Maui Business

Commission Launches ‘Feminist Economic Recovery Plan’

April 14, 2020, 2:15 PM HST
* Updated April 15, 4:51 AM
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The Hawai’i State Commission on the Status of Women shared a new plan today to help women recover from the Coronavirus pandemic.

Named “Building Bridges, Not Walking on Backs: A Feminist Economic Recovery Plan for COVID-19,” representatives from the commission say it is the first effort of its kind in the nation.

“Coronavirus exposes the crisis of silence around women’s oppression,” an announcement from the commission read.

“Caregiving is in overdrive and gender-based violence is intensifying, yet women are missing from the U.S. response and recovery. We demand a feminist future that centers Native rights.”

Here are a few key recommendations stated in the plan:

1. Build a feminist COVID-19 response and recovery plan. The COVID-19 response, recovery and stimulus actions must include input from the impacted, essential sectors that employ a majority of women and organizations that serve women, girls and people who identify as women, femme and nonbinary. This must include collection, analysis and publication of disaggregated data (gender, race/ethnicity, indigeneity, age, zip code, and social data) on COVID-19 cases and the economic impact of COVID-19.

2. To contain costs or enhance revenue the state should: Avoid austerity or fiscal consolidation measures at all cost since these will exacerbate the recession. Follow State Department of Human Services recommendations and ensure no cuts to social services, including services for domestic violence and for maternal, sexual, reproductive and mental health and avoid government employee furloughs. Raise revenues by taking advantage of the Federal Reserve $500 billion lending program to state and local governments which will help to stimulate the economy.

3. To support, enhance and stimulate Hawaiʻi’s economy the state should: Shift from reliance on a precarious tourism industry which offers Hawaiʻi residents especially women predominately low wage earning employment while the social and ecological costs of tourism go unaddressed. Support displaced workers via an adjustment fund for retraining and professional mobility, and support social entrepreneurship approaches. Enhance women’s access to capital outside low-wage sectors and the commercial sex industry, and in green-technologies and prevailing wage jobs, i.e., male industries, through specific gender and racial equity programs. Invest in subsistence living and the perpetuation of land- and sea-based practices traditional to Hawaiʻi’s ecological and food system.

4. Use federal stimulus funds to promote reform and programs in the following areas:

  • Economic Support
  • Special funds and infrastructure for high risk groups
  • Parents and Caregivers
  • Health and Healthcare Programs, Institutions Providers and Caregivers
  • Release Programs
  • Housing, Shelter and Public Services
  • Digital and ICT Access
  • Native Hawaiians because the State of Hawai‘i is obligated to fulfill its share of the Public Land Trust Revenue, where twenty percent of Public Land Trust revenues are to be provided to Native Hawaiians. The State’s well-established commitment to the Native Hawaiian community should include a twenty percent pro rata share of the COVID-19-response funds in trust for their express recovery needs, which would help lift Native Hawaiian women.

5. To diversify and reshape the economy we must:


a) Reorient our economies away from the military, tourism and luxury development. Identify new opportunities for more sustainable economic livelihoods by identifying opportunities for Hawaiʻi to support and benefit from sustainable PPE manufacturing, design or other opportunities and ensuring women have access to “green jobs” in renewable energy, energy efficiency, and environmental management and construction jobs (89.9% male workers) through stimulus programs that promote gender and racial equity.

b) Build the state’s social infrastructure (childcare, education and healthcare) which has been shown is more effective in reducing public deficits and debt than austerity policies and boosts employment, earnings, economic growth and fosters gender equality.

c) Redress critical economic inequalities to promote women’s financial independence, which is a basic condition for recovery and liberation from gender-based violence. Raise the minimum wage to a living wage ($24.80/hour for single mothers), adopt universal basic income, universal single payer health care, paid sick days and paid family leave, restructure the regressive tax system through increased property taxes and corporate taxes once the recession ends, develop innovative programs to address houselessness, and center food system workers and farmworkers, not just larger-scale farmers, in agricultural and food self-sufficiency programs, widening access for low-income consumers.


d) Harness the role of midwifery to improve deficits in maternal and neonatal health care in Hawaiʻi, especially in rural areas. Prioritize maternal health services and health care for other marginalized groups through substantive consultation and cooperation not simply targeting those at risk.

e) Fully incorporate gender-based violence prevention in the immediate response and long-term recovery.

Click here for the full plan.

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