A new report from Oxfam has reviewed that women and girls are likely to experience unprecedented new levels of
poverty, peril, overwork, and premature death due to near-universal “slash-and-burn” efforts by countries to recover from inflation incurred by the pandemic.
The report titled “The Assault of Austerity”, reviewed that four out of every five governments are now locked into austerity measures, cutting public services like health, education, and social protection rather
than pursuing wealth taxes and windfall taxes.
It noted that most of these governments are guilty of Austerity thereby failing to provide gendered public and social services for women and girls.
Citing the case of Nigeria and its 42% reduction in health spending in 2020, it worries that despite having one of the
highest maternal mortality and morbidity rates in the world, yet health spending is slashed down with only two nurses responding to over 150 women in an antenatal ward.
“Women bear the brunt of unpaid work around the world and are often the most neglected when it comes to
basic and essential public services.
Lack of social safety nets and stringent government cuts to spending on social services that benefit women
and girls are a setback to the modest progress made toward reducing harm, abuse, and violence.
Austerity is not inevitable, it is a choice: governments can continue to cause harm by cutting public services,
or they could raise taxes on those who can afford it. A progressive wealth tax on the world’s millionaires and
billionaires can raise almost $1 trillion more than governments are planning to save through cuts in 2023.
• More women and girls joining the 1.7 billion who are already now living below the poverty line of $5.50 a day;
• Baking in the unequal “return to work” rate of women, who between 2019-22 captured only 21% of all projected employment gains, with many of those jobs becoming ever more exploitative and
• Women being foisted with yet more responsibility for care, even as they already worked an additional 512 billion unpaid hours in 2020;
• Women and girls facing even more difficult to get clean water – the lack of which already kills 800,000 of them each year – along with affordable food, given the sharp rises in costs;
• More violence, even as one in every 10 women and girls faced sexual and physical violence from an intimate partner in the past year. To squeeze budgets during the lockdown, 85% of countries shut their
emergency services for survivors of gender-based violence, according to a UNDP review.
With more than 85% of the world’s population projected to live under austerity measures in 2023, this already horrific situation will worsen, even as governments’ priorities are clearly elsewhere: 2% of what governments
spend on the military is enough to end interpersonal gender-based violence in 132 countries.
“A recent report by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) revealed that 133 million Nigerians live in
multidimensional poverty. This evidence shows weak government performance in poverty reduction over the
years resulting in more women and girls not having access to quality healthcare services, food, and basic
Women’s economic empowerment and economic inclusion remain poor, with poor access to agricultural tools,
loans and other inputs by women.
The government needs to rethink its current anti-poverty and human capital development strategies and
initiatives to generate more income, reduce the cost of governance, improve fiscal transparency, reduce
corruption and wastage, and drive growth.
The corporations and wealthy individuals need to pay their fair share of taxes, and a transparent and prudent
purposeful social protection opportunity needs to be created for women and other vulnerable groups in
society.” Said Oxfam International Country Director in Nigeria, Dr. Vincent Ahonsi.
The report urges Governments at all levels to urgently adopt human-centered, feminist economic policy choices to help tackle inequalities and support the well-being of marginalized gender, racial and ethnic groups across all countries.