On Saturday afternoon, October 13th, around 50 women’s rights organizations, grassroots organizations, farmer organizations and workers from all over Asia gathered at Padang Galak Beach in Bali, Indonesia to criticize The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in a Balinese ceremony called Larung Ceremony. During the ceremony, the women affected by the development project funded by the World Bank or supported by the IMF, gathered to express prayers and hopes for a better future. This was done by symbolically giving Balinese offerings at sea.
Sringatin, Chairperson of the Indonesian Migrant Workers Union, said, “For decades The World Bank and IMF facilitate land grabbing, privatize public services and weaken protection policies for workers. This causes women to lose land, suffer from very expensive public services, so they are forced to do informal work or migrate abroad. “
Wardarina, a Program Staff from Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD) said, “The World Bank and IMF often overlook the political, social and economic impacts of their policies towards society, especially for women who work as farmers, migrant workers, poor women and indigenous peoples. Both institutions seized our resources that should be part of our social protection. “
“Our hope to do this ceremony is so that the world can understand our struggle as women [and what we] face every time. We want to invite everyone to unite with us and protect our rights. We want to explain that the ‘development’ project that the World Bank and IMF doing is wrong and is not the development that women want, ” said Titi Soentoro from Action for Gender, Social and Ecological Justice, Indonesia, which is also is a member of APWLD.
The Tolak Bala ceremony was followed by the Feminist Carnival event which was held on the 14th October, in which the women’s community gave testimony about forced eviction, land grabbing, and lack of access to public services. This testimonial was presented in various forms such as speeches, poetry readings and art shows.
Various women’s rights organizations stated that they are strongly oppose neoliberalism driven by the World Bank and IMF because it will only exacerbate inequality and cause violation of women’s rights. They asked world governments to move towards fair and sustainable economic model, namely Development Justice, which prioritizes community interests and protect human rights.