Ahead of the annual worldwide ’16 Days of Activism’ against gender-based violence, Oxfam Novib published The Assault of Austerity Report this week. This international report shows that women, girls and marginalized groups in particular see their situation further deteriorated by the cuts that four out of five governments around the world are now focusing on. This involves cuts to public services, including health care and education.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has made it clearer than ever how important access to care and education is. Moreover, before the pandemic, access was already restricted in many countries. By 2023, 85% of the world’s population will face austerity measures. Women, girls and marginalized groups in particular see their position in society deteriorate further. Not only their care duties, but also the poverty and violence against them threaten to exacerbate further.
My name is Berkhout, an economist at Oxfam Novib and co-author of the report: “Neoliberal austerity policies lead to further marginalization and exploitation of women and girls and other groups who are already struggling, while many large corporations and the wealthy benefit from favorable tax rules. Governments must commit to an economy that addresses inequality equality, rather than increasing it.
Some facts from the report:
- According to UN Women, 1.7 billion women and girls will live below the poverty line by 2022, and almost one in three women will be food insecure by 2021.
- In 2021, Kenya secured a $2.3 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund on the condition, among other things, that it raise taxes on food and gas for cooking. This while more than three million Kenyans are starving due to severe drought in the country.
- In ten countries, including Kenya and Namibia, public sector salaries are being frozen or cut at the request of the International Monetary Fund, which could lead to fewer health workers or lower quality education in countries where access to education and care is already limited, especially for For women and girls.
- In 2020, Nigeria announced cuts of 42% in healthcare and 54% in education in response to the economic impact of its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Nigeria already has one of the highest maternal mortality rates worldwide. According to the World Health Organization, the lifetime risk of dying for a woman in Nigeria during pregnancy, childbirth or miscarriage is 1 in 22, compared to her lifetime risk of 1 in 4,900 for women in rich countries.
- In 2022, only 26% of all members of the national parliament will be women.
The report highlights that it is so difficult that many developing countries, often facing debt repayments, are having to implement austerity measures at a time when citizens around the world are facing a rising cost of living.
Therefore, Oxfam is calling on governments around the world to:
- Fight extreme inequality by taxing profits and wealth more equitably and investing in universal access to essential services. A progressive tax of 2% to 10% on the wealth of millionaires and billionaires could collect $1.1 trillion more than the average annual savings that government austerity could generate.
- Improving working conditions for women and other marginalized groups.
- Poor countries no longer have to cut back on health care, education, and social security services under the pressure of their debt burden, they must be helped to finance them.
- Supporting feminist organizations through more funding. Most neoliberal policies are made by men, not women.
Download Oxfam’s Assault on Austerity report.
Oxfam Novib releases this report ahead of its annual worldwide ’16 Days of Activism’ against gender-based violence. Since 1991, more than 6,000 organizations from more than 185 countries have participated in this campaign.