South Africa International women’s day: People’s Power vs. Rising Inequality

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As global inequalities continue to rise, women often end up on the losing side. Discrimination against women is often rooted in economic inequality, and yet also goes far beyond.  The past few years have seen the rise of a global movement against inequalities and the rise of people’s movements which are pushing back against the status quo and unequal power dynamics.

In South Africa many are frustrated by the extent of government corruption and are voicing their discontent with the ruling African National Congress (ANC) as they struggle to meet expectations for building a more equal post-Apartheid society. At the global level, a new type of populist leader is emerging that is not afraid to lay blame for society’s troubles at the foot of a demonized community – immigrants, drug users, or Muslims, for example.

Change is in the air as the status quo is untenable; yet change can be elusive. The failure to implement effective regulations and redistributive measures since the global financial crisis of 2008 and the willingness of leaders to bail out rich bankers while allowing workers to suffer has meant a lot more resources for the very richest and hardly anything for everyone else. Since the crisis, the OECD has found that levels of income inequality within and between countries are the worst they’ve been in half a century.

And economic discrimination against women is so bad that at the current rate of progress it will take 170 more years for women to receive pay equal to that of men. The problem of inequality is structural. Systems of governance, of finance, and of social order, are devised and maintained by those who already have wealth and power, who make the rules in order to consolidate their privilege.

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