Gendering the Debt Crisis: Feminist Political Economy Perspectives on the Global South

Research project
Active research
Project period
2024 - ongoing
Project owner
Unit for Human Geography, Department of Economy and Society

Adlerbertska Foundation

Short description

On October 11th 2022, the UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) published a working paper titled “Avoiding ‘Too Little, Too Late’ on International Debt Relief”. With it came a press statement that underscored the ways in which government responses to a growing wave of economic crisis and debt distress are likely to be insufficient and have long-lasting impacts on the SDG (sustainable development goal) aspirations. The emergence of debt distress merging with climate crisis in the developing world, and along with this, a social reproductive crisis underlines the inequities underpinning the global economy. Social reproduction is almost often gendered, meaning that women's caring activities rise to bear the cost of socio-economic adjustment. However, UN/ World Bank/G 20 discourses around this emerging debt crisis do not sufficiently highlight the critical linkages between macro-level and household debt, and hence the centrality of social reproduction. In particular, the burden borne by women in multiple spheres needs more attention in the aftermath of a pandemic. Specifically, how indebted households to families going through catastrophic contractions in income to austerity programmes hit low-income women hardest needs close examination. This project will bring together feminist scholarship to highlight how debt justice is a central value and principle to argue that working-class women and people of colour cannot be made to pay for the recklessness of amassed indebtedness by countries. The impacts on meeting SDG aspirations, whether SDG 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 8 (no poverty, zero hunger, good health and education, quality education, gender equality and economic growth together with decent work, respectively) are hence all under duress. Global debt distress then has very real ramifications on local people and especially so for women, making debt issues a feminist concern. A special issue for Feminist Economics will be edited as part of this project.