The term “Illicit Financial Flows” immediately conjures imagery of complex macro-economic policies which alienates many people and prevents them from engaging with the issue. And yet tackling this vice has taken on the utmost urgency as the African continent annually haemorrhages billions of dollars worth of uncollected or misappropriated revenue through corruption, tax avoidance, trafficking in drugs and persons, etc. Consequently States are failing to build public infrastructure and provide basic public services citing a lack of funds. However, a movement of activists is pushing back and demanding that Governments stop bleeding of money.
In June, Akina Mama wa Afrika participated in a knowledge co-creation space convened by AWID in Madrid, Spain to start the process of making knowledge on illicit financial flows more accessible and consumable. The meeting was constituted to “create a collective process to make feminist analysis on Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs) more accessible to feminist and social justice movements, so that they can claim those resources for gender, economic and social justice.” The module under development underscored the importance of understanding the issue from a feminist perspective and also the disproportionate gender impacts on the lives of the most oppressed is order to advance gender and social justice. This work is especially relevant to AMwA because some of the key recommendations of the June 2018 Gender Is My Agenda Campaign meeting were to “strengthen accountability mechanisms for holding multinational companies accountable to pay their fair share of taxes and uphold human including women’s rights in their activities in accordance with regional and international instruments” and to “implement the recommendations by the Thabo Mbeki High Level Panel that address limitations to existing Illicit Financial Flows and its linkages to corruption and weakening of state institutions.” The 2015 Mbeki High Level Panel report established that the continent loses about 50 billion US Dollars annually to IFFs, most of it migrating to the Global North. This amount far outstrips Official Development Assistance to the Continent.
Deepening activists’ knowledge on IFFs is especially relevant in the Uganda context where a series of regressive taxes that increase the burden of tax payment to consumers while corporations get tax breaks have been introduced. Equipping them with information on how IFFs contribute to the increase in tax burden will help tax activists and Feminist activists ably articulate the issues and demand for accountability from the right places.
The co-creation process was stewarded by a diversity of women from across the world. These included Zenaida Joachim (Mesoamericanas en Resistencia ‐ El Salvador); Olga Shnyrova (Ivanovo Center for Gender Studies ‐ Russia), Eva Morales and Andrea De Pascual (Pedagogías Invisibles ‐ Spain); Amaia Perez Orozco (Eje de Precariedad y Economía Feminista - Spain); Daniela Fonkatz (AWID - Argentina); Ana Inés Abelenda (AWID - Uruguay) and Leah Eryenyu, (Research, Advocacy and Movement Building Manager at Akina Mama Wa Afrika ‐ Uganda).
On the side-lines of the co-creation process, space was created for women from the Feminist Movement in Spain to convene with participants to share experiences, learn from each other and build solidarity. The women crafted and sent messages of support to Ugandan women who at the time were organizing a protest in reaction to the State’s lack of response to a series of women murders that had gone on unaccounted for.