Participation at the Commission was in the following ways – submission of a written statement, (also available in French and Spanish) attendance at panel discussions, delivery of an oral statement, sponsoring a side event, moderating a panel, attending the Civil Society Forum and contributing to the Civil Society Declaration. The keynote speaker for the forum was Philip Alston, the Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights. View the webcast! Start at marker 34.05 The issues being addressed are inequality, fiscal policy, wage policy and social protection which may be intimidating, boring, and uninteresting; issues to be addressed elsewhere. You may experience resistance to a discussion on fiscal policy but the reality is that the policies we care most about – the rights of girls and women, and human rights more broadly are fundamentally determined by how economic policies are evolving worldwide. Throughout the world today we are seeing the triumph of neo-liberal policy prescriptions – taxes are being cut in many countries and governments are under great pressure. Governments are less relevant, less interested and less able to respond to the sorts of agenda that are before this group. Privatization is the only option – governments cannot do it. Deregulation becomes important because we need a more conducive environment for business. This becomes problematic if the starting point is how to protect and promote the rights of girls and women or how to protect the least well off or those close to it – which is a much higher number. Policies of austerity are often anti-girls and anti-woman. He cited examples from Ghana – an African success story determined by neo-liberal policies but 1/4 of all girls are married before their 18th birthday and there are direct connections between child, early and forced marriage and poverty; and the UK where he identified that single mothers were under the greatest pressure – with a moralistic response coming from a male-dominated government and punitive policies designed to force young mothers out to work and make it difficult to get the benefits they are entitled to. We need to bring alive and create awareness that fiscal policy and austerity measures have social consequences for everyone but in particular for girls and women.
Our recommendations to the Commission are as follows: Implement national social protection floors, in line with ILO Recommendation 202 and SDG 1.3, while scaling up existing social protection policies towards universal social protection. Realize SDG 8 by protecting and promoting human and labor rights, decent work, and living wages so that people can work and live in dignity and prosperity. Achieve SDG 10 by empowering and promoting the social, economic and political inclusion of all, and by creating inclusive fiscal, wage and social protection policies that create resilience and economic opportunity among vulnerable communities. Implement progressive tax systems and end impunity for tax abuse to mobilize resources for social protection floors and other public services. Invest in financially inclusive loan programs, microfinance loans, and small business cooperatives that empower socially excluded people to reclaim their dignity and become active participants in their financial decisions. These recommendations are at the heart of our position paper for Economic Justice “The disparity between the accumulation of extreme wealth and the inescapability of extreme poverty offends the dignity of human beings, is an affront to the common good, and tends toward disastrous cyclical misery. Extreme amassment of wealth and refusal to share resources and material goods are both cause and effect of social and spiritual ills.”
Winifred thank you for the clear presentation of the core points of the Commission for Social Development. It is a good learning moment for all of us who see the disparity of income that has become extreme and how this effects in particular women and girls throughout the world. Keep up the good work.