of Dialogue on Gender and Finance for Development
United Nations, February 25, 2002
by the Inter-Agency Network on Women and Gender Equality
Task Force on Gender and Financing for Development
Professor I. Bakker York University Toronto, Canada email@example.com
for this opportunity to contribute to the FfD dialogue. In the
short time that I have today, I'd like to organize my remarks
around three questions:
why is a gender perspective important for understanding and
improving the FfD agenda?
have discussions of gender been adequately mainstreamed into
the finance for development framework? If no, then how can
a gender perspective be taken further?
can we make such a framework more accountable to gender equality
goals? In other words, can we rebalance global economic governance
to meet the needs of all stakeholders?
Now of course
each of these questions is very large, so in what follows I'll
simply try to raise some of the issues that we might consider
in our discussions today. I do so building on the work of people
who had regional dialogue is and those who have worked on background
papers, such as Professor Maria Floro of the American University.
turn to the first question: why is a gender perspective important
for the FfD Agenda?
dimension represents a commitment to developing financial mechanisms
and outcomes that meet outcomes that are in line with overall
development goals including gender equality. Key issues included
the potential of all groups in society, including both women
and men, to influence, participate and benefit from all economic
development. New work on macroeconomics shows that in many instances,
economic development policies formulated without gender awareness
would not only worsen gender inequalities, but also make it
harder to achieve macroeconomic goals such as growth. There
are also instances where growth may be achieved at the expense
of gender equality. So a gender perspective asks: does the finance
for development agenda increase, decrease, or leave unchanged
gender equality goals?
referred to in the Monterrey Consensus are gender -responsive
budgets, that relate to the mobilization of financial resources
at the national level. Here it has been shown that, efficiency
gains can be realized through the improved targeting that results
from gender responsive budgets. This avoids what in the language
of economics are called 'false economies' - by this I'm referring
to attempts to reduce or contain financial costs in one sector
such as health care by transferring actual costs and time-use
to the unpaid sector. Gender budget analysis opens the door
to evaluating work beyond the paid sector of the economy by
linking fiscal policy to the unpaid provision of care. So this
is one example of how a gender perspective is important to financial
me into my second set of questions namely: have discussions
of gender been adequately mainstreamed into the finance for
development framework? To answer this question I want to look
at how development and governance frameworks have changed and
where we would like them to go.
development framework is linked to a more market-based paradigm
that emphasizes a greater role for private capital and private
capital flows in development. The Monterrey Consensus is built
from this framework of thinking, although it differs from its
predecessor, the Washington Consensus because of its welcome
emphasis on the need for greater gender mainstreaming and a
more integrated role in the development process for people living
praiseworthy goals, there are a number of commitments outlined
in the Monterrey Consensus that may undermine these intentions.
Macroeconomics and liberalization
the call for sound macroeconomic policies and fiscal discipline
in para.8 of the Monterey Consensus that deals with mobilizing
domestic financial resources reflects a framework of accountability
that prioritizes the needs of capital markets - the three "Cs"
of credibility, consistency and confidence - with the social
sector subservient to those three C's. What I mean is that governments
have to demonstrate their credibility to investors and the financial
markets first by creating a consistent policy framework that
will ensure investor confidence. In practice, what this has
meant for the many developing countries are policies that combine
commitments to low inflation, fiscal discipline and budget austerity,
with liberalization of markets and the privatization of public
In other words,
governments have tended to become much more accountable to market
forces in terms of their financial policies and less accountable
to their citizenry and social needs.
accountability may or may not lead to the kind of resource allocations
that have a sustained long-term impact on gender equality and
Let me give
two sets of familiar examples: the impact of public spending
and the impact of the privatization of public services.
a gender perspective has shown how changes in patterns of public
spending and revenue raising have different gender - based distributional
results. One example is social expenditures, which are often
lowered when there is a crunch on public finances or when there
is a financial crisis. These cuts will tend to hit the poorest
the hardest. Here it is worth noting that, first of all women
are disproportionately poor and second because resource allocation
within labor markets and the household is often gender - biased,
poor women tend to be hit harder than poor men. More generally,
when provision of health, education and other kinds of services
by the state is reduced, this tends to impact poor women the
most, as aspects of the care economy previously supplied by
government, are displaced into households or marketized. This
is an example of how the care economy tends to be treated as
what economists call an externality- an infinite resource- that's
"invisible" in fiscal policy making. Put differently,
the purely financial view "free rides" on the unpaid
burdens of women who provide the public good of the care economy.
So the key point I want to emphasize here is that we need to
make this invisible process more visible in the finance for
development dialogue and work toward making gender equality
and poverty eradication global public goods (GPGs) that are
collectively provided. Otherwise, we risk undermining the entire
sphere of social reproduction upon which communities and individuals
My next example
concerns privatization of the care economy - in this sense what
I would call the privatization of risk for many. For instance,
selling public assets to foreign investors to finance budget
deficits and repay debts often leads to user fees or in some
cases the withholding of services and public goods, since newly
privatized companies need to make profits. The point here is
that there's a potential bias in assuming that privatization
will lead to greater competition, job creation and efficiency.
Here again we can learn from a more holistic notion of efficiency
that takes into account non-market resources and values.
many countries, the problem of public goods provision is much
tougher because capital mobility makes it much more difficult
to sustain the tax base. Corporations are now freer than ever
to repatriate profits, or move them offshore to decrease taxes.
As corporations increasingly emphasize shareholder value and
the short-term orientation to profits, it becomes increasingly
difficult for developing countries to tax them effectively.
So, whilst increased liberalization and greater capital mobility
may result in inflows of resources, the globalisation process
can be a double edged-sword for developing countries, especially
if their tax base is made more precarious.
So, it may
well be the case that important aspects of market based development
undermine the ability of governments to meet one of the key
stated objectives of para.8 of the Monterrey Consensus related
to gender equality goals which is to fund "sustainable
investments in education, health, nutrition and social security
programs which take special care of children and are gender
sensitive and fully inclusive of the rural sector and all disadvantaged
communities (para. 8)". I hope that we can contribute to
this gap in today's informal discussions and use the political
momentum of the Finance for Development process.
flows, trade and investment
mobilizing international resources for development, the emphasis
in the Monterrey Consensus is on attracting financial flows
to developing countries whilst maintaining a stable international
Here a gender
perspective would introduce questions about the terms under
which private foreign capital flows enter a country, how this
can shift sectoral and budgetary allocations and to what extent
sustainable development and gender equality goals will be affected.
The introduction of regulatory and compensatory measures that
are gender-aware are critical as are mechanisms for participation,
monitoring and assessment that recognize the wide variety of
old and newer actors involved in global economic governance.
If we take
the example of trade, this also has significant gender implications
since various sectors of the economy are affected in different
ways as trade patterns change. Legal and social barriers to
participation by women are certainly one aspect of this. Another
aspect that shapes gender equality goals relates to the way
in which national governments institutionalize market-based
rules and practices through their trade and investment agreements.
These mobilize large amounts of private financial resources
that in turn can shape the parameters of fiscal governance.
So this is very much of political process shaped by various
governments and hopefully discussion in Monterrey it will deal
with some of these difficult questions.
My point is
that new trade and investment agreements tend to "lock
in" the rights of investors to repatriate profits, and
help to secure greater freedom of capital movements. In effect,
trade agreements help to supplement the market-based financial
disciplines - the three C's - that I have already mentioned.
These frameworks tend to encourage fiscal prudence and balanced
budgets and discourage counter - cyclical spending. Governments
have to meet a fall in levels of demand through spending cuts,
a strategy which might well postpone recovery and this has implications
for growth, efficiency and the development of women's and girls'
capabilities. So overall, the extent to which we can make progress
on social development and gender equality goals needs to be
considered in the context of the new global financial regime.
This is why a gender analysis needs to be injected into these
larger discussions -- only if we have a plurality of economic
development strategies that balance stakeholder interests will
we meet sustainable human development objectives.
how can we develop accountability frameworks that recognize
and transform these new global economic frameworks and gender
like to raise some issues concerning governance and accountability.
A more comprehensive finance for development process informed
from a gender perspective will need to address systemic issues
and develop mechanisms for mainstreaming a gender approach to
macroeconomic policies, as well as within international, multilateral
and national institutions. This also means ensuring that civil
society networks have not just voice but also the required resources
to intervene and engage in the international financial system.
So one way
to pose this issue is in terms of what political economists
have called voice and exit in matters of governance. Put simply,
poor women and men often have very little "voice"
in matters of formal political representation and policy-making,
in contrast to well organized producers, like corporations and
their business associations, or indeed, well organized trade
unions. Corporations, under the conditions that I've been describing,
not only have voice, they also have the right to exit countries
if the investment climate is perceived to have gotten worse.
So, whereas capital is relatively mobile, labour is relatively
immobile, hemmed in by restrictive immigration measures that
prevents the free movement of labour. This is even more the
case for the poorest members of society, particularly poor women
who are often bound to specific places by virtue of their roles
in social reproduction including work in subsistence that is
by definition place- bound.
the asymmetry of voice and exit options from a gender-sensitive
perspective will be crucial to reforming global economic governance
structures and financial relations. A key part of the success
of any new development paradigm will be to engender economic
governance regimes by making the non-financial count in financial
decision-making at all levels.
I hope that
we will get the chance to come up with proposals today that
address both these broader macro frameworks and this question
of voice and exit, for instance, proposals to discuss the Tobin
Tax or the social responsibility of corporations.
And also more
specific initiatives designed to directly address gender equality
goals such as the earmarking of resources released through debt
relief for specific benchmarks and targets agreed upon at Beijing
and in the Millennium Declaration or the commitment to 30% of
key decision making positions being occupied by women. So it
will be key for us to come up with some benchmarks for the Finance
for Development agenda in order to evaluate its progress and
to continue to highlight potential contradictions between the
system of economic governance and realizing social development
objectives -- including gender equality.