Belgian feminists have called on MPs to reject ratification of new budgetary rules that will ‘aggravate inequalities between the sexes’.
Belgium is due to decide on whether to sign up to the Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance (TSCG), or EU fiscal compact, that came into force on 1 January this year in 12 out of the 15 Eurozone countries that have transposed the EU legislation into national law.
The treaty will ‘complete the construction of neo-liberal Europe’ and lead to ’unprecedented social regression’, argue several dozen women politicians, journalists, academics, trade unionists and grassroot activists in a letter to parliamentary leaders.
Belgium has weathered the crisis better than most European countries, but the economy, on a steady downward slide since 2010, is expected to stagnate in 2013, and (currently relatively low) unemployment is set to rise with poverty starting to increase too. Young people, and women, most exposed to low wages and poor job protection through a growth in ‘flexible’ work contracts, and now facing cuts to welfare and public services, are bearing the brunt.
Inspired by a similar initiative in France, the Belgian feminists say the treaty, which forces member states to bring their national budgets into balance or in surplus, with penalties for transgression, will ratchet up the pressure on women:
‘Women are hit hardest by austerity measures, with cuts in public services and social protection measures adding to growing difficulties they face in the labour market.’.
‘Massive public investments are essential for social protection, employment and public services to meet social and environmental needs and reduce inequalities, but the Pact imposes lasting restrictions on public finances and prohibits any changes to achieve social progress.’
‘It is urgent to create sufficient childcare places for children and services for dependent persons, strengthening social services and and boosting health personnel and resources. Yet this treaty makes this impossible and so perpetuates austerity policies and exacerbates gender inequalities.’
‘We reject this treaty that condemns the future, and sacrifices democracy and well-being to satisfy the financial markets.
‘From a feminist perspective, we call for resistance and the construction of alternatives to austerity in Belgium and Europe, and call on you not to give your consent to this agreement.’