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Kathmandu Declaration 2022
Kathmandu Declaration 2022 A South Asian Peoples’ Declaration for Peace, Equality, Human Dignity.   May 27, 2022 SAAPE Sixth General Assembly, 26-27 May 2022  WE, the members of the Sixth General Assembly of South Asia Alliance for Poverty Eradication (SAAPE) and Peoples’ SAARC, having met at Kathmandu, Nepal from 26-27 May 2022 on the occasion of the Sixth General Assembly of SAAPEWE have taken note of the worsening socio-economic, political situation and conflicts and tensions in our respective countries (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka). We recognize that South Asia is at the lowest ebb in terms of cooperation among South Asian countries in trade and overall social development. The two major waves of the COVID-19 pandemic which resulted in lockdowns and the consequent economic losses, rise of unemployment and hunger, have dovetailed simultaneously with the rise of religious fundamentalism, political extremism, loss of freedom of association, rise in complete political destabilisation in Afghanistan, and greater dependence of many countries on privatisation models for achieving financial stability.WE are mindful of the existence of common problems in the region and convinced of the need to strengthen regional solidarity and cooperation in the process of recovering from COVID-19, and the strengthening people’s access to public health in the long term.WE are in pain and alarmed about the increasing deprivations and inequalities in the human, cultural, economic, social and political spheres of our people and the declining values of social, political democracy and human rights in the region,WE Recall SAAPE’s mission to intervene on the issues of poverty and exclusion, and we affirm the commitment to reviving Peoples’ SAARC to build solidarities among social movements and the need to take new initiatives and actions which will ameliorate the present situation.,Hereby, adopt the following declaration:We recognize the commitment to build alternative political and social justice to strengthen peoples’ movements for a more equitable and dignified life.The neo-liberal agenda imposed by the US Empire has remained as the fundamentalists' weapon in Afghanistan. It has brought its people, particularly women and children to their worst forms of existence. The experience of Afghanistan clearly suggests that outsiders, with full mindsets of fundamental extremisms, cannot inject democracy and human rights. Democracy can only come through peoples’ movements for human rights and good governance.There is an unprecedented increase in the levels of different kinds of violence, human rights violations, and exclusionary measures with less or nothing being reported about such cases. We believe all the stakeholders and actors whether internal or external must do what is necessary to reduce and stop these atrocities in Afghanistan.The political and economic crisis in Sri Lanka reinforces our belief that war and neoliberalism will not work in South Asia. We note that in the midst of growing hardships of steeply rising living costs, food and fuel shortages and, loss of livelihood, the people of Sri Lanka have launched a struggle that is peaceful, united and determined. We support their struggle to overcome the challenges of an authoritarian, corrupt government, and an anti-people constitution that perpetuates repression and ruthless exploitation of people, their resources and the environment.The People’s SAARC fully endorses the call from most sections of Sri Lankan citizenry for a complete renewal of Sri Lanka’s constitutional framework, especially the abolition of the executive presidential system, which has enabled the extreme concentration of power in individuals.SAAPE is committed to helping coordinate, and strengthen the peoples’ organisations in the region.We condemn religious fundamentalism and violence against minorities, consequently, the spread of terrorism by both state and non-state actors. We unequivocally denounce the use of terror against civilian populations in all forms and circumstances. Feudalism still prevails in our region. This extends to social relations within the family, within governments, resulting in dynastic rule within government and also within the corporate structures. Feudal power is an obstruction to democratic governance and accountability.We need agrarian reforms and we need to focus on the issues of food sovereignty.We are alarmed by the increasing warmongering and spawning of trans-border hostilities by South Asian states to suit their sectarian political interests.We demand that the states of South Asia de-link from terrorists, religious fundamentalists, and extremist groups and organizations that attack unarmed civilians to further their political gains. State and religion must be separated. We reaffirm our commitment to a progressive, democratic and secular state. The stories of hunger, unemployment, disease, illiteracy, homelessness, increasing child labour, gender inequality, discrimination, casteism, and racism, especially against the fishers and other excluded social groups such as the Dalits, Adivasi, LGBTQIA, of our region is prevalent in every corner of South Asia. We demand adequate public resources to address these issues.The economic restructuring of South economies has resulted in all the South Asian countries adopting the Washington Consensus model of stabilisation packages, which actually has resulted in further destabilizing the people's ownership of their resources, the commons, and their policies of State services since 1991. The present acute privatisation of public goods, the collapse of the public health services during the recent pandemic, and the failed models of development are all a result of the long-term addiction of south governments to the models of development, which the West has forced on our governments. Privatisation and deregulation have led to increasing corporatisation of State resources, tax freebies, and policies favouring the wealthy.Inequalities are consequently at an all-time high. The vulnerability of the health system, the lack of food pricing to protect people from the volatility of inflationary pressures, and the monopoly of a few food companies have reversed the gains that were achieved soon after independence. The climate crisis is a result of the overconsumption of some at the cost of hunger for the many. The pandemic only highlighted the underbelly of capitalist adventures that the stabilisation measures brought about. Unequal value chains are evident in most production lines where the firms outsource the production to other south countries where the risks reside. The new international economic order brings in more stringent privatisation measures, more flexibilities in labour standards at the production end, and foreign direct investment, which has stringent forms of labour extraction attached to them. In the long run and already in the medium-term indebtedness occurs, and self-reliance is lost. It is critical to protect the sovereignty of national ideas of the people, their idea and their vision of development. The illegitimacy of public debt must be exposed, confronted and governmental actions must come under public scrutiny. The climate crisis is closely linked to the models of development. Communities for decades practised sustainable development and governments need to promote and scale-up community successes. The climate crisis is a result of the corporatisation of agriculture, uncontrolled use of energy, etc. It is important that governments scale up successful models rather than import ways of food production, which destroy the resilience of the people. Land and natural resource grab in South Asia is a serious issue that has led to the alienation of people from their rights to life and rights to livelihoods. Land grabbing must be stopped urgently. We demand rational utilization of natural resources and democratic control of communities over them to eradicate poverty. A democratic and ecological regional planning for water and other resources must be ensured as a priority. The dilemmas of resistance for civil society organisations have also become a critical factor in how movements may build up their work in alleviating people’s distress. Registration is needed for receiving funds. However, such compliance brings with it other problems of surveillance and loss of freedom of association. The crisis is acute and there is no easy answer to this issue. The valuation of freedom in our societies is a sword of Damocles that thwarts our roads ahead for the freedom of association.We demand the release of all fishermen jailed in India, Pakistan Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh, and go for an agreement to announce a Non-arrest Policy. We see the need for a people-friendly Rule of Law based political order that is mandated through a constitutional arrangement where sovereignty rests entirely with the people. Citizens should have the right to recall corrupt officials along with the machinery that can put such usurpers of power behind bars, after due process of law.We urge the governments of the region to individually, and collectively, prioritize post COVID economic recovery through regional collaboration and cooperation. All individual member countries must come together to address the issues of vaccine inequality, vaccine accountability, and economic recovery in the region. We also demand that Sri Lankan refugees wanting to stay back in India are given citizenship. The Sri Lanka government must provide security and assistance to those wanting to return to their homeland. SAAPE stands committed to helping appraise the situation of Bhutanese refugees in Nepal and the Rohingya community who were exiled. There is a need for an effective regional and international response to this issue. We urge the governments of South Asia to manage proper documentation of these migrant workers and their rehabilitation and reintegration with high priority for women, girls, and their children while being abroad for a longer time.     We urge states to unilaterally repudiate sovereign debts.We have realized that the marginalization and structural exclusion of women from governance, economic and political participation has reinforced the feminization of poverty, discrimination, and violence against them. Furthermore, it has hindered women’s accession and influence in politics and governance.  The exclusion of women and other sexual minorities from politics and governance is a violation of fundamental human rights as it breaches the spirit of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We recognize that women’s meaningful engagement in politics and governance is their fundamental right and their meaningful participation can contribute to reducing gaps in society while promoting peace and dignity for all. Governments should promote social democracy within families and societies through education. Governments must institutionalize zero tolerance for any forms of violence against women. South Asia is affected by the caste system and the resulting structural discrimination which destroys inclusive social relations. As a result, the Dalit community faces multiple problems and they lie at bottom of the hierarchy in our society. South Asian governments need to take more appropriate actions for the upliftment of the Dalit communities. We are in favour of a secular, democratic, humanist order free from discrimination of all kinds, denial of dignity, and artificial boundaries that impede our right to movement, especially at the level of general citizens. We demand visa-free movement across borders. Besides, we envision a society that guarantees us all Human rights, especially that which is contained in the International Bill of Rights. We demand that all South Asian governments ratify and implement all Human Rights conventions as our societies can only claim to be democratic when the rights of the marginalized are guaranteed. Full social security needs to be guaranteed for all vulnerable populations in South Asian countries by national governments. We must ensure a minimum living wage and job security for all workers in the region. With the ever-rising inequalities, this is mandatory.We are acutely aware that catastrophic levels of climate change will make the poor and marginalized even more vulnerable. To combat this, we must institutionalize sustainable and resilient patterns of production and consumption.We appreciate the Sustainable Development Goals’ affirmation to reduce inequality, combat climate change, and strengthen labour rights. However, we have apprehensions that the efforts to eradicate global poverty only through economic growth, export-oriented models, trade liberalization, etc. within the existing neo-liberal paradigm would be counter-productive and perpetuate poverty as well as increase greenhouse gases. We assert that the attainment of SDGs is dependent on structurally changing the current socio-economic model and its institutions.We, the citizens of South Asia summon all our friends in Civil Society and in people-friendly political processes to wake up to the needs and aspirations of ordinary people, to strive for a new world order and, to make sustained efforts in South Asia. We must ascertain the will of the widest sections of civil society and move forward to defeat the forces of fundamentalism and elite capture while abolishing discrimination based on gender or social group affiliations. We must together end all forms of religious fundamentalisms, poverty conditions, inequalities and create a new form of world order based on humanist values and the agreed Conventions of the UN and nationally established Constitutions. 
SAAPE Call For Rapid Response From The South Asian Governments To Fight The COVID19 Crisis And To Build Unitedly Long-Term Public Health Care For South Asians
SAAPE is concerned about the great danger that COVID-19 pandemic poses in South Asia. The pandemic has already made the lives of the people miserable and woeful. The world is entering in a new phase of history. The pandemic has exposed the ugly face of the neoliberalism which has miserably failed to protect our lives. Hundreds of thousands have died, health workers in the front lines of this battle have been put at risk, as country after the country failed to provide adequate protective gear to their doctors, nurses and others. It has the potential to cause grave damages to the poor and to the economic livelihoods of millions in the informal sector. If we are unable to contain the spread of this virus, allowing it to spread to high-density areas, slums, working people neighbourhoods, refugee camps and other centres of vulnerability and poverty, South Asia will be left to face health, economic and social disasters on a scale never experienced before. The developed world is being over-run by the pandemic and their economies driven into recession. The chances of South Asia, therefore coping is remote, as most of the region’s economies are already in a desperate state.The current crisis has exposed the frail nature of our public health systems. Although uneven across the region, it is already evidenced that the public health systems are unable to cope with the current burden of disease. Three decades of neoliberal capitalism have destroyed basic public services including quality public health care and universal social protection. The average expenditure on public health in South Asia has hovered around 1.3% of the GDP. Even Italy and France which have been the epicentre of the pandemic were investing around 11% of the GDP and yet they have been unable to stem the tide of deaths and the increasing pressures on their health system to cope with the pandemic. Globalisation for South Asian countries resulted in greater privatisation of health care and a reduction in the role of the state. South Asia, by and large, has seen the reduction of primary health care centres in the predominantly rural areas making quality health care impossibility for the poor.The majority of the people depend on the public health system. This system is on its knees today. Bangladesh has 112 ICU beds and 400 ventilators for a population of about 165 million. Pakistan, a country of 220 million people has a bed-to-population ratio of less than one per 1,000 when the recommended average by WHO is five per 1,000. The WHO also mandates a doctor to population of 1:1000, while in India it is 1:1,404. For people living in rural areas and completely dependent on government healthcare facilities, the doctor to patient ratio is abysmally low with 1:10,926. Other countries also lack adequate facilities to face the current pandemic. The situation in Nepal is also not different as there are only about 360 ventilator machines in the country and 260 of them are in the Kathmandu Valley. Afghanistan is also facing a severe shortage of coronavirus tests and ventilators. In Afghanistan as of April 2, the country’s two designated coronavirus hospitals had only 12 working ventilators between them. According to Sri Lanka’s Government Medical Officers Association, Sri Lanka only has about 600 intensive care unit beds with ventilators.As millions are compelled to be in confinement, the majority, especially, the vulnerable are in situations without any decent social safety nets, income and struggling with getting food. Millions of informal workers have been left to their own devices as states had destroyed institutions to support them. The lockdowns that were declared on the populations have caused extreme difficulties to the people, necessary as they may have been. In India, millions took to the roads in an exodus of a kind hardly seen since Partition days. Afraid of being caught in the cities without shelter, work, food etc. millions chose to travel home to their villages on foot. We are also concerned about the situation and difficulties faced by the poor, women and vulnerable section of every community, struggling hard to survive in the time of lockdown, curfews and other restrictions. Globally, patriarchal, gendered norms of unpaid care work are being reinforced at homes that are resulting in rampant domestic violence. Millions of workers have lost jobs and livelihoods, particularly women who are contract-based and casual, consequently deepening hunger, individual and household debt crises. Migrant workers are in miserable conditions in South Asia as millions are struggling to live without food and place to rest and sleep and women migrant workers are most vulnerable. Panic and fear are common sentiments that are affecting people’s minds.South Asian countries have failed to make use of economic growth to improve the lives of the poor and marginalised people, mostly women, girls and marginalised communities and reduce inequalities the region is facing. Extreme inequalities have deepened the health, social and economic crises by allowing the rich to plunder and earn profits even from basic services, which the states have handed over to them. The poor and the working people are facing extreme forms of destitution and vulnerability at the time of COVID19 crisis, living without adequate basic needs materials to keep alive and prevent from the disease- foods, soaps, water and proper shelter. To contain the spread of coronavirus, the governments in South Asia have issued travel restrictions, curfews, lockdowns to maintain social distancing and possible outbreaks. The people who work in the informal and unorganised sectors, daily wage earners, hawkers, migrant workers etc. are facing the brunt of the adverse situations where they have become helpless in their lives.Many South Asian countries are now paying the price for diluting, not implementing and in some cases as in India -repealing and proposing to repeal even more pro-labour laws. Ironically and happily the Government of India has now issued orders to say that no one should be terminated from employment and that wages should not be denied even if workers have not come for work and that rents payable by workers should be waived by landlords. While we are happy to see that through these orders the old dogma of “Flexible Labour” and “Ease of doing business” is put on hold-this still amounts to ‘too little- too late’. We urge all South Asian Governments to learn proper lessons  from this crisis for the future and steps taken to cry halt to anti-labour thinking that has been quite rampant in our region.The video conference of the head of states of SAARC member states held in March 2020, though a welcome step, is totally inadequate to deal with the current crisis as it fails put in place practical measures to ensure that every country can intensify testing as well as ensuring that the region secures adequate health equipment, medicines, protective clothes and sanitizing materials. The threat posed by COVID-19 cannot be treated solely as a health risk but must be seen as a threat to the overall development of South Asia. The economic dimensions of this crisis require a comprehensive emergency response by SAARC. We need, now more than ever, a regional response as opposed to countries responding in isolation because the virus knows no border and its implications are of a trans-boundary nature. We need democratic space more than ever to combat this crisis and strongly condemn any attempts to curtail dissent in society.South Asia faces some of the world’s worst socio-economic inequalities which contribute to one of the worst gaps in access to healthcare facilities. Barring a few exceptions, a dysfunctional public health system plagues patients all across the region. The bulk of the population is at the mercy of the overstretched and underfunded public health system. Therefore, we demand the following actions from the South Asian governments to address urgently to fight the COVID19 crisis:The SAARC COVID-19 Emergency Fund should be utilised proportionally to provide support and assistance as per the need of any member state. A regional mechanism should be formed to share and exchange knowledge, information and ideas on the status and fight against the COVID19 and express solidarity to collectively fight against the impending danger of the pandemic in the region.Investing in basic services, particularly the health sector, to better prepare ourselves to combat challenges that we may face in the future. All the basic services should be provided by the governments ensuring its quality, sustainability and better preparedness for any looming danger. Similarly, ensuring universal social protection for all at the time of crisis is another important step which enables all the poor and vulnerable people to sustain at the time of crisis. Strengthen social protection and start thinking for a new vision of South Asia with all people have a universal minimum income.South Asian governments should call for the cancellation of all external debts so that the resources can be concentrated to provide quality basic services to the people. India being the member of G20 must raise the agenda of debt cancellation at the G20 Finance Ministers’ and Central Bank Governors virtual meeting, taking place next week, 15 April 2020.The governments should ensure that everyone is supported at these critical times and expenses are paid through progressive taxation on rich who have immensely benefited from the economic growth and neoliberal policies.SAAPE call on all South Asian governments to reduce military and defence budget by at least 10% of the national expenditures every year. The health budget should be increased to a minimum 10% of the total national budget.The governments must adopt social protection measures such as social cash transfer and distribution of resources and care to safeguard the livelihoods of the most vulnerable as well as the various employees who have lost their source of income due to the COVID19 pandemic.The governments must reduce the financial burdens on small businesses and low-earning individuals by reducing VAT and other taxes. This will reduce their burden as they face increased uncertainty during these crises.We urge the global political leaders and particularly the South Asian governments to take lessons from the failure of neoliberal policies exposed by COVID 19. The privatisation of the health sector resulting in downsizing and squeezing of public services particularly neglecting the role of the public health system has led us to this situation where deaths are daily occurring, where the elderly are dying in old age homes without being counted as COVID related deaths (as in UK and France). This is high time to transform the current challenges to opportunities by transforming the global order from the controls of global wealth by a handful of people to developing mechanisms so that the wealth and opportunities are distributed evenly to develop the facilities for essential services.There must be curbs placed on the runaway mechanisms built up by the private sector in health care who are not regulated and who take little responsibility when there is a pandemic of this scale and magnitude.It is time for a serious reconsideration of where we are headed in the future…are we people-centred societies or are we to be governed and subjected to conditionalities which do not have the agreement of the people? The lockdown has seriously impacted on peoples’ access to basic foods, employment and dependence on governments making the decisions without informing the citizens well in advance. While the curve may be flattened due to the lockdowns it is also true from various field reports being generated by civil society organisations that there are hunger, homelessness and joblessness facing millions of workers across the countries. Palpable anxiety is also leading to an alarming increase in domestic abuse of a kind rarely seen.South Asia’s future lies in cooperation, peoples’ power and strong democratic government not super-rich elite led power. Therefore, it is imperative that we rebuild our movements to fight for a South Asia free of inequality, disease, hunger and homelessness. Redistributive justice, a life free of hunger, a life that enjoys social protection must be guiding values of our societies. This pandemic and the toll it is taking on society is a symptom of what we have done in building unequal societies and living in a state of over-consumption, trade wars, and disregarding the call for a sustainable development trajectory for South Asians.We express our deepest solidarity to the people who are fighting this crisis by working in the frontlines to save lives. We express our solidarity with the millions of migrant labour left homeless and facing an uncertain future. We express our solidarity with the women and children of hundreds of households where domestic abuse and child sexual abuse has increased. We express our solidarity with the farmers who are being forced to destroying their own crops because interstate trade and transport have been stopped in the lockdown.We urge governments to see the pandemic from people’s perspectives and take swift action to contain the pandemic and at the same time to begin a new chapter in South Asian cooperation to combat poverty and all its threats to humanity.SAAPE Secretariat, Kathmandu, Nepal
Kathmandu Declaration on Tax and Fiscal Justice to Address Rising Inequality in South Asia, 2019
Kathmandu DeclarationTax and Fiscal Justice to Address Rising Inequality in South Asia27-30 March 2019, Kathmandu, Nepal We, citizens of several South Asian countries- Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka- who are working for the rights of the common people in various sectors as members of parliament, political parties, civil society and mass-based organizations, academia and activists, gathered in Kathmandu, Nepal from 27 to 30th of March 2019 to discuss importance of tax and fiscal policies and the role of public spending on addressing multiple inequalities in the region. We are very concerned about the shocking rise in inequalities affecting millions of people especially women and working class people in South Asia. Therefore, as we promised in our first convergence held in Negombo, Sri Lanka in November 2018 not to be silent and fight to create fairer and more equal societies for our children and future generations, we reiterate our concerns listed below.  1.        We are deeply concerned with the adverse impacts of indirect taxes that are imposed on daily essentials, including health and educational needs of people; the tax regime exempts the rich from taxes and helps them accumulate wealth, while it deprives common people of even the most basic needs. 2.        We appreciate the policy commitment of South Asian Governments to gender-responsive budgeting, yet the budget policies and procedures are not gender sensitive and responsive leading to narrowing of the space and opportunities for promoting gender justice in governance system and public spending. 3.        We demand that the governments of South Asian countries make immediate efforts to revisit their tax regime and make it progressive in order to increase the tax to GDP ratio, to mobilize tax revenue through progressive direct taxes and reduce the burden of indirect taxes.  4.       We express our grave concerns on the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few. We condemn the neo-liberal economic policies that promote elite capture of politics and national economy causing a rise in the wealth concentration. We call upon the governments of countries in South Asia to take immediate policy interventions and programmatic measures that prevent elites from capturing the policy and governance space, and redistribute resources to the people and protect the life of the common people. 5.        We observe the consistent rise in the military and defense expenditures in many South Asian Countries that contribute to the weakening of democracy, justice and human rights of its citizens. We call upon the governments to redirect the budget towards education, health and social protection for the citizens. 6.        We demand that the concerned governments rationalize tax incentives, tax exemptions and tax holidays, and end those that are unproductive but are given on the pretext of attracting investments. Such measures drain the public exchequer of tax revenue and result in increased inequality. We call upon the governments of South Asian countries to come together, collaborate and promote south-south cooperation aiming to promote peaceful co-existence and united South Asia to fight unfair world economic order. 7.        The wage gaps have been observed to be very high and not proportionate to market inflation. The working class people are strained and distressed with their income. Women workers and their dominant sectors of engagement such as agriculture, domestic work and care work are subjected to low wages and no wages. We demand that the governments must take pro-active initiatives to end the gender pay gap, ensure appropriate and livable wages that would lead to a decent life for all occupations, for men and women, and in women dominant labor sectors.  8.       We demand that South Asian governments recognize, reduce and redistribute women’s unpaid work, especially care work, through valuation and equal distribution of household responsibilities for both men and women.   9.        We demand the promotion of representation of women and working-class people in decision making and political processes and institutions as they are essential for challenging all the causes of inequalities. We urge the political parties and the governments of South Asian countries to provide a minimum of 33 per cent of the seats for women’s participation at all decision-making levels in the party and in the state machinery to create a gender-sensitive environment. We expect this percentage to rise to 50 per cent as women form half of the world’s population and their presence in equal numbers in the political and decision-making levels is important to reduce inequality. 10.      We demand the governments to publish the status of capital flight and tax evasion by individuals and corporate entities in the form of a White Paper on a regular basis. We also demand strong legal provisions and implementation of existing laws to disqualify tax evaders from the electoral process and in any public position.  11.     We the people’s campaigns and organizations in South Asia would commit ourselves to take a firm step on our struggle for challenging inequality and would continue engagement with governments and people's movement for creating fair and just economic order at our national and regional levels.   As per our commitment during the Negombo Convergence 2018 to unite South Asians and mobilize them to create visible actions, we have formed a South Asia Tax and Fiscal Justice Alliance to organize campaigns for tax and fiscal justice and to fight against inequality in South Asia region. We all, the participating individuals and organizations, are members of this initiative and would like to call upon all interested individuals, organizations and movements to join the alliance to address a crucial situation of rising inequality and the role of taxation and public spending at national and regional levels.   To achieve these demands, we decide to come together and, Campaign across the region to create awareness on tax and fiscal justice and its importance in reducing inequality. Train and mobilize people around the demands and create visible actions across the region.  Engage in evidence-based advocacy at local, national and regional levels to make our demands more evidence-based and conduct research at the national level on taxation to come up with appropriate analysis to make the system more progressive to reduce the inequality.Pressurize the governments to include the elements of gender responsiveness while formulating budget so as to ensure the collection and allocation of public resources is carried out in such a way that are effective and contribute to gender justice and promote women’s empowerment.
Negombo Declaration, 2018
Negombo DeclarationEnd Gender Inequality through Fiscal Justice and Access to Basic Rights!19-20 November 2018, Negombo, Sri Lanka We, the people of South Asia from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka working as members of parliament, in political parties, civil society and mass-based organisations, business and academia, gathered in Negombo, Sri Lanka on 19 and 20th of November 2018 at the South Asian Women’s Convergence on Addressing Gender Inequality through Fiscal Justice and Access to Basic Rights, are extremely concerned about the staggering level of inequalities affecting millions of women in South Asia. We resolve not to be silent but rather, to fight to create a fair and equal society.We express grave concerns about the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few and call upon states to take immediate measures to reduce the rising inequality.We demand that South Asian governments make immediate efforts to increase the tax to GDP ratio to mobilise tax revenue through progressive direct taxes and reduce the burden of indirect taxes.End unproductive tax incentives, tax exemptions and tax holidays under the pretext of attracting investments that drains public tax revenue. The South Asian states must come together and collaborate to end this race to the bottom.Increase public spending on priority social sectors such as education, health and social protection in order to address inequality from which women will gain more. Reduce military and other unproductive expenditure.We demand that states take pro-active initiatives to end gender pay gap. Living wages should be ensured for every trade and occupation.We demand that South Asian governments recognise, reduce and redistribute women’s unpaid care work through valuation, technological innovations and investment to free women of such oppression.Expedite process of gender budgeting and engage women’s group to work on the gender budgeting and taking care of gender dimensions.Invest in promoting women-led business and enterprises.Ensure equal representation of women in all decision making bodies, especially, in all fiscal policy-making process, implementation and monitoring. To achieve these demand we decide to come together and,Campaign across the region to create awareness around the issues.Train & mobilise people around the demands and create visible actions across the region.Unite South Asians to raise their voice in unison to demand an end to gender inequality.As an immediate action, we all agree to arrange public mobilisations during World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, between 18-25 January 2019 in Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan, as a part of worldwide movement against inequality. The mobilisations will include demonstrations, rallies, art work, musical performance, cartoons etc.


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