BY Sachini Perera
How does it feel to be in an economic crisis? How does it show up in our bodies? Can we talk about the economy without talking about our bodies? Who gets to comment on macroeconomic policies, international financial institutions (IFIs) and the need for reforms? These are some of the questions RESURJ members and other younger feminists from the Global South are exploring in our first edition of Reflections for 2023.
For too long those of us in the Global Souths have been made to accept the economy as something that happens to us rather than a series of deliberate policy choices by elites (whether it is politicians, corporations, civil society, academics, etc.) that do not center people — especially those who are structurally excluded — and aim to maintain the existing world order. Points of intervention and advocacy are few and far between, especially at local and national level, and dominant narratives that accept neoliberal macroeconomic policies, unjust and colonial IFIs, etc. as inevitable and as the status quo are hard to challenge, debunk and restructure. And an economic crisis is never separate from a political crisis, as countless examples from Sri Lanka to Pakistan to Sudan to Lebanon would show, even as governments and neoliberal think tanks try to portray them as separate and prioritize economic stability.
Even as we prepared for this edition of Reflections, many younger feminists from the Global South were hesitant to enter the discussion because we are made to feel that we lack the expertise, language and technical knowledge to make a contribution. If the jargon in the previous paragraph itself is anything to go by, that is a valid concern but one that we should and can challenge.
There are feminist activists and feminist economists who have over the last few decades been cultivating a robust body of research, demands and alternatives that not just articulate a vision of feminist economic justice but also try to construct and practice the same. This edition of Reflections joins such attempts and tries to understand the various ways our bodily autonomy and freedoms are located and affected in times of economic crisis and in terms of neoliberal economic policies.
- Sarah Kaddoura offers up an evocative, personal reflection examining the Lebanon Financial Crisis through her mother’s experiences as a refugee.
- “The IMF can never deliver gender justice, because it is not designed to do so: it is at the centre of a global economic system that extracts and exploits in explicitly colonial, gendered, racial and classist ways,” writes Sanyu Awori from Kenya and Marta Music from ex-Yugoslavia.
- What does 2023 hold for Sudan? Ronnie Vitalia reflects on the months that have passed and the political-economic impasse Sudan finds itself in. Ronnie wrote this in February 2023 and it continues to resonate as the crisis in Sudan intensifies at time of publishing.
- In Sri Lanka, Niyanthini Kadirgamar writes how “women are at the receiving end of both the crisis and the IMF solutions to the crisis”.
We are excited to have 3 reflective and timely pieces from Egypt.
- Heba Anees explores Egypt’s food security, writing about the changes women and families undergo due to the price hikes that have accompanied the IMF loan.
- What happens to prisoners in Egypt during an economic crisis? RESURJ member Nana Abuelsoud writes about prisoners and their families and reminds us that our movements and policies need to encompass multiple, vulnerable populations.
- Nada Wahba unpacks an age-old problem in the international development sector highlighting that “patch-up solutions to solving structural problems” are ineffective remedies.
- “Feminist collectives and organisations can play a critical role in forming such a people’s coalition for the global South. Only those of us dying under debt can bring an end to the continuous exploitation of our bodies, our lands and our waters,” writes Tooba Syed from Pakistan.
- Finally, in a piece on Qatar, Mariam Diefallah reminds us of new realities that now underpin changing contexts and of South-South power dynamics.
While we reached out to feminists from many territories in the Global South that are currently grappling with various stages of economic crises, we didn’t receive contributions from some. However we are heartened to feature more feminists than ever from North Africa and Western Asia than we have in our previous editions.
We hope you enjoy this edition and we’d love to receive your comments and feedback to info at resurj dot org