March 19, 2020

Austerity and Feminism: Women Workers’ Struggles in the U.S.

Cinzia Arruzza

In this timely study, Cinzia Arruzza discusses the inherent limitations of the Beijing Declaration and Platform of Action and the failure in its implementation due to the persistence of austerity policies. The author uses the notion of social reproduction—and of its crisis—to analyze the effects of austerity on women’s lives and working conditions, and to contextualize recent social and labor struggles led by women in the US.

This publication is part of a series of studies on “Feminist Responses Against Austerity,“ which the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung commissioned in the run-up to this year’s annual session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW64), with the goal of illustrating the impact of permanent austerity on women in different countries.

Although the format of CSW64 was amended over concerns regarding the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and only a one-day informal meeting took place on March 9, we consider this a decisive year for realizing gender equality and for strengthening the rights of all women and girls. 2020 marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of the United Nations’ Fourth World Conference on Women, held from 4-15 September 1995 in Beijing, China, and with it the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. It is also the fifth anniversary of the adoption of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by all UN Member States in 2015 as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which set out a 15-year plan to achieve the SDGs.

Yet, women around the world continue to fight marginalization and inequality. The studies in our series examine the impact of permanent austerity on women’s status in regard to economic power and labor, social reproduction, and care and domestic work in several countries today—25 years after Beijing.