Since the 1980s with the rise of economic globalization and technological advances in the area of information and communications technologies, finance is increasingly a part of the everyday life for many. Money moves around the world in milli-seconds, with very little regulation, particularly at the international level, and the speed and scope of this movement create a climate of instability and volatility.
Within the current financial crisis, if we take the example of food, we witnessed an increase in the volatility of food prices after the burst of the housing bubble. In particular, there was a speculation in food commodities and therefore a rise in the price of food in many parts of the world. This increase had several gendered effects, and accompanying human rights implications. It changed the ways in which women could feed themselves and their families, increased their burden of work and compromised their abilities to achieve and maintain an adequate standard of living.
This is why the human rights obligation to protect, which “requires States to protect individuals and groups against human rights abuses” is pertinent for the regulation of finance. By facilitating financial stability, financial regulation can contribute to an economic environment in which more people are able to have an adequate standard of living.
Radhika Balakrishnan is Executive Director and Savi Bisnath is Associate Director of the Center for Women’s Global Leadership.