What’s 50 percent of 99 percent?
Hint: This isn’t a math quiz. To put the question in non-numerical terms: where are women in the global economic crisis?
The movement of the 99 percent that began in the United States made visible the human beings who suffer the brutal inequality and injustice of an economic system that, in crisis, required them to sacrifice even more. The emphasis on deficits and big banks had relegated the human impact of the crisis to the feature pages or, worse, the obituaries. Women, who in many ways receive the brunt of the crisis, remain even more invisible. Economic planners leave out women as a group in their equations, except to implicitly rely on their unpaid work and the bonus that economies receive from gender discrimination.
Yet women, especially poor women, perform economic miracles every day to insure family survival. Their contributions go unregistered, and they themselves have little concept of the social role of their work. Economics has been mystified to shut out citizen participation and gender coded to exclude women. Ironically, the message that ‘there is no alternative’ is being actively enforced during a crisis that clearly demonstrates that there has to be an alternative.
The answer to the question “where are women in the global crisis?” is, of course, “everywhere.” The problem is making that omnipresence visible, organized, and active. The problem is assuring that the road to economic recovery isn’t built on redoubling gender discrimination and the exploitation of women’s labor.
Last April, some two thousand women –from 140 countries met in Istanbul to discuss not just where we are in the global crisis, but how to transform how we see and how we wield economic power.
For those of us who have witnessed the vicissitudes of the feminist movement over the past 30 years, the most astounding and ...