Demanding global equity this international women’s day
On by Alex Gallucci
Colonialism, global power inequalities and women’s empowerment are intertwined.
This International Women’s Day we are speaking out for gender equity and demand meaningful global unity to tackle the causes of unjust inequality.
Whether through supporting women to secure health essentials, improve education or gain financial independence, women’s empowerment is a central feature of many international organisations’ work.
However, as a sector, we need to go further. We must support the efforts of women who are tackling the causes of gender inequity and global inequality by challenging unjust power dynamics.
A legacy of colonial underdevelopment, which is maintained by the current economic system, has created a vastly unequal global society. The reason NGOs are having to secure healthcare essentials for people has everything to do with the years of imposed neo-liberal economics. In order to secure funding from international bodies, countries were forced to starve their public sectors.
This economic system has created structural injustices which disproportionately impact women and girls. This is especially prevalent in times of crises and health emergencies. As we are approaching the third anniversary since the World Health Organisation classified Covid-19 as a pandemic, global leaders must understand the unequal impact of the pandemic and act to mitigate the consequences.
The UN recently published that “a woman dies every 2 minutes due to pregnancy or childbirth.” This is an outrage that cannot be solved by simply addressing the symptoms. Keeping countries in unjust debt and forcing cuts to public services to uphold a failing neoliberal economic system must end.
Inequity is a political decision.
We cannot forget that women’s empowerment has oftentimes been used by the Global North to justify colonial interventions in the Global South as part of “saving” women. Powerful nations have incorporated “saving” women of certain religions into their foreign policy, including going as far as justifying military action.
In some cases international NGOs have even helped to justify and maintain these systems of oppression. As organisations we must recognise our power, and ensure our work supports people challenging these systems.
This International Women’s Day let’s accept that we need a truly global approach to tackling gender inequity.
While we have constructed this blog, the ideas are anything but our own! Some sources for information, that we recommend people read:
- “White Saviourism in International Development: Theories, Practices and Lived Experiences” edited by Themrise Khan, Kanakulya Dickson, Maïka Sondarjee
- “Do Muslim women need saving?” by Lila Abu-Lughod
- Some interesting work has been listed here.