Women from Africa, North and South America, Asia, and Europe participating in the Global Forum, presented women’s alternatives to neo-liberalism this morning.
In Latin America—where women were the first ones to criticize the existing economic model—while funds dedicated to social development grew by 12 points in the last decade, the number of poor increased to 21 million people, said Cecilia Lopez, from the Feminist Cartagena Initiative. This proves the failure of the current economic model, she said.
In Southeast Asia, the latest economic crisis pushed women to think of alternatives to the current economic model, according to Gigi Francisco of DAWN Southeast Asia. For instance, some poor communities in Thailand have established their own community currency to lessen their dependence on their national fluctuating currency.
Even though European men and women tend to benefit from the current economic model, poverty and gender gaps are still realities, said Marta Salazar, from KULU and WIDE. But there is room inside NGOs and political parties for the social movement to work on these realities, she said.
In Africa, international financial institutions policies can have tragic influences on people, said Zo Randriamaro, of the Gender and Economic Reform in Africa. For instance, in Ghana, one condition for granting debt relief is a reform of the national water company in view of its privatization, which will lead to the exclusion of many poor people from the water service.
Finally, Carol Barton, from the Women’s International Coalition for Economic Justice, said that development is not only an issue of the South, since the poor are present in countries of the North, too. She denounced the welfare system reform that was voted in the US five years ago, and which kept or pushed many single mothers into poverty.
Barton proposed that states should play a central role in providing social services, and not just leave it to the private sector. She also advocated for social services that take into account women needs, and are not based on race, religion or class differences.
She concluded that North and South should join forces to challenge these failing neo-liberal policies.
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