The impact of debt on women revealed
8 March 2007
On International Women's Day, Jubilee Debt Campaign and partners have released a paper revealing how the crippling debt burden of poor countries makes a particular impact on women, and showing how debt relief must work for women and girls.
The briefing (downloadable on the right) was produced with ActionAid UK, Oxfam GB and Womankind Worldwide. It reveals how it is women who bear the brunt of the appalling debt burden, emphasising in particular their role in providing social services when these are not provided by cash-strapped governments. It also shows how debt relief has benefited women, by increasing funding for essential services, and argues that governments need to take account of their responsibility to uphold women's rights when they are spending the proceeds of debt relief.
It shows that, for example:
In Cote D'Ivoire, more than half of girls are out of school, as well as one third of boys, whilst the country is paying $500 million each year in debt service.
Malawi paid $75 million servicing debt in 2006, whilst having an appalling shortage of doctors and nurses, an epidemic of HIV and AIDS which particularly affects young women, and the second highest maternal mortality rate in the world.
The number of girls in school in Uganda shot up when school fees were abolished after debt relief.
Burkina Faso, Chad, Senegal and Tanzania have all used funds from debt relief to increase provision of basic healthcare, including for pregnant women, whilst Bolivia, Benin and Sao Tome and Principe are using debt relief to help fund maternal education programmes on nutrition and family planning.
Despite some steps forward, huge problems remain. Women are routinely excluded from decision-making and have very little control over resources. Meanwhile, the countries where the poorest women live are still servicing huge debts. There must be cancellation of all unpayable and illegitimate debts, and proper use of resources to benefit all women and men.
Read more here
or download the briefing on the right.