October 13, 2022

 

We, feminist organizations, networks, allies, and individuals, believe in a world of justice and well-being for everyone. That is why we, women around the globe, strongly and openly reject the International Monetary Fund’s new Gender Strategy. 

First of all, let us put it in context. On July 28, 2022, the IMF published its first gender mainstreaming strategy stating that reducing gender disparities goes hand-in-hand with higher economic growth’. 

After having read and analyzed in-depth the IMF's Strategy, we joined forces and on October 6, 2022 we released an open letter. In that document, we denounce the International Monetary Fund’s strategy Toward Mainstreaming Gender. We also state our reasons and concerns, followed by specific demands. While the strategy’s core failure is its ignorance and undermining of the  human rights framework, we also detail 7 fundamental failures in the statement. We will mention some of them later in this press release.

With that said, here’s the deal: despite IMF member states being legally bound by these obligations, “The IMF has historically shown a refusal to abide by the human rights framework,” said Emilia Reyes, economist and feminist activist. We then question the expertise, the technical and the ethical standing to advise in matters of gender equality and women’s and girls' human rights.” 

Put it in a nutshell: why do we as feminists repudiate the IMF’s strategy? It is because it imposes a commodification of the gender equality agenda; and such commodification is in direct opposition to feminist principles. 


In addition, signatory feminists assert the IMF’s ineptitude and illegitimacy in the role of improving gender equality and women’s human rights in developing countries, given the Fund’s persistent insistence on macroeconomic policies that have been devastating for women’s rights. They highlight the democratic deficiency in the decision-making process at the IMF, as power dynamics are skewed toward G7 countries.

"There is no denying the unequal governance of the IMF Board rooted in colonial power dynamics," said Bhumika Muchhala, Senior Advisor and Advocate on Global Economic Governance and Justice with the Third World Network. "It is critically problematic to instrumentalise women's labour force participation and gender gaps as 'macro-critical,' in the context of the Fund's decades long history of policy paradigms that have generated structural gender inequalities, such as fiscal consolidation, labor flexibilization, financial liberalization and the privatization of state-owned enterprises."

Case in point: we make reference to a recent report showing that 85 percent of the global population will live under some sort of austerity measures by 2023. The IMF has been undermining the key fiscal policy tools that have historically supported the largely unpaid care economy across the developing world, such as social protection and high-quality, well-funded public services. Yes, we are calling out their hypocrisy, given their modus operandi for the last decades. We found a lot of discrepancies, but we will not be silenced!

“It is impossible for the IMF to conciliate a gender strategy with its 40-year history of an austerity bias that has negatively affected women’s economic and social rights, livelihoods, and well-being,” said Verónica Serafini, feminist activist and economist with Latindadd. “What we are seeing is a pink-washing programme that promotes an ever-expanding encroachment into the policy space and economic sovereignty of developing countries.“

In short, we express serious concerns about the colonial pretense of the IMF expanding its presence at the national level in developing countries. This undermines the existing expertise of the feminist movement and the institutional mechanisms for the advancement of women that were gained over decades of hard work by the women’s movement. 

Our goal: In the letter, we demand 5 actions from the IMF, with the two main points summarized here:

  • We demand that the IMF initiates a serious assessment of the institution’s inherent bias toward fiscal consolidation, particularly during economic crises and downturns. Such a reassessment would be a far more meaningful indication of the IMF's commitment to women's human rights and gender equality.
  • We demand the IMF to initiate an internal revision of the IMF's own governance, mechanisms, and policies to be aligned with the human rights framework and to be consistent with principles of economic, gender, environmental and distributive justice. 

This sole revision will have a far greater positive impact in developing countries than any other thematic strategy from the IMF. 

Let’s stop this, together. As a follow-up action to the open letter, activists are organizing a series of activities, including this press release and a social media campaign. 

At the moment of writing, more than 100 organizations have endorsed the statement. We invite people who are willing to demand fair and equitable policies, to call attention to this rejection of the IMF gender strategy. Endorsements can be added to the statement here.



Contact: 

Mumbi Kasumba: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Yasmine Bilkis Ibrahim: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Auska Ovando, CESR: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.