Making the AIFFP work for gender equality
By Alice Ridge Last week marked the commencement of the Australian Infrastructure Financing Facility for the Pacific (AIFFP), a combination of $1.5 billion in loans and $500 million in grants from Australia to fund infrastructure investments in the Pacific.
In this regard, the extent to which the AIFFP can recognise that neither infrastructure nor financial mechanisms are gender neutral will be central to its success. In the context of the high levels of gender inequality in the Pacific, as well as the debt burden already sustained across the region, analysis of debt sustainability as well as the merits of proposed infrastructure projects must take a gendered lens.
When a country takes on debt, it must make decisions about how to finance loan repayments. And when a country takes on more debt than it can handle, more often than not it is women bear the brunt of the consequences. Around the world, in times of economic contractionsome governments have attempted to reduce deficits through austerity budgets, where they have cut public spending and fully or partially privatised areas such as health, education, and social protection. Women are more likely to be employed in these sectors, and so not only lose their jobs but also take on more unpaid care, and bear the costs for services which are fully or partially privatised.
The UN’s Human Rights Council has recently adopted new guiding principles on the human rights impacts of economic policy. These guidelines include requirements for countries taking on sovereign debt, as well as their creditors, to conduct a human rights assessment of any economic reforms that are associated with debt servicing or debt relief to ensure they will not impact on the enjoyment of human rights, including for women. As a current sitting member of the Human Rights Council, Australia can be …read more