African Women Stand Together Against Micro Credits

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Source: REDECO.COM / The Dawn News / June 23, 2016.

13 African women enslaved by microcredit B Eduardo Luzzatti

Being a woman, poor and African. They are three of the favourite requisite from the “vultures” of the microcredits, who under the guise of fighting against poverty and being welcomed by international organizations like United Nation, USAID or the European Investment Bank, swindle them, land them in debt and force them into bankruptcy.

Their victims have suffered threats and also been to prison, as in Mali.  They have lost their families, fallen into prostitution or committed suicide, as in Morocco, or have also been  deep in debt because they were not able to afford a caesarean birth, as in Congo Brazzaville. But African women from different countries are being released together from the slavery enforced by the micro finances market.

Fatima Boundy is a retired teacher from Mali. She assures that in her country there are dozens of women in prison unable to afford paying their debts from credits of about 15000 francs (CFA) (about 228 euros). They are women who run small business, informal activities, sell on the street market , etc. When they cannot give the money back, they are put under pressure, their goods confiscated, and are even taken to prison. The Court has not announced anything about this yet .”We have asked for International help. There will be a Women’s meeting in Mali in 2017” Fatimata assures.

Fatima Zahar, a Moroccan French  30-year-old student,  explained that the owner of the money offered credits to women who can not read or write, at exorbitant rates that reach up to 45%. As a guarantee, they go to their houses and see what valuable things they have, and the when they cannot pay they make the women sell their goods. “Some of them have fallen into prostitution, others have committed suicide or feeling ashamed have run away losing their families. Their troubles with micro finances transfer over to their children, which in most of cases give up the school to help their mothers. Children are even offered loans at school. All of this bring psychological and social problems,” she said.

The local microfinance  Institutions are protected by the dictatorial regime, the Majzén, and subsidised by the Moroccan financial sector (Bank-Al-Maghrib) or CDG (Caisse de Dépôt et de Gestion) and also finance by international organizations such as the United Nations Program for Development (UNDP), the Agency USA Development International (USAID), the European Investment Bank (EIB) or the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation for Development (AECID).

“The international Banks have strategical interests in the political and financial global context, between North and South. Poverty is their business” Fatima Zahra said. In her opinion, the association of victims of the finance movement is very important, for “women who are able to be released from their patriarchal dogmas take to the streets and fight against the neoliberal politics and no longer pay . It is also important to rebel against the austerity imposed by the IMF (International Fund  Money ) and WB (World Bank) – the true responsibles. We have not won all the battles, but we carry on”.

Amèlie Kiyindou, a chemist from Congo Brazzaville,  explained how her country accepted  the Program for Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) of the IMF and WB, but did not invested in health programs, so that that women either enter debt via micro finances or die because they cannot pay for a caesarean.

Êmilie Atchaka, a farmer from Benín, has found her own self-managed way out of the financial needs of the women in the community. After the draconian adjustment programs imposed by the IMF in 1989, her husband lost his job. As a mother of four children, she had to go out and bring money to the house. Under the rules of a collecting African system called tontine, she set up the Circle of Self Promotion for sustainable development (CADD), “our own women’s bank” , with low interests which are invested. “We have created this alternative, because the government has not assumed its responsibility” she holds.

The micro creditors’ impertinence reaches the point of revealing debtors’ names on radio stations. “All of this makes us reflect deeply”, she said. The IMF and WB make us to go into debt. Their adjust programs have made women take credits, which are financed by the World Bank. That is a tool which leads them to ruin, into a deep poverty and unable to make payments. It is not a social measure but instead is taking advantage.  Now the same austerity is establishing in the north. This situation has developed nothing.  All the peoples will have to take care with these credit institutions, which bring the leftovers from the world banks. We must control them strictly and eliminate them.

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