25 years ago, in May 1998, the Left Democratic Front government of the Indian state of Kerala started the Kudumbashree program as part of the State Poverty Eradication Mission. The program aimed to socially and financially emancipate women by providing them employment opportunities and space to enter decision making bodies. Today, 25 years on, the program has been a massive success with a notable rise in women’s presence in legislative bodies, as well as a large number of women working in various micro enterprises and agricultural projects. TN Seema, a former member of parliament from the Communist Party of India (Marxist) talks about the journey of the program and where it stands today.
What constitutes a crisis worthy of global attention? When a regional bank in the United States falls victim to the inversion of the yield curve (i.e., when short-term bond interest rates become higher than long-term rates), the Earth nearly stops spinning. The collapse of Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) – one of the most important financiers of technology start-ups in the United States – on 10 March presaged wider chaos in the Western financial world. In the days after the SVB debacle, Signature Bank, one of the few banks to accept cryptocurrency deposits, faced bankruptcy, and then Credit Suisse, an established European bank set up in 1856, fell due its longstanding poor management of risk.
Cuba, Nicaragua and Mexico have been ranked 2nd, 3rd and 4th in the world, having achieved the highest proportion of women in parliament out of 189 countries. What’s more, these three along with Rwanda and the United Arab Emirates are the only five countries in the world to have achieved gender parity in their lower or single legislative house (National Assembly, Congress, or Parliament) as of February 2022. The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) released its 2021 Women in Parliament report of countries with the best gender balance in parliament this week. Cuba, with 53.4% of women holding seats in the National Assembly, ranks second worldwide, followed by Nicaragua, which with 50.6% of its National Assembly held by women lawmakers, ranks third overall in the world.
According to the Global Gender Gap Index, the Central American country of Nicaragua currently places twelfth in the world for gender parity, above the likes of France, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Since the 1979 Sandinista revolution, the living conditions for women have drastically improved, successes which even the period of neoliberal rule from 1990 to 2006 couldn’t completely overturn. Throughout the second Sandinista period—from 2007 until today—the material and social position of women has continued to strengthen. Recently, new laws protecting the political and economic rights of women have been ratified after organized campaigns from the Nicaraguan women’s movement, while women’s organizations are receiving unprecedented investment and interest from the socialist government.