Feminist Fiscal Justice and the IMF
Dear Colleagues, Mentors and Friends:
Greetings! I hope this finds you well and safe.
As many of you know, we held a virtual event last Friday 8th October at the IMF-World Bank's Civil Society Policy Forum titled, "Feminist Fiscal Justice and the IMF: Insights from Pakistan and Ecuador's Extended Fund Facility loan programmes." Over 200 people participated in our event, which featured Gita Sen (DAWN), James Heintz (University of Massachusetts-Amherst), Carolina Renteria (IMF Fiscal Affairs Department), Bilquis Tahira (Shirakat-Pakistan) and Andrea Guillem (Ecuadorian Center for Economic and Social Rights).
The video of our session is available here, in English, Spanish and Arabic, and a brief summary will be made available soon upon request. In acknowledgement that many of you have been leading voices and authors in the arena of feminist fiscal justice, your feedback, advice and ideas are very much welcome!
A few key messages generated from the event include:
— The IMF must be held accountable for producing gendered austerity crises that violate women's economic, social and human rights through its fiscal and monetary policy conditions in the Covid era, as well as since the 1980s.
— Protect and expand fiscal space to tackle the massive roll-back in women's rights and gender equality in the Covid era. Specifically, if we don’t treat care work and public services as fiscal investments in the next generation with multiplying returns, they become easy targets of austerity.
— Time poverty and gender inequality research shows that women's employment does not necessarily reduce intersectional inequalities and can exacerbate time poverty and mental health challenges; instead gender equality requires that fiscal policy prioritizes scaling up long-term investments for public systems and services and for the IMF's Debt Sustainability Analysis to integrate gender equality financing commitments.
— Unpaid care and social-reproductive work comprises the largest historical subsidy to the market economy. Macroeconomic policy needs to recalibrate the relationship between the market and non-market economy by uplifting care to the center of the economy. Liquidity injections and corporate bailouts will do little to stave off a looming economic crisis in unpaid care due to the pandemic and climate crises.
— The IMF’s ongoing Gender Strategy should develop a paper to support the Fund’s guidance on how to channel SDRs (from the recent allocation of $650 billion of SDRs) to address the crisis of gender inequality and women’s economic and social rights in the context of pandemic recovery in low and middle-income developing countries.
— Effectively, the IMF's conditions and engagements all too frequently push countries towards policies and actions which are not aligned with their human rights obligations as duty-bearing states. The IMF should conduct ex-ante women’s rights and human rights assessments, taking human rights norms, obligations and impacts into account.
— Who is actually paying the Global South’s debt burdens, which are at a historical record high? The embodied labour of the South’s women, through unpaid care work and low-wage informal sector work.
— Feminist economists have critical advice. Will the IMF listen?
Please do share with your networks and anyone interested.
With kind regards,
Senior Policy Advocate and Advisor, Global Economic Governance,
Third World Network (TWN)
Rethinking Global Economic Policy: Proposals on Resilience, Rights and Equity for the Global South (Third World Network, 2021)
The Southern Origins of the Sustainable Development Goals: Ideas, actors, aspirations (World Development, 2020)
Report of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Development (UN General Assembly, 75th session, 2020)