Women gang up against government austerity measures
By Cathy Maulidi:
Women under the banner feminomics have ganged up against austerity measures which the government introduced as a cost-cutting measure.
They say the measures impinge on their wellbeing.
Speaking at a conference Wednesday, one of the advocates from Mchinji Feminist Economic Hub, Joana Ching’amba, said the austerity measures hinder women as they cut expenditure in crucial sectors that affect women.
“For example, you see government cutting expenditure in the health sector. Who suffers the most when hospitals can’t offer services? The answer is women because women are always there to take care of a sick family member.
“If government is implementing austerity measures by not employing enough nurses, it does affect us. We want to change how economic structures operate. We want economic justice for women,” Ching’amba said.
Another feminomics hub leader from Rumphi District Shekinah Shupekile Msimuko said “enough is enough” with austerity conditions that are imposed on the nation by money lending institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
“In the past, before I joined the feminomics hub, I used to get excited when the International Monetary Fund gave us a loan. I did not know how such things work. But, now, I get angry because I know that for IMF to give us money, there are tough conditions that are always attached to the support and those conditions impinge on the rights of us, women. I’m talking about conditions such as austerity measures where IMF tells government to cut expenditure in some crucial sectors,” Msimuko said.
ActionAid Malawi Executive Director Pamela Kuwali said cutting expenditure in the health, education and social protection sectors does affect women and this is why women are saying no to austerity.
“We, as ActionAid, feel that neoliberalism that leads to austerity has not worked for Malawi. It was meant to promote growth for developing countries such as Malawi but, over the years, evidence suggests that this has not worked because our economy has continued to regress,” Kuwali said.
Budget and Finance Committee of Parliament Chairperson Gladys Ganda agreed with the women that some austerity measures are, indeed, unnecessary.
“Indeed, there are some austerity measures that do not make sense; for example, austerity measures to stop employing nurses, doctors in hospitals and, yet, you know that there is a gap for nurses and still you need to provide services,” she said.
Meanwhile, Finance Minister Sosten Gwengwe has said he has taken note of the concerns.