JASS Board Member, Maria Victoria Raquiza, of the La Liga Policy Institute in the Philippines delivered these remarks to the High Level Plenary Meeting of the recent UN General Assembly on the Millenium Development Goals’ Roundtable on “Poverty, Hunger and Gender Equality.” The following are excerpts from her statement.
Good morning, Your Excellencies. We gather today to mark the 10th anniversary of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). We mark progress in some areas, but also take stock of policy reversals. Outside these walls and across the globe, the MDGs have meant too little to too many of the world’s poor and marginalized. For countless landless farmers, the MDGs may be only a distant reality. For slum dwellers in desperate need of social services, the idea that we will soon meet their needs may seem far-fetched. To upland indigenous people, life these last years may well have been worse than during the decades that preceded them. And wherever there is poverty or disempowerment, in all of these sectors, women continue to be the poorest and least empowered. Economic growth has done too little to empower women worldwide, or to make them more secure.
The Social Watch Gender Working Group stresses: “Women have contributed more to the expansion of the world economy than either new technologies or the emerging markets of China and India.” Despite these clear and undeniable contributions, women shoulder the brunt of the many crises we face today, oftentimes without buffers or safety nets to fall back on. Policy simply must reflect the role that women and households play in sustaining the economy, and simply must protect these most vulnerable members of the world community, especially in times of economic crises. This global recession provides an opportunity for a new model of development, rooted in the rights of women, men and children; a model that rewards the productive contributions of all people, regardless of their class or status, their gender, their ethnicity, or their location; a model that recognizes that working people deserve a living wage; a model that provides universal socio-economic security, starting with a universal minimum social protection floor, democratic politics and sustainable development. Poverty reduction in our individual countries cannot proceed without transforming global structural constraints. And so we call on developed countries to provide significant policy and fiscal space for the developing world to prioritize our people’s well-being over debt payments, to reverse indiscriminate trade liberalization in favor of policies that promote mutually beneficial economic relationships. We call on the North to honor its aid commitments, and to provide additional funding for new programs such as those addressing climate change adaptation. We call for these actions and others required to meet our shared objectives of redistributive justice and social solidarity.
Let us re-imagine a new global partnership founded on shared commitment to economic, financial, social, environmental and climate justice. Let us place, at the heart of that vision, the rights of all people, particularly the rights of the poor, especially the rights of the socially excluded, and emphatically the rights of women. More than that, let us now, with a clear and full sense of what we are pledging, promise to work together to achieve this vision, not in some distant future, but now.