The Impact of the Global Recession

April 17, 2009 posted by Shyama Venkateswar The Gender Policy Group at Columbia University’s School for International and Public Affairs organized a lively panel discussion on “Gender, Jobs and This Recession” on Monday, April 13, 2009. I was invited to speak on the panel along with Sylvia Ann Hewlett, Melinda Wolfe, Subha Barry and Heidi Brown. Here are the main points that I addressed: The current economic crisis is unprecedented in terms of its global reach and impact; here’s what the current economic crisis looks like within the United States.

  • The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that current unemployment stands at 13.2 million.
  • 5.1 million jobs have been lost since December 2007.
  • The subprime lending crisis has particularly hit hard women and people of color because of predatory lending practices. NCRW’s research has shown that African American and Latina women borrowers are most likely to receive sub-prime loans at every income level. Women are 32% more likely than men to receive subprime mortgages.
  • In the financial sector, men’s unemployment in Feb was 6.9% while for women it was 6.6%
  • There have been increased reports of women who were secondary breadwinners in their households having to now become primary wage earner because of layoffs.

At the international level, the picture remains pretty grim as well:

  • According to the World Bank, the economic crisis will lead to an additional 22 children to die per hour throughout 2009.
  • The ILO predicts an additional 50 million jobs lost.
  • Lower economic growth rates will trap 46 million more on less than $1.25 a day.
  • The number of working poor who are unable to earn enough to lift themselves and their families above the $2 per person may rise up to 1.4 billion or 45% of the world’s employed.
  • A central feature in the crisis is the growth of inequality within already poor countries and between countries.
  • Labor remittances are being projected to drop. In 2008, global remittances accounted for approximately $238 billion. This figure is expected to halve in value in 2009.
  • There has been a disproportionate impact on women in the Asia Pacific region. Women are more likely to be in temporary low skilled worker positions especially in manufacturing industries like textiles and apparel.
  • The UN Commission on the Status of Women recently released a report in March on the Gender Perspectives of the Financial Crisis: In times of economic crisis, violence against women and trafficking tends to increase.
  • The global economic crisis has had a severe impact on service-delivery: education, nutrition, health counseling, education for children in slums, etc.
  • Research has also shown strong correlation between poverty and armed conflict: when poverty levels rise, so do levels of violent conflict. Competition for scarce resources lies at the root of several chronic conflicts in the developing world. 

The global economic crisis offers new opportunities and new beginnings. Even though the liberal market economy, with sensible regulation, offers great promise in terms of growth and sustainable infrastructure, it is still unable to meet the needs of a large portion of the world’s population. Greater investments by the private and public sector in education, childcare, healthcare and social safety nets are essential to secure productivity and employee retention. Businesses that understand the triple bottom line – economic, social and environmental – are ensuring long-term productivity and gains as well as healthy economies and populations. To learn more about the global financial meltdown and other current socio-economic and political challenges, join us at NCRW’s Annual Conference, “Igniting Change: Activating Alliances for Social Justice,” scheduled for June 10-12, 2009 at the CUNY Graduate Center in New York. For more information and registration, click here.

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Wish I could have been there Shyama! Thanks for sharing this here!