ActionAid Supporters are walking for women’s rights 

06.04.21

In 2020, more than 4,000 ActionAid supporters around the world took action and collectively walked almost double the Earth’s circumference to demand that our global leaders walk the talk and put women and planet before profit.  

ActionAid is calling on Australian leaders to ensure that everyone around the world has equal access to the COVID-19 vaccine. We’re also pushing for Australia to support cancelling unsustainable debt payments for low-income countries so they can spend the money on social infrastructure to fight the spread of the virus. 

Kate Backshall is an ActionAid Activist group coordinator. Last year, she led the Adelaide group to step up and walk in solidarity with women around the world facing the triple crisis of unsustainable debt, climate change and COVID-19.  

As a group we coordinated to spell out our message, #CancelTheDebt, to show that activists across Australia think debt in the Global South is in desperate need of review. Australia ought to be supporting the cancellation of unjust debts and should be being doing more to meet our aid commitments in this space, said Kate.  

Last year, women in the Global South faced the triple threat of economic, climate and health crisesthey bore the brunt of increased unpaid work and lack of access to local women’s health services.  

Women are disproportionately experiencing the impacts of the global debt crisis. Low-income countries are forced to repay huge debts instead of funding crucial services like health, education and social security. With twothirds of the public sector occupied by women globally, women are often left without financial security. This means that women are unable to access vital health services like women-friendly spaces despite rising levels of gender-based violence.  

The huge debt payments low-income countries must pay to private and international banks, and foreign governments, is sucking up all their public funds when they really need to be spending on healthcare and social support.  

“I wanted to take part in the walk for survival because I think that the global debt crisis is unfairly impacting women in the Global South and now it’s impeding government responses to the pandemic, putting already strained women under more pressure. I thought it was important to show my support for a more generous response from Australia on this front,” said Kate.  

Activists around Australia, like Kate, put on their sneakers and took to their local communities to spell out #CanceltheDebt. They are urging Treasurer Frydenberg to use his influence within the Group of Twenty wealthiest economies in the world to push for debt cancellation in the Global South.  

The ActionAid activist network is a group of people, passionate about advancing women’s rights both here in Australia and overseas. Through community activities like petition stalls, film screenings and clothes swaps, they are holding the Australian government and corporations to account while standing in solidarity with women around the world.  

Join the network here: https://actionaid.org.au/home/take-action/activist-network/