Women’s ENews has a very informative commentary on the IMF and it’s value to women.
(WOMENSENEWS)–Earlier this month President Bush, in a speech to the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, opined that microcredit has “been very successful.”
Bush went on to say, “If you’re a rural farmer scratching out a subsistence living, would you want to be able to sell your goods to new markets overseas?” Don’t you “want to be able to sell into a larger universe?”
Apparently Bush and others believe that rural farmers will successfully exit subsistence agriculture and start competing for market share side by side with multinational powerhouses like ConAgra, General Foods and Nestle.
This equates the activities of the world’s largest corporations with the activities of peasants–mostly women–bartering in rural fairs. Yeah, right.
One expects Bush to endorse policies popular at the World Bank. But when the Nobel Prize Committee, the United Nations and hundreds of international development agencies join the celebration of microcredit as the key to reducing female poverty via women’s economic empowerment we have an obligation to probe their underlying premises.
Powerful policy makers–at the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the Federal Reserve and the White House–share the view that markets (specifically the individual exchanges that occur in markets) will save the world’s poor.
This view is an article of faith for neo-liberals since they adhere to the economic philosophy that holds that capitalism and unfettered markets will cure the world’s ills. It assumes that poverty is a problem of individual behavior.
In this article the authors contrasts the IMF approach with SEWA (SELF EMPLOYED WOMEN’S ASSOCIATION) approach.
In our experience, poor women’s growth, development and employment occurs when they have work and income security and food security. It also occurs when they are healthy, able to access child care and have a roof over their heads. In order to ensure that we are moving in the direction of our two goals of Full Employment and Self Reliance, constant monitoring and evaluation is required. In a membership-based organisation, it is the member’s priorities and needs which necessarily shapes the priorities and direction of the organisation. Hence, it is appropriate that member’s themselves develop their own yardstick for evaluation. The following ten question have emerged from the members and continually serve as a guide for all members, group leaders, executive committee members and full-time organisers of SEWA. It is also useful for monitoring SEWA’s progress and the relevance of its various activities and their congruence with member’s reality and priorities. It also increases the accountability of SEWA’s leaders and organisers, to their members.
development and employment occurs when they have work and income security and food security. It also occurs when they are healthy, able to access child care and have a roof over their heads
This is a lesson it seems the suits have yet to learn. Not just the suits with the IMF, of course, our own politicians don’t seem to get it, or don’t care to get it either.
And while this seems wonderful, supportive, and practical, I’m sure to the suits it sounds like the people’s revolution:
SEWA is both an organisation and a movement. The SEWA movement is enhanced by its being a sangam or confluence of three movements : the labour movement, the cooperative movement and the women’s movement. But it is also a movement of self-employed workers : their own, home-grown movement with women as the leaders. Through their own movement women become strong and visible. Their tremendous economic and social contributions become recognised.
As we face the next cenury, we recognise the numerous challenges ahead. With globalization, liberalization and other economic changes, there are both new opporunities as well as threats to some traditional areas of employment.
More than ever, our members are ready to face the winds of change. They know that they must organise to build their own strength and to meet challenges. There are still millions of women who remain in poverty and are exploited, despite their long hours of hard labour. They bear the brunt of the changes in our country and must be brought into the mainstream, so as to avail of the new opportunities that are developing with regard to employment.
Also there is much to be done in terms of strengthening women’s leadership, their confidence, their bargaining power within and outside their homes and their representation in policy-making and decision-making for a. It is their issues, their priorities and needs which should guide and mould the development process in our country. Toward this end, SEWA has been supporting its members in capacity-builiding and in developing their own economic organisations.
To which I can only say viva la revolution!