A colleague of mine sent me a link to the Levy Economics Institute of Bard College where they do a lot of research on Gender Equality and Economic Issues. The Institute’s Rania Antonopoulos has just released a very interesting study on The Current Economic and Financial Crisis:
A Gender Perspective. It is an interesting addition to a growing field that finds that “widespread economic recessions and protracted financial crises have been documented as setting back gender equality and other development goals”. Problems with development goals include food insecurity, poverty and increasing inequality.
I learned that women’s economic and social role in an economy is one of the primary indicators of when and if a country will every creep its way off the bottom of Human Development index when I began to study development economics way back in the late 70s and early 1980s. Development economics spends a lot of time on institutions these days. I do a lot of my research into the depth and effectiveness of financial institutions. There are also legal institutions (like lack of government corruption and presence of an effective justice system) that make an important difference too. But, overlying all of these institutional institutions is the society’s treatment of women. Women’s access to education, birth control, and economic-self determination are essential to a country’s overall development. This is especially true for developing nations but it holds true for industrialized ones as well.
Antonopoulos poses an interesting question for those of us interested in both eliminating poverty and achieving gender equality throughout the world. She asks “what macroeconomic conditions must prevail for gender-equality processes to take root?” and argues that women’s rights can only be achieved if economic development is “broadly shared”. I was particularly awed by her treatment of women in her study.
Hence, women in this analysis are not featured as passive recipients of gender-equality policies, but rather as full citizens participating at all levels of economic, political, and social life. As active members of the community, women have a stake in putting forward comprehensive, coherent, and consistent proposals instead of being content with a piecemeal agenda that targets the “poor” and “women.”
I like this definition of equality as ‘full participation’ in all aspects of a community although I would add that as stake holders women (and indeed GLBT and other minorities kept in an inequality gulag) not only should achieve full participation but also full rewards for that participation.
One of the most compelling arguments that she makes for Gender Awareness is that frequently women’s most important roles in the local economy are in nonpaying jobs. She argues that you really can’t take any policy into full account unless you study the impact on all of women’s contributions to the economy. That includes work that does not entail monetary compensation but is welfare-enhancing.
While the former (paid work) in the private and public sectors (under formal contracts or informal arrangement) is largely recognized, unpaid work, which includes unpaid family work contributions, subsistence production, collection of free goods from common lands and volunteer work, household maintenance, and unpaid care work for family members and communities, still remains hidden and, hence, outside policy consideration.
These contributions are still the dominant areas for women in traditional societies. It has been shown that women who
understand health and nutrition issues as well as women who are educated and value education contribute a lot to an economy when they serve in these traditional capacities. Educated women contribute through their children who are healthier and go on to achieve better outcomes in life.
There is also impact, however, on women who work outside the homes and women are concentrated in jobs that tend to suffer greatly during bad economic times. Any time energy or food prices increase, development goals and gender equality goals suffer setbacks. Antonopolous forwards some broad areas where women tend to suffer most from any economic crisis.
“Among the emerging challenges of the current crisis, we now turn to the turbulence in the world of women’s work in four key areas: paid work (especially in textiles and agriculture); informal work; unpaid work; and fluctuations in remittances, including those from women migrant workers.”
Employment is always one of the slowest things to recovery from a macroeconomic downturn. The last set of recessions resulting from the Asian Financial crisis as well as other country-specific downturns showed that employment recovery has been even more slow than recovery from recessions earlier in the post world war 2 years. Current data is rich in information on how this impacts women’s equality goals.
Given the choice between posting my final grades and my morning coffee or perusing some of the latest presidential antics and my morning coffee, I chose the latter. The latest front pager at the Confluence, Steven Mather started a great conversation on Obots and willful blindness. Since I was following a tweetathon last night between Glenn Greenwald and Jack Tapper on the latest about face, it seems appropriate to start there. This just comes under the heading of reality taking on dimensions of science fiction.
Every one is trying to figure out how Military Tribunals under Bush will be different the Military Tribunals continued by Obama. Given I’ve been following the financial bailouts under Bush and the virtual continuation of the same policy under Obama, I’m thinking the progressive blogosphere should be blowing a few gaskets now. After all, they were just told to lay off the torture photos and any hope of prosecution of what can only be labeled the Cheney Torture Policy. What we appear to have is straight forward continuation of nearly all the major Bush policies with major re-framing. It’s not going to be the old Nixon War on Drugs, it’s going to be the Obama “complete public-health model for dealing with addiction”. Somebody seems to think just morphing the lexicon makes it seem less Republican. Some one needs to tell Axelrod it’s the policies, not the labels.
So Greenwald is calling it Obama’s kinder, gentler military commissions .
It now appears definitive that the Obama administration will attempt to preserve a “modified” version of George Bush’s military commissions, rather than try suspected terrorists in our long-standing civilian court system or a court-martial proceeding under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Obama officials have been dispatched to insist to journalists (anonymously, of course) that Obama’s embrace of “new and improved” military commissions is neither inconsistent with the criticisms that were voiced about Bush’s military commission system nor with Obama’s prior statements on this issue. It is plainly not the case that these “modifications” address the core criticisms directed to what Bush did, nor is it the case that Obama’s campaign position on this issue can be reconciled with what he is now doing. Just read the facts below and decide for yourself if that is even a plausible claim.
Oh, do go read the facts listed in the article. Don’t forget those koolaide goggles, because willful blindness is about the only way you’re going to see much difference.
Meanwhile over on Bloomberg, I read up on the latest Obama-would-rather-not-be-held hostage- by-the-oval-office town hall meeting where Obama Says U.S. Long-Term Debt Load ‘Unsustainable’. I have to join Seth and Amy in a “Oh, really?” moment here. I think you all will remember the graph on the left from earlier pieces that I’ve done on the Obama stimulus package and budget. Let’s just use the Bloomberg piece as a refresher.
President Barack Obama, calling current deficit spending “unsustainable,” warned of skyrocketing interest rates for consumers if the U.S. continues to finance government by borrowing from other countries.
“We can’t keep on just borrowing from China,” Obama said at a town-hall meeting in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, outside Albuquerque. “We have to pay interest on that debt, and that means we are mortgaging our children’s future with more and more debt.”
Holders of U.S. debt will eventually “get tired” of buying it, causing interest rates on everything from auto loans to home mortgages to increase, Obama said. “It will have a dampening effect on our economy.”
Earlier this week, the Obama administration revised its own budget estimates and raised the projected deficit for this year to a record $1.84 trillion, up 5 percent from the February estimate. The revision for the 2010 fiscal year estimated the deficit at $1.26 trillion, up 7.4 percent from the February figure. The White House Office of Management and Budget also projected next year’s budget will end up at $3.59 trillion, compared with the $3.55 trillion it estimated previously.
Two weeks ago, the president proposed $17 billion in budget cuts, with plans to eliminate or reduce 121 federal programs. Republicans ridiculed the amount, saying that it represented one-half of 1 percent of the entire budget. They noted that Obama is seeking an $81 billion increase in other spending.
Meanwhile, we’ve seen protests erupt as the Senate started discussing health care reform while leaving single payer solutions off-the-table. No single payer is another Obama missive and another Republican-like policy. On May 5th, those most radical of all elements in this country, doctors and nurses, staged a protest at a senate hearing insisting single payer should be on the table.
I still can’t believe the Republicans are calling Obama a socialist. The only thing we’ve socialized so far are those incredible losses coming out of the finance sector. Everything else is Republican-lite.
All I gotta say is ya got played folks! Maddoff is a small fry scammer by comparison.