Reflection from the Feminist Confluence in the Context of COVID19 FEMINIST ECONOMY IN A WORLD IN TRANSFORMATION
During these exceptional times of confinement to try and halt the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, our societies continue to face the everyday challenge of taking care of life amidst these uncertain times, whilst not losing sight of the immediate future in a world that is not the same and is experiencing rapid transformation.
Women continue to be at the frontline of responses. They have mobilized their workforce, knowledge and proposals centred on care, while continuing to face increasing inequalities and injustices, worsened by the current situation. The world has acknowledged that there is no life or economy without care, also that neoliberal capitalism has led us to this crisis.
In the midst of intertwined and contradictory challenges and alternatives, we need to reinforce the urgency of moving towards an economy for life sustainability:
In the “life pre-COVID-19” we denounced women’s work overload, macho culture and gender violence, among the features of this system that today have become more serious. The confinement of people to their homes has brought about a concentration of people doing both traditional as well as new activities in spaces often precarious. Daily care work now is combined with virtual home-schooling and “telework”, amongst many other day to day tasks. This new way of life, which is going to continue well past the “social distancing” period, far from allowing the evolution of real care systems, has led to a regression in existing forms of care organizing which continue to be substandard to combining resources, time and spaces, involving social and family networks, service providers and schools that in some cases included meal programmes.
Furthermore, the focus of the social and economic model is being placed on the nuclear family which is based on androcentrism and patriarchy, leading to an increase in gender-based violence as is being shown by numerous reports from different countries.
Whilst care becomes central and important to life and economies, there has been a regression of the care conditions. To change this is a priority that needs to be linked with the adoption of a new economic model.
In the health sector, the workforce most often is feminized and therefore precarious in its nature together with decades of neoliberal adjustment plans and mecantilisation. Women continue to perform jobs which put them in the high risk category of infection, as they are dealing with victims of COVID-19 during extended shifts, with minimal protection, exposed to being infected by the virus and also death. The guarantee of universal public health should be a priority and is a fundamental human right, which should go hand in hand with addressing the unequal conditions of women working in the health sector. Likewise, it is necessary to redefine the role of the pharmaceutical industries, who are putting profits ahead of life amidst this crisis.
Whilst big supermarkets and large food corporations continue to make profits with the provision of supplies to sectors that can afford them; the peasant, social, solidarity and community-based economies have displayed a wide range of efforts to ensure availability of basic food to all people. This in itself shows the strategic importance of developing local capacities of responsiveness based on social networks who are responding with a logic of solidarity and complementarity and which are now being reshaped to adapt to the restrictions placed by the quarantine. In other words, the potential of the experiences promoted by women in relation to the attention to the basic needs of reproduction and care become much more evident.
Although the pandemic strips away the inequalities, it also becomes an excuse for an escalation of different forms of social and governmental fascism. Economic vulnerabilities leads to a sudden deterioration or a total halt in income, increased possibility of infection and reduced possibilities to receive attention for precarious workers, migrant women, refugees, women in prisons, etc. This has led to a rapid rise of extreme classism, racism and xenophobia having reached across all sectors of society with the portrayal that lives are disposable. Rather than promoting solidarity, social behaviour such as surveillance is now being encouraged.
In comparison to previous months, this period of isolation has marked a change in the dynamics of social mobilizing against neoliberalism. During the enforced quarantine restrictions, there have been new initiatives shaped around the most urgent needs of health and food provision. As has been the case in previous times of crisis, women have rediscovered alternative forms of expression, contact and solidarity. Some examples of this is by way of supporting the purchase of agroecologic products from women producers, acquiring soaps and face masks produced by projects of solidarity economy, and by distributing supplies to the most vulnerable sectors.
On the verge of life or death marked by COVID-19, we see a growing consciousness for the need of a transformative agenda towards an economy for the sustainability of life rather than at the expense of it.
Despite this, there are forces working that stubbornly continue to push for reallocating of public and social resources to save “the markets” and businesses. They continue to repeat past practices of indebtedness which have put more pressure to an already over indebted national and family economy. However, we are also seeing different responses that include social protection measures, increasing access to health and care, securing basic income, providing cash transfers or paid leave to workers, supporting workers of the health and care sectors, etc. All of these are key measures that have been introduced but are nowhere near enough to counteract the inherent problems of the system.
Amongst economic and social groups that are committed to of life sustainability, there is a growing group that say we must change our priorities, reinforcing a change in the forms of organizing production, exchanges and consumption. The pandemic has exposed the failure of capitalism and the need for transformation in multiple ways such as reforming financial architecture, including proposals such as tax justice, fair trade, alternative currencies, social, solidarity and community economies, agroecology, food sovereignty, etc.
In the face of the urgency to meet basic needs such as housing, education, sanitation and basic income for all, there is a social consensus that it is imperative to tax big fortunes whilst at the same time moving towards alternative forms of economic reactivation, which would include redefining work that is socially needed and those that are harmful-biocides will in turn transform into new schemes of work and production from an ecofeminist perspective.
We continue resisting collectively, we are not leaving the public spaces and our numbers are growing. We are patiently weaving a design for a new economy that will benefit all of humanity.
AN ECONOMY FOR THE SUSTAINABILITY OF LIFE, NOT AT THE EXPENSE OF LIFE
Signatory organisations and networks:
Ana Felicia Torres, Mesoamericanas en Resistencia por Una Vida Digna Costa Rica/REPEM
Articulación Feminista Marcosur
Centro de Estudios de la Mujer de Honduras - Mesoamericanas en Resistencia por Una Vida Digna Honduras.
CISCSA, Córdoba, Argentina
Comissió d'Economies Feministes de la Xarxa d'Economia Solidària de Catalunya (XES)
Consejo de Educación Popular de América Latina y el Caribe, CEAAL
Coordinadora de la Mujer, Bolivia
DAWN, Red de feministas del Sur Global
Espacio de Encuentro de Mujeres-Mesoamericanas en Resistencia por Una Vida Digna Panamá.
Espacio de Géneros de la Red Universitaria de Economía Social y Solidaria (RUESS)
Espacio de Géneros del Centro Cultural de la Cooperación Floreal Gorini, Argentina.
Instituto de Estudios Ecuatorianos, Ecuador
Movimiento Manuela Ramos, Perú.
Mesoamericanas en Resistencia por Una Vida Digna - Chiapas.
No Tan Distintas, Argentina
Observatorio del Cambio Rural, Ecuador
Observatorio de Violencias de Género en el Cooperativismo, Argentina
REAS Red de Redes de Economía Alternativa y Solidaria
Red de Educación Popular entre Mujeres- REPEM
Red Latinoamericana de Mujeres Transformando la Economía (REMTE)
Red Mujeres del Mundo-Quartiers du Monde
Red Sindical Internacional de Solidaridad y de Luchas
SOF, Sempreviva Organização Feminista, Brasil
SET (Scuola per l’Economia Trasformativa) - Università per la Pace delle Marche, Italia
Union Syndicale Solidaires, Francia
Adhesion and support:
L'Associazione Coalizione Civica per Pescara, Italia
DiEM25 Italia, Italia
Cátedra Abierta de Educación para la Paz “Alfredo Marcenac”, FACSO-UNICEN, Argentina
Antonella Trocino, Italia
Marcella Leoncini, Italia
Marcella Corsi, Italia
Roberto Brioschi, Italia
Luigi De Giacomo, Italia
Ugo Mattei, Italia
Comitato Rodotà, Italia
Jason Nardi, Solidarius Italia
Feminist Confluence: firstname.lastname@example.org (To join the group, write to Maria from REAS Red de Redes or Flora from DAWN: email@example.com )