26 June 2016
What does the Brexit mean for us women?
The Brexit is not gender neutral.
What is good about the EU idea for everyone, whether living in Europe or elsewhere in the world, is the notion of open borders and open minds, giving us a pacifist, human rights-based identity – this promise is still there even if it has been fundamentally violated these past years.
What is good for everyone and especially women and for people who are in difficult situations – migrant workers, many of whom are women - and asylum seekers, many of whom are children - are the EU’s core philosophy and values of equality, rights, solidarity, social justice and a (certain degree of) commitment to climate justice.
What is good, especially for young people and children, is the freedom of movement of persons, the coming-together in work and leisure, in culture, sports, in teaching and research. The freedom of movement without visas and work permits could be hollowed out if the British government and the EU do not manage to negotiate an amicable separation.
What is bad about the EU for us women is the EU’s neoliberal economic policy – its penchant for deregulated labour markets and its fixation on debilitating fiscal austerity. These policies affect women in the workplace and in the care economy, because they undermine decent work and social security, and systematically underfund the necessary investments in education, health services, and social infrastructure – which need to expand massively. Neoliberal policies deprive us of leisure time. This will not change for people in Britain by leaving the EU – not as long as the UK Conservatives are in power.
There are gender implications also at the global level. The Brexit is by implication a nationalist choice. We as progressive women have a commitment to multilateralism, where the understanding is that not only all people but also all peoples are equal. National interests – perceived or real – need to be negotiated with all other countries’ interests to find common, humanist ground. That is why we support entities such as the EU and the UN – with all their faults (which we persistently analyse and patiently work on changing).
• For Europe:
We need to come up with “purple flags” – a list of those commitments that must be contained in the Brexit separation package – in the interest of women, of gender equality, the interests of youth, and children’s rights in the UK and in the EU.
We need to keep our eye trained on the UN ball. We need to make sure the UK meets its commitments to the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Some of the Conservative and pro-Brexit ideology is not conform with the spirit of the agenda of “transforming our world”.
• And last not least - but certainly not a footnote:
The selection of the next UN Secretary-General is imminent. The UK is a permanent member of the Security Council and in that capacity will cast their vote for the next S-G. We need to make sure that Mr Cameron or his successor vote for a gender-empowering person with courage. We need an S-G who will boldly defend human rights and promote economic and social justice, climate justice, and gender equality. Now more than ever.
The Sustainable Development Agenda has been adopted. As of 1 January 2016, governments, civil society, academics, philanthropic societies and even the business community are exploring how best and most effectively to begin its implementation. So, what is in it?
On my optimistic days, I am happy and welcome the Agenda. It has succeeded in combining a concern for the planet with the objective of equitable economic and social development. For decades, these two crucial concerns had been confined in separate silos and the obvious connection was not really made. The new Agenda now clearly states that equity cannot be achieved if large groups of humanity live in poverty and social exclusion, nor if the earth is overexploited and irreversibly damaged. The Agenda also visibly links sustainable development and human rights – and thereby establishes a platform for the disenfranchised to claim their rights. It has many points that speak to the empowerment of women and promises to overcome centuries-old gender oppression. It actually uses the word transformative – creating great expectations for radical change. So, there is a lot to be happy with.
On my cynical days, I totally question the entire exercise on many levels. First of all, the time line is ridiculous and obscene. The SDGs are to be delivered only by 2030. So, until then, one is accepting that millions of children will be stunted by malnutrition, mothers die in childbirth, workers slave in unacceptable forms of work, and the majority of the world’s population live without at least a minimum income, social protection, or property rights. The resources needed to attain sustainable development have not been committed: many governments are in fact cutting their budgets for social expenditures, the rich countries have not agreed to financially support the low-income countries’ public investments. Hardly any country is moving to tax the ultra-rich and make an effort to redistribute incomes and wealth, although income and wealth inequalities are at the highest point in a century. Also, most of the 193 governments that adopted the Agenda and committed to human rights and sustainable development violate many of those very principles. Human rights violations happen on a daily basis, in the openly violent form of political persecution, or in the more hidden forms of denying women and children access to health, education, and care, and exposing children and adults to exploitative forms of work in agriculture, manufacturing, mining, or fishing. Planetary destruction continues, even if the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, adopted in December 2015, promised to move away from harmful forms of energy into renewables.
On my analytical days, I re-read the Agenda and try to understand its logic. It then becomes clear to me that, in essence, it sounds transformative, but in essence merely reaffirms the prevailing power structures. The Agenda does not attack the logic of capitalism, which ultimately is at the root of poverty, systemic social exclusion, and the overuse of the planet’s resources. It is not really radical, but rather stands in the long line of well-meaning but ultimately inconclusive development decades. I appreciate that the text is as good as it could get, given the current constellation of power. For one, the old-and the newly-rich countries shape the global economy. They drove negotiations for a global agenda and made sure it did not rock the boat. For another, there are the elites in most countries who do not yet fully recognise that the current income inequalities result in political tensions that undermine everyone’s wellbeing. Therefore, it is in their own interest to enable a redistribution of wealth and incomes. They also need to recognise that an unsustainable exploitation of natural resources, of land, oceans, energy, will make the planet uninhabitable for all. The horrifying strife and violence we see in so many “fragile” states are ultimately a result of economic and ecological exploitation. But, given the power divides in the world, this is a text that the negotiations among very unequal powers could work out as a common denominator.
So then, on my activist days, I clearly see an opening: we must use the SDGs subversively. And this in two ways. Firstly, we need to seize the policy recommendations that can be gleaned from the text and move them forward aggressively. This refers to several important policy references contained in the text. After all, it has a number of references to gender equity and women’s empowerment. It promotes the social protection floors - which is crucial to universalising the fundamental right to social protection. That in turn would raise everyone’s income on the planet at least above the poverty line and ensure access to health services. It recognises the importance of the care economy and the need to introduce fair pay for care services. Those are big steps.
Secondly, we need to instrumentalise the promise of transformation conveyed by the text. To do that, we need to fill the policy gaps. The most important one is the missing policy framework for decent work. While decent work gets mention in many place, it is not spelt out how it would be achieved. Here, we therefore need to pull in some work from other parts of the UN system. There are the ILO Conventions on labour standards, and on the Worst forms of child labour (C 182 of 1999), the Convention on homework (C177 of 1996), the Convention on domestic workers (C 189 of 2011), and the most recent Recommendation on formalising the informal economy (R 204 of 2015). There is the analysis the ILO is leading on unacceptable forms of work. This policy work needs to be directly linked up with and integrated into the Sustainable Development Agenda.
Complementing this are the Human Rights Conventions, such as the Convention on the Eradication of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW, 1979), the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC, 1989), and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD, 2006). Each of these contain detailed policy prescriptions notably for decent work. There is moreover the path-breaking work of the OCHCR special rapporteurs on poverty, on the right to food, on slavery, on the right to health and the right to water, to name just a few that have direct relevance for the SDGs. The OHCHR processes are establishing soft law that can logically be connected to the new Sustainable Development Agenda. Technically, it is a small step, politically, it won’t be easy, but it can be done.
More difficult, challenging, but not impossible, we need to turn the entire logic of the Agenda on its head. By taking its transformative vocabulary seriously, we can point out that a genuine shift towards economic, social and ecological justice needs to move out of a capitalist logic. That is something that will require a very-broad political and social coalition. It will need to build alliances across interest groups, and use, expand and reinterpret the Sustainable Development Agenda. Let’s be subversive!
Still crying for Nepal – six months later
Six months after the Nepal earthquakes there has been a spike in international media interest in the country. Many programmes and articles have looked into the fate of the survivors. As six months ago, one needs to cry as one watches the footage or reads the reports – cry for those bereaved, those traumatised by the quake and continuing aftershocks, for those whose homes were destroyed and who huddle under tarpaulins and lean-tos. One can but cry for children who are orphaned or lost siblings and friends or are being trafficked; for the pregnant women and young mothers with so safe, clean, warm spaces; for widowed women; for women and girls lacking hygiene kits and privacy during menstruation. One cries for young men who had migrated to the Gulf states for work and cannot return home to help their families because of the cruel, feudal kafala system http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/06/01/us-nepal-migrants-qatar-idUSKBN0OH2ZM20150601 – akin to bonded labour. One cries for members of the Dalit and Tamang communities who, among the poorest in the country, find themselves pushed even further into income poverty and social exclusion http://idsn.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/UPR-Nepal-2015-Key-recommendations1.pdf. .
And one is totally distressed by the lack of action by Kathmandu political party bosses, who do not appear much concerned with the plight of these communities. More than six months after the earthquake, the government has failed to establish a reconstruction authority http://thehimalayantimes.com/nepal/pm-oli-seeks-nepali-congress-help-in-reconstruction-authority/ , which would be the conduit for finance towards the reconstruction of housing, schools, clinics, roads and walkways, and other infrastructure. This is all the more infuriating because the Nepal Planning Commission, together with the country’s line ministries and UN experts, had compiled a well-documented inventory of damage, reconstruction requirements, and associated cost for the donor meeting convened in June: the Post Disaster Needs Assessment http://www.preventionweb.net/english/professional/publications/v.php?id=44973 . http://icnr2015.mof.gov.np/uploaded//PDNA%20Volume%20A%20Final.pdf ; http://www.preventionweb.net/files/44973_pdnavolumeb.pdf.
Donors – India, the development banks, China, Japan, and others - pledged US$4 billion towards a reconstruction fund. But with few exceptions, such as the Asian Development Bank, donors are reluctant to disburse funds before the technical and accountability and monitoring mechanisms are in place. Perhaps a lame excuse, perhaps a valid concern. The people affected are those under the tarpaulins, not those in the offices. Among those who could benefit are migrant workers who – for the sad reason of earthquake destruction – would perhaps find employment at home generated by a solid and professionally-coordinated reconstruction effort.
But while no – or very limited - reconstruction finance is reaching the country, humanitarian aid efforts do impress. Humanitarian assistance has arrived in many forms. Local youth, often from privileged backgrounds, have been trekking to villages with supplies and donations. Some NRNs – non-resident Nepalis from the professional and business classes - have returned with capital and skills. Foreigners, from long-time humanitarians to tourists, are supporting villages and communities, hands-on and with donations.
On a more coordinated level, the UN has been able to distribute US$ 25 million in the form of cash benefits and employment schemes http://www.unocha.org/nepal. UNICEF has partnered with the Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Government, and the district committees to provide a top up of US$ 30 per person to all current recipients of government assistance – widows, people with disabilities, seniors, children of the Dalit caste. US$ 15 million are available for this, and have so far reached 300 000 people http/::unicef.org.np:uploads:files:699923547224887400-051015-road-to-recovery-project-briefing.pdf. This is in parallel to the massive effort to provide food and tents, led by the World Food Programme https://www.wfp.org/emergencies/nepal/, and the health clinics and vaccination drives, drinking water purification measures, and temporary school spaces that have been set up by several UN agencies.
There are two other key - but literally invisible - areas of post-earthquake professional aid. One is around psychosocial support to deal with distress and traumata, coming from UNICEF, http://unicef.org.np/media-centre/reports-and-publications/2015/06/10/unicef-child-protection-nepal-earthquake-response-april-may-2015 and from NGOs such as OXFAM https://www.oxfam.org/en/nepal-earthquake-nepal/nepal-earthquake-response-six-months and Don Bosco http://www.don-bosco-mondo.de/projekte/projektlaender/asien/nepal/erdbeben-in-nepal-don-bosco-einrichtungen-bieten-schutz-und-unterkunft.
Another is around offering – at least minimal - hygiene and personal safety items to women and girls – sanitary pads, flashlights, whistles. This is a wonderful initiative of UN Women and UNFPA that needs more recognition and support. http://iawg.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/UNFPA_Dignity-Kit-Guidance-note.pdf; http://www.unwomen.org/en/news/stories/2015/5/restoring-dignity-women-mobilize-relief-efforts-in-nepal.
But two huge challenges exacerbate the earthquake tragedy. Both stem from the fact that Nepal is riven by massive economic poverty - 8 million people - out of the country's 28 million population - live with less than $1.25 per day. The economic poverty is made worse and intersects with soul-deep gender discriminaton and caste and ethnic divisions.
The upheaval among the Tharu and Madheshi communities in the southern districts of Nepal has resulted in more than 40 deaths. Imports of medicines, foodstuffs, building materials, and fuel have been disrupted since September. The conflict was ignited by the new Constitution, which is seen to systematically under-represent the Terai communities in national decision making bodies. Many Nepali journalists are accusing the government of India of blockading Nepal to pressurise for amendments in the Constitution; Indian commentators describe the fear of Indian transport workers who consider entering Nepal as too risky. In any case, it would be the urgent responsibility of the political leaders and of the intellectual elites of Nepal to press for a peaceful and equitable resolution of this political conflict turned violent.
The Dalit – the Oppressed – caste has traditionally been excluded economically, socially, politically. This syndrome is reproduced painfully in the post-earthquake situation http://idsn.org/urgent-appeal-to-combat-caste-discrimination-in-nepal-earthquake-relief-efforts/. There are numerous reports of Dalit villagers not receiving allocations of food or other aid. In a recent survey, 80% of the Dalits interviewed felt there has been wilful negligence in providing the relief and immediate support. http://idsn.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/REPORT-OF-IMMEDIATE-ASSESSMENT-Relief-for-Dalits-in-NEPAL-2015.pdf.
What can be done? Some issues will take a generation to eliminate – ethnic and caste discrimination may be reinforced or condoned by elites, but the actual transgressions occur at the community level; thus it will require patient behaviour change influence to eradicate these forms of oppression, in addition of course to implementing the existing anti-discrimination legislation. Other issues need to tackled head-on immediately. They include as a matter of urgency the politics and violence surrounding controversial sections of the Constitution, and the institutional vacuum created by the absence of a reconstruction authority.
How much longer does one need to cry for Nepal?
Also see for documentation on the situation and an interview calling for tourism, humanitarian aid, and reconstruction finance as ways to support Nepal http://www.3sat.de/page/?source=/boerse/magazin/183816/index.html .
Seven Decades of ‘Development’, and Now What?
Year 2015 is slated as a year of transformation to address unprecedented political, ecological, social, gender and economic inequities. UN negotiations are underway to produce new sustainable development goals (SDGs). The paper argues that ideas matter in the conceptualisation of development agendas, which in turn depend on power constellations within and between the first UN—the member states, the second UN—the UN secretariat and agencies, and the third UN—civil society. The paper tracks past development decades and examines whether the SDGs can and will be as visionary as the UN Charter adopted in 1945, which created moral pressure for institutional and policy change.
Journal of International Development Special Issue: The Post-2015 Moment: Towards Sustainable Development Goals and a New Global Development Paradigm
Volume 27, Issue 6, pages 733–751, August 2015
24 June 2015
Siehe auch http://www.weltwirtschaft-und-entwicklung.org/wearchiv/042ae6a4c10fd6b01.php http://menschliche-entwicklung-staerken.dgvn.de/meldung/addis-new-york-worum-geht-es-da-eigentlich/ http://www.wecf.eu/german/presse/2015/SDG-Informationsbrief.php
2015: auf 3 Gipfel zusteuernd
Der G7-Gipfel mit seinen scheinbar progressiven aber letztendlich zaghaften Entscheidungen und der spannende Münchner Alternativgipfel mit der harten Analyse von ungefesselter Globalisierung und Klimazerstörung sind vorbei. Jetzt geht es um globale Gipfel, deren in diesem Jahr drei anstehen.
Zur Erinnerung: 2015 sind es über 40 Jahre, seit die Umwelt das erste Mal in einer umfassenden Konferenz thematisiert wurde. 2015 sind es 20 Jahre seit der Beijinger Weltfrauenkonferenz und dem Weltsozialgipfel von Kopenhagen. Diese Konferenzen waren Meilensteine einer progressiven internationalen Politik. In den 60er Jahren fing man an, sich um die Umwelt zu sorgen, aufgerüttelt durch Umweltstudien wie Rachel Carsons Silent Spring (New York, 1962) und die Warnungen des Club of Rome. Als Antwort auf die Stockholmer Umweltkonferenz wurde 1972 UNEP gegründet. In den 90er Jahren gab es in vielen der politisch-einflussreichen Länder Regierungen, die positiv auf den internationalen sozialpolitischen Diskurs ausstrahlten. Die UNO hatte ihrerseits Auftrieb durch das Ende des kalten Krieges und charismatische Beamte an der Spitze, und machte sich endlich wieder stark für Menschenrechte und soziale Gerechtigkeit.
Die Weltlage ist 2015 nicht so progressiv gestimmt – obwohl UN-Generalsekretär wie Regierungsvertreter gern etwas euphemistisch von einer „transformativen Agenda“ sprechen, die die Milleniumsziele ablösen solle. Der „Norden“ ist konservativ und in grossen Teilen der Austerität verschrieben, und der „Süden“ hat sich entsolidarisiert durch das Heranwachsen von Schwellenländern.
Zur Finanzierung von nachhaltiger Entwicklung
In der letzten Woche verhandelten in der UN in New York die 193 UN-Mitgliedsländer das Dokument zur Finanzierung der Entwicklung - im Insiderjargon FfD für financing for development – das auf der Dritten Internationalen Konferenz zur Entwicklungsfinanzierung (Addis Abeba, 13.-16. Juli) verabschiedet werden soll. Der UN-Konferenz werden ein Internationales Frauenforum Financing for Gender Equality (10. Juli) https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1rvX-mB3vSuduWXQbRpdSqLxxKznj_3oJxamEJuvWYr8/viewform?c=0&w=1 und ein Forum der Nichtregierungsorganisationen vorausgehen (11.-12. Juli) https://csoforffd.wordpress.com/cso-forum.
Es geht um die Finanzierung von entwicklungsrelevanten Ausgaben, und um die Rolle des Staates und der öffentlichen Hand. Es geht um systemische Themen wie Handelspolitik, Entschuldungsfragen, Technologietransfer und eine bessere Koordination von makro-ökonomischer Politik und Regulierung der Finanzströme. Es geht um die Einrichtung einer internationalen Behörde zur Steuerkooperation (UN Tax Cooperation Body), die Steuern harmonisieren und Steuerflucht in den Griff bekommen könnte. Es geht auch darum, ob die UN in Zukunft wieder die oberste normative Instanz werden könnte für die Modalitäten der Entwicklungsfinanzierung, oder ob dieser zentrale Politikbereich weiterhin bei Weltbank, Weltwährungsfonds und einer Vielzahl an selbsternannten global governance groups - von Davos über die BRICS bis zu G7 und G20 - verbleibt. Und schliesslich geht es – nicht unerheblich - auch darum, wie und wo das Einfordern der Vereinbarungen organisiert wird.
Die Verhandlungspositionen zur Finanzierungskonferenz sind sichtlich verhärtet; viele progressive Positionen wurden aus dem Textentwurf herausgestrichen oder verwässert. Die dritte und – vorgesehen letzte – FfD-Vorverhandlungsrunde musste in die Verlängerung gehen. Inhaltliche Differenzen betreffen vor allem die Modalitäten für Technologietransfer, das Herangehen an Steuerpolitik, und die Frage des Monitoring. Politische Differenzen ranken sich - wie auch in der Klimarahmenkonferenz - um ein noch viel vertrackteres Thema. Es geht darum, ob die Industrieländer ihre historische Verantwortung für den Klimawandel schultern – oder darauf bestehen, dass „der Süden“ ebensostark zur Finanzierung beiträgt.
Die SDGs: Licht und Schatten
Bei „FfD“ geht es im Kern um eine verbindliche Finanzierung von ökonomischen, sozialen und ökologischen Zielen. Die Agenda zur nachhaltigen Entwicklung umfasst nämlich alle Themen, die die UN die letzten 45 Jahre auf grossen und kleinen Gipfeln angegangen ist. Wie inzwischen wohlbekannt, umreissen die Nachhaltigen Entwicklungsziele (sustainable development goals – kurz SDGs) 17 Zielbereiche zu ökonomischen, sozialen, friedenspolitischen und ökologischen Anliegen. Damit gehen sie thematisch weit über die Millenniumsziele hinaus, die sich ja vornehmlich auf sozialpolitische Ziele - Hunger, Einkommensarmut, Bildung und Gesundheit - konzentriert hatten.
Es gibt normative Ziele, die in den MDGs nicht einmal angedacht waren – die Überwindung der Ungleichheit innerhalb und zwischen Ländern, die Förderung nachhaltiger Konsum- und Produktionsweisen, und eine Verpflichtung zu friedlicher Konfliktlösung, guter Regierungsführung und dem allgemeinen Zugang zur Rechtsprechung. In der Präambel werden Menschenrechte und die Menschenrechtserklärung hervorgehoben. Mehrere der SDGs und der Unterziele sind breiter ausgefächert als sie es in den MDGs waren – z. B. die, die Frauen, Kinder, und indigene Völker betreffen.