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Global Economy May Soon Enter Recession, Worst Impact On Developing Nations: UN Report

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This post is a part of YKA’s dedicated coverage of the novel coronavirus outbreak and aims to present factual, reliable information. Read more.

On Monday, March 30, 2020, at the Geneva headquarters, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) officially released a report titled: The Covid-19 Shock to Developing Countries: Towards a “whatever it takes” programme for the two-thirds of the world’s population being left behind”. The report has highlighted the concerns over the growth of the developing countries and the world economy due to the deadliest Covid-19 outbreak, which has caused a worldwide death toll of 37,480, infecting around 7,87,631 (As of March 31, 2020, 1:44:59 PM).

The report implied that the “consequence of health pandemic and global recession will be catastrophic for many developing countries and halt their progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).” Therefore causing great damage to the communities of developing nations. For this crisis to mitigate, the UNCTAD has proposed a rescue plan of US $2.5 trillion to prevent the large scale damage to the two-thirds of the world’s population living in the developing countries which is facing unprecedented economic damage.

The proposed rescue package of US $2.5 trillion would be utilized broadly in three ways:

  1. US $1 trillion should be made available through the expanded use of Special Drawing Rights (SDR)
  2. US $1 trillion of debts owed by developing countries should be cancelled this year (2020)
  3. US $500 billion needed to fund a Marshall Plan for health recovery and dispersed as grants.

Damages Caused By Covid-19 Crisis In The Developing Nations:

The report shows that Covid-19 outbreak has caused enormous damage in the past two months in terms of

  1. Capital Outflows
  2. Growing Bond Spreads
  3. Currency Depreciation
  4. Lost Export Earnings
  5. Falling Commodity Prices and
  6. Declining Tourism Revenues

Covid-19 Crisis Hit Harder Than The 2008 Global Financial Crisis (GFC):

The report explains that the Covid-19 crisis has hit deeper than the 2008 global financial crisis with less optimistic levels to rebound the economy to the formal stage. With the contraction of the domestic activities in the developing countries and in the world, it is less optimistic that the economy will rebound to its formal running phase. The aftermath of the 2008 crisis and its effects on the developing countries and its rebound effect between 2009 and 2010, shows that UNCTAD is not very positive now about growth in all these countries.

The report highlights some of the issues:

Net Portfolio Flows: 

Between February and March, the calculations of the UNCTAD shows that the Portfolio Outflows from main emerging nations during this Covid-19 crisis doubled from US $26.7 billion of the global financial crisis to US $59 billion now, that is twice the 2008 crisis.

Figure: Net Portfolio Flows, Selected Developing Countries: Debt And Equity Post – GFC And Onset of Covid – 19 Crisis

Source: UNCTAD 30 March, 2020 Report

Currency Decline:

Also, the present crisis has resulted in a decline in the value of the currencies of developing nations between 5% and 25% since the beginning of this year. This is faster than the early months of the 2008 global financial crisis.

Figure: Currency Movements Against The Dollar 2008 Q3 VS 2020 Q1 (In %)

Source: UNCTAD 30 March, 2020 Report

Commodity Price Decline:

The prices of commodities from developing nations have also heavily dropped due to the fall in the foreign exchange rates of their currencies. This had led to an overall commodity price decline of approximately 37% in this year.

Figure: World Primary Commodity Prices, 2017–2020 (Percentage Change Over Previous Year)

Source: UNCTAD 30 March, 2020 Report

Probability Of Recession Or Depression Soon This Year

Hinting on the several problems of the developing and developed countries economies, the report predicts that the world economy may enter into a recession soon. The report states that “even if the massive stimulus packages now being implemented prevent a long period of depression, they will not, as already suggested, avert a recession in the global economy this year” (page 5).

But the UNCTAD is hoping that the stimulus packages adopted by developing nations and China and developed nations like the US and others would avert the situation of the worst economic crisis in history. Having said earlier, the prediction also raises concern over this, as it says that “this no doubt will have a positive impact not only on their own economies but the world economy as well. Although this will, in all likelihood, not prevent a global contraction this year, it should (hopefully) avert the recession turning in to a prolonged depression.”

Worst To Witness

These are the predictions of the international body for now. Different challenges might arise in the coming days for the developing nations—as the cases of Covid-19 are increasing day by day. In the absence of strong public healthcare infrastructure in place, along with structural divides among citizens, challenges will increase manifold. Therefore, unknown threats may weaken and destabilize the communities during this worst public health crisis in modern history.

In conclusion, the UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi says that “the economic fallout from the shock is ongoing and increasingly difficult to predict, but there are clear indications that things will get much worse for developing economies before they get better.”

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

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She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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