Profiting from Pain

Billionaire wealth has soared during the COVID-19 pandemic as companies in the food, pharma, energy, and tech sectors have cashed in. Meanwhile millions of people around the world are facing a cost-of-living crisis due to the continuing effects of the pandemic and the rapidly rising costs of essentials, including food and energy. Inequality, already extreme before COVID-19, has reached new levels. There is an urgent need for governments to implement highly progressive taxation measures that in turn must be used to invest in powerful and proven measures to reduce inequalities.

The new Oxfam report on inequalities!

Monetary Policy for Economic Justice: a Handbook for Civil Society

The handbook is the outcome of a project led by ActionAid International, Eurodad, INESC (Brazil), SEATINI and CEHURD (Uganda), SIKKA (Tanzania), and WEMOS, aimed at exploring ways to increase civil society engagement in the monetary policy arena. It intends to provide the basic tools to economic justice activists and organisations for understanding how monetary policies work and how they interact with the economy.

Take a look at the handbook here. 

Preventing Debt Disasters

The world’s breadbasket is being wrecked by war. Ukraine and Russia account for 30% of global wheat and barley exports and are leading exporters of other grains. The two countries are also the source of nearly 70% of the world’s sunflower oil exports, while Russia accounts for 13% of all crude petroleum exports. As the conflict in Ukraine rages and sanctions on Russia escalate, food and energy prices – which were rising even before Russia invaded Ukraine – are spiking in countries far away from the front lines, with devastating implications for the world’s most vulnerable communities.

Read the article by Rabah Arezki, Former Chief Economist and Vice President at the African Development Bank

The Continuing Struggle for Workers’ rights

In recent decades, we have seen dramatic changes in the landscape of labor rights protection due to the entrenchment of neoliberalism, which has effectively suppressed labor’s collective bargaining power, militant traditions, and solidarity and subsumed them as “allies” of businesses and the state in advancing the bidding of neoliberalism. These trends have exacerbated with the COVID-19 pandemic. From across the Asia Pacific region, workers have borne the brunt of the impact of the pandemic, where they are forced to deal with unfair contract terms, low wages, and unjust working conditions. In this May edition of the Focus Dispatch, we highlight some of the challenges faced by workers across Asia and shed light on the institutions and mechanisms being advanced by social movements to rein in corporate power and strengthen the protection of workers’ rights.

Read Focus on the Global South

A New Non-Aligned Movement Is an Urgent Imperative for the Global South

We have sat outside looking in for too long to believe that the West will give us a seat at their table — we must develop real financial autonomy and development that can withstand the attacks of the major powers.

South Africa and other countries that have abstained from voting against Russia at the United Nations General Assembly in response to the war in Ukraine face intense international criticism.

In South Africa, the domestic criticism has been extraordinarily shrill, and often clearly racialized. It is frequently assumed that abstention means that South Africa is in support of the Russian invasion, and this is either due to corrupt relations between Russian and South African elites, or nostalgia for support given to the anti-apartheid struggle by the Soviet Union, or both.

Nontobeko Hlela (Nontobeko Hlela was formerly first secretary: political at the High Commission of South Africa in Nairobi and currently works as a Researcher for the South African office of the Tricontinental Institute for Social Research.)

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Investing in Social Protection …

This study simulates the effects of different tax financing scenarios for social protection on household income, employment and overall GDP. We carried out computable general equilibrium analysis for Bangladesh, Colombia, Costa Rica, Georgia, Ghana, India, Rwanda and Serbia.

Read the paper

WOMEN ARE NEITHER A BIOLOGICAL NOR A DEMOGRAPHIC MINORITY, BUT THEY ARE TREATED AS A MINORITY.

-As the black feminist poet, June Jordan, said, “We are the ones we have been waiting for.”

A bit of history

1. From the philosophers: Hegel proclaimed that it was up to women to take care of family and home and up to men to take care of the state, that is to govern and to engage in politics. Nietzsche became famous for the well-known misogyny found in all his writings. Marx, in his extensive opus, also did not give many pages to the contributions to Capitalism of salaried women beyond their reproductive function, their raising of children and their taking care of domestic chores.

2. From the UN: Human rights and gender equality were originally inscribed in the core documents of the UN thanks to women delegates from the Global South. The inclusion of gender equality and non-discrimination due to sex in the UN Charter and in the UDHR was in large part due to Latin American and Indian women delegates. At the adoption of the UN Charter in 1945, Latin American feminists lobbied and managed to include Article 8 which ensures women to hold office in UN bodies. Non-discrimination based on sex was then repeated in several articles of the Charter and the equality of women and men were mentioned in its preamble.

Claudio Schuftan, Ho Chi Min City

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Roe vs Wade

I would like to draw your attention to the recent abortion debate in the US that has shaken the women’s rights movements and their struggle for sexual and reproductive health rights, particularly access to  safe and legal abortion.

A leaked Supreme Court draft ruling, published by Politico, is poised to strike down the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade judgement that guaranteed abortion rights to women for decades. It provided women with an absolute abortion right in the first three months and limited rights in the second trimester. It ruled that the constitution of the US protects pregnant women’s liberty to choose to have an abortion without excessive government restrictions.

(on behalf of PHM’s Gender Justice and Health Thematic Group)

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Vaccines as global public goods

In the context of a health emergency like the COVID-19 pandemic, the global availability of and access to vaccines are imperative. This research paper provides an analysis from the perspective of international political economy, of the financing of COVID-19 vaccines and of the market strategies adopted by some of the companies that developed them. It notes that the development of vaccines was supported by substantial public funding from countries that later received preferential access to those vaccines through advance purchases. Despite such public support, the vaccines were not deemed as public goods but remained under the control of their developers.

Read South Centre’s paper

Collective agreements contribute to fighting inequality

Collective bargaining played a crucial role during the pandemic and can provide an effective means for employers and workers to tackle the new challenges that are shaking up the world of work.

Read the ILO article

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