This critical review of World Bank Policy and practice came
Lerner of MAI -not, and was passed on by ICCAF sleuth John Mutambirwa.
It confirms the conclusions of the on the ground study in Kenya by Terisa
Turner of Guelph that official policies affecting women, especially arouind
land, are usually hostile to women's interest, and require major battles to
note also the web site mentioned at the top, www.whirledbank.org for humour
of the day!
Women and The World Bank
World Bank loans and International Monetary Fund-imposed Structural
Adjustment Programs (SAPs),have stripped many women of what meager health
and education benefits were once available to them. Women's formal sector
unemployment has increased due to IMF-induced recessions, privitizations,
and government cutbacks. In Central Asia, for example, women have been the
targets of dramatic job losses as state-owned companies are sold to the
private sector. Women's unemployment average 70% in Armenia, Russia,
Bulgaria and Croatia, and topped 80% in the Ukraine, according to a recently
released report from the Women's Environment and Development Organization
(WEDO). Sweatshops, whose workers are predominantly women, have
proliferated, specifically supported by IMF policies encouraging exports and
free trade zones.
Women in Africa
Food production and other activities that provide income and sustenance to
households have been undermined, as in Africa where incentives that switch
land and labor to export crop production have forced women to reduce time
tending farm plots that are the basis of food security and spend more time
as unpaid laborers. The proportion of female-maintained households continues
to grow as men become unemployed or are pushed out of their traditional
income- generating roles. This is on a continent where women farmers are
responsible for the majority of food production, policies designed to shift
resources into export-crop production contributed to decreases in per capita
food production in the 1980s of close to 2% a year. Food imports during that
time increased dramatically. In Kenya, women report planting tobacco right
up to their door, yet not having enough money from its sale to buy food, and
in Uganda, government incentives to produce beans for export left women
farmers with no food crops for their families. A woman farmer in Zaire,
referring to a scheme to switch land used for food into export-crop
production spoke to the wider reality of rural women across the continent
when she observed, "If you have to buy food, you will never have enough."
Women in Asia
For women in Asia, export-led growth has taken on a different dimension. Not
only do women dominate as workers in export industries, but they themselves
have become the important exports. In Indonesia, for example, women migrants
to the Middle East increased from 8,000 in 1979 to over 100,000 now. In the
Philippines, women's composed more than 60% of the 675,000 documented
overseas workers in 1994. The majority of women migrants are service workers
-- domestic helpers, entertainers and related work -- subject to harsh
living and working conditions and vulnerable to sexual abuse and violence.
Mortality rates of Filipino migrants -- measured conservatively by the
number of migrants whose bodies are flown back to the Philippines on
commercial carriers (a newly lucrative business, according to the airlines)
-- are far above the national average. In addition, they suffer ills common
to all migrant workers: separation from their children and
families, racial discrimination, cultural shock and social isolation in host
countries and social and economic reintegration problems upon return. Of the
2800 Filipino maids that work in the U.S., 2000 of them are employed by
staff at the World Bank and the IMF.
The above information has been adapted from: "Bailouts for Bankers, Burdens
for Women" by Lisa McGowan.
For the full text see:
World Bank Loans for Women
The World Bank has recently paid a tremendous amount of lip-service to
helping poor women based on the knowledge that women invest their earnings
in 'social capital' - food, education, and health care for their families -
more reliably than men. In 1995 the Bank and its partners launched the
Consultative Group to Assist the Poorest (CGAP) with a US$200 million budget
for the program. To date only US$30 million of this amount has materialized
as new financing. Despite this small sum of money this program represents a
clear departure from the traditional large infrastructure and structural
adjustment loans the Bank is known for.
But CGAP does not make direct loans to poor borrowers. Rather, this program
seeks to provide grant money to selected microcredit programs, improve donor
coordination, and promote 'best practices' for practitioners. The
Sustainable Energy and Economy Network says that CGAP is a flawed project
for five reasons.
First, the programme is being used by the Bank to leverage policy reforms
which "mirror the macro level measures imposed by the Bank under Structural
Adjustment Programmes (SAPs), including privatisation, deregulation, and
legal reforms, all of which benefit commercial bankers, not borrowers."
Second, the programme's "overall strategy for facilitating microcredit,
eligibility criteria for funding, and expenditures to date indicate that
well below 50 percent of the programme's budget may actually reach poor
women," the report states.
Third, the microlending 'best practices' being promoted under CGAP are
market-friendly, not women-friendly.
Fourth, poor women and small grassroots groups are excluded from CGAP's
decision-making process. And finally, in the report's view, CGAP's structure
"ultimately shields the World Bank from accountability to women."
For more information see:
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Last update: 12 Dec 2000