Saturday, November 3, 2012

Conference: Austerity, Social Collapse and Feminism

Illegitimate Debt, Austerity, Social Collapse and Feminism
What challenges, what alternatives, what actions?

We invite women’s networks, organizations and initiatives in Europe to a feminist Forum. It will be held during the "Firenze 10 + 10" event, between 8 and 11 November at the Fortezza da Basso, Florence.
Against the worst backlashes on our rights since WWII and against austerity policies, we want to build alliances, to discuss the new challenges and to develop feminist alternatives. To build a broad movement of feminis actions for another Europe : here is our goal!
Imposed under pressure from financial markets, austerity policies follow the same logic throughout Europe : a drastic reduction of public spending which translates into cuts in public services, social protection, wages, pensions, and sometimes in higher taxes that weighs mainly on the poor. These measures complement the neoliberal policies of privatization, labor market flexibilization and precarisation of labor relations.
Women are the first to be affected by these austerity policies for several reasons:
 Following the dismantling of the welfare state, it is women who must, through an increase in their unpaid and invisible work, provide the care neglected by the welfare state. There is already a real transfer of roles and responsibilities from the state to the private sector and to women, making free labor, stress, and violence against women swell, criminalizing their right to employment and forcing them back to their "traditional roles".
 Women make up the majority of the workforce of the welfare state and are directly affected by the austerity policies through staff reductions and pay in the public sector.
 They rely heavily on the services of the social state, which is also crucial  for their participation in the labor market and their economic autonomy.
 Women's health, especially sexual and reproductive health, allows them to exercise control over their own bodies and therefore their lives. The public health sector is very important for the effective promotion of gender equality. But austerity measures reduce funding in this area.
 Less public subsidies are also allocated to the prevention of AIDS, to abortion clinics, to family planning services, to pre-and post-natal care and to preventive healthcare for women.
These policies, in line with the neo-liberal model, are a threat to democracy and to our rights and constitute a backwards move. Back to home confinement, to extreme insecurity and dependence, to violence against women, to the exclusion of millions of women from access to basic needs.
Faced with this situation, women are organizing. In several European countries networks of feminist organizations wishing to voice their demands and alternatives, build solidarity, a European feminist movement of resistance against austerity. Initiatives have already taken place and continue with public debates, international tours of feminists in several European countries, the production of various publications ...
Refuse austerity, make our proposals heard
Not only austerity measures are socially unacceptable, they are also inefficient from an economic point of view. Presented as essential to reduce public deficits and debts, instead they initiate a vicious cycle: recession, rising deficits, austerity, etc…
Alternatives exist to this social collapse. They involve bringing the financial sector to democratic control. They also involve questioning the illegitimate public debt, as different citizen collectives auditing the debt do many countries.
European governments have clearly no intention to refuse the dictates of the financial markets or the austerity they impose ; we can only rely on the power born out of strong mobilization to impose change. But there will be no strong mobilizations without women, who represent more than half the population.
To fight against these austerity policies and implement proposals for the control of the financial sector, to develop a new model of society in Europe, we, women in Europe, must meet, discuss and act! In short, we need to create a process of union of European feminist struggles against illegitimate debt and austerity.
- Magda Alves - Member of the Portuguese feminist UMAR
- Sylviane DAHAN, "Women of Enllaç", Spokeswoman of the Federation of Local Associations in Barcelona
- Christiane Marty, a member of the Gender Commission of Attac and the Copernic Foundation
- Cathy Ménard, Women Solidarity Commission Loiret

No comments: