doctors, nurses or care workers. There is a new debt crisis that is squeezing public spending in low income countries and it is getting worse. Several countries spend more in debt servicing than on education and health combined. Nothing will change until countries are released from the stranglehold of these policies.
The IMF’s minimalist approach to debt relief, emergency financing and social protection for developing countries is nothing short of appalling.
Towards a Just, Green, Feminist Recovery
It is clear that GDP growth as a measure of any sort of progress is outdated and unfit for purpose in the 21st century. GDP growth has not lifted populations out of poverty, ended hunger, put more girls in school, created secure work for the youth, rolled out affordable, quality health care or put clean water in communities. The fixation on GDP growth has relegated all other measures of human and sustainable development to peripheral importance. Reducing the overall stock of publicly owned goods, infrastructure and services--postal services, hospitals, schools, waste management, sanitation, conservation areas, the list goes on--does not increase our collective wealth, it reduces it. It also reinforces gender inequality.
Privatisation of subsidised and free public goods and services has not reduced government deficits any more than it has “crowded in” private investment for services which by their nature cannot and should not generate profit. Wholesale trade liberalisation and export-oriented models have not facilitated economic diversification, industrialisation or brought in long term sustainable foreign direct investments. Deregulation has not created a fair economic playing field where all can prosper. Carbon markets have not reduced greenhouse gas emissions. These and other prescriptions in the name of ‘economic growth’ have done little more than entrench a system of lopsided wealth accumulation while leaving threadbare our collective mechanisms to cope with a mounting number of systemic shocks, disasters and crises. We know that the world will never be the same after the COVID-19 pandemic.
Governments must dismantle neoliberal economic systems and institutions, and instead support and advance economic models and policies, including around tax, trade, debt and financing that are based on the principles of sustainability, equality and justice and move beyond growth and GDP as a measure of progress.
Governments must put in place socio-economic development models that start with acknowledging and upholding the rights of womxn to decent work, living wage and income security, and gender responsive and affirming public services using feminist evidence and analysis, knowledge and alternatives.
Governments must end the marginalisation and criminalisation of informal workers, and instead acknowledge, promote and value their critical roles in the economy. Whether or not they are recognised formally by States as essential workers, informal workers across a broad range of sectors including food security and agriculture, healthcare, childcare and transport are today on the frontlines of national responses to the pandemic.
Governments must develop a system-wide approach to the care economy by investing in care infrastructure and institutions and ensuring decent work conditions for all workers across the care sectors--education, health, care, social and domestic work, social, public transport, housing, water and sanitation.
Governments must liberate womxn from an inequitable and unsustainable unpaid care work burden, by ensuring quality, accessible and universal public services and universal social protection.
No genuine transformation of the global order can happen without breaking down the interlocking web of injustices and violations that treat womxn’s labour as a free or cheap commodity for the benefit of all except womxn themselves. No robust post COVID-19 recovery will happen without acknowledging, supporting and sharing our collective burden of reproductive labour and care work in our health and social systems. We call upon womxn, trans and non-binary people worldwide to reclaim our power and defend our rights to a living wage, income security, universal social protection systems, gender responsive and affirming public services, equal access to and treatment in labour markets and zero tolerance to gender based violence.
This statement has been REOPENED for endorsements. It is open to both individuals and organizations. Please Sign on HERE
This statement is currently endorsed by the following organisations:
Asian People’s Movement on Debt and Development (APMDD)
The African Women’s Development and Communications Network (FEMNET)
Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women (GAATW)
Public Services International (PSI)
Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era (DAWN)
Asia Pacific Forum on Women Law and Development (APWLD)
Association for Women's Rights in Development (AWID)
Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO)
WECF International - (Women Engage for a Common Future)
Regional Center for International Development Corporation (RCIDC)
Gender and Development Network
Diverse Voices and Action (DIVA) for Equality
Sukaar Welfare Organization
Millennial Womxn in Policy
African Women's Network for Community management of Forests (REFACOF)
Women Working Group (WWG)
Tax Justice Network
Latin American and Caribbean Women’s Health Network
Support for Women in Agriculture and Environment (SWAGEN)
Women's Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN)
Universidade Federal de Viçosa
Women's Academy for Africa (WAFA)
Young Women's Leadership Institute (YWLI)
Sukaar Welfare Organization
Peace Track Initiative
The Gender Security Project
National Workers Welfare Trust
Justice Centre Hong Kong
Aurat Publication and Information Service Foundation (Aurat Foundation)
Fund for Congolese Women
Women's Rehabilitation Centre (WOREC)
Oxfam (Novib), Uganda
Slum Aid Project (SAP), Uganda
Social Policy Network (SPN)
Kenya Sex Workers Alliance (KESWA)
Safety and Risk Mitigation Organization (SRMO)
GATJ Tax and Gender Working Group
Water Justice and Gender
Aube Nouvelle pour la Femme et le Développement "ANFD""
Success Capital Organisation
Association for Community Development (ACD)
Women in Politics Support Unit (WiPSU)
Association "Novi put"
Women's International League for Peace and Freedom
Centre for Social Concern and Development (CESOCODE)
Fondazione Pangea Onlus
Gender Studies, University College Dublin, Ireland
Association for Emancipation, Solidarity and Equality of Women- ESE
Consultancy for Human Rights & Gender Issues
Odri Intersectional rights- Office for the Defence of Rights and Intersectionality
The Strategic Initiative for Women in the Horn of Africa (SIHA)
Women's March Global
Network of Arab Women for Parity and Solidarity (Tha'era)
Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, Ukraine
Rural Mother & Child Health Care Society (RMCHCS)
Center for Economic and Social Rights
Feminist Legal Clinic Inc.
CEDAW Committee of Trinidad and Tobago
International Women's Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific (IWRAW Asia Pacific)
Shirakat - Partnernship for Development
Afrihealth Optonet Association (CSOs Network)
Dr Uzo Adirieje Foundation (DUZAFOUND)
Society for Conservation and Sustainability of Energy and Environment in Nigeria (SOCSEEN)
Afrihealth Optonet Association (CSOs Network)
City & Hamlet Multi-Purpose Cooperative Society
Leitana Nehan women's Development Agency
Centro Mujeres A.C.
Nerds Rule Inc.
Aliansi Remaja Independen
Indian Women Theologians Forum
Morogoro Land Rights Network (MOLARN)
YouthNet for Climate Justice
Bangladesh Model Youth Parliament
I am woman אני אשה أنا امرأة
Aaprabasi Mahila Kamdar Samuha (AMKAS)Nepal
Community Initiatives for Development in Pakistan
Women Initiative for Peace and Governance (WIPGG Nigeria)
International Alliance of Women
Women Against Rape (WAR) Inc.
Center Women and Modern World
OutRight Action International
GESTOS – Soropositivity Communication and Gender
Bretton Woods Project
Society for International Development (SID)
ligue pour la solidarité congolaise
collectif des associations feminines pour le developpement
Global Forest Coalition
Rwenzori Center for Research and Advocacy
International Network of Women Engineers and Scientists
Heinrich Böll Foundation Washington, DC
International Women's Rights Project
Fiji Women's Rights Movement
International Council of Women
Family Education Services Foundation
Women's World Summit Foundation
Global Network of Sex Work Projects
Jagriti Mahila Maha Sangh
Organization for Community Development (OCD)
Gandhian Unit for Integrated Development Education (GUIDE)
Advocacy Partners Team
Centre for Social and Behaviour Change Communication
Tamilnadu state construction workers union
Chennai Center for Social Research Organization Society
Action for Improvement of Food Child and Mother ( AFICM)
Advocacy for women in peace and security- Africa ( AWAPSA)
CLEAN (Coastal Livelihood and Environmental Action Network)
Women's Leadership Training Centre
Women Network for Energy and Environment (WoNEE)
Rural Integrated Development Organization
Le Monde selon les femmes
Wen (Women's Environmental Network)
Marche Mondiale de Femmes-Belgique
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
Women's Environment and Development Organization (WEDO)
Grassroots Global Justice Alliance
The Centre for Social Research and Development (CSRD)
Women's Welfare Center
Blind Women Association, Nepal (BWAN)
Access Planet Organization
Center for Women's Global Leadership
WIDE+ (Women In Development Europe+)
Transnational Institute (TNI)
Persatuan Sahabt Wanita Selangor
Association for Progressive Communications Women's Rights Programme
Let There Be Light International
Clean Clothes Campaign International Office
Adliga: Women for full Citizenship
Regional Coalition against Trafficking in Women and Girls in Latin America and the Caribbean
The Grassrooted Trust
Women's Leadership Centre, Namibia
The Young Feminist Movement Namibia YFEM Trust
Alianza por la Solidaridad
WAVE (Women in Adult & Vocational Education, Inc.)
Radha Paudel Foundation (RPF)
Women in Law and Development in Africa-Afrique de l'Ouest (WiLDAF-AO)
SOMO (Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations)
Denis Miki Foundation
Global Concerns India
Ipas Centroamérica y México (Ipas CAM)
Women's Human Rights Education Institute
Ban Ying e.V.
Mahila Shakti Bikash Kendra Nepal
Revista Estudos Feministas
Institute for Economic Justice
This statement is currently endorsed by the following individuals:
Eleni N Karaoli
Dr. Lissy Joseph
Rajend Naidu (Former Assistant Director of Social Welfare Department, Fiji )
M. Crispin Swedi Bilombele
Barbara van Koppen
Associate Professor, Ursula Barry
Hadass Ben Eliyahu
Katherine V Robinson
Prof. Ruth Halperin-Kaddari
Bianca Maria Pomeranzi
Mariyam mohamed didi
Jaime Todd-Gher, JD, LLM
Jane Aeberhard-Hodges, UNRISD Senior Research Associate
Bijaya Rai Shrestha
Françoise Tiendrebeogo Kabore
Theresa de Langis, PhD
Mubin Mohammad Amir Hamza
Catia C. Confortini
Regula Frey Nakonz
Dr. Uzodinma Adirieje
Dr. Tristaca McCray
Joseph M Puppa
Kamayani Bali Mahabal
Okeke Ngozi J.
Lebohang Liepollo Pheko
Dimple Oberoi Vahali
Juan Sebastián Jaime Pardo
Dr. Ameena Mohyuddin Zia
Prof Ritu Dewan
Tirumaleswara Rao Inala
Mulumeoderhwa Lushombo Theodore
Alex Govers Pijoan
Mariano Aguirre Ernst
Roshni Tariqiyati Tanzeem
Idriss Mamoud Dainkeh
Marcela de la Peña Valdivia
Arlene B. Tickner
Scott Nass, MD MPA FAAFP AAHIVS
Anna Eve Patel
Sarah M Baird
Bittu K R
Emilia Epeti Miki
Betty A. Reardon
Dr Natalie Jones
A. Erinc Yeldan
T. Sabri Öncü
Juan Somavia (Former Director of ILO)
Reineira Arguello Sanjuan
Prem Kumar Vijayan
Elisa Van Waeyenberge
Luzinete Simões Minella
Dr. Richard J. White