Activists today stormed the office of the Korea Eximbank to demand the bank’s withdrawal from the controversial Jalaur River Multipurpose Project in Iloilo and to call attention to the dangers posed by large dam projects.
JSAPMDD organized workshops during the Association for Women's Rights and Development (AWID) International Conference on April 19-22, 2012 in Istanbul, Turkey.
On April 21, JSAPMDD conducted a workshop dubbed Tax Justice and Women: Examining Gender Inequality in the Tax System. While this workshop did not have a big audience, it drew in a range of participants from the academe, funding/campaigning groups and mass organizations who are directly involved in tax justice advocacy, research and campaigning.
Njoki Nehu of Jubilee South Africa facilitated the session and made a brief introduction on the importance of taking a closer look on the gender dimension to the tax system operating in the South. Mae Buenaventura discussed the prominent gender issues in tax systems in Asia while Claire Miranda presented a specific example of how gender issues in the Philippine tax system were challenged by the group Freedom from Debt Coalition in the 1990s. Sandra Kidwingira of Tax Justice Africa shared a number of gender issues in the African Tax System that are continuously challenged by their group Tax Justice Africa.
The participants agreed that gender dimension remains poorly reflected or integrated in current campaigns around tax laws and policies. A major recommendation was for efforts to be redoubled to ensure that the gender dimension come out more strongly and substantively. Both explicit and implicit forms of discrimination against women embedded in tax systems must be addressed (with emphasis on surfacing the latter) through greater research efforts, popular education, policy and legislative advocacy, lobbying and mobilization. It was also pointed out that in the pursuit of socially progressive and equitable alternatives, there is a need to maximize opportunities presented by the broad-based push for tax reforms in different countries that fight for adequate public funding for social services and investments in long-term development as well as struggle to change gender and discriminatory attitudes and behaviour that result in gender-blind policies ultimately disadvantageous to women.
A workshop on Climate Justice and Reparations for Climate Debt: Feminist Reflections and Grassroots Women's Experiences and Struggles was also held on April 22, 2012. This session was open to all women's groups interested to take part or currently working on the Asian Climate Justice and Reparations for Climate Debt campaign. It aimed to surface feminist perspectives on Climate Justice and the country and regional initiatives undertaken to further strengthen campaigning.
The final set of panelists was composed of Flora Santos, Manisha Subedi Pokhrel and Mae Buenaventura. Flora and Manisha shared experiences in their respective countries, Philippines and Nepal, on the gender-differentiated impacts and threats of climate change-related events. Mae further elaborated on their narratives using gender and feminist analysis.
JSAPMDD, in collaboration with the NGO Forum on the ADB and the Freedom from Debt Coalition, joined the more than 2000 people's organizations and movements that converged in Marseille, France for the Alternative World Water Forum (Forum Alternatif Mondial de l'Eau or FAME) last 14-17 March 2012 to expose the illegitimacy of the 6th World Water Forum (WWF) and forward concrete, people-centered alternatives. It helped surface and underscore the aggressive moves and the continued alliance of the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank to promote private sector investments through water lending in Asia.
JSAPMDD representative Mae Buenaventura, was one of the panelists in a workshop last 15 March on "Exposing and Challenging the World Bank's Changing Water Strategies". Mae focused on "World Bank Water Policies and Projects in Asia: Policy Issues and Trends, Financing, and Impacts". She spoke on the continued and intensifying pursuit by the World Bank of the priorities already enshrined in its 1993 Water Resources Management Policy and the strategic directions henceforth set in its 2003 Water Resources Sector Strategy (WRSS). The policy has been roundly criticized and denounced by civil society the world over for imposing loan conditionalities that require water sector reform built on the promotion of full cost recovery and greater private sector investment.
An important part of her presentation showed the links of the WB with the regional development banks, specifically the ADB, in pushing the agenda of commercializing the water sector through water privatization and/or binding public entities to "capacity to pay" business principles (corporatization).
She added that WB and ADB strongly collaborate as well on pushing both water and power privatization and corporatization through packaged interventions that include deceptive co-optations of accountability, public participation and gender equality principles. WB's Water Resources Management (WB) and ADB's Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) are one and the same, she emphasized, sharing basic elements of cost recovery; invigoration of private sector investment; and support for and promotion of hydropower projects. ADB'S support for dam projects as part of IWRM is in step with the WB's invigorated return to dam construction under its "high risk/high reward" strategy.
JSAPMDD also contributed in another workshop on 16 March that focused on the theme "Land and Resources in the Context of Climate Change: In the Search of Just Solutions beyond Rio+20". Focus on the Global South, Food and Water Watch, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, and Umphilo waManzi organized the event. Mae shared some insights on "Community-level Experiences, Campaigns and Responses" together with Mary Galvin (Umphilo waManzi) and Sheelu Francis (Tamil Nadu Women's Collective).
Mae highlighted campaigns around people's responses to threats to their land and water resources, specifically the issues of water privatization and IWRM in the Philippines and Indonesia. The two countries have many parallels in terms of the failed IFI-designed and supported privatization of urban water services and sanitation (Jakarta and Metro Manila) that has ushered in successive water tariff hikes and increased debt burdens; and the drive for IWRM implementation.
Mae pointed out that people themselves with the most to gain from rejecting the commodification of water, are motive forces of the campaigns. This is organizationally harnessed and expressed through the formation of locally based alliances (e.g., PATTAK and PALAG Mindanao) that also engage academe, public officials, religious communities, etc. These organizations have also enabled the expansion of analyses and perspectives and the linking with other groups and organizations towards more strategic ends of social justice and system change. She said that in the road to Rio+20, this call for system change should be rallied to most strongly as the sharpest rejection of the "green economy" and "green growth" being promoted by private corporations, IFIs and North governments.
Advocates from various organizations involved in the World Bank Out of Climate Finance Campaign exposed and rejected the attempt by the US and other Annex 1 countries to turn the Green Climate Fund (GCF) into a "Greedy Corporate Fund" that would allow multinational corporations and the financial industry to directly access GCF financing.
As part of its continuing effort to contribute to the global movement for change, JSAPMDD participated in the 11th South Asia Social Forum (2011 SASF) held in Dhaka, Bangladesh from November 18 to 22. Under the theme "Democracy for Social Transformation in South Asia: Participation, Equity, Justice and Peace", the alliance and its members organized and participated in several events tackling various issues and challenges that confront countries in the South Asian region.