What would a truly feminist world look like? Srushti Mahamuni explores the visions shared by representatives of feminist organizations and Oxfam staff at a recent learning event.
Imagine its 2050 and you wake up one bright and sunny morning – the world as you know it has changed, for the better. It’s an inclusive, diverse and respectful world – it is a feminist world.
A world in which unpaid care work is valued and shared equally in households
Unpaid care work is often not recognised as work. This not only leads women to bear this heavy burden all by themselves but also leads to a feminization of unpaid care work. Irrespective of the social class of women, they are expected to perform reproductive labour in the form of unpaid care work without any recognition that their labour is work.
In the feminist future we envisioned, unpaid care work would be recognised as legitimate work. Not only this, it will be shared equally in households and the state will provide necessary support to reduce this burden from individuals in society. Don’t think it’s possible? Uruguay is already doing it. Uruguay recognises care as a right and a role (often played by women) and makes space to provide support.
A world where GRB is institutionalized
(See Oxfam’s Guide to Gender Responsive Budgeting for more information on this topic).
When government budgets are not gender inclusive, it leads to an unequal distribution of public funds that do not take the needs of women, girls and other marginalized groups into account. In our feminist vision for 2050, we see a world where gender responsive budgeting is institutionalized, a world where gender equal budgets are the norm.
Another world is possible, take Morocco as an example – Efforts from different development actors and CSOs have resulted in GRB being anchored in Morocco’s budget reform process. A new finance law that was adopted in 2014 ensures that the needs of women and girls are well reflected in government spending and gender priorities are being mainstreamed throughout the budgeting process.
A world with more power balance and better representation of women/trans/lgbtqi+ people in leadership positions
Globally women’s participation in the formal labor force is 26% less than that of men and most women are concentrated in the lowest paid and least secure forms of work. The average gender pay gap worldwide is 23% and according to the World Economic Forum at the current rates of change, the global economic gender gap at work won’t be closed for another 217 years!
The current neoliberal, gender blind economic system is the source of widespread inequality and using gender responsive budgeting tools to bring about a change in economic systems is the way forward for a gender just world.
A world with well-being for all instead of wealth for a few
In our current economic systems, wealth is accumulated in the hands of a few. According to a report launched by Oxfam earlier this year, 82% of the wealth generated last year went to the richest one percent of the global population, while the 3.7 billion people who make up the poorest half of the world saw no increase in their wealth. And this wealth is accumulated at the cost of exploitation of women and other marginalised groups in society
“Oxfam has spoken to women across the world whose lives are blighted by inequality. Women in Vietnamese garment factories who work far from home for poverty pay and don’t get to see their children for months at a time. Women working in the US poultry industry who are forced to wear nappies because they are denied toilet breaks,” said Oxfam’s Executive director, Winnie Byanyima.
In this capitalist world order, obsessed with creating more wealth, people’s well-being is often ignored. Words such as wellbeing, care, and empathy are less valued and considered as ‘feminine’ concerns and qualities. We need a world with less emphasis on wealth and more focus on well-being. A feminist future of our dreams would be one with wellbeing and fiscal justice for all.
A feminist future of our dreams would be one with wellbeing and fiscal justice for all.
A world where diversity, intersectionality, and inclusion are valued and where toxic masculinity, racism, and sexism are unimaginable
The patriarchy is not only harmful to women but to men as well. While it oppresses women and restricts them to subjugated positions in society, it imposes unrealistic expectations on men about what it means to ‘be a man’. For example, little boys are taught from childhood that boys don’t cry, curbing their free expression and instead pushing them to express their pain in violent ways.
Toxic masculinity combined with fear of ‘ the other’ due to racist, populist stereotypes cause further division and fracture of society. Building on the idea of wellbeing, an ideal feminist world will be one where diversity (of abilities, physical appearance, and thought) will be valued. A world that takes intersectionality into account and strives to be truly inclusive of all.
A world where we live in harmony with nature and in solidarity with one another
Finally, an ideal feminist world or any world for that matter won’t be possible in 2050 unless we live in harmony with nature. Climate change is not going away. Worst affected by the devastating effects of climate change are those sections of society that are most dependent on natural resources for their livelihoods and/or who have the least capacity to respond to natural hazards, such as droughts, landslides, floods, and hurricanes: women. According to the UNFCC, women commonly face higher risks and greater burdens from the impacts of climate change in situations of poverty, and the majority of the world’s poor are women.
In the ideal feminist future we envisioned, all countries have realized how intertwined living beings are with nature and taken necessary gender responsive steps to address and minimize climate change.
Respect for nature and one another, valuing of care work, well-being and empathy, a fairer power balance, diverse leadership, inclusion, and solidarity are our visions for a feminist future. We realize that we are all interconnected, although our struggles are different, we have common dreams and goals that can only be achieved by working together. Those with more power have a responsibility to use their voice and push for feminist change, a change in the current world order that makes way for a world where women and men can live free from fear, free from oppression and up to their fullest potential.
We believe a new world is possible, do you?
From the 26th to the 29th of June 2018 FEMNET, DAWN, Women’s Budget group, and Oxfam affiliates and partners from all over the world gathered in Morocco to dive deeper into issues of fiscal gender justice, specifically gender responsive budgeting (GRB). One particularly fascinating session looked at envisioning a feminist future in which all that we are trying to achieve comes true. This above highlights were revealed in this session.