Structural Adjustment Programme A curse on African Women

1 ” The IMF ‘s cardinal mission is to assist guarantee stableness in the international system. It does so in three ways: maintaining path of the planetary economic system and the economic systems of member states ; imparting to states with balance of payments troubles ; and giving practical aid to members ”

2In position of this, the Structural Adjustment was viewed as a necessary immorality by the international establishments that imposed it-the International Monetary Fund ( IMF ) and the World Bank. It was introduced in the 1980s as consequence of assorted fiscal catastrophes that had taken topographic point in the seventiess such as the oil and the debt crisis. These greatly impacted many developing states such as the Philippines and Sub-saharan states that were unable to pay back their loans. Therefore, to ease this, the IMF and World Bank provided conditional loans and in return demanded these states to “ set ” their economic systems. The accommodation needed states to set about economic reforms such as trade liberalization, devaluation of currency, denationalization every bit good as reduced authorities intercession.

With this in head, over the old ages, the issue of Structural Adjustment Programme has drawn strong unfavorable judgments due to the negative impact it has generated at different degrees. Contradictory to the belief that it was meant to hike economic growing, many economic systems suffered stagnated growing alternatively. At a societal degree, a batch of African states suffered civil agitation which led to high degrees of poorness. Last, to maneuver the economic systems towards economic prosperity, many corporations actively boosted production at the disbursal of the environment-with increased C emanations. Furthermore, amongst all the economic systems affected, African economic systems were one of the few economic systems that suffered the brunt of it.

From a macro position, we so see that the due attending has been given to generic impacts of the programme. However, one tends to disregard the impact at a micro level-that is the degree of the person, in peculiar, the gendered impact of the programme. Therefore this paper aims to research the negative effects of the Structural Adjustment Programme on adult females in the African context from two perspectives- economic and societal.

Economic Prosperity..Indeed!

The premier focal point of the Structural Adjustment Programme was to excite the economic systems of developing states. In the instance of Africa, the dominant economic activity across many parts is still at the subsistence level- the agricultural industry. The agricultural sector is seen as a beginning of employment and income for many families. However, much of the agricultural production is overshadowed by traditional methods which undermine productiveness degrees. Therefore, the programme which was in topographic point to ease the refund of the debts, involved reforming the agricultural policy in topographic point.[ 3 ]This meant removing monetary value controls on agricultural goods, take downing trade barriers every bit good eliminating selling boards. The chief purpose of making this was to switch the resources towards a more export oriented agricultural sector which was considered to be more economically feasible. In theory, the purpose of the programme was to profit adult females due to increased accent on regenerating agricultural production. In world, this was non the instance. Most of the policies did non provide to adult females, despite the fact that, adult females produce 70 per centum of nutrient within Africa and that 90 per centum of their clip was spent on either fixing nutrient or supplying the necessary labor for nutrient production. Furthermore along with the debut of the agricultural reforms, the programme promoted the thought of use of the currency-devaluation. The intent of devaluing the currency was to do imported goods such as medical specialty, fuel and nutrient more expensive so that it would cut down the balance of payment shortage problem-a persistent job the continent was confronting. However, one must gain that when agricultural production becomes more exports centric, there is heavy trust on imported resources. These resources now become unaffordable to the husbandmans particularly little clip female husbandmans. Therefore much of the benefits of the devaluation helped sectors that were already being controlled by males. One illustration would be in the instance of Mali, where due to devaluation of currency, benefited the farm animal industry, which chiefly hired work forces.

Furthermore, when the Structural Adjustment Programme was introduced to Africa, the international establishments involved failed to recognize the differences across the provinces in Africa. The lives in rural countries are slightly really different from those in urban Centres. In urban Centres, great sum of accent was placed on advancing gender equality which is besides one of the[ 4 ]Millennium Development Goals. However in the instance of rural countries, the gender dealingss are different therefore altering the nature of the Structural Adjustment Programme from being instead gender impersonal to something that finally became gender prejudice.[ 5 ]The ground lies in the manner societal stratification took topographic point every bit good as the instability of power that existed at two levels- the small town and family degree. Like in many parts of the universe, adult females were deemed as “ inferior ” compared to work forces and therefore they had less power in determination devising procedures ( Due, J. , & A ; Gladwin, C. ( 1991 ) .

This is applicable besides in the economic sense, where we see that gender seems to play a major function in finding who controls the assorted types of resources required in the agricultural sector every bit good as who additions from the net incomes earned. In the instance of the Structural Adjustment Programme, it was observed that when Africa transitioned to export orientated agribusiness, many adult females husbandmans were denied entree to inputs such as land, seeds and fertilizer.[ 6 ]Recognition was one such resource that was needed to buy the necessary inputs that could hike productiveness and bring forth higher rate of returns. The programme merely provided inducements for certain hard currency harvests which required long term investings in big sums. Thus it was indispensable that recognition was easy available to these husbandmans to do such investings. However, such recognition was instead limited in the context of developing states and even more so when it came to adult females husbandmans. In the instance of Africa, in the Kakamega territory, Kenya, where 40 per centum of the farms were female owned, empirical grounds showed that 99 per centum of them were unaware of the recognition programme. The chief beginning of recognition available for these adult females husbandmans was non-formal recognition. Unfortunately, through the programme, the ordinance on such recognition was further tightened doing it more hard to obtain even this beginning of recognition. In such scenarios, people turned to friends and relations for loans, but this became more hard when many African states were at the same time hit with recession. Thus we so see how the programme controlled the entree of resources such that adult females were non able to bask the same benefits as work forces ( Mehra, 1991 ) .

Last, the programme besides encouraged the remotion of trade barriers such as selling boards. Contrary to the impression that it would assist adult females husbandmans, it ended being non-beneficial in any manner. Although, by taking these selling boards, it would assist to hike competiveness which would let husbandmans to command a higher monetary value for their green goods, the net incomes earned would finally be nullified with the procedure of devaluation that increases the cost of life. One such case that proved this consequence was in Ghana where the remotion of chocolate selling boards did non profit female chocolate manufacturers in any manner. In add-on, the decrease in trade barriers led to the job of dumping of foreign goods which included agricultural every bit good as light industry merchandises. This threatened the occupations, held chiefly by adult females, in these industries.[ 7 ]In the instance of Tanzania, the issue of dumping became outstanding every bit shortly as it opened up its market, as 90 per centum of the fabric Millss which employ adult females started to close down.

All in all, the structural accommodation programme profoundly affected the agricultural sector every bit good as the light industries in Africa. Bing a major beginning of income for adult females, the programme alternatively of profiting them ended up doing more economic adversity to them.

One can non see the economic and societal facet as reciprocally sole. Despite the Structural Adjustment Programme being economic in nature, it affected many adult females in Africa at a societal degree. The following portion of the paper would discourse in a societal facet in three ways-health, instruction and human rights.

Social Aspect


In this country, a top down attack would be adopted-how steps taken by the authorities in either a direct or indirect mode, under the influence of the programme, affected the wellness of adult females in Africa.[ 8 ]In the instance of indirect step, the authorities enforced pay restraints such that rewards are ever persistently lower than the rising prices rate. By making so, the states were able to bask the loans that the international establishments were giving out. Whilst making this, the authorities did non gain the deductions. One of them being that with, decreased rewards and increased disbursals of goods, many female headed families across Africa were unable to afford basic necessities such as nutrient. This led to the many adult females hungering for the interest of their households therefore taking to impairment in their wellness.

Alongside pay restraints, another built-in portion of the programme encompassed diminishing the health care budget across African provinces.[ 9 ]In the instance of Tanzania, it was observed that per capita health care related outgo decreased from $ 7 in the 1980s to $ 2 in the 1990s after the debut of the programme. This basically meant that there were less wellness attention related services provided such as infirmaries. Furthermore, the cost of supplying health care besides increased therefore doing it unaffordable to hapless families particularly those that were female headed. This contributed to high maternal every bit good as high baby mortality rates. The ground why 1 has to see infant mortality rates in the treatment the paper is due to the fact that the wellness of the baby is brooding of the female parent ‘s wellness. This was adversely affected, as the quality of services provided to pregnant female parents fell significantly. This was accompanied with unequal nutrition which farther contributed to the lifting mortality rates across many parts of Africa.

10Traditionally, in states such as Malawi and Zimbabwe, adult females were required to go long distances on pes to obtain any signifier of medical aid. Therefore, the authoritiess of these states made it their precedence to try to do medical services accessible to everyone. However, with a worsening economic system, along with the debut of the programme, this ne’er became possible. Contrary to the outlook of the World Bank, the commercialization of health care worsened the state of affairs for adult females across Africa. This combined with a deficiency of ordinance, resulted in drugs/medicines being sold at unreasonable sums. In some desperate fortunes, adult females were forced to corrupt physicians and druggists in order to acquire entree to these medical specialties ( Kalipeni, 2000 ) . In add-on, in the pursuit of maximizing their net incomes, many pharmaceuticss compromised on the quality of drugs being sold- merchandising drugs even though they were expired. This farther contributed to the sick wellness of many adult females and kids across Africa.

11In the facet of wellness, one interesting survey highlighted the correlativity between HIV rates amongst adult females and the Structural Adjustment Programme. The HIV pandemic has been impacting the African continent for over the past three decennaries. In the instance of Sub Saharan Africa, HIV rates have drastically increased amongst adult females and kids. Harmonizing to the World Health Organisation, amongst the 19.2 million adult females affected, about two-thirds live in Sub-Saharan Africa. The mortality rates are even more startling-in 2003, approximately 1 million people died due to HIV. There are a assortment of factors that could account for this such as low instruction degrees, income want every bit good as hapless wellness attention services. However, the economic reforms that the Structural Adjustment Programme brought with itself aggravated the job. In the instance of currency devaluation, due to inability to afford basic trade goods, many adult females resorted to harlotry which provided a moneymaking beginning of income. This increased their exposure to HIV. Trade and fiscal liberalisation besides facilitated this procedure as it encouraged rural-urban migration. More adult females went to urban Centres in an attempt to obtain employment in formal sectors, but many ended up in the commercialized sex industry. These industries were turning exceptionally in urban countries, as many work forces, particularly those from the high income bracket, would actively prosecute in such hazardous behavior on a regular footing. Often, these work forces become infected in the procedure and so adult females coming in contact with such work forces would themselves contract this disease. Last, many people have recognised that the lone manner of commanding the disease is by advancing consciousness. However, with the decrease of wellness attention outgo, many programmes aimed at increasing the cognition of preventives every bit good as subsidizing HIV testing, were abolished. This farther resulted in increased HIV transmittal rates amongst adult females in Sub Saharan Africa Thus we see how the Structural Adjustment Programme increased the susceptibleness of adult females to assorted diseases which impacted their wellness negatively. The publicity of economic advancement within Africa was so pursued at the disbursal of adult females ‘s wellness.


One of the other Millennium Development Goal is the accomplishment of cosmopolitan primary instruction. In Africa, this was merely to be a dream. One of the lending factors being the Structural Adjustment Programme itself.[ 12 ]The programme led authoritiess to cut outgo for instruction, similar to the wellness industry. One illustration that could be sited was in Sub-Saharan Africa where in existent footings, it was observed that there was a diminution in expenditure-from US $ 11 billion to US $ 7 billion. In the procedure of making so, the negative deductions were felt more so by adult females as compared to work forces. This could be attributed to the difference in the gender dealingss in the first topographic point. Womans, who are viewed by the African society, as “ inferior existences ” , were the first to hold their caputs on the chopping board when these cuts were made. One result due to the cuts made was the increased cost of come ining school. With these, poorer families feel highly burdened and started to see instruction “ worthless ” for misss. Girls keeping little clip occupations were considered to be more utile to their households than those that were good instruction due to the extra beginning of income. Therefore we see that programme set good evidences for a entire displacement of position in footings of value of instruction in the eyes of African parents.

13It is besides interesting to observe that when cut downing the outgo, gender was one of the factors kept in head. This was because in the procedure of cutting outgo, there was an increasing tendency of miss schools being shut down, therefore go forthing many female young persons without instruction. Furthermore, authoritiess cut money given for infrastructural betterments particularly for miss ‘s schools. This resulted in many female young persons analyzing in bedraggled conditions such as under bad illuming aboard broken furniture. With all these, it discouraged many possible pupils from inscribing into school. For illustration, with these new alterations in topographic point, enrolment rates dropped significantly from 77.1 per centum in the 1980s to 66.7 per centum in 1990s-with misss dropping out more wild than male childs. This tendency was observed in all parts of Africa-Uganda, Zambia.[ 14 ]Furthermore, the lessening in budget for miss ‘s schools peculiarly resulted in a bead in overall criterion of instruction being provided. In Tanzania, when trials of Basic English and Mathematics were being carried out at primary school degree, 75 per centum, chiefly misss scored below 15 Markss out of 50. This showed the failure of the instruction that was being provided. One common ground cited by the schools for the hapless public presentation was due to sub-standard instruction stuffs being provided as schools had deficient financess to buy the relevant stuffs. Therefore many girls/women ended up analyzing in environments that were non intellectually exciting. It has been said that this had led to such drastic impacts on the mental wellness of adult females that it even drove one of the female pupils to perpetrate self-destruction in Tanzania.

Therefore we do see that, in the procedure of conveying about economic alteration in assorted parts of Africa, the educational chances particularly for adult females started to shrivel badly. This proved to be damaging as instruction is indispensable to last the worlds of the universe today.

Human rights

Finally, in the societal facet, we would look at the impact of the programme on adult females in Africa from a human rights position. Every individual regardless of gender has rights that he or she is entitled to.[ 15 ]Harmonizing to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, some of these include the right to freedom, the right to vote etc. Therefore, in this instance, we see that the rights of adult females were so compromised by denying them proper health care every bit good as instruction, all of which has been discussed earlier.[ 16 ]However, in this subdivision, the definition of “ rights ” being used here would be seen as the unequal distribution of power between the two genders and its subsequent effect.

The Structural Adjustment Programme did non try to bridge the spread between the two genders in Africa. Alternatively, through its proposed alterations, it shifted the balance of power more towards work forces and served as a signifier of support for continued male laterality within the African society. One manner of making so was in the distribution of resources. Resources, which are limited in nature, were provided chiefly to work forces giving them an upper manus in assorted ways-economically, socially every bit good as politically. Thus one would reason that the broadening of the societal and economic inequality between work forces and adult females in Africa is in itself a signifier of human rights maltreatment.

17The effects of this have led to further human rights maltreatment in relation to adult females ‘s sexual rights. Due to the support of work forces ‘s laterality by the programme, many work forces got off with sexually opprobrious Acts of the Apostless such as colza in many parts of Africa. In many cases, the culprits got off with the offense due to a weak jurisprudence enforcement system in topographic point. Furthermore, at times, people portion of these systems itself such as the constabulary abused their authorization and carried out such horrid Acts of the Apostless with perfect cognition that they know would ne’er be caught. If they were, the power of money-bribes would guarantee that they were safe. Therefore with this, we see that the programme undermined the function of adult females in society and subjected them to atrociousnesss such as physical maltreatment which is a human rights misdemeanor. As a consequence of these actions, the psychological injury on these adult females tends to be everlasting as many continue to populate in shame and guilt. Therefore, we see that the programme unwittingly infringed on the rights of adult females through its policies.


In decision, the International Monetary Fund and World Bank would hold ne’er been able to anticipate the effects of their actions. Very few would conceive of, how something economic in nature could hold such a drastic impact on one peculiar type of gender. Well, Africa is a living illustration of this. The cicatrixs the Structural Adjustment Programme had left-directly or indirectly can still be seen if one were to pay a visit at that place. The adversity that adult females in Africa face in every sense-economic and societal can non be comprehended. Over the old ages, efforts have been made to undo these cicatrixs such as the development of the African Women ‘s Economy Policy Network ( AWEPON ) which came up with programmes to increase literacy rates. This is because instruction is viewed as a important tool to authorise adult females in two ways-one to prosecute their ain involvements and second to support themselves under hard fortunes. However, this procedure has been hampered due to the being of widespread bureaucratism. If one were to exchange on the intelligence, it would be seen that a batch of the African states have been dogged by corruptness dirts therefore doing any form societal alteration really hard. In my sentiment, the attempt made to change by reversal the impact on adult females is ineffectual because certain actions are irreversible-one being the programme itself. One could merely trust that the consequence of clip would cut down the hurting the Structural Adjustment Programme inflicted on the adult females of Africa.