by Vaseva Samugh

The current financial crisis is the worst that the world has ever dealt with since the Great Depression in the 1930's. The crisis began to take place in 2007 and believed to have started in the United States and rapidly spreading to the world in an economic recession.

But what are the causes of the global financial crisis? How could such a crisis happen? Who is responsible and how does it affect women? These are among the “hot” topics duirng UN 54th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW54), and the Global NGO Forum for Women: Beijing +15, held on 1st to 12th, March 2010 , in New York prior to CSW54.

A report paper by Adrian Blundell-Wignall and Paul Atkinson said that, causes of this crisis was the global macro liquidity policies and a very poor regulation framework that was not acting as a second line of defence but rather contributed to the crisis. The report also stated that the financial crisis originated from the “distortions and incentives created by past policy actions”.

The crisis affects women and men differently. Women, who mainly form the majority of the poor yet are the key investment to ending poverty in the world, like never before have been making economic gains in the past decades. But these women are always ignored when it comes to dealing with economics and finances.

Sikazwe from Zambia shared her views during CSW54 on how the financial crisis had and will further affect women's lives, particularly those in the rural areas. “The women wanted to know the difference it will make on their lives as they have always walked long distances to fetch water and firewood. ” Sikazwe explained, “Women cannot access basic health care, their children cannot go to school, and women do not know what it means to get social security.” She elaborated that the financial crisis is not only about the economics but the very survival of the many poor women who have been dying silently because their voices were never heard.

Radhika Balakrishnan, Executive Director of Center for Women’s Global Leadership and one of the speakers at the Global Forum for Women: Beijing +15, talked about how the economic policy that has been in place for the last three decades did not work. She pointed out that as women's movements, we should really look into the problems and scrutinise the kind of system that we live in today. Not only on the impact of the problems but to review the entire system as a whole and how women can assess the macro-economic policy that was guiding the world for the last 30 years. She goes on to say that, in doing this, human rights should be used as an ethical lens to evaluate the economic policy because it is not working for the majority of the people. In her speech Radhika mentioned that the economic crisis in the United States was a manufactured crises - how the State neglected taking care of the interests of working families, women & mothers and how it is really falling out of the pockets of the financial institutions and the banking industries.

In her conclusion she called on women's movements and feminists that they “should take back the State, it's ours and we should make them do what we want them to do”.

Sources:

Global financial crisis negatively impacts women’s lives

The Current Financial Crisis: Causes and Policy Issues

Global NGO Forum for Women Beijing + 15

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