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This paper offers a novel analysis of how Nepal is delivering its commitment to secondary education provision that is advancing environmental sustainability, tracing a trajectory that begins with national policies relating to environmental sustainability and incorporating the national curriculum framework, textbooks, pedagogies used in classrooms, and learner experiences and anticipated actions. We consider Nepal’s education about and for environmental sustainability in the context of theories of environmental justice, and question if and how secondary provision might promote the behavioural change that Nepal recognises is vital for environmental sustainability. Qualitative data were generated through policy analysis, critical content analysis of secondary-level curriculum and textbooks, classroom observations, semi-structured interviews with 15 teachers and 4 headteachers, and a range of in-person activities with 24 students in purposively selected four community secondary schools in the three diverse locations across Nepal. The results illuminate pronounced disconnections across modalities that indicate incoherence and unresolved debates in the underlying narrative of what environmental sustainability is and the role of education in addressing it. Our findings suggest that learners’ ideas, opinions, thinking and experiences should be encouraged and celebrated in the classroom to aid learners in translating conceptual learning into practical, sustainable behaviours, as well as to contribute to environmental justice. The findings appeal to the concerned stakeholders for their consideration of future policy and programme development that promotes environmental justice through education and establishes a connection between classroom learning and students’ lived experiences through a participatory approach, collaboration, and critical and creative thinking.

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This chapter analyses the gendered effects of IMF conditionality and advice surrounding social protection policies in Latin America. Leveraging a critical political economy lens, it demonstrates that negative gendered effects of conditionality from the end of the 20th century, which sought to rationalize the ideology and instruments of neoliberal capitalism and that were rife with contradictions, have concerning continuities in present day. In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, many IMF conditions and recommendations continue to be hindered by limited logics of gendered constraints or even worsened in said regard as they reflect a greater orientation toward neoliberalism. Moreover, the author critically analyzes the incomplete and insufficient ‘gender turn’ the IMF has made and warns with concern that this strategy by the IMF appropriates portions of feminist political economy understandings to fit within the goals of neoliberal paradigms.

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This chapter offers an analysis on how the twin crises, the debt crisis and the climate change crisis, overburden women in the Global South and threaten the full exercise of their human rights. Through a study that includes how governments implement expenditure cutbacks, higher extractivism and other contractionary or orthodox economic policies, which in fact are deepened to mitigate the current debt crisis, they show how the debt crisis is intrinsically connected to the climate crisis in a cycle that is self-fed and damaging – in a disproportionate way – for women’s rights. Moreover, this chapter shows the need to advance with reforms of the global financial architecture in order to deal with the twin crises in a comprehensive, systemic and feminist way, for instance, through the cancellation of debt to move resources so as to facilitate the energy transition.

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‘Is feminist sovereign debt a utopia or an oxymoron?’ the editors ask in the introduction to this book. This volume broadens and strengthens a feminist approach to the challenges posed by sovereign over-indebtedness of low and middle-income countries and debt-related androcentric economic policies to women’s human rights. Contributors address questions regarding sovereign debt and gender economic violence, development, climate change, legal standards, United Nations developments, including world and regional UN conferences on women, international financial institutions’ (IMF and World Bank) androcentric policies, the right to care and the right to education, private indebtedness, budget and debt (and life) sustainability analyses with gender perspective, social progress indicators, feminist reforms of the international financial architecture, gender bonds and the institutionalization of a gender approach in the public debt field.

These questions need to be tackled collectively and pluralistically. Hence contributors come from several social science disciplines, from a number of countries and regions, and from diverse professional backgrounds, including academia, the United Nations and civil society organizations.

As Diane Elson writes in the foreword to this book, ‘this innovative book shows the benefits of a feminist approach to the sovereign debt crisis because it goes well beyond a concern with increasing economic growth to pose as a key test: what will reforms mean for poor women? Will their debt distress be ended? Will their human rights be fulfilled? Everyone should be in no doubt that sovereign debt is a feminist issue’.

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This chapter systematizes and analyzes the way in which sovereign debt and its effects on women have been discussed and agreed upon in the United Nations (UN) world women’s conferences from 1975 to 1995 and the regional (Latin American and the Caribbean) women’s conferences from 1977 to 2022. Among the main findings, it is noted that the diagnoses reached and recommendations made at world and regional conferences have been extremely sensitive to the economic, political and social dynamics driven by debt during the periods these meetings took place: as early as the regional conferences in Guatemala (1988) and in Mar del Plata (1994), and in the world conference in Beijing (1995), the harmful and differential effects of debt on women’s rights were stressed as well as the importance of guaranteeing women’s participation in debt and structural adjustment negotiations. The chapter also identifies that in the regional conferences (compared to the world ones) there have been earlier, more robust, continuous and specific denunciations in the field of debt, orthodox economic policies and their differential impact on women, proposing a number of factors that could explain those divergencies.

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This chapter analyzes with a gender perspective the impact of public debt and orthodox economic policies on the human right to education in Latin America and the Caribbean. For that purpose, the authors analyze how commercialization and privatizations driven by neoliberal reforms, as well as fiscal austerity (including the non-compliance with investment goals in education) have been particularly damaging for the rights of girls, adolescents and women, by excluding them from access to and permanence in the education system, blocking training and labour opportunities. The chapter also explains the relation between investment deficits in the education sector and public indebtedness in Latin America and the Caribbean: by increasing the debt service expense in relative terms, investment in education is reduced, with its differential consequences for girls, adolescents and women.

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This chapter describes how the differential impact of sovereign debt on women is not limited to the times when austerity measures are implemented as a solution to a crisis, but also, they are connected to the expansive stages of a model of economic development where growth is driven precisely by indebtedness. In the stage of indebtedness-based growth, investment on sensitive areas for gender equality (basic services, care and the labour market) is suppressed, precisely because borrower States need to guarantee a constant flow of debt service, which requires keeping social investment at bay. Finally, the chapter suggests the need to include the long-term sustainable development goals in the analysis of debt sustainability, which requires flexibility to demand repayments in the short term.

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This chapter studies the scope and potential of the notion of economic violence, as a result of the operating logic of global financial capitalism, in order to explain the material basis of patriarchal violence. The macroeconomic processes and their incidence on material living conditions can be observed through the lens of economic violence. This way it is possible to recognize the systemic nature of patriarchal violence, and therefore, to better articulate social resistance. With that context, the author offers an analysis of the notions of debt sustainability and life sustainability, as well as reflections linked to the feminist resistance to indebtedness, which include, according to the author, collective organization to denounce the systemic roots of indebtedness, and reporting its connection with economic violence.

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This chapter offers, from the theoretical guidelines of the feminist economy, a critical look at the prevailing analysis of debt sustainability. To that end, the authors analyze the theoretical structure of the economic orthodoxy – and the methodology used by the IMF – that gives absolute priority to capital, uses androcentric indicators, excludes tax justice as a key factor, gives an instrumental (non-intrinsic) character to gender equality and invisibilizes the effects of fiscal rules on women. This patriarchal bias of debt sustainability analyses that the IMF use is a political fact with deep legal implications.

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A Human Rights Approach

EPDF and EPUB available open access under CC-BY-NC-ND licence.

As many developing countries are facing increasingly higher levels of debt and economic instability, this interdisciplinary volume explores the intersection of sovereign debt and women's human rights.

Through contributions from leading voices in academia, civil society, international organisations and nations governments, it shows how debt-related economic policies are widening gender inequalities and argues for a systematic feminist approach to debt issues.

Offering a new perspective on the global debt crisis, this is an invaluable resource for readers who seek to understand the complex relationship between economics and gender.

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