Anti-Rape Rally at International Monetary Fund

Remarks by Elaine Zuckerman
Gender Action
May 18, 2011

Welcome All,

I heard that not many female journalists are prepared to interview DSK alone these days. Just a few weeks ago, Strauss-Kahn made light of his reputation by remarking "Yes, I like women ... so what?"

Thankfully, after countless alleged sexual assaults, DSK is finally being held accountable for his behavior toward women.

Gender Action, which for years has shown how bad the IMF is for poor women around the world, sees unavoidable parallels between DSK's and the IMF's behavior.

For example, Gender Action has shown how IMF macroeconomic policies requiring least developed countries to cut public spending has weakened these countries' efforts to improve health conditions.

When public health care suffers, poor women bear the greatest burden.

Gender Action analysis shows that in the absence of sufficient government funding, public facilities charge prohibitive fees for health care services and essential drugs. The burden of caring for sick family members falls upon women.

It is not a coincidence that the 40 current "highly indebted poor countries", so designated by the IMF and the World Bank, have the world's highest maternal mortality rates.

If the head of the IMF engages in sexual misconduct toward women in his personal life, the public certainly cannot expect him to promote gender equality and women's rights at an institutional or a global level.

Strauss-Kahn's misconduct is not just a "problem," it is a "pathology"-one that is often shared among men in positions of power who think that they can discriminate against and degrade women with impunity.

The same pathology holds true within International Finance Institutions like the IMF, whose loans indebt poor countries. Debt repayment reduces social spending. So while, the IMF addresses economic problems at a macro level, women and girls at a micro level bear the brunt of IMF loans policies.

For the sake of women and girls' livelihoods around the world, the IMF urgently requires a meaningful commitment to women's rights and gender justice.

DSK must go - and so too must IMF policies that degrade women.

© 2011 Gender Action, All Rights Reserved

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