Women and the Economy https://www.opendemocracy.net/taxonomy/term/19787/all cached version 08/02/2019 16:29:42 en Can a male-dominated legal industry achieve meaningful reforms for women? https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/elizabeth-mangenje/can-male-dominated-legal-industry-achieve-meaningful-reforms-for-women <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Despite shocking accounts of harassment and discrimination within their profession, women lawyers in Zimbabwe and beyond are fighting for more gender-sensitive laws.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/565074/image1_7.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/565074/image1_7.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="315" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Chief judges of the Supreme Court, Harare 2017. Photo: NurPhoto/SIPA USA/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>The first woman lawyer in Zimbabwe was admitted to the bar in 1928. But it wasn’t until 1980 that the country had its first woman magistrate – and just this year, the <a href="http://www.chronicle.co.zw/updated-gwaunza-appointed-deputy-chief-justice/">first woman Deputy Chief Justice</a> was sworn in.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">Currently, <a href="http://nehandaradio.com/2018/02/05/women-dominate-law-schools/">70%</a> of law students in Zimbabwe are women. Their admissions increased by <a href="http://allafrica.com/stories/201709040101.html">35%</a> from 2013 to 2016. Women’s absence from high-level positions is not, therefore, a question of capability. It’s the direct result of underlying discrimination and harassment in the legal profession.</p><p dir="ltr">Seemingly neutral policies entrench discrimination. Associates receive a low and unregulated ‘base salary’ from their law firms, for example. To make a living and grow professionally, they must surpass a monthly revenue target set by their firm; often referred to as ‘eat what you kill’.</p><p dir="ltr">Starting out, young lawyers rarely have their own clients and must rely on (overwhelmingly male) senior partners for work. Making a sexual harassment complaint can negatively impact chances of finding work.</p><p dir="ltr">Women on maternity leave must rely on their base salary, leaving them far behind in pay and in their careers upon returning to work.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">Women’s absence from high-level positions is a direct result of underlying discrimination and harassment in the legal profession.</p><p dir="ltr">These problems are not unique to Zimbabwe. In the UK, a <a href="https://www.ft.com/content/a1688488-211a-11e8-a895-1ba1f72c2c11">survey of 1,000 legal professionals</a> in the top 100 law firms found that 42% of women had experienced workplace sexual harassment or discrimination.</p><p dir="ltr">A similar survey of <a href="https://www.hrmonline.co.nz/news/sexual-harassment-bullying-rife-in-the-law-profession-250570.aspx">3,500 female legal professionals in New Zealand</a> showed that one-third had experienced workplace harassment.</p><p dir="ltr"><a href="https://www.equalityhumanrights.com/sites/default/files/ending-sexual-harassment-at-work.pdf">Recent research</a> by the UK Equality and Human Rights Commission revealed cases of women lawyers locking themselves in toilets while male colleagues joked about rape – and nasty cross-examinations of rape victims. Such incidents were covered-up by non-disclosure agreements.</p><p dir="ltr">In the US, some law firms went as far as <a href="http://www.abajournal.com/magazine/article/biglaw_mandatory_arbitration_clauses">using mandatory arbitration clauses</a> to prevent victims of sexual harassment from suing in court.</p><p dir="ltr">Widespread harassment of women has contributed to maintaining the gender imbalance in the legal profession worldwide. In 2017, women made up <a href="http://www.sra.org.uk/solicitors/diversity-toolkit/diverse-law-firms.page">48% of the lawyers</a> in UK law firms, but only 33% of their partners. In large firms, women constituted 29% of partners.</p><p dir="ltr">A <a href="http://www.lssa.org.za/?q=con,115,LEAD%20statistics%20on%20the%20profession">survey of large corporate law firms in South Africa</a> revealed a similar picture, despite women constituting 55% of law students in the country. A lack of research in Zimbabwe means that the precise gap between male and female partners in this country remains unknown.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">Attempted rape and dismissal for refusing to ‘play along’ are among the profession’s best-kept secrets. </p><p dir="ltr">Formal complaints of harassment to regulating bodies are rarely made in Zimbabwe. Denialists point to this ‘lack of evidence’ to dismiss conversations about harassment and discrimination in the profession.</p><p dir="ltr">In Zimbabwe, attempted rape, being trapped in senior partners’ offices, groping by male colleagues, casual sex proposals and dismissals for refusing to ‘play along’ are the legal profession’s best-kept secrets.</p><p>Regulations against sexual harassment are, on their own, not enough. While seemingly-neutral policies – like the ‘eat what you kill’ system – go unreformed, silence remains the only option.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/565074/image2_4.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/565074/image2_4.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Scales of Justice, 2012. Photo: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/mikecogh/8035396680/">Flickr/Michael Coghlan.</a> Some rights reserved. CC BY-SA 2.0.</span></span></span>Yet, these challenges have not halted progress on gender-sensitive legal reform, and in <a href="https://scholarship.law.cornell.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=https://www.google.co.zw/&amp;httpsredir=1&amp;article=1011&amp;context=facpub">some contexts, they have even inspired it.</a></p><p dir="ltr"><a href="http://time.com/time-person-of-the-year-2017-silence-breakers/">#Metoo</a> movements have sparked important discussions which could lead to <a href="https://www.litigationandtrial.com/2018/01/articles/attorney/sexual-harassment-nda/">policy and legal reforms</a> in sectors including the legal industry in the US and other countries.</p><p dir="ltr">Key milestones have been reached in Zimbabwe including reforms to <a href="https://zimlii.org/zw/journal/2017-msulrj-1/%5Bnode%3Afield_jpubdate%3Acustom%3AY/positive-step-towards-ending-child-marriages">end child marriages</a>, improve access to justice for <a href="https://bulawayo24.com/index-id-news-sc-national-byo-105628.html">women in customary unions</a> and <a href="https://www.voazimbabwe.com/a/zimbabwe-women-welcome-court-ruling-96316384/1467360.html">remove barriers for women to be legal guardians of their children.</a></p><p dir="ltr">Women’s rights advocates <a href="https://mg.co.za/article/2018-05-23-social-justice-organisations-are-not-squeaky-clean-and-we-must-do-better">individually</a> and <a href="http://www.actionaid.org/south-africa/2018/05/press-statement-ngo-feminist-caucus-statement-sexual-harassment">collectively</a> fought for these reforms. Since 1992, the <a href="http://zwla.co.zw/">Zimbabwe Women Lawyers Association</a> has been instrumental in assisting women to access justice in family and inheritance law.</p><p dir="ltr">The number of women who own their law firm in Zimbabwe is small but growing, and senior women lawyers are increasingly supporting their younger counterparts.</p><p dir="ltr"><a href="https://www.zlhr.org.zw/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/LM-Special-Edition-IWD-DP.pdf">Women Law Connect</a>, founded in 2015, is a Facebook platform for women lawyers in Zimbabwe to share opportunities and experiences, find mentors and mentees, <a href="https://www.herald.co.zw/female-lawyers-celebrate-womens-day/">celebrate successes</a> and expose abuse in the workplace.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">“The assumption is that women lawyers set the example of fighting against discrimination and harassment.”</p><p dir="ltr">Lawyers are often seen as brave, assertive, warrior-like, ‘gladiators in suits’. The assumption is that women lawyers set the example of fighting against discrimination and harassment.</p><p dir="ltr">The idea of women ‘gladiators in suits’ being oppressed on their own ‘turf’ does not inspire confidence in their ability to influence societal change.</p><p dir="ltr">But history shows us that women have fought for equality in the legal profession, and also for gender-sensitive legal reform, with significant success. The legal profession does not have to be perfect before such reforms and access to justice for women can be achieved.</p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Zimbabwe </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Equality </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Zimbabwe Equality Women and the Economy women and power gender women's work Elizabeth Mangenje Thu, 19 Jul 2018 11:49:24 +0000 Elizabeth Mangenje 118932 at https://www.opendemocracy.net 'The Tories cut, we bleed': the story of Women’s Lives Matter in Doncaster https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/mich-le-beck/tories-cut-we-bleed-womens-lives-matter-doncaster <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Joyce Sheppard talks about the campaign to save South Yorkshire’s Women’s Aid – one of many domestic violence services impacted by government cuts.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/IMG_2882.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Women&#039;s Lives Matter protest."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/IMG_2882.JPG" alt="Women's Lives Matter protest." title="Women&#039;s Lives Matter protest." width="460" height="310" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Women's Lives Matter protest. Photo: John Fuller. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>“The Tories cut, we bleed,” said Joyce Sheppard, 68, an active member of the Women’s Lives Matter campaign in Doncaster, a former coal mining town in South Yorkshire, in the north of England. </p><p dir="ltr">The <a href="https://www.facebook.com/WLMYorkshire">Women’s Lives Matter campaign</a> is a movement across South Yorkshire which originated in Doncaster in 2016, after the closure of the town’s Women’s Aid domestic violence service, one of many organisations that have been impacted by government funding cuts. </p><p dir="ltr">Sheppard is no stranger to grassroots activism; during the <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UK_miners%27_strike_(1984%E2%80%9385)">Miners’ Strike of 1984-85</a>, she joined the Women Against Pit Closures campaign. I spoke to her in February 2018, a year after Prime Minister Theresa May released her draft <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/feb/17/theresa-may-domestic-violence-abuse-act-laws-consultation">domestic abuse bill</a>, which is still yet to be passed – the consultation period runs until <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-43319733">31 May 2018</a>. </p><p dir="ltr">In the UK, domestic violence accounts for <a href="http://www.refuge.org.uk/our-work/forms-of-violence-and-abuse/domestic-violence/domestic-violence-the-facts/">two deaths a week</a>, on average. But the closure of domestic violence refuges has not received significant coverage in the national let alone international press. Sheppard accuses those in power of failing to listen to the concerns and voices of local women in places like Doncaster. </p><p dir="ltr">“Talk is cheap, isn’t it?” she said. “You can wear your suffragette rosette and have your picture taken but what are you actually doing for the women’s rights movement?”</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“You can wear your suffragette rosette and have your picture taken but what are you actually doing for the women’s rights movement?”</p><p dir="ltr">As home secretary, May helped to pass the ‘<a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-39011224">coercive control, domestic violence protection orders and disclosure scheme’</a> which permits individuals to ask the police if their partner has a history of abuse. In February 2017, she described tackling domestic violence as “<a href="https://www.police.uk/news/prime-minister-announces-plans-transform-way-we-tackle-domestic-violence-and-abuse/">something I have always attached a personal importance to</a>.” </p><p dir="ltr">May’s draft bill last year came with a pledge to protect and support survivors and recognise the lifelong impacts that such violence can have on women and children. The government has also promised <a href="https://homeofficemedia.blog.gov.uk/2018/01/25/ministers-response-to-new-crime-survey-for-england-and-wales/">£100 million of dedicated funding</a> until 2020 to tackle violence against women and girls.</p><p dir="ltr">But Sheppard accused the government making such promises as “political fabrications to win votes.” She said: “It’s a year on and we still have seen no evidence [of increased funding] – in fact we have seen the opposite with [service] closures.” </p><p dir="ltr">“It’s an outrage,” Sheppard told me, adding: “We know that men and middle class women are victims of domestic violence too but it is proven that it is harder for poorer people to escape domestic violence and now where are they going to go?” </p><p dir="ltr">“The Tories are making it more and more difficult to get housing benefits; teachers aren’t equipped to deal with children who are witnessing or being victims themselves of domestic violence; the NHS isn’t equipped to deal with the financial consequences of treating the victims, not to mention the cost of mental health support.” </p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“It is harder for poorer people to escape domestic violence and now where are they going to go?”</p><p dir="ltr">Women’s Aid was founded in 1974 ‘<a href="https://www.womensaid.org.uk/about-us/">to end domestic abuse against women and children.’</a> Among other things, the national charity runs a 24-hour domestic violence helpline and provides services in refuges. A <a href="https://1q7dqy2unor827bqjls0c4rn-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Survival-and-Beyond-Report-Summary.pdf">report</a> from the charity says there were 11,113 cases of domestic violence against women in the UK in 2016-2017.</p><p dir="ltr">Doncaster Women’s Aid was set up in 1976, funded by Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council (DMBC). <a href="http://www.itv.com/news/calendar/2016-04-14/doncaster-womens-aid-launch-fundraising-campaign-in-battle-against-closure/">In 2013, this funding ended</a> amid <a href="https://morningstaronline.co.uk/article/campaigners-rally-to-save-doncaster-women-s-aid-centre">cuts to local authority spending</a> from the central government. <a href="https://socialistworker.co.uk/art/42293/Doncaster+Womens+Aid+++fight+to+save+key+service+that+saves+womens+lives">Three years of relying completely on lottery funding followed</a>, but more organisations became reliant on this route and the money soon ran out. </p><p dir="ltr">In April 2016, women took to the streets of Doncaster in protest and the Women’s Lives Matter campaign began. At first, it seemed successful: in January 2017, DMBC granted £30,000 in funding to South Yorkshire Women’s Aid (SYWA). But when this money dried up, local Labour Councillor Chris McGuinness said no more funding was available – despite revelations in the press that DMBC had <a href="https://freedomnews.org.uk/fighting-to-save-south-yorkshire-womens-aid/">£97.3 million</a> in usable cash reserves. </p><p dir="ltr">After two years of relentless campaigning, activists say that the voices and concerns of the Women’s Lives Matter campaign are still being sidelined. From the closure of Doncaster Women’s Aid in March 2016 to the opening of SYWA in January 2017, there were more than <a href="http://uniteresist.org/2017/10/appeal-from-save-south-yorkshire-womens-aid-sign-the-open-letter/">6,600 reported</a> incidents of domestic violence in Doncaster alone. </p><p dir="ltr"><a href="https://freedomnews.org.uk/fighting-to-save-south-yorkshire-womens-aid/">According to Councillor McGuinness</a><strong></strong>, central government decisions – not those of the local authority – were to blame for the closure of Doncaster Women's Aid, and the subsequent lack of funding for SYWA. Sheppard isn’t satisfied with this response; she says that McGuinness cannot simply “wash his hands... and say ‘Oh well, sorry no available money to spend on this – case closed.’”</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“Women and children are going to die... it isn't good enough to say 'no funding available.'”</p><p dir="ltr">“Women and children are going to die,” Sheppard told me, adding: “In 2017 the people of Doncaster <a href="http://www.doncaster.gov.uk/services/the-council-democracy/local-elections-2017">voted Labour in</a> – the seemingly more ‘caring’ political party so they can campaign on our behalf.&nbsp;Our previous campaign was a success because we were visible and noisy. It isn’t good enough to say 'no funding available.'”</p><p dir="ltr">Women who have protested in Doncaster have also been “quashed or discredited using intimidation tactics,” Sheppard claimed, referring to the case of domestic violence worker and campaigner Louise Harrison, who activists say was <a href="https://freedomnews.org.uk/womens-aid-worker-victimised-for-speaking-out-against-cuts/">retaliated against and threatened with losing her job</a> amid her participation in protests against cuts.</p><p dir="ltr">Sheppard attributed this response to women’s activism to Doncaster’s “heavy industrial background and the breadwinner/homemaker model [that] is still prevalent in the minds of archaic men and the social structures of our town.”</p><p dir="ltr">The Women’s Lives Matter campaign, Sheppard continued, has shown “the very real danger our victims are in without Women’s Aid. 100 years since women won the vote and look: we are still campaigning for equality. This silencing of women has to be stopped.”&nbsp; </p><p dir="ltr">Despite the obstacles, she and her allies are not giving up; their crusade to save the lives of women in Doncaster, and across the UK, continues. </p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> England </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 uk England Civil society Women and the Economy women's movements women's health violence against women gendered poverty 50.50 newsletter young feminists Michéle Beck Fri, 06 Apr 2018 07:32:21 +0000 Michéle Beck 116719 at https://www.opendemocracy.net DRC mining industry is a prime example of how corporate power threatens women’s rights https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/valerie-bah/drc-mining-industry-corporate-power-womens-rights <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>This is why feminist activists are mobilising behind a proposed international treaty to regulate the impacts of transnational corporations.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/DRC piece image 1_0.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Women artisanal miners near the Kamitunga gold mines."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/DRC piece image 1_0.png" alt="Women artisanal miners near the Kamitunga gold mines." title="Women artisanal miners near the Kamitunga gold mines." width="460" height="230" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Women artisanal miners near the Kamitunga gold mines. Photo: Marie-Rose Shakalili.</span></span></span>On a research trip to the Kamituga gold mine in her home province of South Kivu, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), activist Marie-Rose Shakalili noticed something that’s often minimised in stories about mining in her country: that “women work disproportionately hard, breaking up stones, transporting and sifting them, grinding them into powder.” </p><p dir="ltr">Shakalili described a “brutality of gendered roles in mining operations” in the DRC, with women finding that their labour is undervalued at each step. “For a basin of crushed rocks, a woman might earn the equivalent of $3 a day, but since it’s backbreaking work, they often feel the need to bring [their] children… to assist them,” she added. </p><p dir="ltr">“Women who are active in the mining sector lead very difficult lives,” Shakalili continued. After finding an almost total lack of research and statistics on their conditions, she travelled to Kamituga to speak directly with women working in some of the region's many artisanal and small-scale mine sites – where people mine informally using rudimentary tools and sell (mostly) unprocessed products to traders and companies.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“Women work disproportionately hard, breaking up stones, transporting and sifting them, grinding them into powder.” </p><p dir="ltr">A <a href="http://wilpf.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/WomenInArtisanalMinesInDRC_web.pdf">2016 report </a>from the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), released just a few months before Shakalili’s research, is one of the few other studies of women’s experiences in the DRC’s informal mining sector.</p><p dir="ltr">Based on a survey conducted in Katanga province, it described alarming trends including labour and sexual exploitation on mining sites and security forces (state and private) appearing to protect corporate interests to the detriment of local populations. </p><p dir="ltr">At one artisanal mining site known as “Huit Cent,” for example, the report said that armed security forces have exacted “taxes” from workers and prevented them from organising. </p><p dir="ltr">The DRC mining industry is a prime example of how unbalanced corporate power threatens the rights of women, whose voices and experiences are too often marginalised or ignored altogether. Cases like these are why feminist activists have joined the international mobilisation for a new binding treaty to regulate the impacts of transnational corporations. </p><p dir="ltr">Artisanal miners produce <a href="http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTOGMC/Resources/336099-1156955107170/drcgrowthgovernanceenglish.pdf">90% of the mining sector’s revenues in the DRC</a>, according to the World Bank. They constitute <a href="https://www.files.ethz.ch/isn/109111/SIPRIBP0910b.pdf">between 500,000 and 2 million informal workers</a> at the bottom of supply chains. They perform the hard manual labour that feeds into the industrial operations of international mining corporations, which process and sell the mined products abroad. </p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“The mining sector is overstacked in favour of men."</p><p dir="ltr">International mining corporations may have vast economic resources, political influence, legal armour, and media connections to shape public narratives about their activities. Members of local, often rural, communities may not benefit sufficiently from their operations and, with far fewer resources, often struggle to access justice when they suffer harm. </p><p dir="ltr">They may not be able to afford lawyers, for example, or they may be unable to travel long distances to courts, or even understand such proceedings and relevant documents, if they speak a local dialect or indigenous language. </p><p dir="ltr">The underrepresentation of women in local government exacerbates the ways in which their voices are sidelined, Shakalili adds. </p><p dir="ltr">“The mining sector is overstacked in favour of men,” said Shakalili, who told me about meetings that she observed, as part of her research, between mining company representatives and government officials where she found women and their concerns were routinely absent. </p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/DRC piece image 2.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Women human rights defenders. "><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/DRC piece image 2.png" alt="Women human rights defenders. " title="Women human rights defenders. " width="460" height="251" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Women human rights defenders. Image: AWID.</span></span></span>The <a href="https://www.awid.org/">Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID)</a>, where I work, is part of the <a href="http://www.treatymovement.com">Treaty Alliance</a> coalition which believes that new international laws are needed to regulate the impacts of transnational corporations. Our existing legal tools are not sufficient.</p><p dir="ltr">In 2002, a new <a href="http://www.genderaction.org/case/drc.html">Mining Code</a> was introduced in the DRC to regulate this sector. But it was drafted under advice from the IMF and World Bank which have, according to the civil society watchdog <a href="http://www.genderaction.org/index.html">Gender Action</a>, privileged the growth of the mining sector while disregarding its <a href="http://www.genderaction.org/publications/gbv/drc.pdf">gender impacts</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">According to a 2015 briefing from NGO <a href="https://www.globalwitness.org/en/campaigns/what-supply-chain-due-diligence/">Global Witness</a>, existing frameworks like the <a href="http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Publications/GuidingPrinciplesBusinessHR_EN.pdf">UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights</a>, and the <a href="http://www.oecd.org/corporate/mne/mining.htm">OECD’s Due Diligence Guidance</a>, have done little to ensure that companies operating in the DRC source conflict-free minerals, pay their fair share of taxes, or protect workers at the “bottom” of supply chains. </p><p dir="ltr">Though the Global Witness briefing does not discuss the demographics of artisanal miners, feminist research like that from WILPF highlights the specific vulnerability faced by women in the industry, who face gendered “violations of all kinds” – including barriers to job promotion beyond hard labour; lower pay than men; and sexual violence at work.</p><p dir="ltr">The <a href="https://www.fidh.org/en/">International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)</a> has warned that <a href="https://business-humanrights.org/sites/default/files/documents/20180207_Article_%20Biz%20in%20CAAs%20for%20BHRRC_FINAL.pdf">conflict-affected areas</a> are a “‘grey zone’ in terms of business and human rights” despite “heightened risks for gross human rights violations, of which companies may be perpetrators or accomplices.” </p><p dir="ltr">International humanitarian and human rights laws have fallen short of being able to “efficiently prevent, address, mitigate or account for business-related human rights abuses in conflict-affected areas,” hence the need for new laws. </p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/DRC piece_image4.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Activists demonstrate in support of a binding treaty on transnational corporations."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/DRC piece_image4.png" alt="Activists demonstrate in support of a binding treaty on transnational corporations." title="Activists demonstrate in support of a binding treaty on transnational corporations." width="460" height="252" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Activists demonstrate in support of a binding treaty on transnational corporations. Photo: Global Campaign.</span></span></span>Discussions on a proposed <a href="https://www.stopcorporateimpunity.org/binding-treaty-un-process/">Binding Treaty on Transnational Corporations</a> have been underway at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva since 2014. Negotiations over a draft treaty text are now expected to begin later this year. </p><p dir="ltr">Organisations including FIDH see this proposed treaty and the negotiations process as an opportunity to clarify human rights obligations for states and companies, including where businesses may play a role in “<a href="https://business-humanrights.org/sites/default/files/documents/20180207_Article_%20Biz%20in%20CAAs%20for%20BHRRC_FINAL.pdf">exacerbating or driving</a>” conflicts. </p><p dir="ltr">At AWID, my colleague Inna Michaeli explains: "War and conflict are not just profitable for the widest range of industries, they can in fact be caused and driven by economic and corporate interests.” </p><p dir="ltr">Michaeli has been working with other activists to lend <a href="https://www.awid.org/news-and-analysis/gender-perspective-un-binding-treaty-transnational-corporations">a feminist perspective and raise awareness on the possibilities that a binding treaty offers women human rights defenders</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">Industries from mining to construction to banking and telecommunications “can all profit from conflicts and thus maintain a political interest in their continuation,” she said. “Given the vast economic and political power corporations hold today, this really is about human lives." </p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“Given the vast economic and political power corporations hold today, this really is about human lives." </p><p dir="ltr">In the DRC, Shakalili is also thinking about local structures that could help to minimise harm on mining sites. “To facilitate the survival of women,” she said, “we are talking about cooperatives so that women, and the children that they support, are represented in terms of earning and ownership [in the sector].” </p><p dir="ltr">Shakalili is one of 48 women human rights defenders who spoke about extractive industries impacts on their communities, and women in particular, in a 2017<a href="https://www.awid.org/sites/default/files/atoms/files/eng_weaving_resistance_through_action-web.pdf"> report</a> published by AWID and the <a href="http://www.defendingwomen-defendingrights.org">Women Human Rights Defenders International Coalition</a> (WHRDIC).</p><p dir="ltr">This <a href="https://www.awid.org/sites/default/files/atoms/files/eng_weaving_resistance_through_action-web.pdf">report</a> highlights a chilling statistic from a UN special rapporteur: out of 156 killings of women human rights defenders in 2015, 45% were of environmental, land and indigenous rights activists. Mining was one of the most lethal sectors, along with hydroelectric projects, agribusiness, and logging activities.</p><p dir="ltr">Many of the women cited in this report also criticised extractive models of development, demanding sustainable alternatives that would respect ecosystems, minimise economic disparities, and enable communities to thrive.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/magdalena-sep-lveda/gender-equality-tax-reform-multinational-companies">Gender equality cannot be achieved without tax reform for multinational companies</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/valerie-bah/video-feminist-activists-corporate-impunity-binding-treaty">Video: feminist activists speak out against corporate impunity</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Democratic Republic of the Congo </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Equality </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Democratic Republic of the Congo Conflict Equality International politics Women's rights and economic justice Women and the Economy women's movements women's human rights gender 50.50 newsletter women's work Valerie Bah Thu, 22 Mar 2018 07:55:09 +0000 Valerie Bah 116721 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Video: feminist activists speak out against corporate impunity https://www.opendemocracy.net/valerie-bah/video-feminist-activists-corporate-impunity-binding-treaty <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Human rights abuses. Plundered resources. #Feminists4BindingTreaty explain why corporations must be held accountable for their impacts around the world.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/Screen Shot 2018-03-15 at 19.31.41.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="&quot;Corporate abuse disproportionately impacts women&quot; still from video."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/Screen Shot 2018-03-15 at 19.31.41.png" alt=""Corporate abuse disproportionately impacts women" still from video." title="&quot;Corporate abuse disproportionately impacts women&quot; still from video." width="460" height="250" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>"Corporate abuse disproportionately impacts women" still from video.</span></span></span>“There’s more money now in the world than ever before in history. We have that wealth, it’s about redistributing it,” says Sanam Amin from the <a href="http://apwld.org">Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law, and Development</a>. </p><p dir="ltr">Amin is one of several feminist activists who are speaking up about the impacts of corporate power abuses on women, and <a href="https://www.awid.org/news-and-analysis/gender-perspective-un-binding-treaty-transnational-corporations">mobilising behind a proposed binding treaty</a> to hold multinational corporations accountable for their activities’ impacts around the world.</p><p> <iframe width="460" height="260" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/4X-ab46CpyQ" frameborder="0" allow="autoplay; encrypted-media"></iframe>In this video we also hear from Taina Hedman from the <a href="https://www.iitc.org">International Indian Treaty Council</a> organisation of indigenous peoples; Eugenia Lopez Uribe from the Latin American regional NGO <a href="https://www.projectpoder.org/es/">Project on Organising, Development, Education, and Research (PODER)</a>; and Hakima Abbas and Felogene Anumo from the <a href="https://www.awid.org">Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID)</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">A <a href="https://www.awid.org/news-and-analysis/gender-perspective-un-binding-treaty-transnational-corporations">Binding Treaty on Transnational Corporations</a> has been the subject of discussions at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva since 2014. Negotiations on a draft treaty text are expected later this year.</p> <p dir="ltr">For too long we’ve been left with few options other than to rely on the ‘good will’ of giant companies, and have seen lands and waters destroyed, and resources plundered from local communities offered very little in return. Follow <a href="https://twitter.com/search?q=%23Feminists4BindingTreaty&amp;src=typd">#Feminists4BindingTreaty</a> for updates on the campaign.</p><p dir="ltr"><a style="text-decoration-line: underline; font-size: 18px; font-weight: bold; line-height: 30px; font-family: &quot;Helvetica Neue&quot;, Arial, &quot;Liberation Sans&quot;, FreeSans, sans-serif;" href="https://opendemocracy.net/claire-provost/apply-for-5050-womens-rights-corporate-power-reporting-fellowship">Apply for a 50.50 women’s rights and corporate power reporting fellowship</a></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/claire-provost-aicha-hanna-agrane/migrant-farmworkers-protest-sexual-violence">Migrant farmworkers protest in New York City against sexual violence</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/claire-provost/apply-for-5050-womens-rights-corporate-power-reporting-fellowship">Apply for a 50.50 women’s rights and corporate power reporting fellowship</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Economics </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Civil society Economics International politics Video Women and the Economy women's movements women's human rights women and power gendered poverty gender feminism 50.50 newsletter young feminists Valerie Bah Fri, 16 Mar 2018 08:20:20 +0000 Valerie Bah 116674 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Migrant farmworkers protest in New York City against sexual violence https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/claire-provost-aicha-hanna-agrane/migrant-farmworkers-protest-sexual-violence <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Protesters march on Thursday to demand fast food giant Wendy’s sign up to scheme to tackle exploitation and improve wages in supply chains.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/NoffarGat5.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Farmworkers fast in New York City. "><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/NoffarGat5.jpg" alt="Farmworkers fast in New York City. " title="Farmworkers fast in New York City. " width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Farmworkers fast in New York City. Photo: Noffar Gat/www.noffargat.com. All rights reserved. </span></span></span>“If you are a person with a lot of power, benefiting from conditions where there's sexual violence, sexual harassment, and you are not using that power to change that, then you are complicit in that violence,” said Julia de la Cruz, a migrant farmworker who travelled to New York City last week to join a protest against sexual violence in the agriculture industry.</p><p dir="ltr">“Enough! No more violence! No more sexual harassment, sexual violence in the fields. We demand respect, we demand dignity, we demand justice. We do not want charity,” de la Cruz told more than 200 people who gathered at a rally on Sunday in midtown Manhattan.</p><p dir="ltr">De la Cruz was one of several farmworkers and members of the<a href="https://ciw-online.org/"> Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW)</a> who spoke at the event, which launched a five-day “freedom fast.” She said: “We're here with our bodies and without food in our bodies, without nourishing our bodies. It's a public act to let people know and make them aware [of these issues].”</p><p dir="ltr">Another woman, Antonia, added: “I’m here as a mother with two daughters and I’m fasting... [but] this sacrifice is nothing compared to that of some of our compañeras who are still in fields where they still haven’t broken the silence, where they’re still being mistreated.”</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/NoffarGat.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Farmworkers fast in New York City. "><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/NoffarGat.jpg" alt="Farmworkers fast in New York City. " title="Farmworkers fast in New York City. " width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Farmworkers fast in New York City. Photo: Noffar Gat/www.noffargat.com. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>On Thursday evening (15 March), the farmworkers will end their fast with a “Times Up Wendy’s” march, which thousands of people are expected to attend. They are calling specifically for Wendy’s to join the CIW’s<a href="http://www.fairfoodprogram.org"> Fair Food Program</a> (FFP) which they say has significantly tackled exploitation in other restaurant and retail supply chains.</p><p dir="ltr">Launched in 2011, the FFP has been described by the Harvard Business Review as an “<a href="https://hbr.org/2017/09/audacious-philanthropy">audacious social change initiative</a>” that “defied the odds and achieved life-changing results.”</p><p dir="ltr">Under the program, purchasers support wage increases for farmworkers by paying an additional penny ($0.01) per pound of produce and by buying only from growers that meet a code of conduct including a zero-tolerance policy for slavery and harassment. Companies currently involved in the FFP include McDonald’s, Burger King, Subway, and Taco Bell.</p><p dir="ltr">At Sunday's rally, women farmworkers described how conditions have changed in Florida's tomato fields under the FFP. Antonia said that when she arrived in the US state in the early 2000s, "there were no protections, no restrooms, you had to go in the fields," while they also faced expensive rents, low wages, and sometimes struggled to buy enough food to eat themselves.</p><p dir="ltr">The CIW also challenges Wendy’s decision to stop buying tomatoes from suppliers in Florida, shifting purchases to Mexico. In&nbsp;<a href="http://www.boycott-wendys.org/why-we-fast/">statement</a>&nbsp;released prior to this week's fast, farmworkers said: “sexual harassment in [Mexico’s] fields is endemic and farmworker women are intimidated into silence by a culture of fear, violence, and corruption.”</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/NoffarGat17.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Farmworkers protest in New York City."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/NoffarGat17.jpg" alt="Farmworkers protest in New York City. " title="Farmworkers protest in New York City." width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Farmworkers protest in New York City. Photo: Noffar Gat/www.noffargat.com. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>Wendy’s, which recently<a href="http://ir.wendys.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=67548&amp;p=irol-newsArticle&amp;ID=2333789"> reported</a> 2017 revenues of more than $1.2 billion, and profits of almost $215 million, has hundreds of restaurants that it operates directly along with thousands of franchise outlets around the world.</p><p dir="ltr">In a strongly-worded statement sent to openDemocracy, the company accused the CIW of “spreading false and misleading information about the Wendy’s brand and our business practices in their continuing effort to extract a financial commitment from us."</p><p dir="ltr">“The idea that joining their program, and purchasing Florida tomatoes, is the only way to operate ethically is simply not true,” the company added, describing its products as ethically-sourced from suppliers under a “strict code of conduct… [and] third-party certified human rights assessments.”</p><p dir="ltr">“Other companies listed as Fair Food Program participants also purchase tomatoes outside of the United States but have not been subject to the type of criticism aimed at Wendy’s. This is hypocrisy and it exhibits a lack of transparency to which Wendy’s and its customers are entitled," it said.</p><p dir="ltr">In response, Reverend Noelle Damico of the <a href="http://allianceforfairfood.org">Alliance for Fair Food</a> said it's “offensive” and incorrect of the company to "imply CIW is trying to extort Wendy's." The CIW does not receive money from FFP participants, and the penny-per-pound premium paid by buyers "goes straight to the growers who pass it on to their workers as a bonus in their paycheck,” she said.</p><p dir="ltr">Wendy’s, Damico added, “is the only major fast-food company that no longer buys tomatoes from Florida at all, but rather shifted its purchases to Mexico.”</p><p dir="ltr">These purchases, she continued, are "hardly transparent&nbsp;<span>– f</span>rom which growers is Wendy's purchasing, what exactly are the monitoring processes by which Wendy's assesses the conditions in the fields, and, importantly, what are the consequences for growers who fail to uphold Wendy's standard?"</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/NoffarGat2.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Reverend Noelle Damico in New York City."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/NoffarGat2.jpg" alt="Reverend Noelle Damico in New York City." title="Reverend Noelle Damico in New York City." width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Reverend Noelle Damico in New York City. Photo: Noffar Gat/www.noffargat.com. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>The farmworkers’ protest this week comes as state and civil society representatives have gathered in New York City for the annual<a href="http://www.unwomen.org/en/csw"> Commission on the Status of Women (CSW)</a> talks at UN headquarters, which this year are focused on rural women.</p><p dir="ltr">"Companies in recent years use gender equality and gay-friendly branding to promote themselves and capitalise on our rights. But actions speak louder than words,” said Inna Michaeli at the<a href="https://www.awid.org"> Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID)</a>, one of many women’s rights groups present at the talks.</p><p dir="ltr">"Wendy's move to Mexico illustrates how impunity is tied to transnational operations. It allows corporations to escape responsibility even more,” Michaeli added, describing risks to women in supply chains including “sexual violence, discriminatory wages and dangerous health hazards.”</p><p dir="ltr">She argued that new international laws are needed to regulate transnational corporations’ human rights impacts, pointing to ongoing discussions over a proposed binding treaty on this issue that have been underway at the UN human rights council in Geneva since 2014.</p><p dir="ltr">Negotiations over a draft binding treaty text are now expected to begin later this year. It’s time, Michaeli said, that the “international human rights system catches up with the reality of corporate power and impunity.”</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/magdalena-sep-lveda/gender-equality-tax-reform-multinational-companies">Gender equality cannot be achieved without tax reform for multinational companies</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/claire-provost/apply-for-5050-womens-rights-corporate-power-reporting-fellowship">Apply for a 50.50 women’s rights and corporate power reporting fellowship</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Economics </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Civil society Economics International politics Women's rights and economic justice Women and the Economy violence against women Sexual violence gender 50.50 newsletter women's work Aicha-Hanna Agrane Claire Provost Thu, 15 Mar 2018 12:10:17 +0000 Claire Provost and Aicha-Hanna Agrane 116644 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Apply for a 50.50 women’s rights and corporate power reporting fellowship https://www.opendemocracy.net/claire-provost/apply-for-5050-womens-rights-corporate-power-reporting-fellowship <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>We need your help to investigate women’s rights and corporate power around the world. Apply for a 50.50 reporting fellowship.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563363/26169214222_7376e5cb6f_k.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Berta Zúñiga Cáceres."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563363/26169214222_7376e5cb6f_k.jpg" alt="Berta Zúñiga Cáceres." title="Berta Zúñiga Cáceres." width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Berta Zúñiga Cáceres (centre), daughter of murdered activist Berta Cáceres. Credit: Daniel Cima/CIDH/Flickr. (CC BY 2.0) Some rights reserved. </span></span></span>We need your help to investigate women’s rights and corporate power around the world. Apply for a 50.50 reporting fellowship.</p><p dir="ltr">50.50 is the section of the independent media platform openDemocracy.net covering gender and sexuality. We are looking for one part-time reporting fellow to work with our editors on stories related to extractive industries, corporate power, tax justice, and the rights of women, trans and gender non-conforming people. This fellowship aims to demystify how the global economy works and is in partnership with the <a href="https://www.awid.org/">Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID)</a>, as part of its project to share knowledge around economic justice. </p><p dir="ltr">The fellowship will run for five months, starting 30 April 2018. The fellow will be expected to work on 1-2 articles each month, and to prepare for and attend weekly (virtual) editorial meetings. The fellow will be paid per piece produced, from £150 ($210) for a short article up to £300 ($410) for a more in-depth report. They will also receive ongoing mentorship and practical training. Workshops will be arranged, where possible, on topics such as Freedom of Information requests, interview skills, and feature writing, depending on the fellow’s projects and needs.</p><p dir="ltr">Fellows may be based anywhere in the world. Previous experience in journalism, research, and multimedia storytelling is welcome. Most importantly, you are a creative, critical thinker and collaborative team player. We're looking for young women, gender non-conforming and trans writers with ideas and enthusiasm for original, feminist journalism. Applicants between the ages of 20 and 30 years old, living in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America, with a passion for racial and economic justice are particularly encouraged to apply. </p><p dir="ltr">This is not a full-time position, and can run alongside other responsibilities. You should be able to dedicate approximately 7-8 hours to this fellowship each week. You must be comfortable researching and writing in English (with other language skills of course welcome). You must have reliable internet access and be able to join virtual meetings (for example via Skype).</p><h2 dir="ltr"><a href="https://opendemocracy60862.recruiterbox.com/jobs/fk0f4yb">Complete your application online</a> by 23 March 2018 at 11:59pm GMT.</h2><p>Email <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/lara.whyte@opendemocracy.net">claire.provost@opendemocracy.net </a>with any questions, including “women’s rights and corporate power reporting fellowship” in the subject line. Note: If you applied for 50.50’s 'tracking the backlash' feminist investigative journalism fellowships, and would like to be considered for this position as well, you must re-apply through this form.</p><div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Women's rights and the media Women's rights and economic justice Women and the Economy women's human rights gendered poverty gender feminism 50.50 newsletter women's work young feminists Claire Provost Fri, 02 Mar 2018 08:55:04 +0000 Claire Provost 116221 at https://www.opendemocracy.net How women migrant workers defy ‘social control’ with everyday resistance https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/kimaya-de-silva/how-women-migrant-workers-defy-social-control-with-everyday-resistance <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Women migrant workers face extreme forms of social control in Saudi Arabia. One Sri Lankan woman shares her story of everyday resistance despite serious constraints.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/15155262768_9671fd8d80_k.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Riyadh, Saudi Arabia"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/15155262768_9671fd8d80_k.jpg" alt="Riyadh, Saudi Arabia." title="Riyadh, Saudi Arabia" width="460" height="305" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Photo: Stephen Downes/Flickr. Creative Commons. (CC BY-NC 2.0). Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>“I couldn’t even speak with anyone else at that house! They wouldn’t let us!” said Lasanthi*, in Sinhala, the most-widely spoken language in Sri Lanka. </p><p dir="ltr">The migrant labourer used to talk to another domestic worker, through a window, while doing laundry for employers in Saudi Arabia. She told me that they “would be looking to see who I was talking to! They don’t let you speak to anyone and they hit you if you do!”</p><p dir="ltr">Despite this, Lasanthi continued to communicate secretly with her neighbour, who was also from Sri Lanka. She would “write a little note on a small piece of paper and scrunch it up and throw it over the wall to her house. And then she would write her note and throw it back over onto the roof!” </p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">"They don’t let you speak to anyone and they hit you if you do!”</p><p dir="ltr">“We would ask each other: 'How are you?' and so on.... They wouldn’t let us talk normally so this was the only way!” said Lasanthi, who described having “to wait till Madam went into the bathroom to throw it over. If not they would be watching me.” </p><p dir="ltr">“That’s how much they watched me always… When we finished talking I would put [the papers] in the bin so no one would find them,” she said. </p><p dir="ltr">Lasanthi got her first job abroad in 1986, in Kuwait, through a friend who was also working in the small Gulf state. The family she worked for treated her well, and she was fond of them. She cooked and cared for their child, and moved with them from Kuwait to Egypt to the US. </p><p dir="ltr">In 1993, Lasanthi returned to Sri Lanka to be with her children, whom she had left in the care of her mother. They pleaded with her to stay, and she obliged. Once they had grown up, in the early 2000s, she decided to travel abroad for work again. </p><p dir="ltr">Again, a friend helped her find a job. But this time, it was with a family in Saudi Arabia, where she found harsh conditions and strict, verbally abusive employers. </p><p dir="ltr">Lasanthi told me that she was not allowed to speak with anyone outside the home, leave the premises alone, or make phone calls. She was not given enough food to eat. There was so much cooking and cleaning to do that she sometimes had only 2 hours of sleep.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">'She was not given enough food to eat. There was so much cooking and cleaning to do that she sometimes had only 2 hours of sleep.'</p><p dir="ltr">Her story reflects forms of social control and restrictions faced by Sri Lankan migrant women working as domestic labourers in the Middle East, as well as some of the everyday forms of resistance used to overcome these. </p><p dir="ltr">Lasanthi described how everyday friendship and acts of resistance enabled her to survive her two-year contract in Saudi Arabia.</p><p dir="ltr"> She looked forward to talks with the domestic worker next door. When her employers discovered this, she was told to stop. But she persisted, via secret notes.</p><p dir="ltr">The two women continued to share their thoughts and feelings about daily happenings, and their hopes and fears for the future. They provided each other with emotional support at a time when Lasanthi says she had no one else to confide in.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/4567471177_02505133bb_b.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Clothes drying on a line."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/4567471177_02505133bb_b.jpg" alt="Clothes drying on a line." title="Clothes drying on a line." width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Clothes drying on a line. Photo: Chiot's Run/Flickr. Creative Commons (CC BY-NC 2.0). Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>According to 2013 data from Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Foreign Employment, <a href="http://www.island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&amp;page=article-details&amp;code_title=112890">94% of the country’s female citizens working abroad are domestic workers in the Middle East</a>, often occupied with ‘housework' including cooking, cleaning, and caring for children and the elderly.</p><p dir="ltr"><a href="https://www.migrant-rights.org/campaign/end-the-kafala-system/">Most workers</a> who migrate to Gulf countries do so under the <em>kefala</em> sponsorship system, which ties their legal residency to their employer. <a href="https://www.migrant-rights.org/campaign/end-the-kafala-system/">Qatar and Bahrain claim to have abolished this system</a> and other Gulf countries say they have implemented some reforms. But for the most part <a href="https://www.migrant-rights.org/campaign/end-the-kafala-system/">hugely imbalanced power structures remain in place</a>. </p><p dir="ltr">Workers usually live with their employers and may also be isolated within their homes. Migrant women in this system are dependent on their employers for residence, wages and access to essential services including healthcare. Their work, lives and livelihoods are inextricably linked.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">‘Migrant women in this system are dependent on their employers for residence, wages and access to essential services including healthcare.’</p><p dir="ltr">Such forms of live-in employment have been described by sociologists <a href="http://www.sup.org/books/title/?id=17330">Rhacel Parrenas and Eileen Boris</a> as 'intimate labour', involving the sharing of personal space and interaction. Such work is often transnational and it is often precarious, unregulated, and unstructured. </p><p dir="ltr">The living experience of domestic workers abroad usually depends on the nature of their employers, with limited or no support from job agencies that find them work, or from public institutions and laws.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/23499194588_6fdbea4edb_k.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="A female migrant worker. "><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/23499194588_6fdbea4edb_k.jpg" alt="A female migrant worker. " title="A female migrant worker. " width="460" height="259" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Many female migrant workers face exploitation and abuse. Photo: Anna Dubuis/DFID/Flickr. Creative Commons. (CC BY-NC 2.0). Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>Along with augmented surveillance and isolation of the worker, precarious, intimate labour can also systematically obstruct their mobility. </p><p dir="ltr">Anthropologist <a href="http://www.sup.org/books/title/?id=24887">Pardis Mahdavi</a> coined the term “intimate im/mobility” to reflect and emphasise “the ways in which the intimate lives of migrants enforce and challenge their mutually constitutive mobility and immobility.” </p><p dir="ltr">A migrant women may choose to remain in hostile working conditions (social/economic/physical immobility), for example, in order to create more opportunities for herself and her family (socio-economic mobility). </p><p dir="ltr">It must be remembered: a migrant woman may choose a form of immobility (not necessarily physical) in order to create another for herself or others she cares about. Such decisions are no doubt difficult to take.</p><p dir="ltr">Workers in intimate spaces must learn to read social dynamics closely and tread carefully in their workplaces, which may be dangerous. Their ability to do this and to survive in this system is in itself an important form of resistance. </p><p dir="ltr">In Lasanthi’s story I see a cycle of im/mobility: how she used secret communication with another domestic worker to create mobility for herself (in the form of company from a friend) within a living and working situation that rendered her physically and socially immobile in every other way. </p><p dir="ltr">The bond between the two women helped Lasanthi to get through two tough years in Saudi Arabia. Such everyday, creative and resourceful acts pose an important challenge to dominant discourses on power and resistance. This is the exercise of women’s agency despite serious constraints.</p><p dir="ltr"><em>* Names have been changed to protect identities.</em></p><div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Women and the Economy 50.50 People on the Move women and power gendered migration gender 50.50 newsletter women's work Kimaya de Silva Tue, 02 Jan 2018 14:41:28 +0000 Kimaya de Silva 115476 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Women’s voices must not be ignored in business and human rights talks https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/chiara-capraro-ayesha-carmouche/womens-voices-business-human-rights <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The corporate rush for land and resources in the Global South has gender-specific impacts on women, who are routinely excluded from decision-making.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/Uganda.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Women have to walk for miles to collect water after being displaced from their land in Uganda."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/Uganda.jpg" alt="Women have to walk for miles to collect water after being displaced from their land in Uganda." title="Women have to walk for miles to collect water after being displaced from their land in Uganda." width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Women have to walk for miles to collect water after being displaced from their land in Uganda. Photo: Sarah Waiswa/Womankind Worldwide.</span></span></span>The link between corporations’ rush for natural resources and violations of women’s rights is increasingly evident. The 2016 murder of environmental activist <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/mar/03/honduras-berta-caceres-murder-enivronment-activist-human-rights">Berta Cáceres</a> – who was leading the struggle of her indigenous community to oppose the construction of a dam on their sacred river in Honduras – showed how deadly the risks can be. Her story exemplifies the struggle of many women in the Global South who are standing up for their rights to dignified lives free from violence.</p><p dir="ltr">In recent decades, we’ve seen a proliferation of land-intensive, transnational mining and agri-business projects – from gold and coal mining to biofuel and palm oil production – in resource-rich developing countries. Yet, instead of promised prosperity, many local populations continue to struggle with poverty and food insecurity, along with growing conflicts over who controls and profits from high-value commodities and land.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">Consequences of the corporate rush for natural resources in the Global South, including lost livelihoods, forced evictions, violence and environmental degradation, impact women in specific ways. When women rise up to defend their land they may also face threats and ostracisation from their own communities, as they <a href="https://www.awid.org/publications/women-human-rights-defenders-confronting-extractive-industries">defy</a> state and corporate power as well as patriarchal notions of women’s roles. &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">Women are the majority of the world’s small-scale farmers and are <a href="https://www1.essex.ac.uk/hrc/careers/clinic/documents/Engendering%20Human%20Rights%20Due%20Diligence.pdf">primarily responsible</a> for providing care, food and water for their families. But their work is often undervalued and unrecognised. When businesses violate human rights, gender-specific impacts remain largely invisible. Many of these violations are caused and exacerbated by entrenched and ‘normalised,’ everyday gender discrimination.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">Many violations are caused and exacerbated by entrenched and ‘normalised,’ everyday gender discrimination.</p><p dir="ltr">Women’s financial and physical security is seriously jeopardised by transnational land-based corporate investment, according to <a href="http://corporate-responsibility.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Core_WomensRights_Final1.pdf">a new briefing</a> from UK civil society network on corporate accountability, <a href="http://corporate-responsibility.org/">CORE</a>, and the NGO <a href="https://www.womankind.org.uk/">Womankind</a>. Drawing on research from the Essex University Human Rights Clinic, it shows how women are also routinely denied opportunities to influence decisions regarding land use by overseas and domestic investors.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">In <a href="http://www.nape.or.ug/publications/gender/51-women-led-action-oriented-booklet/file">Uganda</a>, the National Association of Professional Environmentalists, a local NGO, has shown how women are excluded from key decision-making processes due to a lack of land ownership rights. Household and community power dynamics often exclude women from land use consultations and the distribution of compensation. Companies make little effort to listen to women’s voices and incorporate them in investment plans.</p><p dir="ltr">This week, civil society, government and business representatives are meeting in Geneva for the <a href="http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Business/Forum/Pages/2017ForumBHR.aspx">UN Forum for Business and Human Rights</a> to discuss corporate compliance with human rights and access to remedies when things go wrong. These talks will fail if they ignore women’s voices and do not challenge gender injustices.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">Companies must explicitly acknowledge gender-specific impacts of their activities and introduce policies and mechanisms to engage and listen to women’s experiences. They must document and be able to clearly show how this informs their activities, so that they can be monitored and held to account for commitments.</p><p dir="ltr">But we cannot rely on businesses alone to deliver good practice. States should introduce mandatory human rights due diligence, compelling companies to conduct risk assessments of their operations, including oversight of subsidiaries and supplier practices and prominent gender analysis and attention to women’s rights.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">Prolific corporate human rights abuse is beginning to galvanise international efforts to end it.</p><p dir="ltr">Today, prolific corporate human rights abuse is beginning to galvanise international efforts to end it. Ecuador is leading a process at the UN human rights council to create a <a href="http://corporate-responsibility.org/proposed-treaty-business-human-rights/">legally-binding treaty</a> that would force companies to uphold human rights and environmental standards across their operations.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">Last week CEDAW, the <a href="http://www.ciel.org/news/un-committee-calls-norway-revise-energy-policy-noting-climate-impacts-arctic-oil-extraction/">UN committee</a> responsible for reviewing states’ women’s rights commitments called on Norway to reconsider its oil and gas extraction policies to mitigate the disproportionate impact on women of climate change. </p><p dir="ltr">A 2015 <a href="http://corporatejustice.org/news/353-corporate-duty-of-vigilance-another-step-forward-towards-the-french-law-s-adoption">French law</a> requires its largest companies to prepare ‘vigilance plans’ setting out measures taken to prevent human rights abuses throughout their operations. Several other European countries are now considering the introduction of mandatory human rights due diligence laws. The EU should build on this momentum, introduce a common standard and require all member states to introduce such legislation.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">These measures could enable women whose rights have been violated to take multinational companies to court in the countries where they are headquartered. Cases like these are not easy to mount, but currently most communities are restricted to remedy through local judicial systems where legal infrastructure may be limited and corruption may be widespread.</p><p dir="ltr">States and corporations must show that they take women’s rights seriously. They can no longer pay lip service to these rights, or relegate responsibility for them to profit-hungry corporations and patriarchal decision-makers. Women’s voices and women’s participation must be at the centre of talks and policies on business and human rights.</p><div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Women's rights and economic justice Women and the Economy women's human rights women and power patriarchy gendered poverty 50.50 newsletter Ayesha Carmouche Chiara Capraro Tue, 28 Nov 2017 07:00:46 +0000 Chiara Capraro and Ayesha Carmouche 114918 at https://www.opendemocracy.net How the 'business case' for gender equality sidelines human rights https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/sanyu-awori/gender-equality-neoliberal-business-case <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><span style="font-size: 10pt; line-height: 115%; font-family: &amp;amp;amp;">Women’s rights at work are an investment in their dignity. If we want to talk about economic returns, let’s scrutinise corporate tax breaks and illicit financial flows instead. </span></p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="MsoNormal"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563362/25005121762_dd2db7e884_k.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563362/25005121762_dd2db7e884_k.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="301" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>90% of workers in the Cambodian garment industry are women. USEmbassyPhnomPenh/Flickr. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span><span>The case for gender equality at work is increasingly being made with economic arguments. The corporate consultancy giant McKinsey says that increasing women’s participation in the labour force could </span><span><a href="http://www.mckinsey.com/global-themes/employment-and-growth/how-advancing-womens-equality-can-add-12-trillion-to-global-growth" target="_blank"><span>add $12 trillion to global GDP by 2025.</span></a></span><span> Such claims are being used to engage the private sector and present gender equality as more than a moral concern. But pushing this 'business case' is problematic for the women’s human rights agenda.</span></p><p>Economic arguments for gender equality effectively commodify women and their labour. They imply that women’s rights to work are only useful because there are quantifiable economic returns. This is a shift away from a human rights perspective under which rights to work are an inherent part of women’s dignity that cannot be bargained or traded away. Human rights recognises the agency and autonomy of women as humans, rather than seeing their labour as a means to an economic end. </p> <p><span class="mag-quote-center">Economic arguments for gender equality effectively commodify women and their labour...</span>The business case for gender equality ignores how the neoliberal macroeconomic system colludes with structural discrimination to disproportionately impact women, who are overrepresented at the very bottom of supply chains, in the informal economy, and in precarious jobs. The burden of unpaid care work – such as fetching water and providing food – still <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/sep/22/women-do-four-years-more-work-than-men-in-lifetime-report-shows" target="_blank">falls more on women’s shoulders</a>, limiting opportunities and mobility. Until this is addressed, women’s rights to work can never fully be realised.</p><p>Economic arguments also ignore prevailing gender stereotypes that result in job segregation and disparities in wages and benefits. Take the global garment industry, where 80% of workers are female amid stereotypes that women are more docile, dexterous or will make fewer demands of their employers. In Cambodia, 90% of garment workers are women, <a href="http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/---asia/---ro-bangkok/---sro-bangkok/documents/publication/wcms_204166.pdf" target="_blank">believed by the industry to be cheaper, passive and more flexible</a>. Notably, <a href="https://www.actionaid.org.uk/sites/default/files/publications/womens_rights_on-line_version_2.1.pdf" target="_blank">the wage gap between men and women in Cambodia doubled from 2004-2009</a>.</p> <p><span class="mag-quote-center">...the neoliberal system colludes with structural discrimination to disproportionately impact women.</span></p><p> Broader dynamics are overlooked – including the unequal and often uneasy relationship between governments and corporations, with states too often looking to lure corporate investment at the cost of human rights. Governments have established export processing zones (EPZs), for example, with special incentives for corporations – and severe restrictions on workers’ rights. <a href="https://www.awid.org/sites/default/files/atoms/files/ccp_fullreport_eng.pdf" target="_blank">China, Pakistan, Kenya and Zimbabwe have changed their laws to suspend rights to unionise in these zones.</a></p><p>Stark power disparities exist between corporations and governments, with <a href="http://www.globaljustice.org.uk/news/2016/sep/12/10-biggest-corporations-make-more-money-most-countries-world-combined" target="_blank">the combined revenues of world’s top ten corporations exceeding that of 180 countries</a>. Trade agreements often include clauses giving corporations rights to sue governments through opaque investor-state dispute settlements<span class="mag-quote-center">It is contradictory to appeal to this economic system, rife with structural inequalities...</span>It is contradictory to appeal to this economic system, rife with structural inequalities, on gender equality. Instead of a neoliberal business case, women need their rights recognised as an investment in their dignity. If we want to talk about economic returns, let’s scrutinise <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2017/may/24/world-is-plundering-africa-wealth-billions-of-dollars-a-year" target="_blank">corporate tax breaks and illicit financial flows</a> instead. These undermine the abilities of governments to generate domestic revenues needed to pay for essential public services.&nbsp; </p><p>If we care about gender equality, we must use the framework of human rights to engage with corporations and governments. Structural barriers and entrenched inequalities that negatively impact women in the global economy can only be addressed through a transformative framework centred on dignity, agency and autonomy. Anything less will fail women.</p> <p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">...the onus should be on companies to prove that they are complying with human rights responsibilities. </p><p>Instead of trying to make gender equality palatable to the business world, the onus should be on companies to prove that they are complying with progressive standards and their human rights responsibilities. The <a href="http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Publications/GuidingPrinciplesBusinessHR_EN.pdf" target="_blank">UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights</a> articulates the role of both corporations and governments in protecting rights in the context of business activities.&nbsp; </p><p dir="ltr">We must recognise, and work to shift, power relations between corporations, governments and women – instead of reinforcing inequalities by focusing on women as labourers with economic value. There are clear opportunities for the private sector to act on gender equality, but engagement must move beyond economic terms. We should not privatise the issue of gender equality.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/lea-sitkin/neoliberal-feminism">It&#039;s up to you: why neoliberal feminism isn&#039;t feminism at all</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Women's rights and economic justice Women and the Economy 50.50 newsletter women's work Sanyu Awori Mon, 24 Jul 2017 13:43:29 +0000 Sanyu Awori 112353 at https://www.opendemocracy.net It's up to you: why neoliberal feminism isn't feminism at all https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/lea-sitkin/neoliberal-feminism <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Mainstream feminism in the US is easily digestible and always subordinate to demands of neoliberal economics. As a result it is fatally weakened.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/Ivanka PA-31760851.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Ivanka Trump"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/Ivanka PA-31760851.jpg" alt="Ivanka Trump." title="Ivanka Trump" width="460" height="340" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Ivanka Trump at an American Technology Council roundtable with corporate and education leaders at the White House in June 2017. Photo: PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>The media backlash to Ivanka Trump’s recently published book, <a href="http://womenwhowork.com/">Women Who Work</a>, was immediate. A New York Times review put it this way: <a href="http://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/ivanka-trump-wrote-a-painfully-oblivious-book-for-basically-no-one">‘Ivanka Trump Wrote A Painfully Oblivious Book for Basically No One’</a>. Of course, it was an easy target for criticism. </p><p>The book opens with Trump’s memory of soul-searching during an adventure holiday in Patagonia and includes laments about having been too busy to have massages during her father’s Presidential campaign. It’s hard to forget that the author is the highly-privileged First Daughter of one of the more cartoonishly sexist political figures of recent years.</p><p class="normal">Trump’s book is, however, not so unique in the context of American “self-help culture” which encourages individuals to define themselves on the basis of ‘core values’ like entrepreneurship, self-reliance, the right to happiness. Women Who Work is but one contribution to an ever-expanding US self-help industry, worth an estimated <a href="http://nymag.com/health/self-help/2013/schulz-self-searching/">$11 billion</a>.</p> <p class="normal">It fails to offer anything new in terms of advice to women. Rather, it is just the latest reflection of ‘neoliberal feminism’. This is mainstream, American feminism today: seductive, easily digestible, and always subordinate to the requirements of neoliberal economics. It is a fatally weakened feminism.</p> <p class="normal"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/Lean In PA-16306307.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Sandberg&#039;s book."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/Lean In PA-16306307.jpg" alt="Sandberg's book." title="Sandberg&#039;s book." width="460" height="329" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Copies of Sandberg's book on a table at a 2013 conference in Germany about women in executive positions. Photo: Angelika Warmuth/PA Images. All rights reserved. </span></span></span>Before Women Who Work, there was the wildly successful book <a href="https://leanin.org/book/">Lean In</a> (2013), by Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg. Trump quotes extensively from this book in her own.</p><p class="normal">While the books have differences – Lean In, for instance, admonishes men for not doing their equal share of housework, and gives more space to work-life-balance policy questions – their central messages are strikingly similar: that women can end gender inequality, if they only break through psychological barriers holding them back.&nbsp;</p><p>Lean In asks “what women would do if [they] weren’t afraid?” and claims “we hold ourselves back in ways both big and small, by lacking self-confidence, by not raising our hands, and by pulling back when we should be leaning in”. Women Who Work beseeches us to “live out of [our] imagination, not [our] history” and tells us that “when you're passionate and you work hard, you can achieve great things”.</p><p class="normal">These messages appeal on an emotional level. Like <a href="https://www.stephencovey.com/7habits/7habits.php">7 Habits of Highly Effective People</a> – the widely popular self-help book from the late 1980s, quoted extensively in Trump's book, which urged readers to approach life with an “abundance mentality” – Lean In and Women Who Work assure women that success is just around the corner if they want it. We just need to demand more, negotiate starting salaries with self-confidence, take more time for self-care, admonish our partners if they fail to do their fair share of housework.&nbsp;</p><p> The problem lies in what this neoliberal feminism skims over, and the behaviours it promotes as a result of these omissions. It focuses on equality before the law, with both Women Who Work and Lean In paying tribute to previous generations fights’ for legal parity, and presenting the struggle for gender equality as now largely down to the individual, who must ensure that she makes the most of the opportunities available to her.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p class="mag-quote-center">The problem lies in what this neoliberal feminism skims over...</p><p class="normal">This downplays structural barriers to success. Take the issue of <a href="http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/10/01/women-more-than-men-adjust-their-careers-for-family-life/">care work which is still disproportionately carried out by women</a>. Without institutional support, it is impossible for people with caring responsibilities to “lean in” the way that people without such responsibilities can. Female empowerment is impossible without challenging workplaces that take the ‘unencumbered’ individual as the standard. </p><p>Within neoliberal feminism, these issues are subsumed within the general idea of ‘personal improvement.’ As academic <a href="http://spe.library.utoronto.ca/index.php/spe/article/viewFile/6724/3723%20accessed%2019-%20Oct%202010">Wendy</a><a href="http://spe.library.utoronto.ca/index.php/spe/article/viewFile/6724/3723%20accessed%2019-%20Oct%202010"> Larner</a> has noted, neoliberalism is more than policies aimed at promoting privatisation or fiscal austerity – it is a new way of thinking about, and regulating, the self, with good citizens seen as “individualised and active subjects responsible for enhancing their own well-being”. In other words: it is up to you, the individual, to succeed.</p><p class="normal">Since becoming a single mother in 2015, Sandberg has publically acknowledged that Lean In did not dedicate enough space to <a href="https://www.facebook.com/sheryl/posts/10156819553860177">“the difficulties women face when they have an unsupportive partner or no partner at all</a>”. Today Facebook is supposedly <a href="http://time.com/money/4098469/paid-parental-leave-google-amazon-apple-facebook/">one of the most family friendly workplaces in the US</a>, with generous parental leave provisions and additional perks like breast-feeding rooms in its Menlo Park headquarters. But most women do not get the chance to work at Facebook.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">But most women do not get the chance to work at Facebook.</p><p class="normal">This is another core flaw of neoliberal feminism: its failure to contend with hierarchies of privilege among women. While the American dream promises equal opportunity, <a href="http://www.oecd.org/social/income-distribution-database.htm">economic inequality is higher</a>, <a href="https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/02_economic_mobility_sawhill_ch3.pdf">social mobility lower</a>, and <a href="http://www.oecd.org/els/emp/oecdindicatorsofemploymentprotection.htm">worker’s rights significantly less developed</a> in the US than in any other developed country. Many jobs women do in America are low-paid, exploitative and fail to provide basic economic security, never mind the sense of ‘life purpose’ described in Women Who Work. </p> <p class="normal">Ivanka Trump’s book fails to reflect on the privilege that helped her find ‘fulfilling’ work. It pays only superficial tribute to childcare workers<strong> </strong>that have enabled her to put in such long hours at the office, only mentioning them once in the text (“some of my best photos of the kids were taken by my nanny”) and once in the acknowledgements.</p><p class="normal"><a href="http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/---dgreports/---dcomm/---publ/documents/publication/wcms_173363.pdf">Hundreds of thousands of American women</a> must balance their own caring responsibilities with long hours in the homes of wealthier women, cleaning, cooking, and looking after their children and family members. Any worthwhile feminism has to engage with this reality: that the success of privileged women often rests on the work of women who are less privileged.</p><p class="normal">Neoliberal feminism promises freedom, but it just replaces one source of coercion (traditional, patriarchal authority) with another (the market). In this new world, women’s disadvantage may be defined less by gender and more by class. Production and the opiate of endless consumption become the ultimate signifiers of female empowerment and personal value. This threatens feminism’s promise to transform women’s lives. </p><p class="normal">Self-help books and ad campaigns and TV shows that endlessly reproduce the individualistic ethos of neoliberalism also actively undermine the development of solidarity between women. There is no need for sympathy if all you need to do is ‘lean in’ – and without this sympathy, the political impetus for structural reforms vanishes. </p> <p class="normal">These, then, are the problems with Ivanka Trump's Women Who Work: it talks about female empowerment but defines success in terms that serve the interests of men and the rich; it values individual success over collective justice; it legitimises the outcomes of structural oppression. </p><p class="normal">What must we learn from all of this? A feminism that is a handmaiden to capitalism isn’t feminism at all.</p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> United States </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Economics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 United States Economics Women's rights and economic justice Women and the Economy women and power feminism 50.50 newsletter women's work Lea Sitkin Tue, 18 Jul 2017 09:11:16 +0000 Lea Sitkin 111781 at https://www.opendemocracy.net A feminist revolution demands climate justice https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/bridget-burns/feminist-revolution-climate-justice <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>To change everything, it takes everyone, and to fight oppression, we must fight it in all forms, at all times. This article is part of <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/nobel-womens-initiative/nobel-womens-initiative-2017">50.50's coverage</a> of the 2017 <a href="https://nobelwomensinitiative.org/">Nobel Women's Initiative</a> conference.&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/Photo1.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Women for Climate Justice contingent at the People’s Climate March."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/Photo1.jpg" alt="Women for Climate Justice contingent at the People’s Climate March." title="Women for Climate Justice contingent at the People’s Climate March." width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Women for Climate Justice contingent at the People’s Climate March. Credit: Emily Arasim/WECAN.</span></span></span>“There is no thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives,” said Audre Lorde. She was right, of course, and this quote still resonates today. Globally movements of movements are intersecting and coalescing and working together. And this is crucial. Because it takes everyone to change everything, and we must fight oppression in all its forms, at all times. </p><p dir="ltr">On 29 April, I joined 300,000 people in Washington DC for the <a href="https://peoplesclimate.org/">People’s Climate March</a>. A march for climate, justice and jobs. It was a sweltering hot day, record-breaking for this time of year. (Though, such records are now broken <a href="https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-noaa-data-show-2016-warmest-year-on-record-globally/">each year</a>, with temperatures continuing to rise).</p><p dir="ltr">I was in DC to join the march’s ‘<a href="https://women4climatejustice.peoplesclimate.org/">Women for Climate Justice</a>’ contingent, challenging, as per our <a href="https://women4climatejustice.peoplesclimate.org/">statement</a>, “a new US administration that promotes climate skepticism, the advancement of fossil fuels, an extractive economy, environmental racism, bigotry and inequitable treatment of women and girls” – and rising up for a healthy, just and thriving world. </p><p dir="ltr">In 2014, the first large-scale People’s Climate March was held in New York City. Then, as now, we were mobilising women’s rights and feminist groups to participate. Making climate change a feminist issue and centering environment in the women’s rights movement has been core to the Women's Environment and Development Organization (WEDO) since its founding in 1992. </p><p>While not immutable, binary nor universal, gender shapes expectations, attributes, roles, capacities and rights of women and men around the world. We see that environmental degradation and increasing climate chaos work to further entrench already existing inequalities. <a href="http://wedo.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/GGCA-RP-FINAL.pdf">Women often have more limited access to resources and more restricted rights, including to land, mobility, and voice in shaping decisions and influencing policy</a>.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">...environmental degradation and increasing climate chaos work to further entrench inequalities.</p><p dir="ltr">At the same time, gender roles generally ascribed to women such as informal, reproductive work often relate to caregiving for households and communities, <a href="http://www.unwomen.org/en/news/stories/2017/2/feature-in-el-salvador-rural-women-plant-seeds-of-independence">caretaking of seeds and soils</a>, maintaining <a href="http://www.groundswellinternational.org/agroecology/a-closer-look-agroecology-and-food-women-and-climate-change/">traditional agricultural knowledge</a>, and responsibility for natural resource management such as firewood and water. </p><p dir="ltr">These roles create opportunity for developing more effective climate change interventions and policies at all levels, when women are equally engaged in decision-making and project implementation. As highlighted in a <a href="http://wedo.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/GGCA-RP-FINAL.pdf">2016 report</a>, “There is a growing body of research highlighting the unique role of women in maintaining crop diversity in countries such as Nepal, and Bangladesh, often through saving and exchanging seeds and maintaining home gardens, serving as a source of household food security.”</p><p dir="ltr">This is the context in which women are challenging our environmental crises – fighting always against multiple forms of injustice. It is also why it’s critical for feminist analysis to include a strong focus on environmental and climate justice. </p><p dir="ltr">Of course, for women in communities around the world, indigenous women, land defenders and water protectors, the linkages in these multiple forms of oppression are not new. </p><p dir="ltr">For years, from the <a href="http://www.dnaindia.com/mumbai/report-40-years-since-women-embraced-trees-in-chipko-andolan-1972292">Chipko movement in India</a>, to the fights of the peoples of <a href="https://medium.com/@Hemisferico/remembering-berth-caceres-ad50202e9304">COPINH in Honduras</a> and the <a href="http://www.ecowatch.com/indigenous-women-dakota-access-pipeline-2069613663.html">Sioux Tribe of Standing Rock</a> – grassroots movements have been articulating and documenting the intersectional nature of resistance. But in governance, financing and mainstream development arenas, a siloed system has often challenged the development of a more intersectional global feminist resistance. </p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/Photo 3.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Indigenous Women’s Day at COP21."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/Photo 3.jpg" alt="Indigenous Women’s Day at COP21." title="Indigenous Women’s Day at COP21." width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Indigenous Women’s Day at COP21, sharing stories on resistance and solutions to environmental struggles. Credit: Christine Irvine/ Survival Media Agency.</span></span></span>Last year, for example, I attended the <a href="http://www.iucnworldconservationcongress.org/">2016 World Conservation Congress</a>, entitled ‘Planet at a Crossroads’, held in Hawaii, USA and attended by over 8,000 conservation practitioners and scientists. The conference outcomes were to provide a blueprint for the next 30 years of conservation. Yet, despite having a very strong mandate for gender equality and women’s rights to be included in that agenda, and despite strong advocacy by groups like the <a href="http://manoa.hawaii.edu/hshk/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/IWBN-profiles-IUCN2016.pdf">Indigenous Women’s Biodiversity Network</a>, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bridget-burns/dear-iucn-congress-lead-o_b_11862932.html">not one Congress motion</a> made mention of women or gender issues. </p><p dir="ltr">From that meeting, I traveled directly to the AWID Feminist Forum in Brazil, discussing our ‘Feminist Futures’. In this progressive feminist space, real progress has been made in terms of drawing links with environmental issues, and ‘<a href="http://www.forum.awid.org/forum16/climate-and-environmental-justice">climate and environmental justice</a>’ was one of the main umbrella themes. (This was notable as the previous edition, three years prior, had very little space for environmental issues, despite being held in parallel to Earth Day and right before the <a href="https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/rio20">Rio+20 Earth Summit</a>). </p><p dir="ltr">There is no doubt in my mind that while this is a moment of great uncertainty, it is also a moment for great global movement-building and feminist revolution. On 13 May, I will join a group of feminist activists at the 2017 <a href="https://nobelwomensinitiative.org/">Nobel Women’s Initiative</a> conference to discuss strategies and tactics for feminist resistance amidst the growing global backlash against women’s rights, human rights and peace. We must draw upon feminist analysis and vision to resist authoritarianism and violence – and shape our calls and work for a just, peaceful and healthy planet for all.</p><p dir="ltr">Movements are becoming increasingly intersectional and this must continue. The People’s Climate March (PCM) felt transformative not because of the numbers in the street, but because of the diversity of voices. Adopting a frontlines-first approach, it <a href="https://peoplesclimate.org/lineup/">was led </a>by indigenous peoples, immigrants, grassroots organisers, people of colour, refugees, unions, and workers. Chants called for ending fossil fuels as loudly as they called for justice for black lives, indigenous rights and women’s rights. At one point, a group of anti-abortion protesters were deafened as marchers joined in unison to declare, “My body, my choice” echoed with “Her body, her choice”.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">Intersectional feminist leadership is essential to address structures, systems and values that undermine gender equality and women's rights.</p><p dir="ltr">Intersectional feminist leadership is essential to address the global structures, systems and values that undermine gender equality and women’s human rights and stand in the way of transformative development justice. In a world ravaged by countless, connected crises, injustices, and inequalities, we need champions of women’s human rights and all human rights. In the past year, we have witnessed the shrinking of space for civil society, the infringement of corporate greed on the rights of people and the killings of human rights defenders. </p><p dir="ltr">Feminists leading on climate and environmental justice must also be heard in spaces like the World Conservation Congress, at UN climate negotiations, summits on energy and economy, and financing mechanisms like the Green Climate Fund. Women’s full and equal participation is a basic tenant of women’s human rights, and initiatives to increase women’s leadership in politics via training and campaign skills, or in diverse sectors such as science, technology, engineering, and math should be applauded. WEDO’s own <a href="http://wedo.org/what-we-do/our-programs/women-delegates-fund/">Women Delegates Fund</a> works to improve the representation of women leaders in climate negotiations. </p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/Photo 4.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Activists demanding women’s voices be heard at COP22."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/Photo 4.jpg" alt="Activists demanding women’s voices be heard at COP22" title="Activists demanding women’s voices be heard at COP22." width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Activists demanding women’s voices be heard at COP22. Credit: Annabelle Avril.</span></span></span>We must further resist the corporatisation of feminism and gender equality. After all, the crux of our climate challenge can be summed up by profit over planet and people. Whether it’s the over-consumption of the developed world in general, or inequality within countries, for a global feminist resistance to truly work and demand climate justice it must challenge a capitalist economic system and private sector initiatives which claim to be supporting women’s rights. </p><p dir="ltr">For example, when UN Women chooses to <a href="http://www.unwomen.org/en/news/stories/2014/2/coca-cola-partnership">partner with a corporation</a> like Coca-Cola with the aim of women’s economic empowerment, it must equally challenge the corporation’s role in <a href="http://www.waronwant.org/media/coca-cola-drinking-world-dry">driving environmental instability</a>, as well as <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/andy-bellatti/coke-cap-the-tap_b_4269607.html">impacts on health</a>. Public-private partnerships which bolster the image of corporations while undermining political critique, and overshadowing negative environmental impacts, will not fuel the feminist revolution we need.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">Demanding climate justice means calling for systemic change.</p><p dir="ltr">Demanding climate justice means we are calling for systemic change. It is not a call for individual actions to protect the environment. Protecting funding for Planned Parenthood is just as critical as ensuring the country fulfills and strengthens its commitments to the Paris Agreement, ensuring funding for developing countries to mitigate and adapt to climate change as both a legal and moral obligation. Feminist movements in developed countries must also tackle issues of overconsumption as part of organising for women’s rights. </p><p dir="ltr">Feminist leaders, particularly indigenous women and grassroots organisers, have to be at the frontlines of climate change decision-making. Examples highlighted in the 2016 report <a href="http://womengenderclimate.org/gender-just-climate-solutions-publication-2016/">Gender-Just Climate Solutions</a> – including women-led clean-cookstove and solar installation projects in Tanzania, women-owned and operated energy cooperatives in Germany, and female entrepreneurial “energy shop” initiatives in Mozambique – <a href="http://climatetracker.org/get-know-women-leading-climate-movement/">women</a> are already developing solutions to climate change which ensure rights and promote equality. </p><p dir="ltr">These projects provide solutions to transitioning to low-carbon economies in a just way. Crucially, they can also contribute to rethinking the current sexual division of labour, promoting decent work, the revaluing and redistribution of care work and the promotion of locally-driven sustainable economic structures. As WEDO co-founder “battling Bella” Abzug often said: “All issues are women’s issues.”</p><p dir="ltr"><em><strong>The </strong></em><em><strong><a href="https://nobelwomensinitiative.org/">Nobel Women's Initiative</a> conference takes place in Germany 13-16 May. Follow </strong><strong><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/nobel-womens-initiative/nobel-womens-initiative-2017">50.50's coverage</a> of the event.</strong></em></p><div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Nobel Women's Initiative 2017 Women and the Economy Nobel Women's Initiative women's movements women's human rights gender justice gender feminism 50.50 newsletter Bridget Burns Fri, 12 May 2017 07:03:37 +0000 Bridget Burns 110714 at https://www.opendemocracy.net "Visionary and creative resistance": meet the women challenging extractivism – and patriarchy https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/inna-michaeli-semanur-karaman/women-resistance-extractive-industries <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Environmental degradation is deliberate, violent and patriarchal. From Turkey to Guatemala, women are on the frontlines of resistance.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/Afro-descendant Women’s Organising in Latin America_credit Gabby de Cicco.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Afro-descendant Women’s Organising in Latin America"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/Afro-descendant Women’s Organising in Latin America_credit Gabby de Cicco.jpg" alt="Afro-descendant women organisers in Latin America." title="Afro-descendant Women’s Organising in Latin America" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Afro-descendant women organisers in Latin America. Photo: Gabby de Cicco.</span></span></span>“What is the state? We are the state! The state is the state thanks to us” <a href="http://www.birgun.net/haber-detay/havva-ananin-isyani-kimdir-devlet-devlet-bizim-sayemizde-devlettir-84583.html">said Havva Ana</a> (Mother Eve), a 63-year old woman who, in July 2015, joined a demonstration to block the demolition of ancient forests in Rize, Turkey. </p><p dir="ltr">What Havva Ana meant was that the state depends on the people for its legitimacy – and that it must not prioritise short-term profit over their rights and wellbeing. The forests of Çamlıhemşin have, for hundreds of years, provided livelihoods and ancestral connection in the Black Sea region.</p><p dir="ltr">In the face of the destruction, she resisted bulldozers and security forces, forming a human chain with other protesters to block their advance. She confronted this violence with all she had: putting her body on the line. Police forcibly removed the protesters from the site, enabling the demolition to go ahead. </p><p dir="ltr">Havva Ana is a part of a larger ecosystem of women on the frontline of struggles to defend land, territory and livelihoods from violent models of “development” based on extractivism and the unconstrained commodification of nature. <span class="mag-quote-right">Globally, economic and political elites are destroying the planet...</span></p><p dir="ltr">This is dangerous work and human rights and environmental defenders have faced systematic attacks. Globally, economic and political elites are destroying the planet, violating international human rights standards and treaties to protect the rights of indigenous people.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">In 2015, 156 killings were recorded by the <a href="https://www.protecting-defenders.org/en/reports-and-documents">UN special rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders</a>; 45% were of defenders of environmental, land and indigenous rights. For that same year, the <a href="https://www.globalwitness.org/en/campaigns/environmental-activists/dangerous-ground/">NGO Global Witness</a> documented killings of 185 human rights defenders across 16 countries, with Brazil, the Philippines and Colombia in the lead and many of those killed indigenous activists. </p><p dir="ltr">Berta Cáceres’ assassination last year in her home in Honduras, following years of activism to <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/mar/03/honduras-berta-caceres-murder-enivronment-activist-human-rights">protect the Gualcarque River</a> from the Agua Zarca hydroelectric project, is emblematic of reprisals against women who resist environmental destruction and powerful interests. Recent<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/feb/28/berta-caceres-honduras-military-intelligence-us-trained-special-forces"> legal evidence</a> indicates the Honduran government may have collaborated with US-trained paramilitary forces to murder her.</p><p dir="ltr">Many other attacks and killings likely go unreported. </p><p dir="ltr">Meanwhile, <a href="https://www.awid.org/publications/women-human-rights-defenders-confronting-extractive-industries">new research</a> from <a href="http://www.awid.org/">AWID</a> and the <a href="http://www.defendingwomen-defendingrights.org/">Women Human Rights Defenders International Coalition</a>, based on consultations with women from Africa, Asia and Latin America, reveals clear gender-specific patterns of violence against women defending lands and communities – and looks at women's strategies for action and resistance to extractive industries and corporate power.</p><p dir="ltr">“When they threaten me, they say that they will kill me, but before they kill me they will rape me. They don’t say that to my male colleagues. These threats are very specific to indigenous women,” said Lolita Chavez, an indigenous woman human rights defender from Guatemala, in her testimony gathered as part of this research. </p><p dir="ltr"><span class="mag-quote-center">Women experience additional gender-specific threats...</span></p><p dir="ltr">Many human right defenders worldwide face criminalisation, stigmatisation, and violence – but women experience additional gender-specific threats.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">For instance, stigmatisation may involve sexually-degrading terms or question a woman as a good mother; the economic marginalisation of women can make it difficult to raise money for bail if arrested; private security, paramilitary and police officers protecting corporate interests have used rape, sexual violence, and intimidation against women human rights defenders. </p><p dir="ltr">Importantly, women confronting extractive industries challenge not only corporate power, but also patriarchy – and they face repression on both fronts. </p><h2 dir="ltr">Visionary and creative resistance</h2><p dir="ltr">Mirtha Váazquez, a woman human rights defender from Peru said:&nbsp;"For us, development has to do with the welfare and dignity of people and with the self-determination of how they want to live.”&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/A snapshot of WHRDs at an AWID convening in Kenya. Photo credit Hakima Abbas-AWID.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="WHRDs at an AWID convening in Kenya. "><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/A snapshot of WHRDs at an AWID convening in Kenya. Photo credit Hakima Abbas-AWID.jpg" alt="Women human rights defenders." title="WHRDs at an AWID convening in Kenya. " width="460" height="305" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Women human rights defenders at an AWID meeting in Kenya. Photo: Hakima Abbas-AWID.</span></span></span>Despite the violent treatment they too often face, women defenders of land, people and nature have been visionary and creative. Critically, our research also highlights successful and inspiring work of women confronting extractive industries and corporate power.</p><p dir="ltr">One such story is that of Aleta Baun, an indigenous woman from Indonesia who travelled village to village to organise local opposition to marble mining. </p><p dir="ltr">She faced arrests, beatings and death threats. But, with courage and determination she reached hundreds of people and together with other women spent an entire year occupying the entrance of a mining site, weaving traditional textiles.&nbsp;In 2010, after a year of peaceful protest, public pressure forced the companies to abandon their operations. In 2013, Baun won the Goldman Environmental Prize.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">Around the world, women are demanding an end to corporate power destroying the planet for short-term gain and greed, and bringing forward visions of development committed to people and nature instead. </p><p dir="ltr">As Bonita Meyersfeld, law professor at the&nbsp;University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, put it: “A project that will generate economic benefits can only be called development if those profits are reinvested in the community. If not, we are talking about exploitation, not development”. </p><p>Havva Ana, Aleta Baun, Berta Caceres, and many thousands of other women around the world are resisting the equation of development with foreign investment and profit for the few. Instead, they offer a critical, progressive vision of development driven by self-determination, dignity and caring respect for nature.&nbsp;We must listen to them.</p><p><em><strong>Read the report <a href="https://www.awid.org/publications/women-human-rights-defenders-confronting-extractive-industries">Women human rights defenders confronting extractive industries</a>. </strong></em></p><div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Women's rights and economic justice Women and the Economy 50.50 Women Human Rights Defenders women's movements women's human rights women and power violence against women patriarchy 50.50 newsletter Inna Michaeli and Semanur Karaman Wed, 03 May 2017 10:00:51 +0000 Inna Michaeli and Semanur Karaman 110554 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Quantity and quality: Part 1 on funding women’s rights https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/mama-cash/quantity-quality-funding-womens-rights <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The first international women’s fund explores how funding women and girls translates (or doesn’t) into money for feminist movements. Part 1 of 3, this article defines quality in funding.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="Normal1"><em><strong>This is Part One of a 3-part series. See <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/nicky-mcintyre-esther-lever/title-article-2-more-money-less-access-quality-collaborations-for-w">Part Two </a>and <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/nicky-mcintyre-esther-lever/right-kind-of-money-part-3-on-funding-womens-rights">Part Three.&nbsp;</a></strong></em></p><p class="Normal1"><strong><em><a href="http://www.mamacash.org/" target="_blank">Mama Cash&nbsp;</a>is an international funder supporting&nbsp;groups, organisations, networks and women’s funds&nbsp;that are led by women, girls and trans people.</em></strong></p><p class="Normal1"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Red-Flag-Women&#039;s-Movement-Sri-Lanka.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Red Flag Women&#039;s Movement, Sri Lanka. Credit: Mama Cash"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Red-Flag-Women&#039;s-Movement-Sri-Lanka.jpg" alt="" title="Red Flag Women&#039;s Movement, Sri Lanka. Credit: Mama Cash" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>The Red Flag Women’s Movement, Sri Lanka. Credit: Mama Cash</span></span></span></p><p class="Normal1">Never has there been more awareness or consensus in the international funding community about the importance of including women and girls in efforts to bring about lasting change. Various <a href="https://www.awid.org/sites/default/files/atoms/files/New%20Actors%20FInal%20Designed.pdf">initiatives</a> focused on women and girls have been launched in the past several years, including from governments and foundations (corporate as well as private).</p> <p class="Normal1">Central to this consensus is an increasing emphasis on partnership—among donors themselves, but also with regards to their grantees: asking for organisations to work together as a pre-condition to be eligible to access funding. What does partnership—often experienced as collaborative work—mean in terms of the quality of funding available to women’s, girls and trans* rights movements? How are funders supporting movement agendas, and how do we make sure that we as funders don’t get in the way, but instead resource and support movements?&nbsp;</p> <p class="Normal1">Here quality funding refers to resources that are flexible and supportive of feminist agendas, moving from project support to core, operating support that can cover the priorities set by feminist groups. Further, quality funding is about more than the types of grants or their duration. It also means critically examining who can access this funding and who can’t—and why; who makes decisions based on what assumptions and criteria; what thresholds are put into place that are exclusionary; and what is counted as meaningful impact.&nbsp;</p> <p class="Normal1">It is with this definition in mind that this short series explores<strong> </strong>the quality of funding for women’s, girls’ and trans* rights organisations currently and whether the demand of donors that women’s organisations formally collaborate has been backed with better quality funding, as well as how the trend towards more donor collaboration has affected the quality of funding more broadly. </p><p class="Normal1">The recent election of Donald Trump in the United States, on top of Brexit, and in advance of multiple European elections represent a trend towards nationalism, nativism and populism which are already resulting, or will likely result, in a targeting of feminist and queer organising, a closing of the space for civil society, increasing Islamophobia, and an increase in state-sponsored rhetoric about traditional values and heteronormativity. It prescribes and attempts to enforce traditional patriarchal values, heteronormativity, and national identity. This puts those advancing women’s rights, gender justice, the rights of LGBTQI people, racial justice, the rights of religious and ethnic groups, and others at particular risk—they are on the frontlines and will need even more support. It also means that some of the (especially) government funding that was going to these strategies and populations in the past may be diverted to other priorities.&nbsp; This is critical for us to address as funders, individually and collectively, as we will need to step up and support – with financial and non-financial resources— organizing led by these communities around the world.</p> <h3><strong>The state of funding for women’s rights </strong></h3> <p class="Normal1"><a href="http://www.mamacash.org/">Mama Cash</a> is located in the women’s funding movement as well as the funder community. As a women’s fund we both raise money and give it away in grants. Mama Cash recognises that how we fund, and where we allocate resources as funders, is inherently political. Separate from fundraising for our own work, we seek to shift peer donors’ practice to be more transformative in their giving. As we navigate the funding landscape in our dual role as funder and grantee, we recognise that more funding does not necessarily equate to better funding, and that without the latter, the former may not further feminist movement agendas. What are the trends in the quality of money available for feminist organising?&nbsp;</p> <p class="Normal1">The major and oft-quoted report by the Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID), <a href="https://www.awid.org/publications/2011-awid-global-survey-where-money-womens-rights-preliminary-research-results"><em>Where is the Money?</em></a> revealed that women’s rights groups are chronically underfunded, with average budgets globally around 20,000 USD. The research showed that the large majority of women’s organisations remain small not by choice, but because they have difficulty accessing resources that would allow them to implement their own programmatic visions and plans. Emily Esplen, at the time Team Leader - Gender Equality and Women's Rights at the OECD's Development Co-operation Directorate, <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/emily-esplen/donor-funding-beyond-gender-equality-funds">found</a> that just 8% of gender focused aid goes directly to civil society in the Global South—this excludes funding via Northern intermediaries or organisations that subcontract to ‘local partners’. Importantly, in November 2016, the <a href="http://www.oecd.org/dac/gender-development/">DAC GENDERNET</a> published a <a href="http://www.oecd.org/dac/gender-development/donor-support-to-southern-women-s-rights-organisations.htm">study</a> on DAC donor approaches to supporting women’s rights organisations, which will shed further light on these trends.&nbsp; <a href="http://humanrightsfunding.org/populations/women/">Recent research</a> by the International Human Rights Funders Group shows that 21% of foundation human rights funding in 2013 focused on women and girls—with the largest percentage (approximately 35%) going to Northern America and the lowest percentage (approximately 0.7%) going to the Caribbean. This research does not show a breakdown of who accesses this funding— are these women-led organisations or generalist organisations working with or for women and girls?</p> <p class="Normal1">We need to uncover this type of data and use it to inform our discussions as and with funders. It is not just about how much money is out there, but also analysing who is getting access to it so that we can deepen our understanding of whether this funding for ‘women and girls’ is contributing to feminist agendas and transformative change or not.&nbsp;</p> <h3><strong>In pursuit of quality funding</strong></h3> <p class="Normal1">A simple place to start is to continue shifting the focus away from project-specific support and towards long-term flexible funding. This is not a new insight – there are <a href="http://www.tpw.org/images/files/supportive_to_the_core.pdf">articles</a> illustrating why unrestricted funding matters – but it remains a major challenge in practice. Limitations on the percentage of a project budget that can be spent on overhead costs can mean that a project barely pays for its own administration and the staff who apply for grants. So even organisations that seek to grow their capacities to mobilise resources (so that they can work toward a responsibly resourced model that will allow them to do their core work creatively and flexibly) often cannot, because there is no money available to pay for long-term sustainability.&nbsp;</p> <p class="Normal1">The <a href="https://www.government.nl/topics/grant-programmes/contents/mdg-fund">Dutch MDG3 fund</a> was groundbreaking at its time in 2006 and serves as an example of strong, quality funding where women’s rights organisations, networks and funds from the Global South were able to access large amounts of funding that was flexible and responsive to their needs. Theo Sowa, Executive Director of the African Development Women’s Fund said this initiative “helped really tackle inequality and it understood the value of movement building.” Yet, this kind of funding has become increasingly rare, signaling a worrying trend in terms of the quality of funding. We have seen this occur recently with the <a href="http://www.flowprogramme.nl/Public/HomePage.aspx">Dutch FLOW2 fund</a>, whose final awards were limited to coalitions led by large INGOs, mostly in the Global North—with, before appeals, no women’s rights organisations, networks or funds from the Global South accessing this funding directly when the announcement was made in December 2015. The barriers that Flow 2 introduced in the <a href="https://www.government.nl/documents/decrees/2015/06/12/funding-leadership-and-opportunities-for-women-flow-2016-2020">application</a> and review process made it very hard for women’s organisations to succeed—raising questions about accessibility. For example, the minimum application amount increased by two million from FLOW1 to five million euros, and emphasized detailed theories of change. Around 60% of applicants <a href="http://www.ru.nl/rscr/vm/news/news/?ActLbl=ngo-funding-game&amp;ActItmIdt=1035598">did not pass the threshold criteria</a>, compared to 34% for FLOW 1. This also raises <a href="http://viceversaonline.nl/2015/2015/12/de-veranderingstheorie-van-het-ministerie-van-buitenlandse-zaken/">questions</a> about the costs of preparing applications, which may increase as formats and requirements become more complex.&nbsp; As funders, the question of access is important—how does our approach to due diligence maintain a status quo of unequal access to funding? How can we as funders aim to be more transformative versus merely transactional in our practices? The Bay Area Justice Funders Network has released a “<a href="http://www.justicefunders.org/Choir-Book">Choir Book</a>” with practical tips to address precisely these questions.&nbsp;</p> <p class="Normal1">There are a few <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/emily-esplen/donor-funding-beyond-gender-equality-funds">positive examples</a> in recent years, including <a href="https://amplifychange.org/">Amplify Change</a>, a new fund for reproductive health and rights advocacy predominantly for Global South organisations. Resourced initially by the Dutch and Danish governments and two private foundations, this fund was awarded to a consortium that includes two women’s funds, enabling the development of&nbsp;a mechanism influenced by women’s rights principles and leading to a more enabling (if not perfect) access for direct funding for feminist organisations.&nbsp;</p><p class="Normal1"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/RED-Madre-de-Tierra-2015.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/RED-Madre-de-Tierra-2015.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Red Nacional de Mujeres de la Madre Tierra strengthens the capacity, advocacy, and leadership skills of women affected by destructive and exploitative impacts of industries in Bolivia on their lands. Credit: Alexandra Meleán Anzoleaga</span></span></span></p><p class="Normal1">Nevertheless, shifts in the economic climate, particularly as it relates to austerity measures instituted after the 2008 financial and economic implosion, are resulting in new competition for fewer resources, and impacting the quality of funding available. Funding for international development within the European context is under scrutiny, with budgets being reduced to cover shortfalls, and discourse being framed around the need to show concrete impact and results over short grant periods. Staff in government aid agencies have been reduced, meaning they have fewer people to manage relatively large sums of grant money, <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/emily-esplen/donor-funding-beyond-gender-equality-funds">resulting</a> in a move to make fewer, but larger grants to organisations that can demonstrate having effective finance and monitoring systems in place—this directly affects the quality of funding available as it sets a high threshold for accessing these resources.&nbsp;</p> <p class="Normal1">In the Netherlands, as a result of budget cuts to the foreign aid budget, well-funded organisations, particularly Dutch INGOs, could no longer make their budget and needed to restructure and compete with women’s rights organisations for resources. This trend constitutes a worrying progression away from the quality funding that Mama Cash and our peers advocate for. Even for those of us who can access fewer, larger grants, we are restricted by region, issue-area and sometimes professional criteria in our ability to distribute it to women, girls and trans* rights groups working locally and nationally. In the face of threats and actual harm to women human rights defenders and other girls and trans* activists, their exclusion from funding for social change, community empowerment and security can be literally lethal.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/emily-esplen/donor-funding-beyond-gender-equality-funds">Donors thinking big: beyond gender equality funds</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/nicky-mcintyre-esther-lever/collaborations-funding-womens-rights">Collaborations: Part 2 on funding women&#039;s rights</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/nicky-mcintyre-esther-lever/part-3-funding-womens-rights">The right kind of money: Part 3 on funding women&#039;s rights</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/srilatha-batliwala/transformative-strategy-true-value-of-investing-in-women%E2%80%99s-rights">A transformative strategy: the true value of investing in women’s rights</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/angelika-arutyunova/womens-human-rights-watering-leaves-starving-roots">Women&#039;s human rights: Watering the leaves, starving the roots </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Women and the Economy 50.50 Women Human Rights Defenders 50.50 Women's Movement Building 50.50 Contesting Patriarchy 50.50 Voices for Change women and power gender justice feminism 50.50 newsletter women's work Esther Lever Nicky McIntyre Wed, 22 Feb 2017 11:47:39 +0000 Nicky McIntyre and Esther Lever 108881 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Fear and humiliation at the job centre https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/harriet-williamson/fear-and-humiliation-at-job-centre <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The lack of self-confidence among young women looking for a job in Britain, revealed in the ‘<a href="http://www.youngwomenstrust.org/assets/0000/2981/Future_of_JCP_YWT_response_April_2016_-_Final.pdf">Work It Out</a>’ report, is a phenomenon engineered by social and cultural factors. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/1215041_94b88a82.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/1215041_94b88a82.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Jobcentre Plus. Photo: Paul Farmer/All rights reserved </span></span></span></p> <p>Ken Loach’s <em>I, Daniel Blake</em> provides a heart-wrenching exposé of the cruelty that bubbles beneath the surface of the Department of Work and Pensions’ dealings with some of Britain’s most vulnerable people. New research published on 15th November shows that Jobcentre Plus is currently failing Britain’s young women on a massive scale.&nbsp; </p> <p><a href="http://www.youngwomenstrust.org/">Young Women’s Trust,</a> an organisation dedicated to supporting women between 16 and 30, has <a href="http://www.youngwomenstrust.org/assets/0000/2981/Future_of_JCP_YWT_response_April_2016_-_Final.pdf">put together a report</a> condemning job centres across the country for being utterly ineffectual in help young women to re-enter the workplace. The report found that only 19 per cent of young women who visited a job centre in the last year said that it helped them find a job, and 44 per cent said that Jobcentre Plus hadn’t given them useful information about work and training opportunities, compared to 34 per cent of young men surveyed. </p> <p>Young Women’s Trust’s ‘Work It Out’ report sheds light on a situation where job centres are actually driving young women away and alienating them from claiming the temporary financial support that they need. </p> <p>The clue really should be in the name. A ‘job centre’ should be a place where people are aided in their search to find a job, and prepared for employment with opportunities to hone and develop their skills. This is clearly not the case, when the majority of young women are having overwhelmingly negative experiences of Jobcentre Plus. </p> <p>Hattie is a 24-year-old writer and illustrator. She’s been in and out of employment since graduating in 2013 and after doing two full-time unpaid internships, signed on at the job centre. She says:</p><p> <span class="blockquote-new">“I was encouraged to apply for a job every day, even if it didn't fit with what I wanted from a role. Seemingly they cared more about getting me off their books as soon as possible than what I needed from a job. Eventually they decided that I should apply for a couple of Christmas temp jobs to earn money, and I took a job at GAME. It didn’t guarantee me any hours and I usually had one four-hour shift a week, earning me less than £30. My mental health suffered immensely and I ended up quitting. As far as I'm aware, if you quit a role given to you by the Job Centre then you can't go back on to claim JSA. The following month I had to survive on money given to me over the holidays, and I looked and felt horrendous due to poor diet and had little to no drive to even leave the house because I didn’t have any money.”</span> </p> <p>Dr Carole Easton, Chief Executive of Young Women’s Trust, says: “Young women are more likely to be out of education, employment and training than young men.&nbsp; They want to work and be financially independent but they aren’t getting the necessary support. It is clear from this report that job centres need to change.” </p> <p>Abby* is 23 and had to leave her paid job at a charity because they failed to make reasonable adjustments to help mitigate the effects of her health problems. She told me that the job centre ‘terrifies’ her. She says: </p><p class="blockquote-new">“I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve burst into tears in the job centre. I went in with the attitude that it might be hard, but that they were there to help. This is not true, and it is only by preparing for a horrible experience each time I have to go I have been able to protect myself as best I can. I have had experience of three different job centres.&nbsp;</p><p class="blockquote-new">They were totally useless when it came to accommodating my disabilities, both in terms of helping me find appropriate work, and how to assist me when I was physically there. My disabilities mean I need to take lifts rather than stairs, and I have constantly been questioned and told I am ‘raising suspicions’ when needing to use the lift (where you have to be accompanied by a member of staff). When I’ve arrived early (because if you’re late you will be sanctioned) I am told I am not allowed to be there because I’m too early. And so they make you wait outside the building, regardless of the weather and regardless of your disability.”</p> <p>Abby’s experience is not unique. With 59 per cent of young women surveyed describing their time at the job centre as ‘humiliating, and 68 per cent calling it a ‘stressful’ experience, it’s evident that Jobcentre Plus is not fulfilling its role. No one should go to a government branch, in need of help, and be humiliated or treated with base disrespect.</p> <p>It’s clear from the testimonials of hundreds of benefit claimants and from anonymous information given by DWP (Department of Work and Pensions) employees that due to the measures introduced under Iain Duncan Smith, Jobcentre Plus staff are actively encouraged to impose financial penalties on those claiming support. </p> <p><a href="http://www.parliament.uk/documents/PCS%20(SAN0161)%20300115.pdf">The PCS union produced documents in 2015</a> that show Jobcentre Plus managers threatening staff who failed to instigate enough sanctions with performance reviews, or denying them performance-based pay raises. Regardless of whether financial sanctions are appropriate, staff are pushed to approve them. There’s also evidence that staff are encouraged to use <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/society/patrick-butler-cuts-blog/2015/feb/03/sanctions-staff-pressured-to-penalise-benefit-claimants-says-union">‘the hassle factor’</a> to make claiming benefits so difficult and frustrating that people are forced off the DWP’s books. These tactics are corrupt, disingenuous and bullying, and have no place in a civilised, humane Britain. </p> <p>In terms of the gender imbalance found in the Young Women’s Trust’s ‘Work It Out’ report, female respondents expressed higher levels of self-doubt. 54 per cent of young women said they lacked self-confidence, while only 34 per cent of young men reported the same. Young men were markedly more confident when applying for a new job than young women, and more young women said that they would be put off applying for a job if they didn’t meet all the criteria than the young men surveyed. </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/640px-Jobcentre-plus-.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/640px-Jobcentre-plus-.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="304" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Jobcentre plus. Image: wikimedia</span></span></span></p> <p>The so-called ‘confidence gap’ is likely to be a product of living in a stubbornly unequal society, where women are still viewed as ‘other’ and their work is demonstrated to be less financially valuable, due to the existence of the pay gap. </p> <p>In the UK, the pay gap currently <a href="http://www.fawcettsociety.org.uk/policy-research/the-gender-pay-gap/">stands at 13.9% for full-time workers</a>, meaning that women will in theory be working from 10th November until the end of 2016, for no pay at all. The pay gap continues to exist, because despite the 1970 Equal Pay Act, there are still men and women receiving different pay for doing the same role, and around 54,000 women each year are forced to leave their jobs after receiving poor treatment on returning from having a baby. </p> <p>Caring and domestic responsibilities within the home still fall overwhelmingly to women, meaning that women are more likely to choose part-time work or jobs with flexible hours. Part-time jobs are typically lower paid with fewer opportunities for upward career progression. The labour market also remains stubbornly divided, and where ‘feminized’ sectors like the caring professions and the leisure industry, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2013/sep/25/uk-women-lower-paid-work-figures">staffed by workers who are 80% female,</a> typically involve poor pay and little professional esteem. </p> <p>American journalist and author <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/apr/23/female-confidence-gap-katty-kay-claire-shipman">Jessica Valenti writes</a> that the ‘confidence gap’ is merely an understanding of how little women are valued by society. She says that to lack confidence is “not a personal defect as much as it is a reflection of a culture that gives women no reason to feel self-assured”. Between the <a href="http://rapecrisis.org.uk/statistics.php">very real threat of sexual violence</a>, the images of physical ‘perfection’ we’re deluged with on a daily basis <a href="http://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/sadiq-khan-there-will-be-no-more-body-shaming-adverts-on-the-tube-a3269951.html">via advertising</a>, the pressures of the billion-pound weight-loss industry and the expectations placed on women from an<a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/sex/porn-sluts-and-playground-groping---yet-the-government-still-has/"> increasingly young age via pornography</a>, it’s hardly surprising that young women don’t report the same levels of confidence as their male peers. Remember, that if you’re too confident or capable, you’ll be branded ‘bossy’ or a ‘bitch’. </p> <p>Another point worth addressing is that 85 per cent of young women said that they’d applied for jobs and not heard anything back. Often dubbed the ‘fight for feedback’, it has become increasingly difficult to receive any meaningful response from roles if your application is unsuccessful. Even if you attend a first or second-stage interview, businesses may not feel the need to provide any feedback on why they decided to go with another candidate. </p> <p>This serves to make the process of finding a job intensely demoralizing. You can apply for literally hundreds of roles, and only receive a cursory email response from a handful of them. It’s unsurprising that searching for employment is viewed as a depressing or hopeless task, like chipping away at an unyielding rock-face. When applying for jobs, you can’t learn from rejections if you don’t know where you went wrong. </p> <p>Businesses who fail to respond to unsuccessful applicants (even when they’ve attended interviews) might argue that they just receive too many applications to reply to unsuitable candidates, but surely this is an indication that there are too few jobs to go around, and that forcing JSA claimants to apply for roles 30+ hours per week is putting a strain on employers. </p> <p>The UK government has a responsibility to support those who are out of work, both through financial aid and by providing opportunities for training and professional growth. In a wealthy, Western society, this responsibility should be fulfilled no matter which party has the majority in Westminster. However, job centres are failing those who turn to them for help precisely for ideological reasons. The Tory disregard for the vulnerable, dispossessed and unlucky is not beneficial to our society. It’s merely a form of kicking those who are already down, rather than extending a hand to lift them up. </p> <p>The lack of self-confidence among young women highlighted by the ‘Work It Out’ report is a phenomenon engineered by social and cultural factors. When young women are faced with the arbitrary, inhuman nature of a bureaucracy (in this case, Jobcentre Plus) that’s specifically engineered to work against claimants, the effects of poor self-belief are incredibly damaging. Inadequate provision at job centres and unpleasant behaviour from DWP staff can not only prevent young women from finding appropriate employment, but can also cruelly bar them from reaching their full potential. </p> <p><em>*Names have been changed.</em> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/dawn-foster/can-i-help-emotional-labour-and-precarity">&quot;Can I help?&quot; Emotional labour and precarity</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/maid-in-london/exposing-daily-violence-of-womens-hotel-work">Exposing the daily violence of women&#039;s hotel work</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/barbara-gunnell/how-women-are-paying-for-recession-in-uk">How women are paying for the recession in the UK</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/heather-mcrobie/precariat-and-mad-men-secretaries-temping-under-tory-government">The precariat and Mad Men secretaries: temping under the Tory government</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/angela-mcrobbie/womens-working-lives-in-new-university">Women&#039;s working lives in the ‘new’ university</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/sujata-aurora/grunwick-40-years-on-lessons-from-asian-women-strikers">Grunwick 40 years on: lessons from the Asian women strikers</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/fran-bennett/gender-and-poverty-in-uk-inside-household-and-across-life-course">Gender and poverty in the UK: Inside the household and across the life course</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/dawn-foster/women%27s-paid-and-unpaid-work-and-colonial-hangover">Women&#039;s paid and unpaid work, and the colonial hangover</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/angela-neustatter/welcome-to-my-home-welcome-to-my-hell">Welcome to my home, welcome to my hell</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/beatrix-campbell/neoliberal-neopatriarchy-case-for-gender-revolution">Neoliberal neopatriarchy: the case for gender revolution</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/dawn-foster/who-cooked-adam-smith%E2%80%99s-dinner-women-and-work-postcrash">Who Cooked Adam Smith’s Dinner? Women and work post-crash</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Economics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 UK Civil society Economics Women and the Economy 50.50 Structures of Sexism 50.50 Editor's Pick 50.50 Voices for Change gender 50.50 newsletter women's work Harriet Williamson Wed, 23 Nov 2016 09:54:33 +0000 Harriet Williamson 107035 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Grunwick 40 years on: lessons from the Asian women strikers https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/sujata-aurora/grunwick-40-years-on-lessons-from-asian-women-strikers <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The women who led the Grunwick dispute challenged not just the stereotypes of Asian women within British society, but also within an overwhelmingly white, male trade union movement.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/picket_sw012.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/picket_sw012.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="293" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>'Asian women picketing outside Grunwick. Jayaben Desai (right). Photo: Phil McCowan </span></span></span></p> <p>Forty years ago in 1976 a group of workers, predominantly South Asian women, led some of the biggest mobilisations the labour movement has ever seen in Britain. A small factory, the Grunwick photo processing plant situated in a residential backstreet in Willesden, north west-London, became the focus for trade union activity which put South Asian women centre-stage for the first time. </p> <p>Although rather patronisingly dubbed <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-37244466">“Strikers in Saris”</a> by the press who liked to emphasise the exotic novelty of Asian women on picket lines, the images of the strike remain undeniably powerful and have served as an inspiration to generations of Asian women who came after them. </p> <p>The majority of the women at the Grunwick factory were “citizens of empire” – Asians from East Africa – which meant they were “twice migrants” when they arrived in in the UK. Many had led relatively comfortable lifestyles back in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania and on coming to England suddenly found themselves in a world where they were at the bottom of the pile both socially and economically. Grunwick’s management were explicit about how they saw these women as ripe for exploitation; factory owner George Ward is alleged to have told one worker “I can buy a <a href="http://www.gettyimages.co.uk/license/3273291">Patel for £15</a>”, and as Jayaben Desai, who became the de facto strike leader, <a href="https://www.amazon.co.uk/Finding-Voice-Asian-Women-Britain/dp/0860680126">explained</a>: “Imagine how humiliating it was for us, particularly older women, to be working and to hear the employer saying to a young English girl ‘You don’t want to come and work here, love, we won’t be able to pay the sort of wages which will keep you here'.” </p> <p>That judgment by the factory owners, laden with the assumption of Asian women’s inherent passivity and submissiveness, couldn’t have been more wrong. When the workers were described as “chattering monkeys” by a factory manager (presumably a reference to their speaking in Gujarati) Jayaben responded: “What you are running here is not a factory, it is a zoo. But in a zoo there are many types of animals. Some are monkeys who dance on your fingertips, others are lions who can bite your head off. We are the lions, Mr. Manager.” </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/mrsdesai_pm HR.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/mrsdesai_pm HR.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="310" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Jayaben Desai. Photo: Phil McCowan.</span></span></span></p> <p>Pushed to breaking point by compulsory overtime and a host of other petty humiliations, Jayaben and five others walked out demanding the right to join a trade union and were subsequently sacked. They kickstarted a two-year dispute that challenged not just the stereotypes of Asian women within wider British society but also within an overwhelmingly white, male trade union movement. </p> <p>The Grunwick management were keenly aware of how to exploit this situation. Owner George Ward, an Anglo-Indian himself, <a href="https://data.journalarchives.jisc.ac.uk/britishlibrary/sparerib/view?volumeIssue=33313337323334343737%2333383234353738313239$%233534&amp;journal=33313337323334343737%2333383234353738313239">said</a> (falsely) about one striker “She’s only gone on strike because her boyfriend’s on the picket line”, knowing full well that spreading a rumour about her having a boyfriend could lead to community disgrace. </p> <p>But of course, this wasn’t the first time that South Asian women had been part of the struggle against workplace exploitation –&nbsp;they had been at the forefront of earlier industrial disputes of Asian workers, most of which were at best largely ignored and at worst actively obstructed by trade unions. Most notably at <a href="https://hatfulofhistory.wordpress.com/2014/06/18/before-the-unity-of-grunwick-40-years-since-the-imperial-typewriters-strike/">Imperial Typewriters</a> in Leicester in 1974, just two years before Grunwick, when Asians went on strike at being paid lower wages than white workers. Their trade union didn’t just fail to back the strikers but actively opposed them so becoming complicit in maintaining a racist wage differential. The ideas of the National Front, who had been organising within workplaces and agitating on the issue of immigrants and wages, ran deep. </p> <p>Perhaps it was because the dispute at Grunwick was <a href="http://libcom.org/library/the-grunwick-strike-a-sivanandan">primarily about trade union recognition</a>, rather than one that was explicitly raising concerns of racism or sexism, that the Grunwick strikers were able to bring the ranks of the British trade union movement to Willesden. A series of mass pickets intended as a show of strength and with the aim of stopping strike-breakers from entering the factory attracted 20,000 from across the country, steel-workers and miners among them. Local postal workers, key to Grunwick’s operation as a mail-order business, refused to handle Grunwick’s post. Even dockers who just a few years earlier had marched in support of Enoch Powell were now giving support to a group of Asian women. Grunwick was the first time foreign-born workers were, however fleetingly, seen as part of the British working-class. </p> <p>The strike still failed. The postal workers’ union (the UPW) capitulated at the threat of a legal challenge to the postal boycott, effectively halting any form of secondary action and the strikers union (Apex), disconcerted at the militancy of the pickets and keen not to embarrass the Labour government, also eventually withdrew support. And so, at the hands of the trade union leaderships, one the biggest mobilisations of the labour movement which built feminist and anti-racist solidarity became one of the biggest betrayals in working class history. </p> <p>Since Grunwick Asian women have continued to sustain and lead workplace disputes. A year later in 1979 workers won their battle for union recognition at the Chix bubblegum factory in Slough. Other disputes –&nbsp;at <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/punjabi-poor-and-mad-as-hell-a-group-of-asian-women-took-on-their-bosses-they-lost-their-strike-but-1466532.html">Burnsall’s</a> metal finishing factory in 1992, <a href="https://newint.org/features/1997/10/05/interview/">Hillingdon Hospital</a> in 1995 and <a href="http://www.striking-women.org/page/gate-gourmet-timeline">Gate Gourmet</a> in 2005 –&nbsp;were less successful and, like Grunwick, all ended with strikers feeling betrayed and let down by their respective unions. It has been these migrant communities, whom <a href="http://www.newleftproject.org/index.php/site/article_comments/anti_racism_working_class_formation_and_the_significance_of_the_racialized">Satnam Virdee</a> has termed “racialized outsiders”, who have been central in key challenges to workplace exploitation in Britain – a fact which continues to be sidelined by the mainstream trade union movement. </p> <p>Now the story of Grunwick and the lessons we can draw from it are examined in <a href="https://grunwick40.wordpress.com/2016/10/24/we-are-the-lions-launches/">a new exhibition on display at the Brent Museum</a>. Using exclusive archive material originally collated by Brent Trades Council, photographs, and news reports “We are the lions” celebrates the inspirational women of Grunwick while also tracing the threads which connect it, and some of its preceding struggles, to those happening in today’s workplaces. </p> <p>Now non-unionised casual labour and zero-hours contracts are seen as normal. Low-paid jobs, such as those at Grunwick are off-shored to India or the Philippines, while those that cannot be off-shored – cleaning, care work and catering – are where women and migrants are concentrated. Parallel to this the emergent ‘gig economy’ driven by new technologies represents an even more disposable workforce where not only can you order a taxi, food delivery or a cleaner via an app, you can also be effectively hired and fired via it too. </p> <p>What gives us hope for the future are the vocal campaigns being run by those at the sharp end of this exploitation. The <a href="https://www.facebook.com/SOASJ4C/?fref=ts">cleaners at SOAS</a> and <a href="http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/gender/2016/11/14/justice-for-the-lse-cleaners/">LSE</a> and the <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/sep/06/teaching-assistants-durham-pay-slashed-women-lions-of-durham-grunwick?0p19G=c">teaching assistants at Durham</a> are leading some of the most inspirational campaigns in Britain today – against outsourcing, low pay and for dignity at work. Some, as migrants, have had experiences of organising for their rights in their countries of origin and, although much has changed in the forty years since Grunwick, as they challenge exploitative employment practices here in the UK, it is clear that issues of race and gender are still at the forefront.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </p> <p><a href="https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/from-grunwick-to-deliveroo-getting-organised-getting-unionised-tickets-27955302061"><strong>“From Grunwick to Deliveroo: getting organised, getting unionised”</strong></a>, <em>a one-day conference on migrant workers, trade unions and the new economy takes place on Saturday 26 November at Willesden Library (free but registration advised).&nbsp; </em></p><p><a href="https://grunwick40.wordpress.com/2016/10/10/we-are-the-lions-the-story-of-the-grunwick-strike-1976-1978/"><strong>“We are the lions”</strong></a> <em>the exhibition commemorating the Grunwick strike is open until Sunday 26 March 2017 at</em> <a href="https://goo.gl/maps/anfYkkDCWsS2">Brent Museum &amp; Archives, The Library at Willesden Green, 95 High Road, London NW10 2SF</a>.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/maid-in-london/exposing-daily-violence-of-womens-hotel-work">Exposing the daily violence of women&#039;s hotel work</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/angela-mcrobbie/womens-working-lives-in-new-university">Women&#039;s working lives in the ‘new’ university</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/dawn-foster/women%27s-paid-and-unpaid-work-and-colonial-hangover">Women&#039;s paid and unpaid work, and the colonial hangover</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/beatrix-campbell/neoliberal-neopatriarchy-case-for-gender-revolution">Neoliberal neopatriarchy: the case for gender revolution</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/heather-mcrobie/precariat-and-mad-men-secretaries-temping-under-tory-government">The precariat and Mad Men secretaries: temping under the Tory government</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/dawn-foster/who-cooked-adam-smith%E2%80%99s-dinner-women-and-work-postcrash">Who Cooked Adam Smith’s Dinner? Women and work post-crash</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/dawn-foster/can-i-help-emotional-labour-and-precarity">&quot;Can I help?&quot; Emotional labour and precarity</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/fran-bennett/gender-and-poverty-in-uk-inside-household-and-across-life-course">Gender and poverty in the UK: Inside the household and across the life course</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/barbara-gunnell/how-women-are-paying-for-recession-in-uk">How women are paying for the recession in the UK</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/jennifer-allsopp/women-defining-economic-citizenship">Women defining economic citizenship </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/angela-neustatter/welcome-to-my-home-welcome-to-my-hell">Welcome to my home, welcome to my hell</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 UK Civil society Women and the Economy 50.50 Contesting Patriarchy 50.50 Voices for Change women's movements gendered poverty gendered migration 50.50 newsletter women's work Sujata Aurora Tue, 22 Nov 2016 09:33:27 +0000 Sujata Aurora 106980 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Taxing lives, trading women https://www.opendemocracy.net/rahila-gupta/taxing-lives-trading-women <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Tax havens and international trade deals are feminist issues. At this year’s AWID conference in Brazil, activists from across the globe are discussing strategies for engaging with these systems.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><em><strong>This article is part of 50.50's</strong><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/awid-forum-2016"><strong>&nbsp;in-depth coverage</strong></a><strong>&nbsp;of&nbsp;the&nbsp;2016 AWID Forum&nbsp;being held on&nbsp;8th -11th September in Bahia, Brazil.</strong></em></p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/AWID opening plenary .jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/AWID opening plenary .jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="259" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Opening plenary of the 2016 AWID Forum, Bahia, Brazil. </span></span></span></p><p><span>We are in a transitionary moment, trapped inside a crumbling neo-liberal system, deep inequalities and uneven austerity without a route map out of this chaos.&nbsp; That feminists need to engage with these systemic issues is a recurrent theme at this year’s AWID conference.&nbsp;</span></p><p><span>Not all the speakers at the AWID Forum this year share the analysis that neoliberalism is unravelling. They point to the obscene levels of wealth concentration in the hands of a small minority (one statistic quoted is that 62 people own the same amount of wealth as half the world’s population) and that the recovery from the 2008 financial crisis has led to the enrichment of the 1% at the expense of the 99%. At one session, ‘Trading Away Feminist Futures’, Celita Eccher of </span><a href="http://www.dawnnet.org/feminist-resources/">DAWN</a><span> argued that this moment of concentration of capital is the worst in history, and that the chameleon-like nature of the system has made it more difficult to defeat than we had realised. She despairs that our political message does not reach those in thrall to consumerism. &nbsp;The view was echoed by Kate Lappin of </span><a href="http://apwld.org/">Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development</a><span> (APFWLD), who sees this as a</span><strong> </strong><span>particular moment where the strength of capital is defining the role of nation states and the global political order, leading to inequality, climate change and loss of democracy.</span></p> <p>On the other hand, Anita Nayar of <a href="http://www.daghammarskjold.se/regions-refocus/">Regions Refocus</a> pointed out that, since the crisis, the neoliberal economic model is being challenged like never before. She believes that feminists and other political activists should take credit for at least pushing governments into accepting the reality of the financial and climate crisis. However, feminists in general have been slow to grasp the nettle and engage with economics. The very complexity and lack of transparency of financial markets and banking systems makes it very difficult to engage. </p> <h3><strong>Havens of inequality</strong></h3> <p>DAWN has tried to demystify some of these connections. A report on<em> </em><a href="https://www.dawnnet.org/feminist-resources/sites/default/files/articles/20160818_iff_grondona-bidegain-rodriguez.pdf"><em>Curbing Illicit Financial Flows and dismantling secrecy jurisdictions to advance women’s human rights</em></a> explains how tax policies have a different impact on women and men because of their unequal positions in the workforce, as consumers, producers, as asset owners, and as carers within and outside households. The report looks at the less explored international dimensions of gender and taxation, in particular, the way in which trafficking profits are laundered: “Among the international crimes generating IFFs (Illicit Financial Flows) is that of human trafficking, which impacts heavily on women. The proceeds of such exploitation appear to be laundered using the same structures, mechanisms, jurisdictions and enablers as those of tax evasion and avoidance.”<em></em></p> <p>Kate Lappin of APWLD estimates that offshore banking and tax havens are hoarding $33trillion. This scale of evasion leaves governments short of money and therefore unable to fulfil their obligations to gender equality: “When the State does not mobilize sufficient resources, and has budget shortfalls therefore providing insufficient and low quality services (i.e. education, health, sanitation, public transport, social infrastructure, care services), gender inequalities are perpetuated or even <a href="https://www.dawnnet.org/feminist-resources/sites/default/files/articles/20160818_iff_grondona-bidegain-rodriguez.pdf">exacerbated</a>.” &nbsp;<br />&nbsp;<br />There is a view that the appropriate response to market-imposed inequalities is to spread the culture of entrepreneurship to women, particularly in Africa, which can be summarised as ‘everything will be okay if we all become entrepreneurs’. <a href="http://agi.ac.za/person/awino-okech">Awino Okech</a> warns us not to be co-opted into this argument. This is simply an attempt to head off challenge; women are the next imagined market. This capital-driven economic argument is not really addressing structural injustice and inequality, which is shaping lack of women’s access to public, economic, legal, and political spaces whilst financial resources for feminist organisations are shrinking. Global capital makes us “run around like in a hamster wheel”.</p> <h3>Gender and trade ‘agreements’</h3> <p>Trade agreements also feature at the conference.&nbsp; The session ‘Trading Lives, Trading Women’ focussed on the downside of the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA). We in Europe have been alerted to the downsides of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) through effective campaigning, which has highlighted the way in which transnational companies can hold governments to account in court if they stand in the way of privatisation, especially in the NHS. If TTIP goes through as it stands, corporations would be able to sue governments if their policies inhibited the <a href="http://www.bristolwomensvoice.org.uk/let-talk-about-ttip/">corporation’s growth</a>. The argument about the impact on women of such trade deals has not been widely made by feminists here. However women from the Pacific Rim countries such as the Philippines see the TPPA, also carried out in secret, as very much a feminist issue. It has been dubbed The Profit over People Agreement by GABRIELA, the Philippines women’s organisation.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/AWIDtradesessionnonames.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/AWIDtradesessionnonames.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="214" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>'Trading Feminist Futures'. Moderator: Noelene Nabulivou. Speakers: Lice Cokanasiga, Kate Lappin, Celita Eccher, Anita Nayar. </span></span></span></p><p>The Trans-Pacific partnership between USA and a dozen countries is a ‘free’ trade agreement&nbsp;that will affect 40 percent of the global economy and comes at a price: such agreements tend to export jobs and depress wages. The <a href="http://now.org/resource/issue-advisory-free-trade-and-feminism-how-the-tpp-will-hurt-women/">NAFTA agreement</a> led to a loss of nearly a quarter of a million jobs, the impact falling mostly on low-income workers, two thirds of whom, in the USA, are women. For US women this means no health insurance and other benefits; it also has a disproportionate impact on ‘women of colour’. &nbsp;</p> <p>Kate Lappin argues that to describe these arrangements as trade agreements is misleading when they are a disguised attempt to force government to legislate in favour of corporations and in the interests of capital. Under NAFTA, 25 countries have been sued for tax policies alone. Many more countries have been sued in total for their environmental regulations, access to water regulations and a host of other issues. The secrecy ensures that there are no reliable figures but campaigners estimate that at least 62 countries have been sued.&nbsp;They have even been sued for charging heads of corporations who have already been convicted of corruption by a supra-body – an arbitration system that is separate from the country’s courts. Time and again, speakers gave examples of how investor rights are trumping human rights, which is why feminist movements should be part of opposing corporatocracy. </p> <p>Free Trade agreements have been mis-sold as development. Obama’s keenness to have the TPPA in his bag was to make sure that China didn’t encroach on his patch because the TPPA “allows America – and not countries like China – to write the rules of the road in the 21st century”. </p> <p>At the opening plenary here in Brazil, Miriam Miranda of <a href="http://www.ofraneh.org/">OFRANEH</a> from Honduras asks passionately, “Why do we keep insisting on a development model which destroys nature, destroys our social fabric, destroys entire communities and denies our identities, and appropriates the common goods of nature which belong to each of us. It’s an unsustainable model, it’s collective suicide.” There is a growing need to further extend the feminist analytical tool of intersectionality beyond the more familiar race, class, gender paradigm to the intersections between women’s lives and unfair trade, finance, corporate power, aid and development practices. The AWID Forum recognises this, but there is still much work to be done.&nbsp;</p><p><em>All images by Rahila Gupta.</em></p><p class="p1"><em>Rahila Gupta will be reporting daily for 50.50 from the AWID Forum.&nbsp;</em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rahila-gupta/pick-n-mix-unprecedented-diversity-of-women-activists-meet">&#039;Feminist Futures&#039;: activists from across the globe gather in Brazil</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/chiara-capraro-francesca-rhodes/why-panama-papers-are-feminist-issue">Why the Panama Papers are a feminist issue</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/liz-nelson/gender-and-tax-justice">Gender and tax justice</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/maggie-murphy/g20-and-corruption-why-gender-matters">G20 and corruption: why gender matters </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Women and the Economy 50.50 Women's Movement Building AWID Forum 2016 feminism 50.50 newsletter gender justice gendered poverty Rahila Gupta Fri, 09 Sep 2016 15:34:30 +0000 Rahila Gupta 105237 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Women beedi rollers and necrocapitalism in Sri Lanka https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/prashanthi-jayasekara/women-beedi-rollers-and-necrocapitalism-in-sri-lanka <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Women in one village in the Jaffna district of northern Sri Lanka have been rolling beedi with their bare hands for over fifty years in a gendered survival economy. This is no accident.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/rsz_imag1951_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/rsz_imag1951_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="240" height="424" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Women beedi workers in Jaffna, Sri Lanka</span></span></span>"Economic empowerment” and “restoring livelihoods” are tropes that are too often fetishised within Sri Lanka’s post-war development discourse, especially in relation to women living in former war-affected regions. Be it providing small grants, microfinance, or cattle and poultry to “rebuild livelihoods”, the state and development actors alike have been spearheading various development projects targeting women. While the extent to which these programmes empower women remains questionable, some women continue to be left out of post war development altogether. This is the case with the women of Vettikadu, a poor low caste village in former war affected Jaffna in Northern Sri Lanka. &nbsp;</p> <p>For over fifty years women in Vettikadu have been rolling beedi<em> </em>within the confines of their homes. Despite the fact that the bare hands of these workers undertake the core production functions associated with the beedi trade, they are only compensated one fifth of the final market value of each beedi<em> </em>stick that they roll. The remaining market value goes to the bigger players within the trade. </p> <p>This alienation of workers from the final product is maintained through informality that is imposed upon the workers. In other words, the company’s only connection with the workers is through middle men who manage the extraction of labour. In this way the company escapes its obligation to pay fair compensation, provide other welfare benefits such as insurance and pensions, while seriously undermining the workers’ health and wellbeing. Given the paltry wages that are paid, women are compelled to manage by borrowing - buying food on credit, mortgaging lands or pawning jewellery - or simply by cutting down on essentials like the number of meals or medical treatment. Meanwhile, the island-wide beedi industry has been growing exponentially, almost at 200%, since 2007, and is currently an industry worth 4 billion rupees a year.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/rsz_imag1862_1.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/rsz_imag1862_1.jpg" alt="" title="" width="240" height="424" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Rolled beedi</span></span></span></p> <p>The entrapment of these workers in a violent trade is mediated through poverty. Anandhi Amma, an eighty year old woman from Vettikadu, has been rolling beedi<em> </em>since her childhood owing to dire poverty. In 1996 her son, a fisherman, who was the primary breadwinner of the family disappeared after being taken away by the military on suspicion of ferrying LTTE cadres. With her son gone, the sole burden of supporting her family fell on Anandhi Amma’s aged shoulders. Other women such as Sarojini and Geethanjali also started making beedi at a tender age following the death of family members.</p> <p>Sarojini was barely ten, when hunger within the family pushed her to start rolling beedi. Twenty seven years later, it is this everyday experience of poverty that keeps her entrapped in a trade that exploits her labour. Her “choice” of the way in which she expends her labour is therefore determined by poverty, and the obligation to provide for her husband who is injured and unable to work, and their five school going children. This is an added burden to her household obligation to cook, clean, and care. Often, she is subject to beatings by her husband for failing to ‘fulfill’ these ‘duties’. </p> <p>For years these workers have been rolling beedi<em> </em>with no breaks during the day, at inconceivable speed under precarious, exploitative and injurious conditions, and inhaling the thick air filled with tobacco dust and fumes through their lungs and their skin. The physical and emotional toll on women’s bodies is immense. Many work until their death. And this exploitation continues all the way to India where tendu leaves - which are used to roll beedi - are plucked by poor Adivasi women, whose labour is exploited within a transnational trade.</p> <p>The violent nature of alternative forms of work available to these women who have missed school due to war and poverty, exacerbates their dependency on the beedi<em> </em>trade, which requires limited skills and no capital outlay. </p> <p>The village’s predominant form of livelihood is fishing, and is a masculine domain, controlled by powerful upper class boat owning men. It is an economic space which is difficult for women to access and navigate without being subject to sexual harassment and unfair competition. There are not that many alternative jobs outside the village for these women. The limited jobs that are available in textile shops for example are also mired in violence.&nbsp; Some women workers our reseacrh team met in Jaffna town cited the exploitation and harassments within these workplaces. The terms and conditions of employment are severe: no proper breaks or facilities, including toilets, absence of contracts, leave and statutory welfare benefits, and low wages that are often not paid in full or on time. The women workers also said that they are generally paid much lower than their male counterparts. We were told that caste is an unwritten element of hiring practices; some textile shops hire poorer women from lower castes because&nbsp; it provides the employers with greater room for exploitation, and sexual harassments that they are subjected to within the workspace, as well as while travelling outside for work. </p> <p>It is within this context of “outside” and “inside” the village being unsafe that a large cardre of women is engaged in rolling beedi within their houses. While rolling beedi<em> </em>is a form of survival for the women, it is part of an accumulation economy for the big players within the trade. It is on the backs of these poor rural women living in a gendered survival economy that the beedi trade is accumulating capital. It is a trade within which women’s bare labouring bodies are exploited in a necroeconomic space, where the labouring body is exposed to violence until death. It is precisely through the entrapment of workers by their continuous alienation from the end product value that the workers must continue to work in such necroeconomic spaces to pay for daily necessities. </p> <p>Women’s entrapment within necroeconomic spaces is by no means an accident. It is under the auspices of the necropolitics of the state that the spaces of violent accumulation such as the beedi trade have thrived for over fifty years. A necropolitical state order that fails to provide secure work and social protection to alleviate poverty and rebuild lives after a war, reduces these women - to borrow from Agamben - to a ‘bare life’, lives that are unprotected, and&nbsp; exposed to all forms of violence. </p><p>Even though the war has ended, in Vettikadu, the continuation and expansion of necroeconomic spaces such as the<em> </em>beedi<em> </em>trade is indicative of how conditions of war and conflict exist even within a ‘post-war’ political economy. The necropolitics of the centre that produce, regulate and exploit these women within necroeconomic spaces can collectively be identified as a necrocapitalist project - the legalised process through which women’s labouring bodies are exposed to violence until their death. </p><p>This is not a failure of development in post-war Sri Lanka; this is the face of development. </p> <p><em>The names of individuals and the village in this article have been changed to protect identities.</em></p><p><em>All images by&nbsp;</em><span><em>Nadhiya Najab.</em></span></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/yasmin-gunaratnam/sick-and-tired-sri-lankan-domestic-workers-fight-back-against-violence">Sick and tired: Sri Lankan domestic workers fight back against violence</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/openglobalrights/vijay-k-nagaraj/putting-distributive-justice-on-sri-lanka-s-transitional-agenda">Beyond reconciliation and accountability: distributive justice and Sri Lanka&#039;s transitional agenda</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/chulani-kodikara/sri-lanka-where-are-women-in-local-government">Sri Lanka: where are the women in local government?</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Sri Lanka </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Sri Lanka Women and the Economy Continuum of Violence gendered poverty 50.50 newsletter women's work Prashanthi Jayasekara Wed, 01 Jun 2016 08:25:21 +0000 Prashanthi Jayasekara 102585 at https://www.opendemocracy.net From colonials to corporates: maternal mortality in Assam’s tea gardens https://www.opendemocracy.net/sukti-dhital-francesca-feruglio/from-colonials-to-corporates-maternal-mortality-in-assam-s-tea-garde <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>For the women employed in the tea gardens of Assam, pregnancy is a life-threatening ordeal. An interactive exhibition records the struggle of Adivasi mothers across the decades for better conditions. &nbsp; </p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Tea garden worker required to pick 24 kgs of tea a day. Photo- Sukti Dhital .jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Tea garden worker required to pick 24 kgs of tea a day. Photo- Sukti Dhital .jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="258" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Tea garden worker required to pick 24 kgs of tea a day. Credit: Sukti Dhital</span></span></span><span></span></p><p><span>In 1894, </span><a href="https://publicarchives.files.wordpress.com/2014/09/dowding-rev-charles-tea-garden-coolies-assam.pdf">Rev. Charles Dowding</a><span>, a missionary based in Assam, India wrote </span><em>“[l]ow wage-rate and high death-rate are convertible terms,” </em><span>a devastating statement that remains true to this day. Producing more than 52% of India’s tea, the north eastern state of Assam is home to the largest tea-growing region in the world. While most of it is sold in the domestic market, Assam tea is consumed worldwide, and constitutes a core part of the ‘English breakfast’ blend. Less known, however, is the 175-year history of colonial to corporate exploitation.</span></p> <p>Forcibly brought by the British in the 1840s from the central regions of the country - &nbsp;Bengal, Bihar, Orissa and Madhya Pradesh - thousands of the &nbsp;<em>Adivasi </em>indigenous people began a journey marked by involuntary servitude. &nbsp;Left with no option but to live and work on the tea plantations, the workers became isolated from Assam’s mainstream in a structure designed to maintain control and produce profit. </p> <p>Today, more than <a href="http://www.censusindia.gov.in/2011census/population_enumeration.html">six million</a> workers and their families remain socially and economically segregated, dependent on the tea management for their livelihood, health, food, housing, education and cultural life. &nbsp;Assam’s tea industry employs nearly 800,000 workers who are one of the lowest paid groups in India’s organized sector. The meagre daily wage of Rs 126 (£1.30) is far below the state legal minimum of Rs 240 per day.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/green sari (1).jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/green sari (1).jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>A pregnant woman tea worker in Assam. Credit: Rajan Zaveri </span></span></span></p><p>It is not by coincidence that Assam leads the country with the <a href="http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=103446">highest maternal mortality ratio</a> in India.&nbsp;<strong> </strong>Assam produces more than fifty percent of India’s tea, and is the largest tea growing area in the world. It also has the largest number of maternal deaths in India – no fewer than seventy seven percent occur in the tea gardens.&nbsp;</p> <p>Comprising more than fifty percent of the labour force, women are largely employed for plucking tea leaves. Plantation managers set a target of 24 kg (50lbs) of tea leaves to be plucked per worker per day, which if unmet results in significant wage deductions. Poverty-level wages are exacerbated by appalling working conditions, with labourers denied access to <a href="https://www.thecho.in/files/gadapani-sarma.pdf">basic services</a> such as clean drinking water, latrines and crèches. These conditions are particularly dangerous for pregnant women who are forced to endure strenuous work throughout the duration of their pregnancy without access to adequate and timely healthcare. Health facilities in tea gardens are often ill-equipped, lacking adequate electricity, water, medical supplies, ambulances and skilled medical personnel. As a result, the majority of patients have no option but to secure their own transportation to reach better facilities, often located 1-2 hours away. As recently reported in <a href="http://time.com/3984024/maternal-mortality-photos/">TIME Magazine,</a> once women arrive at a district-level hospital they encounter an overcrowded, highly unhygienic facility, where they are forced to sleep on floors and corridors due to lack of beds and adequate staff. Illegal and unaffordable fees for life-saving services such as blood, medicine and emergency obstetrics care are often demanded from those “lucky” enough to receive assistance.</p> <p>These barriers to care not only place the lives of women workers at serious risk, but are also in blatant violation of the rights to life and to safe motherhood firmly rooted in domestic and international law. Indeed, the Supreme Court of India has repeatedly held that the right to health is a fundamental right protected by the Indian constitution. Likewise, High Courts across the country have upheld women’s right to safe motherhood. </p> <p>When working at the Human Rights Law Network in Delhi, we assisted with the preparation of the <a href="http://www.who.int/pmnch/media/news/2010/20100604_mm_india/en/">Laxmi Mandal case<em> </em></a>in which Delhi High Court held that the right to survive pregnancy and childbirth is a fundamental right protected under the Indian Constitution, and became the first national court decision in the world to recognize maternal mortality as a human rights violation. In addition to constitutional protections, domestic laws such as the <em>Plantation Labour Act 1951, Minimum Wages Act, 1948 </em>and health policies under the National Health Mission mandate free access to essential healthcare, nutrition, maternity leave, decent wages and adequate living conditions such as provision for crèches, water and sanitation.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p> <p>While Indian laws protect the rights of women, in practice, workers and right-holders have very little means to seek the implementation of laws and judgments. In a context of poverty and marginalisation, people’s degree of access to services greatly depends on their ability to ensure that the law translates into actual entitlements. This requires knowing the law and using available channels to demand its implementation. </p> <p>In Assam, Nazdeek, a legal empowerment organisation, working with a local organisation <a href="http://www.pajhra.org/about-us/">Pajhra</a>, has been employing community paralegals to demand protection of labour and health rights. &nbsp;The law can be a tool for breaking the cycle of exploitation and marginalization. &nbsp;For instance, in 2014 we launched the <a href="https://www.endmmnow.org">End MM Now Project</a> in Assam – a platform that allows women to identify and report violations of their right to healthcare through text messages. A collective of twenty five indigenous women – many of whom are tea garden workers, farmers and housewives – use their mobile phones and a basic knowledge of the law to demand a more accountable healthcare system for tea garden workers. To date, more than 130 cases of health and nutrition violations have been reported through the platform, providing crucial data to identify gaps in healthcare delivery. The data has been analysed and a <a href="https://issuu.com/endmmnow/docs/endmmnow_advocacy_final_press">report</a> submitted to local authorities with evidence-based recommendations to improve health service delivery.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/A pregnant woman tea worker in Assam. Photo- Credit Rajan Zaveri .jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/A pregnant woman tea worker in Assam. Photo- Credit Rajan Zaveri .jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>An under equipped hospital in Assam tea growing region. Credit: Carlo Ghidin.</span></span></span></p><p>The outcomes of our collective efforts have been significant. Paralegals observed improvements in healthcare services ranging from better ambulance coverage, a reduction in informal fees paid at health facilities, the appointment of medical personnel, and more than 27,000 pregnant and lactating women and children receiving supplementary nutrition rations. In addition, authorities agreed on the establishment of citizen grievance forums where women can discuss issues with the health infrastructure. </p> <p>Local actions have been combined with state-level efforts to obtain more just working conditions. A local youth organization sought to mobilize thousands of workers across Assam and launch a campaign calling for tea companies to pay a living wage. Nazdeek supported the campaign by making sense of the law, and disentangling the legal technicalities around the wage structure. Six months after the campaign was launched, tea companies and the trade union agreed an unprecedented increase in wages &nbsp;- from Rs 94 to Rs 126, with previous increases not having exceeded Rs. 5. &nbsp;</p> <p>While positive inroads in the lives of people have been made, the fight for dignity within tea gardens is far from over. A colonial hangover endures, with the passage of economic, social and political power from British rulers to today’s corporations. </p> <p>Challenging such a powerful system of exploitation requires a multi-faceted approach, including raising awareness outside the borders of the tea gardens. As part of this effort an interactive installation called <em><a href="http://nazdeek.org/exhibition/">From Colonial to Corporates, An Adivasi Mother’s Visual journey Through the Assam Tea Fields of Yesterday and Today</a></em> is now on line. Using photography, video and interactive technology, including 360 virtual tours, the installation honours the struggle of Adivasi mothers across the decades. In the need for dignified conditions for workers, the exhibition endeavours to create space for understanding, reflection and action.</p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> India </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 openIndia India Women and the Economy 50.50 Women's Movement Building women's human rights women's health gendered poverty 50.50 newsletter Francesca Feruglio Sukti Dhital Wed, 18 May 2016 21:57:45 +0000 Sukti Dhital and Francesca Feruglio 102170 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Legumes vs. labour rights: how Indian women pay for the cost of dal https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/prajna-desai/legumes-vs-labour-rights-how-indian-women-pay-for-cost-of-dal <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>A cooking project in Asia’s biggest informal settlement brings into focus the millions of workers denied a share in the world’s seventh-largest economy.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="BodyA">In November 2015, the Indian national press was agog over the criminal price of dal (lentils). The government’s 5.5 per cent inflation rate somehow didn’t square with the 105 per cent spike in the store price of three staple dals, on top of an already prohibitive price tag slapped on in previous years. December came. Nothing changed. Paying a king’s ransom for dal became the status quo for families habituated to shelling out 60-70 per cent of their monthly incomes on basic food. </p><p class="BodyA"><img src="//opendemocracy.net/files/4_Dharavi_90 Feet Road shot.jpg" alt="" width="460" /></p> <p><em>Dharavi. Photo: Neville Sukhia; Image courtesy of The Indecisive Chicken.&nbsp;</em></p><p class="BodyA">In the media, the events unraveled in the language of a detective story. Certain news agencies claimed to have uncovered a shocking network of fraudulent Indian importers, kickbacks implicating officials at shipping companies, and unlawful hoarding, which collectively came to be known as ‘the dal scam’. Corollaries in the cost of restaurant food regularly surfaced in news reports and in everyday conversation. Yet no one seemed to wonder what the rising cost of food was doing to one underclass of worker - ordinary Indian housewives. </p><p class="BodyA"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/3_Rizwana_teaching_the_group.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/3_Rizwana_teaching_the_group.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p class="BodyA"><em>Rizwana Qureishi demonstrating how to make chicken biryani. Photo: Neville Sukhia; Image courtesy: The Indecisive Chicken.</em></p><p class="BodyA">Recounting the dal scam, I am reminded of laments by housewife Rizwana Qureishi during a project I conducted in Mumbai in 2014. The Dharavi Food Project, developed in what is known as Asia’s largest informal settlement, set out to study home-cooking as an integration of food, art and women’s labour. The collaboration involved dozens of housewives from low-income backgrounds, of which eight finally participated in staged cooking sessions over thirteen weeks. Discussion, debate and archiving recipes were integral to each meeting and the operation evolved into a mixed-genre book about food, aesthetics and women’s labour. Rizwana, one of its protagonists, often remarked on how the high price of basic foods meant continual cost-cutting in the kitchen. Making every last thing from scratch enabled her to continue cooking reasonably good meals, despite a shrinking budget, and on average, kitchen work consumed two thirds of her day. Were it up to her, Rizwana would spend that time cooking for pay in other people’s houses. At home, she was drudge - loved, but overworked. Outside, her talents were bound to accrue a more useful kind of love: pay. </p> <p class="BodyA">In August 2015, <em>The Hindu</em> reported on six women in the village of Peepli Khera (60km from New Delhi) who defied the village council to work in nearby factories. Concurrently, <em>The New York Times</em> carried a statistically-oriented think piece co-written by a Harvard public policy professor and a Harvard bureaucrat. Titled, “Why aren’t India’s women working?” it listed reasons that an ensuing <em>NYT</em> report chronicled through the colourful lives of those seven notorious women in Peepli Khera. Building on <em>The Hindu’s</em> story, the <em>NYT</em> gave a blow-by-blow account of female determination and the hunger for work pitted against male domination. The women’s physical hardships and struggle to adhere to caste strictures around contact inevitably read as a metaphor for the Indian social landscape. </p> <p class="BodyA">Across swathes of the country, patriarchal sanction denies women public contact with men, and within conservative Hindu communities, with castes other than their own. A paying job invariably entails one or both. Consider the bane of being female in India. Gender-defined imperatives meanwhile oblige women to cook, clean, and look after children, and the old—what social sciences term unpaid ‘care work’. Women are required to collect food and fuel, and fetch water (due to poor infrastructure), work in family businesses, and should they live in rural settings, cattle-graze, winnow, and work in the fields—that is, to perform unpaid work. Being stuck in such dead-end jobs, deemed low-skill and low value, with no prospect of upward mobility or promotion, seems to confirm women’s presumed non-productivity. Working in factories and earning a salary obviously upends the algorithm in every way, and not just by showing that women have a right to paid work. </p> <p class="BodyA">Since the late 1990s, left-leaning economists Jayati Ghosh and Indira Hirway and social scientist Nandita Ghosh have contended that the consummation of women’s right to work, a constitutionally-protected right, is intertwined with rethinking unpaid work. Ideally, women should not have to fight to take up jobs. Yet nor should women working without pay be written out of economic narratives. For women’s care work to count as real work, it must first become economically visible. Measuring it as GDP would integrate it into the System of National Accounts (currently blind to care work) and bind it with productive economy. The latest reports by McKinsey indicate that Indian women perform ten times as much unpaid work as men, accounting for up to 39 per cent of India’s GDP. Tacking that onto the 20 per cent women currently contribute to the GDP would instantly reveal how little men in India actually work: 41 per cent of the GDP. </p> <p class="BodyA">Cut to Bombay (now Mumbai) 1972, where a prolonged women’s protest against food inflation pre-emptively vindicated the feminist labour theory of value set forth by Ghosh, Hirway, and Gandhi. Jointly organised by leaders of communist and socialist parties, the ‘Anti Price Rise Movement’ (APRM) for three years prior to Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s authoritarian rule galvanised almost 20,000 women in street protests against the cost of food essentials, including grains, cooking oil, sugar, and kerosene. The movement’s historic call to action has in itself been cast by some commentators as a human rights manifesto. Where domestic work is already disproportionately performed by women, food and fuel inflation force them to opt for relatively cheap home-produced goods and services and further tax their time, leaving little for rest or to acquire human capital - education or skills - that would prepare them for jobs in the paying labor market. In short, food inflation compromises their right to work. </p> <p class="BodyA">It is over forty years since the APRM ended. Many of the same patterns created by food inflation persist today, yet little like the APRM seems possible. As Gandhi warned in 1994, viewing the right to work in isolation ends up skewing gender equity as something that applies purely to women. It obscures that men’s shunning of domestic responsibility has created a sexual division of labour that “haunts women in the labour market”. Today, the thin trickle-down of India’s selectively-booming economy has spawned a flimsy but functional delusion, whereby people with access to utilitarian or good-quality education, well-paying jobs, and liberal forms of sociality seem to believe that Indian women have opportunities by the dozen.</p> <p class="BodyA">My work in the Dharavi Food Project showed otherwise. Right from our first meeting, participant Kavita Kawalkar expressed the desire to become a teacher. Yet a year later, she confessed that study time for a teaching diploma was eating into her care work at home. Couldn’t her husband help out? She looked at me, dumfounded. No, he would not. So instead, she had opted for a part-time clerical job requiring no extra training. Then there was Sarita Rai, a mother of three from a small village in north India who had moved to Dharavi to be with her husband, a peon in a courier’s office. The needs of Sarita’s children and extended family take up most of her time, but in the afternoon, she spends an hour or two on piece-rate work, attaching sequins to tunics. How many does she complete in a day? Rs. 50 (50 pence) worth. Would she like to make more? Of course, she would. Except care work comes first. By the time the workshops ended, Sarita had gone from handsome and healthy to thin and wan. The physical strain of caring for a large family had so debilitated her hands she could no longer sew. The lost allowance was her bitterest regret. </p><p class="BodyA"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/3_Trying_to_archive_recipes.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/3_Trying_to_archive_recipes.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p class="BodyA"><em>Tring to archive recipes. Photo: Neville Sukhia; Image courtesy: The Indecisive Chicken.&nbsp;</em></p><p class="BodyA">But the most prescient remarks came from Kavita Vishwakarma. In September 2014, on the workshop’s last day, she offered a common Hindi proverb to describe why the Dharavi Food Project struck a chord with her: “You know what they say, ‘homemade chicken gravy is just like ordinary dal.’” The proverb’s literal meaning is that homemade dal is a basic food while homemade chicken is not. Since chicken costs more (or did before the dal scam), dal is naturally valued less than chicken. And here begins the proverb’s implication: Women are like chicken: special. But at home they’re as good as ordinary dal. They mean nothing. They are nothing. Kavita was making a point about how the workshops had framed her cooking - her unpaid work - as art and productivity. Her recipes had been archived. Her story was recorded. She was going to appear in a book that would be sold. The pieces were beginning to fall into place. Cooking was real, gainful work, and she was a worker as productive as they come.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p> <p class="BodyA">Two decades after the struggle to re-evaluate the gainful participation of women in India’s economy began in 1977, a path-breaking survey was conducted by India’s Central Statistics Office (CSO) to study how men and women spent their time. Its staggering discoveries did not graduate into policies integrating unpaid women’s labour into national accounting. But last year, the CSO announced its intention to roll out a comprehensive all-India time-use survey to address gender imbalance. It will be two more years before the survey launches. Until then, millions of Indian women continue to be obscured as non-workers. But not the women of Peepli Khera, whose fight, much more than securing their right to work, must be understood as a boycott of invisibility.&nbsp; <em><br /></em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/srilatha-batliwala/what-does-transforming-economic-power-mean">What does transforming economic power mean?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/theresa-de-langis/what%27s-woman-worth-wages-and-democracy-in-cambodia">What&#039;s a woman worth?: wages and democracy in Cambodia</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/melanie-cura-daball/city-aflame-india-s-coal-rush">A city aflame: India’s coal rush</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/srilatha-batliwala/beyond-individual-stories-women-have-moved-mountains">Beyond individual stories: women have moved mountains </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/breaking-free-womens-movement-India-universities">Breaking Free: a women&#039;s movement in Indian universities </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/dawn-foster/women%27s-paid-and-unpaid-work-and-colonial-hangover">Women&#039;s paid and unpaid work, and the colonial hangover</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/srilatha-batliwala/transformative-strategy-true-value-of-investing-in-women%E2%80%99s-rights">A transformative strategy: the true value of investing in women’s rights</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/naila-kabeer/grief-and-rage-in-india-making-violence-against-women-history">Grief and rage in India: making violence against women history? </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/kate-donald/unpaid-care-missing-women%E2%80%99s-rights-issue">Unpaid care: the missing women’s rights issue </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/nicoal-desouza/nepal-struggle-for-equal-citizenship-rights-for-women">Nepal: the struggle for equal citizenship rights for women</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> India </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 openIndia India Women and the Economy 50.50 Women's Movement Building 50.50 Structures of Sexism 50.50 Contesting Patriarchy 50.50 Editor's Pick women's human rights gendered poverty gender justice feminism 50.50 newsletter women's work Prajna Desai Mon, 18 Apr 2016 06:54:08 +0000 Prajna Desai 101419 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Why the Panama Papers are a feminist issue https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/chiara-capraro-francesca-rhodes/why-panama-papers-are-feminist-issue <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p class="normal">Those shifting and hiding their wealth are failing to pay back into the ‘care economy’ - the people who produce and reproduce the workforce of today and tomorrow. <em><a href="https://knuz.wordpress.com/2016/04/26/panamaskjol_feminismi/">Islenska</a></em></p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="normal">The world is talking about tax this week, so here’s another tax story for you. Asana Abugre has a small shop in Accra, Ghana where she makes and sells batiks and tie-dyed textiles. Asana pays her taxes regularly. Women&nbsp; like her, working in markets across the city, sometimes pay up to 37% of their income in tax. Tax collectors come to their shops to collect taxes, and there is no chance of them not paying, regardless of how little money they might have made that day. </p><p class="normal"><img src="//opendemocracy.net/files/6009534s.jpg" alt="" width="750" height="500" /></p> <p class="normal"><em>Successful business woman and activist for gender equality. Photo: Asana Abugre.Christian Aid / Sarah Filbey</em></p><p class="normal">Of course, this isn’t the tax story that everyone’s been talking about. The release of the Panama Papers by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists is the biggest data leak in history, and this time it’s some of the world’s most powerful people who have cause to worry, with the spotlight finally falling on their own secretive tax arrangements. </p> <p class="normal">But the two stories are linked. When those at the top of the economic pyramid find ways to pay little or no tax, the impact is felt hardest by those at the bottom - people like Asana.&nbsp; </p> <p class="normal">If you look at the names of <a href="https://panamapapers.icij.org/the_power_players/">politicians and business leaders </a>in the leaked documents you will see that those benefiting from using tax havens are overwhelmingly male. This perhaps reflects the fact that positions of power are currently mostly held by men. On the other hand, we know that those who are worst impacted by the consequences of tax dodging are the world’s poorest, who are disproportionately women and girls. Financial secrecy and tax dodging, and the resulting lack of public funds, threatens women’s and girl’s access to public services, increases the care work they do for free and shifts the tax burden onto those who can least afford it. </p> <p class="normal">The Panama Papers provide further evidence of the scale of global tax dodging, and of its impact on poverty and inequality, particularly in the global south. Tax havens are estimated to be costing poor countries at least $170bn in lost tax revenues every year.&nbsp; This is essential money which could be paying for schools, hospitals, childcare or services to address violence against women. </p><p class="normal"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/oxfam.jpg" alt="" width="460 " /></p> <p class="normal"><em>Tondo slum in Manila, Philippines, 2014. Photo: Dewald Brand, Miran for Oxfam &nbsp; </em><br /> <br />The realisation of women’s rights is not going to be achieved for free. UN Women have analysed country action plans on gender equality and found that some are facing a shortfall of up to 90% in the funds needed to achieve their goals. This is why the Panama Papers should be a primary concern for feminists around the world. </p> <p class="normal">And it’s not just Panama. Recently the Center for Economic and Social Rights <a href="http://www.cesr.org/article.php?id=1820">prepared a submission</a> to the United Nations body tasked with scrutinising compliance with women’s rights’ treaties. It highlighted the extraterritorial impact of Switzerland’s opaque financial legislation on the rights of women, especially in developing countries. </p> <p class="normal">Financial secrecy and tax avoidance is a feminist issue for at least three reasons. Firstly, when governments cannot raise enough revenue from wealthy individuals and corporations they tend to hike indirect taxes, such as VAT, which affect those on lowest incomes - disproportionately women who, due to their gender roles, are tasked with balancing house budgets.</p> <p class="normal">Secondly, a loss of revenue has a disproportionate impact on women and especially women living in poverty who can benefit the most from well-funded public education, healthcare and social protection, but who are generally the first to miss out when these essential services are not free at point of use, and when families therefore have to make terrible choices about which family members are to be given priority.&nbsp; Tax dodging starves countries of the funds that they desperately need -&nbsp; meaning girls who should be in school are not, and mothers who should have healthcare for themselves and their children do not. For example an oil company paid Mossack Fonseca to try and help it avoid US$400 million in taxes in Uganda. This is more than the entire Ugandan health budget.</p> <p class="normal">A third and fundamental reason is that those shifting and hiding their wealth, whether they are individuals or companies, are failing to pay back into the ‘care economy’ - the people who produce and reproduce the workforce of today and tomorrow. Women and girls are carrying out over 75% of this work, mostly unrecognised and unrewarded. Although the richest benefit from this - they have a supply of workers who are educated, healthy, fed and watered - they are failing to pay into tax systems which can redistribute the responsibility and costs through funding public services and social protection. And evidence shows that when these services are cut back or never invested in it is women who pick up even more of the slack and increase the amount of hours they spend caring for others, depriving them of time for study, paid work or rest.</p> <p class="normal">Unfortunately this message on the centrality of tax justice for women’s rights is not reaching decision makers. Recently at the Commission on the Status of Women, a draft UN agreement encouraged member states to 'increase domestic resource mobilization by implementing progressive tax systems that fully integrate gender equality objectives,' and ‘shift the tax burden to groups with higher incomes, and by ensuring that corporations, the financial sector and extractive industries pay their fair share’. However, by the end of negotiations ,this call had been much weakened.</p> <p class="normal">Our ambition is not, of course, to get to a point where there are as many female as male billionaires able to dodge taxes. Instead, we must fight for a fairer economy and a better politics in which both extreme poverty and extreme wealth are consigned to the history books, and in which women and men have equal decision-making power at all levels. To paraphrase Canadian <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/nov/04/canada-cabinet-gender-diversity-justin-trudeau">Prime Minister Justin Trudeau</a>, it’s 2016 and any other suggestion is ridiculous.&nbsp;&nbsp; All our leaders - women and men - need to urgently prioritise women’s rights and economic justice - this means ending a tax system which allows the richest to escape paying what is fair, and enables the investments which gender equality urgently needs.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </p> <p class="normal">&nbsp;</p> <p class="normal">&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/helen-szoke/why-g20-needs-to-tackle-gender-inequality-brisbane-and-beyond">Why the G20 needs to tackle gender inequality: Brisbane and beyond </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/liz-nelson/gender-and-tax-justice">Gender and tax justice</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/maggie-murphy/g20-and-corruption-why-gender-matters">G20 and corruption: why gender matters </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/kasia-staszewska/world-apart-%E2%80%93-why-political-and-businesses-elites-need-to-remember-working-women">A world apart – why political and businesses elites need to remember working women</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/marion-bowman/capitalisms-bright-third-billion-future">Capitalism&#039;s bright &#039;Third Billion&#039; future? </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/towards-plan-f-planning-for-feminist-economy-in-uk">Towards Plan F: planning for a feminist economy in the UK</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/srilatha-batliwala/transformative-strategy-true-value-of-investing-in-women%E2%80%99s-rights">A transformative strategy: the true value of investing in women’s rights</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/article/making-women-work-for-development-again">Making women work for development - again</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/maxim-edwards-francesc-badia-i-dalmases-adam-ramsay/panama-papers-old-tradition-of-english-piracy">Panama Papers: &quot;an old tradition of English piracy&quot;</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/od-russia/maxim-edwards-mikhail-kaluzhsky-natalia-antonova-thomas-rowley/from-panama-via-london-with">From Panama, via London, with love</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Economics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Civil society Economics From Panama with love Women and the Economy 50.50 Women's Movement Building 50.50 Contesting Patriarchy 50.50 Editor's Pick 50.50 newsletter Francesca Rhodes Chiara Capraro Politics of Plunder Thu, 07 Apr 2016 10:45:33 +0000 Chiara Capraro and Francesca Rhodes 101194 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Uncomfortable situations: mothers returning to work https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/veronica-czastkiewicz/when-mothers-go-back-to-work <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>"I have to request a key to the room in college each time I need to express milk - as if I am advertising my lactating status - and if there is a queue at the circulation desk I must wait my turn."</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Lactation_room.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Lactation_room.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Lactation Room. Credit: Wikimedia / lenarc</span></span></span></p><p>There is no denying that women have come a long way in the last century. We’ve earned the right to vote and formally participate in politics, our labor force participation rates have increased dramatically, and our access to higher education and more prestigious career options is unprecedented. This is true across Western contexts, and especially in the United States and the European Union (for comprehensive data on women and society, see a recent <em>Economist</em> <a href="http://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2016/03/daily-chart-0">glass-ceiling index</a>, which ranks countries on the extent to which they have a women-friendly environment). But what happens when mothers decide to return to work? The trials of maternity leave, and the disparity of what is on offer between the United States and the European Union, are <a href="http://www.oecd.org/els/soc/PF2_1_Parental_leave_systems.pdf">well-documented</a>. This article explores two barriers for women going back to work and the way they are experienced in these two contexts. </p> <p><strong>Excuse me, where’s your milk bar?</strong> </p> <p>The <a href="http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/CRC.aspx">United Nations Convention on the Rights of a Child</a>, so far ratified by all member states except for the United States and Somalia, highlights breastfeeding as a human right. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusively breastfeeding children for one year, and the World Health Organization recommends two years of breastfeeding. A <a href="http://ec.europa.eu/health/ph_projects/2002/promotion/fp_promotion_2002_frep_18_en.pdf">report released by the European Commission in 2004</a> stated that breastfeeding has “beneficial effects for mothers, families, the community, the health and social system, the environment, and society in general.” If we agree with that statement, then it should follow that mothers returning to work should rightfully expect of communities, health and social systems, and society full support and accommodation for engaging in this activity. And although women choose to breastfeed – or not – for a variety of reasons, returning to work has been <a href="http://www.nber.org/papers/w13188">consistently cited</a> as the biggest reason why women who choose to breastfeed initially stop doing so.&nbsp; </p> <p>In the European Union, women who breastfeed and return to work face a variety of obstacles depending on their country of residence. Only about two thirds of E.U. countries have some kind of policies for supporting breastfeeding mothers who return to work, and only about a third of those have policies in line with the <a href="http://www.who.int/nutrition/publications/infantfeeding/9241562218/en/">Global Strategy on Infant and Young Child Feeding</a>. Even in countries where there are protections for working mothers, many categories of working mothers, such as women employed for a brief period before applying for maternity leave, contract workers, irregular part time workers, or apprentices and students, fall outside of the scope of laws intended to support working mothers. The hap-hazard nature of E.U. laws regarding breastfeeding mothers and work is exasperating: if a vaccine was discovered that had the same benefits to communities in the E.U. as breastfeeding does, the development and dissemination of the vaccine would become a social imperative. </p> <p>In the United States, the Department of Labor has issued <a href="http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/whdfs73.htm">requirements</a> of employers to provide uncompensated break time in “a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk.” But the vague nature of the law can make for some uncomfortable situations. For example, I am provided with such a room at one college at which I teach, but because it is a conference room in the library with special equipment, I must request the key to the room each time I need to express milk. Various student workers escort me to the room throughout the week (I am certainly not ashamed of what I do in that conference room, but I should not be made to feel as though I’m advertising my lactating status to random students), and if there is a line to speak to the student behind the circulation desk I must wait my turn. </p> <p>At another college, there is a room dedicated to this purpose that locks from the inside. That makes sense – but if there is a line to get in, my situation can get physically uncomfortable – fast. Are these employers following the letter of the law? Yes. However, both scenarios outlined above also present me with potentially uncomfortable situations. Finally, in both contexts, mothers returning to work must ask for employers to accommodate them, often jumping through hoops to get to appropriate accommodations. Other requirements of employers to provide time for activities or breaks such as lunch, sick leave, or vacation time are default options, and take much less initiative from employees to enjoy. The fact that the status quo, coupled with inertia, are set against breastfeeding mothers in the workplace should be unacceptable. Employers should be proactive in providing sensible and compassionate solutions for lactating mothers. </p> <p><strong>Give us your firstborn…</strong> </p> <p>An even bigger barrier to mothers entering the workforce is the financial cost of childcare and the social costs for women who choose to return to work. Simply put, the availability of affordable, quality childcare options for young families is abysmal, and the status quo dictates that mothers bear the burden for providing and paying for this childcare. In the European Union, only <a href="http://ec.europa.eu/justice/gender-equality/files/documents/140502_gender_equality_workforce_ssr2_en.pdf">Sweden</a> has roughly equal workforce participation rates for new mothers and fathers, however women’s participation has been increasing over time in almost all E.U. countries (In the United States, <a href="https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/nine_facts_about_family_and_work_real_final.pdf">women’s workforce participation has flat-lined</a> over time, at rates below most E.U. states).&nbsp; A <a href="https://sp.oxfordjournals.org/content/20/3/297.short">recent study</a> found that the most effective policy to enable both mothers in general and low-educated mothers to remain in paid work appears to be generous provision of childcare services for children under three years.&nbsp; Here I have several observations. First, the lack of affordable childcare for new families is a great example of the classic free rider problem. The burdens of providing childcare have almost exclusively fallen on low-income, low-education mothers in both the European Union and the United States. The benefits of these childcare services (rendered mostly by mothers) reach far beyond that of any one nuclear family. Early childhood care and education has <a href="http://eacea.ec.europa.eu/education/eurydice/documents/key_data_series/166EN.pdf">known benefits</a> to society writ large. And yet, legal entitlements to some kind of childcare mostly start after the age of three in both the E.U. and the United States. Is it right that the cost of providing such an essential service to society falls so disproportionately on one gender, and lower socio-economic classes? </p> <p>Related to this is the unfortunate and unfair calculus that often occurs when mothers start considering paid work after childbirth. Although the law treats married couples as one unit for tax purposes, during divorce proceedings, on mortgage applications, etc., when it comes time for mother to go back to work couples engage in a sort of math trying to determine if the mother’s salary will be “worth it.” In other words, will mother’s salary “cover” the cost of childcare? Or does it make sense for her to stay home, given the fact that in many instances her paid work will not or will barely cover childcare bills? Never mind the other benefits of mother returning to work – keeping her resume fresh, career advancement, and engagement with the professional world. Somehow, a conversation about dad scaling back, the holistic costs and benefits to childcare, or what it means for the family unit if mother goes back to work is lacking. The calculus is made using currency only, and mother’s ability to earn it in a sufficient amount as to cover childcare costs. </p> <p>In terms of social perceptions, the Pew Research Center recently released the <a href="http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2014/06/05/growing-number-of-dads-home-with-the-kids/">results of a poll</a> which showed that 34% of respondents believed children are just as well off if the mother as opposed to the father returns to work, and 51% said children are better off if the mother stays home. 76% said children would be just as well of if the father stayed home, and only 8% of respondents thought children would be better off if the father was at home. These huge differences begin to scratch the surface of how little our society has come in viewing parents as equal partners in the care and development of children. Anne Marie Slaughter, now famous not for her foreign-policy expertise but for her article on “<a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2012/07/why-women-still-cant-have-it-all/309020/">Why Women Still Can’t Have it All</a>,” has called for a “<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tH5iEf9oxaI">resocialization</a>” of men and boys that takes into account their equal roles in child rearing. By not trusting fathers with childcare, or infantilizing their abilities to be the primary caretakers, society will continue to view women’s roles as domestic-bound – whether we like it or not. </p> <p>The barriers to returning to work outlined here - difficulties for breastfeeding mothers and the cost and perceptions of care giving for children - capture only a few policy and social observations in a small moment of women’s lives. This snapshot is incomplete, and will hopefully begin a much more layered and inclusive conversation for women’s progress in the 21st century. By identifying specific problems for mothers in the workforce, we can work together to create specific solutions that will benefit not only individual families but our communities and society writ large. </p><p><em>Read our <strong><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/international-womens-day-2016">series of articles</a></strong> for International Women's Day 2016</em></p><div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 International Women's Day 2016 Women and the Economy 50.50 Contesting Patriarchy 50.50 Voices for Change gender women's work Veronica Czastkiewicz Tue, 08 Mar 2016 07:43:33 +0000 Veronica Czastkiewicz 100354 at https://www.opendemocracy.net COP21: overarching narratives, real lives https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/ch-ramsden/cop21-overarching-narratives-real-lives <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><strong>&nbsp;</strong>“There are overarching narratives, and then there are people just trying to live their lives within them.” Does COP21 speak to the most vulnerable people trying to survive climate change now?</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>Four years ago, during the closing ceremony of the COP17 <a href="http://www.tippingpoint.org.uk/projects/climate-train/">Climate Train</a> in Durban, Mbali Vilakazi performed her <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s63xVBDBi6k&amp;feature=youtu.be">poem</a>, ‘Is there a Xhosa word for climate change?’ In it, she issues a reminder that “there are overarching narratives, and then there are people just trying to live their lives within them.” With the questioning refrain “what will we say…?” she calls on COP negotiators to remember people, just trying to live. She asks them to “listen, see, think, speak, do, be differently” in order to create an inclusive framework with “words that each and every single one of us can reuse.” </p> <p>The rhythm and relevance of her words still resound at the close of COP21, creating a steady beat which remains true beneath the cheers that laud the <a href="http://unfccc.int/resource/docs/2015/cop21/eng/l09r01.pdf">Paris Agreement</a> “historic” (<a href="https://www.algore.com/news/statement-by-former-vice-president-al-gore-on-the-paris-agreement-reached-at-the-united-nations-framework-convention-on-climate-change-s-21st-conference-of-the-parties-cop21">Al Gore</a>), a “monumental triumph” (<a href="http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=52802#.Vm7wTfmLSUk">Ban Ki-moon</a>) and, in the words of one British <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/dec/13/paris-climate-deal-cop-diplomacy-developing-united-nations">paper</a>, ‘the world’s greatest diplomatic success.’</p><p><strong>What does COP21 say to small islands? <br /></strong></p> <p>The BBC, in its <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-35086474">short video</a> rather distastefully titled ‘COP21: Climate change deal’s winners and losers’, describes the Paris Agreement as a “win” for small island states. This is because limiting the temperature rise to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels is mentioned as an aspiration in the Agreement text. However, 2.0C is the actual goal of the Paris Agreement, and in reality individual countries’ emission targets (the Intended National Determined Contributions (INDCs)) – which are not even legally binding – would result in a 2.7C rise. </p><p><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/Climat Social - Fighting against capitalism is fighting for the planet - poster on Paris street.jpg" alt="" width="400" /></p> <p><em>"Fighting against capitalism is fighting for the planet," poster on Paris street druing COP21</em>. </p><p>The strains of Vilakazi’s refrain on my mind, I wonder at the close of COP21: what will we say about the Paris Agreement to a pacific islander? </p> <p><a href="http://www.tulele-peisa.org/about/ursula-rakova/">Ursula Rakova</a> is a leader, campaigner and human rights advocate from the matrilineal community from the Carteret Atoll. Due to rising sea levels the livelihood of islanders has had to change over the past 40 years, as certain crops can no longer grow or survive. Rakova has been organising the migration of the island’s 2,700 people since 2009, because it is expected that the sinking island will be completely uninhabitable by 2020 - the year the Paris Agreement will be implemented;&nbsp; states have until then to ‘peak’ their emissions before starting to reduce them. </p> <p>On 10 December, two days before the Paris Agreement was secured, Rakova explained to a COP21 Human Rights Day side event, “we don’t want to be known as victims of climate change.” Yet this is the ‘overarching narrative’ which they have been bequeathed by those who extract fossil fuels, emit carbon, and negotiate to limit the after-effects of their extractavism and excess from a future date. COP21 President and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius called the Paris Agreement “balanced,” but I do not see how he could justify this adjective to an islander-turned-climate refugee who cannot even hope to return to their homeland. </p> <p><strong>What does COP21 say to women? <br /></strong></p> <p>On 7th December, the Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (<a href="http://wecaninternational.org/">WECAN</a>) held a gathering of worldwide women leaders to make the case that in order to attain climate justice, women must be at the forefront of envisioning and implementing solutions to climate change.</p> <p>With Vilakazi’s poem ticking through our minds, again, we might ask: what will we say to women about the Paris Agreement? </p> <p>COP7 was held in Marrakech in 2001, and it was <a href="http://genderandenvironment.org/2015/01/integrating-gender-un-climate-change-negotiations/">recognised</a> during that negotiation that women’s participation would need to be improved. Women are half of the world’s population and are most affected by climate change: Research by WECAN indicates that that <a href="http://wecaninternational.org/why-women-are-key">80%</a> of ‘climate refugees’ are women, and the intersection between gender and poverty makes women doubly affected. </p> <p>But 14 years after COP7, women’s <a href="http://edition.cnn.com/2015/11/23/opinions/cop21-women-need-participate/">representation</a> on UNFCC bodies and boards is only between 36%-41% – and merely 26%-33% of national delegations are headed by women. Titilope Akosa and her colleagues from the United Nations Framework Convention for Climate Change (UNFCCC) Women and Gender Constituency pressured COP21 delegates both inside and outside of the negotiations to include human rights in the Paris Agreement. Akosa emphasised at WECAN’s event that the inclusion of human rights would ensure “that women’s voices are reflected” both in the agreement itself and future planning for the effects of climate change. Human rights are not part of the core text of the Paris Agreement, however. </p> <p><strong>What does COP21 say of our humanity? <br /></strong></p> <p>The Paris Agreement is hailed as a diplomatic triumph partly because close to 200 countries were able to agree the text. Barry Gardiner has <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/barry-gardiner/paris-climate-historic-opportunity">written</a> for openDemocracy UK about how this feels like a success after the disastrous COP15 in Copenhagen. This time, in order to come to an agreement, states had to ensure that their key priorities were (partially) addressed to the exclusion of others – so inclusion of the term ‘loss and damage’ <a href="https://www.foe.co.uk/blog/paris-climate-talks-analysis-final-agreement">means</a> there will be a mechanism to respond to the impacts of climate change which are now unavoidable, but the concepts of liability and compensation are excluded. Hence Fabius’s description of the Paris Agreement as “balanced.” </p> <p>I previously <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/ch-ramsden/international-rights-of-nature-tribunal-in-defence-of-pachamama-against-macho-papas">wrote</a> about the balance and dependency between human beings, other species and nature, when reporting on the International Rights of Nature Tribunal. In this context it is also difficult not to see Fabius’s comment as a subversion of the term. In fact he refers to trading off interests and compromising worldwide security. It is also a reminder that the borders which separate the nation states represented at COP21 are not recognised by the natural world; so to talk about ‘winners and losers,’ as though there is an equilibrium in compromise, is nonsensical because loss affects us all. </p> <p>Neema Namadamu, from the Democratic Republic of Congo, spoke about the Congo rainforest, which is the second-largest in the world (after the Amazon) and also faces significant <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deforestation_in_the_Democratic_Republic_of_the_Congo">deforestation</a>. She described Africa as “le berceau de l’humanité” (the cradle of humanity) and insisted, “et quelque part où en Afrique il y a à sauver, mes chers amis, il faut sauver” (where there is something to be saved in Africa, we must save it). If we lose parts of Africa, we lose the roots of our history, making our present existence suddenly unstable and precarious; it signals the beginning of the end of our story as a species. Namadamu, with the rest of us, does not have time for protracted negotiations: “planting trees…[means] you can have oxygen – we can breathe. And after that, you can negotiate everything you want to negotiate.” </p> <p>A similar exasperation with COP processes was felt by Patricia Gualinga from Sarayaku, Ecuador. She reiterated Namadamu’s point at WECAN’s 8th December <a href="http://unfccc6.meta-fusion.com/cop21/events/2015-12-08-18-30-women-s-earth-and-climate-caucus-wecc">press briefing</a>, saying that governments must “stop negotiating on behalf of a life that will not exist if they are so stubborn” – instead of going “letter by letter” through an agreement, they need to step back and look at what is important: life. Women who are on the frontlines of climate change can offer positive solutions and “contribute this for all of humanity and for Mother Earth.” </p> <p>“We are people, we are human beings,” implored Kandi Mossett, whose small town on a reservation in North Dakota has been devastated by fracking. Thousands of men moved into the community to work on oil plants, skewing the ratio of men to women 10:1, and causing a 168% increase in violence against women. Mosset described the systematic sexual abuse and exploitation of indigenous women and girls and the fact that there are no services to help them; she spoke of the increase in heroin use and its intersection with murders which the authorities ignore while vilifying the local indigenous community. Mosset explained how solutions which centre vulnerable communities will have global effects: “It is not just about us at home, it’s about all of us. Because at the end of the day…they can’t eat their money and they can’t drink their oil.” </p> <p><strong>The real united nations <br /></strong></p> <p><a href="http://wecandeclaration.org/casey-camp-horinek/">Casey Camp-Horinek</a>, from the Ponca Nation in Oklahoma, challenged the WECAN gathering, “What is power? Is it COP?” She contended that we need a shift in our collective mindset to reimagine and reconstruct power dynamics. She explained the ‘seven-generation philosophy’: that “with every step you take” you remember the seven generations who have come before you, and the seven generations to come. </p> <p>The following day Camp-Horinek insisted, “<em>We </em>are the United Nations, sitting in front of you – we have earned that right, because we have cared for those coming behind us and we will continue to.” Away from the trade-offs and ‘balanced’ bureaucracy of COP21, the women leaders offer an alternative model of diplomacy. Their model is not about compromise, but connection. </p><p><img src="//opendemocracy.net/files/Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth - poster 2.jpg" alt="" height="400" width="356" /></p> <p><em>Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth poster at COP21.</em></p><p>Pennie Opal Plant presented the Indigenous Women of the Americas – <a href="http://www.ienearth.org/indigenous-women-of-the-americas-defenders-of-mother-earth-treaty-compact-2015/">Defenders of Mother Earth Treaty</a> to the WECAN gathering on 7th December. The treaty is being extended to Indigenous women across the world, and in 2016 non-Indigenous supporters will also be encouraged to sign it. “There is nothing more intolerable than the destruction of thousands of species, including our own,” said Plant, and she encouraged us to channel our outrage into forming alliances, educating ourselves and other women about the planet, the harm being done to it, and those causing the harm (“those people in COP!”). </p> <p>Yes, women on the frontlines of climate change need to be where decision-makers are. But if decision-makers will not listen to them, or share power, it will not stop these women leading to provide real, liveable solutions to man-made problems. On the weekend that the Paris Agreement was announced and COP21 came to a close, Indigenous women led an action in Paris outlining their own ‘red lines’ for climate change: keeping fossil fuels in the ground, a clean energy economy, a 1.5C maximum limit, and an end to climate crimes to which they and their families (including Mother Earth) fall first victim. </p> <p>These women will continue connecting with others, educating, surviving, and taking direct action to claim the human rights which inherently belong to all people but which the core text of the Paris Agreement does not mention. Those of us who feel disappointed with the grand narrative COP21 paints for humanity can look to them for alternative, real-life leadership. The Paris Agreement might not have the words to speak to us, but these women do. </p><p><em>This is the third article in a short series by the author reporting from COP21 for <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050">openDemocracy 50.50</a>. Read the</em><strong><em><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/ch-ramsden/cop21-climate-marches-future-now"> first </a></em></strong><em>and </em><strong><em><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/ch-ramsden/international-rights-of-nature-tribunal-in-defence-of-pachamama-against-macho-papas">second </a></em></strong><em>article</em><strong><em>.</em></strong> </p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/ch-ramsden/cop21-climate-marches-future-now">COP21: forget &#039;the future&#039;, we need a more radical present</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/ch-ramsden/international-rights-of-nature-tribunal-in-defence-of-pachamama-against-macho-papas">International Rights of Nature Tribunal: Pachamama vs ‘macho papas’</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/nathalie-marji/women-on-frontlines-of-climate-justice-defending-land-and-community">Defending land and community: women on the frontlines of climate justice </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/melina-loubicanmassimo/awaiting-justice-%E2%80%93-indigenous-resistance-to-tar-sand-development-in-cana">Awaiting justice: Indigenous resistance in the tar sands of Canada</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/melina-laboucan-massimo/energy-democracy-building-solar-dream-in-tar-sands-nightmare">Energy democracy: building a solar dream in a tar sands nightmare</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/meredith-tax/climate-change-and-false-gods-moloch-and-biblepunchers-in-us">Climate change and false gods: Moloch and the bible-punchers in the US </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/lisa-veneklasen/climate-and-indigenous-peoples-real-dispute-at-un">Climate and Indigenous Peoples: the real dispute at the UN </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/jennifer-allsopp/food-sovereignty-as-transformative-model-of-economic-power">&quot;Food sovereignty&quot; as a transformative model of economic power</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/osprey-orielle-lake/mapping-womens-resistance-to-social-and-ecological-degradation">Mapping women&#039;s resistance to social and ecological degradation</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Women and the Economy 50.50 Women, Peace & Security 50.50 Contesting Patriarchy 50.50 Editor's Pick women and power gendered poverty gendered migration gender justice feminism Ché Ramsden Wed, 16 Dec 2015 10:07:33 +0000 Ché Ramsden 98574 at https://www.opendemocracy.net 16 Days: cutting Black and minority ethnic women's organisations https://www.opendemocracy.net/rahila-gupta/assault-on-bme-womens-organisations-in-uk <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The <a href="http://ec.europa.eu/justice/criminal/victims/rights/index_en.htm">EU Victims Directive</a> comes into force this month. Will it prevent the further decimation of Black and minority ethnic organisations offering specialised services to women facing violence in the UK?&nbsp; </p> </div> </div> </div> <p><em>This is part two of an article addressing the cuts to the women's sector in the UK. Read <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/rahila-gupta/asset-stripping-in-women-s-sector-in-uk">part one</a>.</em>&nbsp; </p><p>The <a href="http://www.coe.int/en/web/istanbul-convention">Istanbul Convention</a> on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, which the UK has so far failed to ratify, obliges member states to adequately fund both general and specialist services. The delay in ratification quite likely arises from the fact that the spending cuts applied so heavily to this sector means that the UK will not be compliant with the Convention. It is important to be clear about what specialist services entail as the gradual de-recognition of the sector represents a tectonic defeat for feminist politics.&nbsp; ‘Specialist’ is defined as women-only services and within that it includes targeting of specific groups like BME (Black and Minority Ethnic) women and/or specific types of violence like FGM. The importance of women only spaces for women who have faced male violence has been central to feminist activism. </p><p>For Dr Liz Kelly, head of CWASU, (Child and Women Abuse Studies, Metropolitan University) the specialist women’s sector simply includes organisations with roots in the particular communities that they serve as that experience shapes the perspectives within which they deliver services. This definition has the advantage of excluding the large, generic, empire-building organisations which attempt to bolster their specialist credentials by employing a BME worker or two. But as Marai Larasi, Director of <a href="http://imkaan.org.uk/">Imkaan</a>, says there is world of difference between a BME organisation and a BME service. The identification of specific threats to BME women, be it forced marriage or immigration rules which trap them in violent marriages, campaigning around those issues, demanding more resources from government, changing policy and legislation have been initiated by BME led organisations such as Southall Black Sisters, at least where the above two issues are concerned.</p><p><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/Apna Haq demo1.jpg" alt="" width="400" /></p><p><em>Apna Haq protest against the cuts. Photo: Apna Haq </em></p><p>However, local authorities under financial pressure just don’t get this. BME organisations have been falling like dominoes – either closing, facing deep cuts and/or much reduced services. Roshni in Nottingham - closed; <a href="http://www.ashianasheffield.org/">Ashiana</a> in Sheffield - lost its domestic violence contract; <a href="http://saheli.org.uk/">Saheli</a> in Manchester dealing with 40% cuts to its core funding; <a href="http://www.safehouse.org.uk/">Panahghar</a> in Leicester and Coventry also struggling with cuts. The latest BME organisation to be facing imminent closure <a href="http://www.apna-haq.co.uk/">Apna Haq</a> (Our Right) is based in Rotherham. On 21st November, they organised a march from Trafalgar Square to Downing Street to hand in a petition to protect these services and a report on the <a href="https://www.dropbox.com/s/c3n2gjs4g2g37s2/IMKAAN%20-%20STATE%20OF%20THE%20SECTOR%20%5BFINAL%5D.pdf?dl=0">State of the Sector</a> produced by Imkaan. According to the report, in the last financial year in London, 733 BME women sought refuge spaces and only 154 were successful. There are over 34 dedicated BME VAWG (Violence Against Women and Girls) services in the UK, of which half are refuge providers.</p><p><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/BiCkxhRIEAAlHae.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>&nbsp;<em>'Keep Apna Haq open' support group, Rotherham. Photo: Apna Haq</em></p><p>Apna Haq’s contract to deliver domestic violence services was won by a white led organisation affiliated to Women’s Aid, <a href="http://www.rotherhamrise.org.uk/">Rotherham Rise</a>, which provides services to both men and women.&nbsp; Zlakha Ahmed, Director of Apna Haq, says that the Council’s tender awarded no additional marks for track record. There was no recognition for the huge amount of work they had done on forced marriage and raising awareness of the issue in the community. This pattern was repeated across the country. The Imkaan report found that the weighting in many council tenders was skewed 70% towards value for money and 30% towards quality. Larger organisations benefit from this weighting as they are likely to have lower unit costs and not much of a track record. Apna Haq were also marked down on their answer to the question: how would you support men facing violence? They said they would signpost them to other services. Apparently, they would have scored better if they had said that they would provide a low-level service to men. The Council has, however, given them a five month reprieve until March. Additionally, they are hoping to use their reserves to allow them to remain in existence for another three months (eight months in total) while they seek other sources of funding. Zlakha says that of the 44 women service users, all including the Roma women, bar one, have decided to stay with Apna Haq, and that five of their workers who attended the induction day at Rotherham Rise returned to Apna Haq despite job uncertainties because they were not confident that the all-white management team would understand BME issues.</p> <p>It seems particularly ironic that the only secular and progressive BME women’s organisation should be facing the axe in a city which has been rocked by the revelation of largescale grooming of young white girls by gangs of Asian men. Racist media coverage and the backlash orchestrated by the likes of UKIP and <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/sep/13/edl-english-defence-league-protesters-attack-police-rotherham-demonstration">EDL</a> has had an adverse impact on the women coming to Apna Haq. Women report self-imposed curfews in order to <a href="http://imkaan.org.uk/">stay safe</a>. One woman said ‘They’ve taken our rights away - make us feel that we can’t live here - we have no place here - look at my colour and punish me.’ An under-reported aspect of these child abuse cases is that Asian girls are also groomed and sexually abused but as the Jay report into the Rotherham scandal <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-fund-to-help-women-speak-up-on-child-sexual-exploitation">acknowledged</a>, ‘women and girls in the Pakistani community in Rotherham should have been encouraged and empowered by the authorities to speak out about perpetrators and their own experiences as victims of sexual exploitation.’ The absence of strong Asian women’s voices was acknowledged in the Ofsted inspection of Apna Haq and Louise Casey’s <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/401119/46966_Rotherham_Report_PRINT.pdf">inquiry</a> into Rotherham. Despite this, Apna Haq is facing the chop. </p> <p>The move towards generic services is driven by the need to make cuts but the cuts are dressed up as legal obligations. The Equality Act 2010 is interpreted by local authorities as requiring them to treat men and women equally despite the fact that central government policy is <a href="http://www.endviolenceagainstwomen.org.uk/data/files/resources/72/Survivors-Rights-EVAW-Coalition-September-2015.pdf">underpinned by the UN</a> definition that recognises that women are disproportionately the victims of violence perpetrated by men and identifies inequality between women and men as both a cause and consequence of such violence. The North East Women’s Network, when <a href="http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/jt201415/jtselect/jtrights/106/10607.htm">giving evidence</a> to the Parliamentary Human Rights Joint Committee, stated ‘This common issue around the misinterpretation of the Equality Act resulting in women-only services being excluded from tendering on the basis of gender neutrality and supposed equality needs highlighting.’</p><p><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/Apna Haq demo2.jpg" alt="" width="400" /></p> <p><em>Apna Haq protest against the cuts to domestic violence services. Photo: Apna Haq</em></p><p> Zlakha highlighted the gaps that result from the decimation of the BME sector: in Sheffield, shockingly, five BME women have been killed in the last two years since Ashiana lost their domestic violence contract to a generic service. In all the investigations that followed these deaths, the question that was being asked was why these women had not been identified and supported. The answer was obvious: BME women overwhelmingly preferred BME organisations as the Imkaan survey confirmed. One of the BME directors quoted anonymously in the Imkaan report felt that ‘competition from [mainstream] women's organisations is the biggest threat. This has been raised and I have been told it does not happen because it is not ethical, however it is happening.’ According to Liz Kelly, market forces have led to a shift in the ethics of practice as normally organisations would not bid against a sister service unless a failing service needed to be rescued.</p> <p>Polly Neate, Chief Executive of Women’s Aid (WAFE), says that their National Service Standards stipulate that members must work co-operatively with other specialist organisations, especially BME ones. As members are autonomous organisations, WAFE cannot enforce discipline but they do have sanctions at their disposal: for example, they do not grant a quality mark to those organisations which do not adhere to these standards, and a quality mark is often a precondition for getting a grant or tendering for council contracts. Polly sees the issue of power and inequality between small and large organisations as one that plagues the whole voluntary sector and is hoping to involve the <a href="https://www.ncvo.org.uk/">NCVO</a> (The National Council for Voluntary Organisations) in a sector wide initiative to resolve it. Women’s Aid also provide support to smaller organisations struggling in consortia arrangements. </p> <p>The pressure to merge has morphed into the setting up of consortia where each constituent organisation is notionally independent. However, Hannana Siddiqi of <a href="http://www.southallblacksisters.org.uk/">Southall Black Sisters</a> (SBS) describes her experience of consortia as endless meetings on top of an already heavy workload. The lead organisation retains most of the power, but many smaller organisations may not have the capacity or desire to lead and end up feeling marginalised within the consortium. If members do not share values and a common understanding of the issues this can lead to further tensions. A particularly dangerous development highlighted by Hannana is the move to fund short-term, three month interventions in high risk/emergency cases. Long term intervention and support of standard risk cases are not given enough weighting in the commissioning process. The state is worried about homicide and about being held accountable for its failure to protect women at risk of death. It seems a short-sighted strategy when neglect of so-called low risk cases can easily turn them into emergencies.</p> <p>All of this bleakness may be about to dissipate. New legal duties in the <a href="http://www.endviolenceagainstwomen.org.uk/data/files/resources/72/Survivors-Rights-EVAW-Coalition-September-2015.pdf">EU Victims Directive</a> are due to come into force in November 2015 which will have to be actioned by the UK government. The directive requires the provision of specialised services to women facing violence. Even better, it requires these services to be provided regardless of the victim’s citizenship status. This may prove to be a very important tool in the hands of BME organisations seeking to hold the police accountable who have been known to use a call out in a domestic violence incident as a fishing expedition to check the immigration status of the individuals involved. Marai Larasi is anxious that the government may not engage with it in a climate of strong anti-EU sentiment. Another important change introduced by this directive is the way in which VAWG services will be commissioned in the future. They need not go out to competitive tendering for a ‘social service’ contract that is worth less than 750,000 Euros. As BME organisations tend to be smaller and most contracts are worth less than that, this has the potential to restore solidarity and sisterhood to the sector. Furthermore, the 2015 Spending Review has announced that the much derided <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/nov/25/tampon-tax-15m-womens-charities-george-osborne-spending-review">tampon tax</a> will yield £15m which will be made available to women’s charities, although not all of it will go to the 'Violence Against Women' sector.</p><p>Are these imminent changes cause for cautious optimism that the sector may have turned the corner?</p><p><strong>Read more articles in openDemocracy 50.50's series on <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/16-days-activism-against-gender-based-violence">16 Days Activism Against Gender Violence</a></strong></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rahila-gupta/asset-stripping-in-women-s-sector-in-uk">16 Days: asset stripping the women’s sector in the UK</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/tehmina-kazi/facing-up-to-bitter-truths-rotherham-child-sex-exploitation-cases">Facing up to bitter truths: Rotherham child sex exploitation cases</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/reni-eddolodge/responding-to-sexual-abuse-in-uk-class-race-and-culture">Responding to sexual abuse in the UK: class, race and culture</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/amrit-wilson/racism-surveillance-and-managing-gender-violence-in-uk">Racism, surveillance, and managing gender violence in the UK </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/pragna-patel/use-and-abuse-of-honour-based-violence-in-uk">The use and abuse of honour based violence in the UK</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/amrit-wilson/criminalising-forced-marriage-in-uk-why-it-will-not-help-women">Criminalising forced marriage in the UK: why it will not help women </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/cynthia-cockburn-ann-oakley/sexual-exploitation-in-street-gangs-protecting-girls-or-changing-bo">Sexual exploitation in street gangs: protecting girls or changing boys?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/hannana-siddiqui/ending-stark-choice-domestic-violence-or-destitution-in-uk">Ending the stark choice: domestic violence or destitution in the UK</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/heather-mcrobie/austerity-and-domestic-violence-mapping-damage">Austerity and domestic violence: mapping the damage</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/reni-eddo-lodge/%E2%80%98equality%E2%80%99-that-serves-social-injustice">The &#039;equality&#039; that serves social injustice</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/holly-dustin/preventing-abuse-in-uk-matter-of-education">Preventing abuse in the UK: a matter of education </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/jennifer-allsopp/disposable-girls">Disposable Girls</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/beatrix-campbell/analysing-aaronovitch-has-scourge-of-%E2%80%98conspiracists%E2%80%99-become-one-himself">Analysing Aaronovitch: has the scourge of ‘conspiracists’ become one himself?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/dawn-foster/trapped-women-fleeing-violence-in-uk">Trapped: women fleeing violence in the UK </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/dawn-foster/women-in-prison-cycle-of-violence">Women in prison: the cycle of violence</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/sarah-green/british-democracy-and-women%27s-right-to-live-free-from-violence">British democracy and women&#039;s right to live free from violence</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/heather-mcrobie/handmaids-tale-of-coalition-britain">The Handmaid&#039;s Tale of Coalition Britain</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/nasheima-sheikh/ending-female-genital-mutilation-in-uk">Ending female genital mutilation in the UK</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 UK Women and the Economy Continuum of Violence 16 Days: activism against gender based violence 50.50 Women's Movement Building 50.50 Editor's Pick 50.50 Voices for Change women's human rights women's health violence against women Sexual violence gendered poverty gender justice feminism 50.50 newsletter Rahila Gupta Tue, 01 Dec 2015 09:45:27 +0000 Rahila Gupta 98055 at https://www.opendemocracy.net 16 Days: asset stripping the women’s sector in the UK https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/rahila-gupta/asset-stripping-in-women-s-sector-in-uk <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The quality of service in the independent women's sector is no guarantee against the future as the British government continues its assault on specialist women’s services protecting women from violence.&nbsp; </p> </div> </div> </div> <p>It is tragic that we must mark the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/16-days-activism-against-gender-based-violence">16 Day period of activism and awareness of violence against women</a> in 2015 with the recognition that the very sector that provides services to these women is looking emaciated, deprived of nourishment by a government which drones on about its commitment to ending violence.</p><p><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/sun image.jpg" alt="" width="400" /></p> <p><em>Sun canvas painted by women exiting prostitution, Eaves project. Photo: Eaves&nbsp; <br /></em></p><p><a href="http://www.eavesforwomen.org.uk/">Eaves</a>, one of these specialist providers and a highly respected organisation, closed its doors in October after nearly 40 years in operation.&nbsp; Coming soon after the death of its charismatic champion and chief executive, Denise Marshall, led some to believe that the two events were connected.&nbsp; However, the writing had been on the wall for some time; but it had been on the wall in the way that it is for many voluntary sector organisations where funding is always precarious, closure or massive retrenchment is always imminent and then by some miracle, the worst is deferred. I use the word ‘miracle’ because there are no lessons to be learnt to consolidate the future of the organisation because the solution to funding problems in one year cannot necessarily be replicated the following year. </p> <p>Quality of service is no guarantee against the future. </p> <p>I know this situation intimately from my involvement with the sector, having been on the management committee of <a href="http://www.southallblacksisters.org.uk/">Southall Black Sisters</a> for over 25 years. It is also a miracle that services of such high standards continue to be provided despite the impact of insecurity on the morale of staff and service users.&nbsp; The fact that the most vulnerable in our society are catered for in such an insecure and underfunded environment should be a shocking state of affairs in a wealthy, developed nation but it has become so ingrained in the DNA of this sector that people hardly remark on it. </p> <p>Voluntary sector organisations, especially smaller, specialist ones, have been shutting down or being forced to merge with larger organisations.&nbsp; This trend can be partly explained by the paradox at the heart of neo-liberalism: while claiming to enhance competition, its net effect is to shatter the competition into fragments which cannot exist independently and are forced to coalesce into monopolies. </p> <p>Heather Harvey, Research and Development manager for Eaves, believes the decline began in 2010 with the cuts under the Coalition government.&nbsp; They were seriously knocked back in 2011 when their <a href="http://www.eavesforwomen.org.uk/about-eaves/our-projects/the-poppy-project">POPPY project</a> supporting women who had been trafficked into prostitution or labour lost a £3.7m Home Office contract to the <a href="http://www.salvationarmy.org.uk/">Salvation Army</a>.&nbsp; By 2012, their annual turnover had dropped from £6m to £1.5m but their overhead costs, including high rents, remained the same. There had been no services available for trafficked women in the UK before Denise Marshall identified this group of women as falling through the net and persuaded her board to set up services for them. In December 2001, they provided accommodation for their very first woman who had featured on a Channel 4 television documentary on trafficking and who was in such dire need of support and accommodation that Channel 4 more or less dumped her on Eaves. When I interviewed Denise for my book, <a href="http://www.amazon.co.uk/Enslaved-British-Slavery-Rahila-Gupta/dp/1846270669/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&amp;ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1448382935&amp;sr=1-1&amp;keywords=enslaved%2C+rahila+gupta"><em>Enslaved</em></a>, in 2007, she said that although it cost £30,000 to support a trafficked woman for a whole year she persuaded the board to use their reserves arguing, ‘if we call ourselves a charity, we call ourselves a woman’s organisation, we have to do this.’ She was unable to raise funding for this work in the early years because funders wanted data on the scale of the problem but she couldn’t assess the scale as the problem had only just been identified.</p> <p>This story of how Eaves won and lost funding and the recognition of a whole new area of work that it had developed epitomises everything that is wrong with the way the women’s sector is being financed. Eaves was prepared to use some of its reserves because its commitment to desperate women took priority over an accounting requirement that an organisation should have enough money to meet their running costs for a period of three months should they face sudden closure. Whilst this may be good practice, it is a sign of chronic underfunding when organisations are forced to ditch it in favour of their clients’ urgent needs.&nbsp; Those of us who approach this issue within a feminist framework have more sympathy with this approach than generic organisations where managerialism comes before the needs of desperate women. </p> <p>Insufficient <a href="http://www.managers.org.uk/insights/news/2015/november/kids-company-how-charismatic-leadership-does-not-guarantee-success">reserves</a> was the battering ram used against Kids Company, which dealt with some of the most difficult young people, to shut it down suddenly. For Camilla Batmanghelidjh, the CEO, the children <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/jan/03/camila-batmanghelidjh-kids-my-family-values">came first</a>. Whatever the truth in the accusations and justifications flying about, there is no doubt that Camilla’s spirited <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-34668760">critique</a> of government failings in its policy on children played a part in its demise, just as Denise Marshall was a thorn in the side of government. Heather Harvey says, ‘I know that they thought we were&nbsp;trouble’. When they lost the POPPY contract, they were delisted from the Home Office and Ministry of Justice working group on trafficking despite their ten years of experience and nuanced knowledge of trafficking and of traffickers gained from pursuing the most difficult cases. The possibility that the decision was politically motivated is strengthened by Heather’s observation that ‘Practice based evidence would seem to suggest that there is a written or unwritten understanding that Salvation Army will not challenge legal decisions’.</p> <p>Having been pioneers in the field and having built up expertise, what was particularly galling was not just handing the service over to an organisation which had no expertise but that its religious ethos could not be further from the feminist one which guided POPPY’s work.&nbsp; I have <a href="https://newhumanist.org.uk/1954/unsafe-havens">written</a> about the difficulties faced by non-religious or non-Christian trafficked women who were locked up in safe houses and offered ‘divine attention’ by faith based organisations in Britain. Although this was apparently for their own safety, one of the reasons why women weren’t given the key was that these same places doubled up as detention centres for trafficked women being deported. They had no political qualms acting as both poacher and gamekeeper while POPPY fought every single wrongful deportation and won compensation, using asylum law and everything else in its armoury.&nbsp; No POPPY worker agreed to move to the Salvation Army under <a href="http://www.dba.org.uk/pdfs/115-6%20TUPE.pdf">TUPE</a>, Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations, which was meant to guarantee jobs on the same terms and conditions for workers who stood to lose their jobs when there was a change of contractors, although they were within their rights to do so.</p> <p>Whilst TUPE is important for workers, it can be problematic for organisations. When the Women’s Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre in Cornwall (<a href="http://www.wrsac.org.uk/">WRSAC</a>) lost their award-winning IDVA (Independent Domestic Violence Advisor)&nbsp;service which they had built up over eleven years to an organisation in another county, their staff moved under TUPE. &nbsp;The IDVA is a trained specialist whose goal is the safety of domestic abuse victims, focusing on victims at high risk of harm. Maggie Parks, Chief Executive, rues the loss of ‘all our excellent well trained staff and their wealth of experience through the TUPE process’ which, she believes, amounts to a theft of intellectual property. When Cornwall Council moved from grant-aid to commissioning the £400,000 service because EU rules state that contracts over a certain amount must go to tender, the Council stipulated that the service would have to become a generic one i.e. serving both men and women. Parks describes the soul searching that went on inside the organisation about how the commissioning process was forcing them to change their fundamental ethos. In the end although they decided to bid for the generic service&nbsp;they still lost out to Twelve's Company, a Devon based organisation, and are running a reduced service.</p> <p>When the indigestible truth sank in that Eaves might have to close, in an attempt to ensure that their services survived in some form or another, they carried out an exercise to see which organisations had enough reserves to be able to absorb them. Going through the Charity Commission accounts for 27 organisations working in related fields, they found that most of the organisations large enough to absorb Eaves were generic services, like <a href="http://www.hestia.org/">Hestia</a>, a housing provider. Although it is good news that some parts of their service have been saved, government funding policy has forced Eaves into a process that feels akin to asset stripping: their London Exiting Project for women wanting to leave prostitution, their Research and Development manager’s post and the No Recourse to Public funds worker have been fully or almost fully funded by <a href="http://www.niaendingviolence.org.uk/">NIA</a>, a feminist organisation, which has done the best it can within its resources. The Beth Centre for women affected by the criminal justice system which was run in partnership with <a href="http://www.womeninprison.org.uk/">Women in Prison</a> (WIP) has been taken back by WIP. However, the Alice project which helped nearly 300 women avoid homelessness in 2014, has fallen. The POPPY project with its 15 workers has relocated temporarily in their project manager's home while they await news of funding, of which they are hopeful. Heather Harvey misses the solidarity, the cross-fertilisation, the learning that evolved from a holistic, wraparound service where different parts of the same organisation could meet all the needs of the women.</p> <p><em>Read part two of this article</em> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/rahila-gupta/assault-on-bme-womens-organisations-in-uk">16 Days: cutting Black and minority ethnic women's organisations</a>&nbsp;<em></em></p> <p><strong>Read more articles in openDemocracy 50.50's series on <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/16-days-activism-against-gender-based-violence">16 Days Activism Against Gender Violence</a></strong></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/dawn-foster/there%E2%80%99s-nothing-left-women%E2%80%99s-future-under-conservatives-in-uk">&quot;There’s nothing left&quot; - women’s future under the Conservatives in the UK</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/dawn-foster/trapped-women-fleeing-violence-in-uk">Trapped: women fleeing violence in the UK </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/heather-mcrobie/handmaids-tale-of-coalition-britain">The Handmaid&#039;s Tale of Coalition Britain</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/angela-neustatter/welcome-to-my-home-welcome-to-my-hell">Welcome to my home, welcome to my hell</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/dawn-foster/northern-ireland-when-austerity-makes-poorest-even-poorer">When austerity in the UK makes the poorest even poorer</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/heather-mcrobie/when-austerity-sounds-like-backlash-gender-and-economic-crisis">When austerity sounds like backlash: gender and the economic crisis</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/dawn-foster/women-in-prison-cycle-of-violence">Women in prison: the cycle of violence</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/heather-mcrobie/austerity-and-domestic-violence-mapping-damage">Austerity and domestic violence: mapping the damage</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/fran-bennett/our-lives-poverty-then-and-now-in-uk">Our Lives: Poverty then and now in the UK</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/fran-bennett/gender-and-poverty-in-uk-inside-household-and-across-life-course">Gender and poverty in the UK: Inside the household and across the life course</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/dawn-foster/cuts-hit-home-austerity-in-oxford">The cuts hit home: austerity in Oxford</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/barbara-gunnell/staying-alive-in-britain-can-poor-afford-it">Staying alive in Britain : can the poor afford it? </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/beatrix-campbell/neoliberal-neopatriarchy-case-for-gender-revolution">Neoliberal neopatriarchy: the case for gender revolution</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/marion-bowman/women-in-uk-back-to-future">Women in the UK: back to the future</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 UK Women and the Economy Continuum of Violence 16 Days: activism against gender based violence 50.50 Women's Movement Building 50.50 Editor's Pick 50.50 Voices for Change women's human rights violence against women gendered poverty gender justice gender feminism 50.50 newsletter Rahila Gupta Mon, 30 Nov 2015 09:27:33 +0000 Rahila Gupta 98006 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Ireland: policing domestic violence in times of austerity https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/harriet-burgess/ireland-policing-domestic-violence-in-times-of-austerity <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The difficulties presented by the under-resourced Gardaí in policing domestic violence, and the resulting lamentable status of domestic violence policies in Ireland were highlighted by last week's tragedy.&nbsp; </p> </div> </div> </div> <p>Last week, <a href="http://img.thesun.co.uk/aidemitlum/archive/02525/02_15142155_051bcf_2525368a.jpg">the state funeral of Garda Tony Golden</a> took place in Omeath, Co. Louth, Ireland. He was shot dead the previous Sunday evening whilst responding to a domestic violence incident. </p> <p>On Sunday afternoon, Garda Golden had taken a statement from Siobhan Phillips regarding a complaint of alleged domestic abuse by her partner Adrian Crevin Macken. Afterwards, Garda Golden accompanied Phillips and her father to her family home. Garda Golden and Phillips entered the house in order to collect some of her personal belongings, whilst her father waited outside. Shortly after hearing gunshots from the house, Phillips’ father immediately contacted the Gardaí by way of 999. Adrian Crevin Macken had shot Garda Golden and Phillips, before turning the gun on himself. Garda Golden died at the scene. Phillips, who received multiple gun shots to her head and body, remains in a critical condition in Beaumont Hospital in Dublin. </p> <p>Speaking at the Mansion House on Monday, <a href="http://www.irishtimes.com/news/crime-and-law/taoiseach-pays-tribute-to-slain-garda-tony-golden-1.2388450">Taoiseach Enda Kenny paid tribute to Garda Golden</a>, and extended his sympathy to the Golden family, colleagues, and members of the Garda Siochana: </p> <p class="noname">“What can I say? To Nicola and her three young children this is a terrible tragedy […] Obviously a full report will be made available by the Commissioner and the Minister for Justice, but I think it puts into context the work that the members of the Garda Síochána do every day all over the country.”</p> <h2>Under-staffed and under-resourced</h2> <p>Garda Golden’s death highlights the dangerous working conditions of the Gardaí in times of austerity: under-staffed and under-resourced. Serious questions need to be asked about the circumstances of this incident. Why was Garda Golden alone, without backup, whilst accompanying Phillips and her father? Did he know about Macken’s prior criminal history? Was this a singular incident, or had Phillips previously reported an ongoing problem of domestic violence to the Gardaí? </p> <p>The inadequacy of Garda resources to deal with violent crimes has reinserted itself into political discourse, in the wake of Garda Golden’s death. <a href="http://www.rte.ie/player/ie/show/prime-time-30003251/10480188/">Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald stated</a> how the Government is responding to the rising crime rates. Acknowledging that the force had been ‘starved’ during the economic crisis, the Minister pledged with the new Budget to address rises in violent crime by making the Gardaí more visible through recruitment;&nbsp; 550 Gardaí this year, and 600 to follow in 2016. </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/521587/QueenElizabethIIHistoricVisitIreland.jpg" alt="Police chatting on the street" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>It is important to highlight the difficulties facing Gardaí everyday in Ireland. This tragedy has shown that there are sometimes fatal repercussions to an under-staffed and under-resourced force. Minister Fitzgerald’s new recruitment strategy, she states, will “<a href="http://www.justice.ie/en/JELR/Pages/PR15000535">ensure that the gardai have the necessary tools and manpower to tackle the scourge of highly-mobile criminal gangs and seek to disrupt crime, particularly burglaries, across both rural and urban communities</a>.” </p><p>Whilst there has been a considerable focus in the media on rises of certain forms of violent crime (like burglaries or rural crimes), there has been minimal focus given to the issue of domestic violence. Garda Golden’s death serves as a stark reminder, twofold: first, of the dangers faced by an under resourced police force in times of austerity, and secondly, of the prevalence of the often fatal nature of domestic violence in Ireland. </p> <h2>Dangerous individuals, or dangerous policy? </h2> <p>The violence of Macken should not be categorised as an isolated event. Macken’s act should instead be seen to reflect a continuum of instances of domestic violence in Ireland. 55% of women murdered in Ireland were killed by partners or ex-partners, and <a href="http://www.womensaid.ie/policy/natintstats.html">62% were killed in their own homes.</a></p><p>The <a href="http://www.gsinsp.ie/index2.php?option=com_docman&amp;task=doc_view&amp;gid=243&amp;Itemid=152">Garda Síochána Crime Investigation Report</a>&nbsp; (2014) issued by the Garda Inspectorate last year problematized the strategic management of domestic violence disputes in Ireland, in policy and in practice. It was highly critical of the lack of a national auditing of domestic violence policy, the lack of follow up visits to domestic violence disputes, and the scarcity of resources offered to domestic violence victims. </p> <p>The Report ultimately recommended that the Gardaí ought immediately implement victim-centered domestic violence policies and establish specialised domestic violence investigative practices. Key actions that needed to be taken included: a national monitoring system for domestic violence cases, the establishment of specialised investigative teams, research to be conducted on domestic violence related murders to inform harm reduction strategies, and the implementation of risk assessment processes to be completed at all domestic violence incidents. </p> <p>This tragedy raises broader questions as to the ability of an under-resourced Garda force to deal with domestic violence. It brings domestic violence policy, and how individual Gardaí must respond to domestic violence cases, under scrutiny. Has a national audit of domestic violence policy been undertaken, as recommended in the Garda Inspectorate Report? Are the Gardaí adequately resourced and staffed to establish teams specialised in handling domestic violence cases? Are risk assessments taking place in Garda stations, when notified of domestic violence disputes? How are domestic violence cases being tracked or monitored? Are follow-up visits to victims taking place? Will new recruits be trained in how to best to deal with the particular difficulties presented by domestic violence disputes?</p><p>The political discourse surrounding Garda Golden’s death has rightly addressed the dangerous working conditions faced by a Garda force, starved of adequate funding or resources. However, by clouding the continuum of fatal domestic violence disputes in Ireland, media discussion of the case neglects an important issue: the dangerous (lack of) policy on domestic violence in Ireland. There were two victims in this case, Garda Golden and Siobhan Phillips, who remains in a critical condition in hospital. Attention ought to be drawn to the lasting damage cut-backs have had on the Gardaí- but in particular, the difficulties presented by policing domestic violence in times of austerity, and the resulting lamentable status of our domestic violence policies.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/dawn-foster/northern-ireland-when-austerity-makes-poorest-even-poorer">When austerity in the UK makes the poorest even poorer</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/ann-rossiter/abortion-in-ireland-small-step-forward">Abortion in Ireland - a small step forward</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/kate-ward/ending-humiliation-of-women-in-northern-ireland">Ending the humiliation of women in Northern Ireland</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/laurence-cox/why-are-irish-not-resisting-austerity">Why are the Irish not resisting austerity?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/heather-mcrobie/when-austerity-sounds-like-backlash-gender-and-economic-crisis">When austerity sounds like backlash: gender and the economic crisis</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/lisa-davis/lifting-ban-on-women%E2%80%99s-shelters-in-iraq-promoting-change-in-conflict">Lifting the ban on women’s shelters in Iraq: promoting change in conflict</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/heather-mcrobie/austerity-and-domestic-violence-mapping-damage">Austerity and domestic violence: mapping the damage</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Women and the Economy Continuum of Violence 50.50 Editor's Pick 50.50 Voices for Change violence against women gender justice feminism bodily autonomy 50.50 newsletter Harriet Burgess Mon, 19 Oct 2015 15:33:39 +0000 Harriet Burgess 96906 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Corbyn and housing justice in Britain https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/sarah-aviah/corbyn-and-housing-justice-in-britain <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The election of the new Labour leader is a time for guarded hope but not for a change&nbsp;of tactics. Local campaigns must unite in a national movement.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/541754/8594686.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="&#039;March against evictions&#039; 19 September 2015 (Peter Marshall/Demotix)"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/541754/8594686.jpg" alt="'March against evictions' 19 September 2015 (Peter Marshall/Demotix)" title="&#039;March against evictions&#039; 19 September 2015 (Peter Marshall/Demotix)" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>'March against evictions' 19 September 2015 (Peter Marshall/Demotix)</span></span></span>At the time of writing, the shadow of yet another block of luxury flats looms over me in Tottenham. The noise and mess associated with house building seems to be an almost permanent fixture in London, but how many of us have a secure home to live in?</p> <p>The UK government does not keep central statistics on homelessness for various reasons, including the fact that homelessness is recorded in different ways across the different nations. Figures nevertheless <a href="https://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/2015/07/14/now-the-uk-housing-crisis-is-threatening-our-economy/">show</a> that in 2014, there were 1.37 million households waiting for a home, up 26% from 2000. In England, there are 64,710 households living in temporary accommodation – an 11% rise on last year’s figure and up 26% since 2010. Among those numbers are 93,320 children. <a href="http://www.crisis.org.uk/pages/homeless-def-numbers.html">7,500 people</a> were recorded as sleeping on the streets of London last year. The real number is undoubtedly much higher.</p> <p>London’s housing crisis affects everyone who is not a millionaire, from <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/graduates-and-young-professionals-are-being-priced-out-of-londons-housing-market-sutton-trust-warns-10505128.html">young professionals</a> trying to get on the housing ladder to hotel workers forced to <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/society/2012/may/09/london-landlords-desperate-tenants">live in sheds</a> by slum landlords. But on Saturday 12th September 2015, some saw a glimmer of hope in the election of Jeremy Corbyn MP as leader of Her Majesty’s Official Opposition. In his first speech as leader of the Labour Party, using powerful words, Corbyn <a href="http://www.itv.com/news/london/2015-09-12/jeremy-corbyn-fed-up-with-governments-social-cleansing-of-london/">committed</a> to work with Sadiq Khan, Labour’s mayoral candidate to end the ‘social cleansing’ associated with the housing crisis. "I am fed up with the social cleansing of London by this Tory government and its policies," Corbyn said.</p> <p>Housing is both personal and political for me, so I take very seriously anyone that claims to have the potential to end the current crisis. My family were made homeless when I was 14, after my mum was forced to flee domestic violence. Over the course of a year we were placed in over ten different bed and breakfasts. At one point I was traveling from South End to my school in East London before we were finally allocated a council flat. This was at the beginning of the crisis, when homeless families could still expect to be housed, in council housing, within a year. </p> <p>Despite the turmoil we went through to get a safe, secure home, the current government's housing policy now means that the council is desperate to get its hands on my mother’s home. <a href="http://www.crisis.org.uk/data/files/publications/Sanctions%20Report%202015_FINAL.pdf">Benefit sanctions</a> and the <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/sep/11/bedroom-tax-housing-crisis-rolnik">bedroom tax</a> result in rent arrears that lead to almost immediate threats of eviction. My mother’s life is an almost constant battle to keep her head above water and a roof over her head; the same is true for <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/jan/05/missing-rent-mortgage-payments-shelter-interest-rate-housing-costs">millions</a> of working class people across the UK. </p> <p>Corbyn has put forward an alternative to the 30 years of housing policy that has sought to put our housing needs, unchecked, in the hands of private landlords. He pledges to lift the housing revenue account cap to allow councils to build council housing. He wants longer tenancies, private landlord registration, rent regulation and private rents linked to average local earnings. “It has become clear that when housing provision is left purely to market forces most of our young people simply cannot afford to get a foot on the rung of the market’s so called housing ladder” he has rightly <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/housing-network/2015/aug/07/jeremy-corbyn-hope-housing-crisis-labour">observed.</a></p> <p>While some on the left welcome Corbyn and his policies with genuine optimism, others are more sceptical of one man’s potential to create positive and meaningful change in our lives. <a href="https://sistersuncut.wordpress.com/">Sisters Uncut</a> is a feminist, anti-austerity group that takes direct action to protect domestic violence services from the cuts. “We welcome Corybn’s pledge to massively expand council housing as the dwindling public housing stock is one of the key barriers for women fleeing domestic violence” says Lucy Strange from the group. “But if we are going to see a system that priorities women’s safety, we will have to see a complete overhaul of the current rules.” </p> <p>Not only is the lack of housing putting women’s lives at risk, the allocation of what is available needs addressing as a priority, Lucy explains. “Single women fleeing domestic violence have no right to support from housing by the government whatsoever. Thousands of migrant women are forced to remain in violent homes, unable to flee because racist ‘<a href="http://www.southallblacksisters.org.uk/campaigns/abolish-no-recourse-to-public-funds/">no recourse to public funds</a>’ laws prevent them from accessing any benefits or public housing”. </p> <p>Shanice McBean from the militant black activist group, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/BlackDissidents/info?tab=page_info">Black Dissidents</a> also wonders what Corbyn’s policies are regarding extending the right to benefits and council housing to all migrants. However, she notes that generally speaking, Corbyn’s policies are establishing the principle that home and community should be for people, not for profit. “At a time when black and brown communities are being gutted and redevelopment projects led by slum landlords and for-profit housing businesses are making our own communities unaffordable for us to live in, Corybyn’s polices are moving in the right direction” says Shanice. </p> <p>It feels that for those who have been fighting for a more just housing system in a climate of neo-liberal dominance, Corbyn’s calls for fairness are mostly welcome. But for me, the real question is not whether his policies are good ones or bad ones, but how seriously we should take him as someone who can deliver. </p> <p>I spoke with Jacob from the <a href="http://radicalhousingnetwork.org/">Radical Housing Network</a> about his views on Corbyn’s victory and what it means for the wider housing movement. “I’m glad that Corbyn is making the case for a leftist housing policy” says Jacob. “But I worry that in order for any workable dynamic between him and the wider housing movement to be established, we would have to be a lot stronger. We need to be in a position to be making demands on him, pulling him to the left. I’m not sure we’re there.”</p> <p>Over the last year or two, significant gains have been made by grassroots, local housing campaigns such as <a href="http://focuse15.org/">Focus E15</a> and <a href="https://sweetswayresists.wordpress.com/">Sweets Way resists</a>. But the victories made locally are yet to be translated into a solid, national housing movement that has influence over national policy. Indeed, one of the reasons Corbyn’s victory has been so well received by the left is that we had, until then, felt depressingly weak and fractured as a movement. And while the labour leadership’s move to the left has indicated we may be more substantial than we thought, our fundamental strength and influence remains questionable. </p> <p>For one thing, many of the local housing campaigns fighting for justice are doing so in Labour run councils. Is Corbyn likely to be in a position to influence local government without the dynamic of a strong and robust social housing movement pulling him and the rest of the Labour Party to the left? It seems unlikely. The broad left movement appears to be in a catch 22 dilemma. We feel too weak to dismiss him out of hand as someone with potential influence, yet some on the left are questioning whether the wider left could have a meaningful relationship with Corbyn under the current circumstances. If that is the case, how much should we as a movement invest in building links with the Labour leader? </p> <p>As someone who so robustly presents himself as an ally, it would seem churlish and imprudent to completely exclude Corbyn from the conversation on how we achieve housing justice in the UK. However, might we be in danger of devoting too much energy to a relationship that is unlikely to reap the rewards we want without the solid foundation of a national, radical movement in place? Social cleansing can only be fought with a social movement to guide policy. As <a href="http://www.newhamrecorder.co.uk/news/focus_e15_campaigners_march_through_stratford_to_mark_anniversary_1_4243027">hundreds marched</a> through the streets of Stratford this weekend to mark two years of the Focus E15 housing justice movement, campaigner Jasmin Stone observed that 26 families are being evicted every day across the country. “Homes are for people, not for investors” read the signs. </p> <p>Corbyn’s election is a time for guarded hope but not for a change of tactics. It’s more important than ever to understand the human dimension of these statistics. See you on the streets.&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/jo-beard/redecorate-repopulate-what-next-for-e15-mums">Redecorate, repopulate: what next for the E15 mums?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/opensecurity/kate-belgrave/focus-e15-young-mothers-struggle-for-universal-housing">Focus E15: the young mothers&#039; struggle for universal housing</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/victoria-lupton/power-and-solidarity-at-grassroots">Power and solidarity at the grassroots</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/jennifer-allsopp/hidden-women-human-rights-defenders-in-uk">Hidden women human rights defenders in the UK</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/angela-neustatter/welcome-to-my-home-welcome-to-my-hell">Welcome to my home, welcome to my hell</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/dawn-foster/cuts-hit-home-austerity-in-oxford">The cuts hit home: austerity in Oxford</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/heather-mcrobie/austerity-and-domestic-violence-mapping-damage">Austerity and domestic violence: mapping the damage</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/dawn-foster/whose-recovery-gendered-austerity-in-uk">Whose recovery?: Gendered austerity in the UK </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-city"> <div class="field-label">City:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> London </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 London UK Civil society Women and the Economy 50.50 Women Human Rights Defenders Continuum of Violence temp 50.50 Editor's Pick 50.50 Voices for Change women's movements violence against women gender justice 50.50 newsletter young feminists Sarah Aviah Wed, 23 Sep 2015 07:36:03 +0000 Sarah Aviah 96238 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Jeremy Corbyn and women: a matter of policy not appointment https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/dawn-foster/jeremy-corbyn-and-women-matter-of-policy-not-appointment <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Media responses have pointed to the lack of women in the new shadow cabinet, but the policy response to austerity will have more impact on women's lives in the UK.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class="image-caption"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/557135/20742997223_af1e908b34_z.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/557135/20742997223_af1e908b34_z.jpg" alt="Jeremy Corbyn at the Refugees Welcome rally after winning the Labour leadership race." title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>Jeremy Corbyn at the Refugees Welcome rally after winning the Labour leadership race. Credit: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/theweeklybull/20742997223/">The Weekly Bull/Flickr</a>.</span></p><p>After a seismic weekend for British politics, which saw the left candidate for the Labour leadership, Jeremy Corbyn, lurch from rank outside to victor with a 59% victory, what does his victory mean for women? Within 48 hours of winning, the new leader had appointed his shadow cabinet. Many people responded to the initial appointments, specifically shadow chancellor, home secretary and foreign secretary which were all handed to men. More than half of the cabinet posts went to women, but critics have focused on the fact that the leader and the three top shadow ministers are all men. As <a href="https://twitter.com/carolinejmolloy/status/643180854165045248">Caroline Molloy</a> pointed out, the sudden interest in gender parity from commentators who have backed austerity for years is as remarkable as it is disingenuous.</p> <p>John McDonnell, the new chancellor, argued that the insinuation that these posts were the ones that mattered belongs to an outdated idea that the foreign secretary, for instance, is more powerful than the health or education secretary. Corbyn has hinted that Britain needs to move away from the grandstanding militarism characterising a lot of the past decade or two of politics, and that the political obsession with Britain’s position on the world stage is unhelpful and destructive, tending as it does towards militarism over peacekeeping.&nbsp;</p> <p>But the argument centres on a belief that women will always act in the best interests of women. If you buy that argument, and the idea that having women in boardrooms, top jobs and positions of power will engender a better deal for women, the situation is unpalatable. But class interests and gender interplay very strongly in politics, and it’s not always possible for the two to co-exist. In Cameron’s cabinet, for instance, Theresa May is one of the people inhabiting the most ‘powerful’ positions. The women incarcerated in Yarls’ Wood, where conditions have deteriorated rapidly, as documented by <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/clare-sambrook/truth-about-sexual-abuse-at-yarls-wood-detention-centre">Clare Sambrook</a>, <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/anonymous-interviewee-and-jennifer-allsopp/death-at-yarl’s-wood-women-in-mourning-women-in-fear">Jennifer Allsopp,</a> and other writers for openDemocracy, will take little comfort from the knowledge that the policies that oversee their mistreatment are enacted by a woman rather than a man.</p> <p>Perhaps key is the fact that McDonnell’s appointment as chancellor sends a clear signal that the austerity programme accepted by both the Conservatives and the previous Labour shadow cabinet, will be fought tooth and nail by Corbyn’s new chancellor. Few MPs have been so outspoken against austerity as McDonnell, and he has a long history of fighting austerity and welfare cuts. In the House of Commons on the debate over the recent Welfare bill, which Harriet Harman controversially told Labour MPs to abstain from voting on, McDonnell broke the whip and voted against the next tranche of cuts, saying he would <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VgKyN2ihqP4">“swim through vomit”</a> in order to oppose it.</p> <p>Austerity has hit women far harder than men since the recession, with <a href="http://news.sky.com/story/1395322/women-will-bear-the-brunt-of-welfare-cuts">80% of cuts affecting women</a>. Cuts have seen <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/aug/03/domestic-violence-refuge-crisis-women-closure-safe-houses">women’s refuges close</a>, sanctions applied to the very poorest, a rise in homelessness and precarity in housing, and the demolition of legal aid for women fleeing domestic violence or subjected to sexual discrimination in the workplace.</p> <p>Having a Labour party that opposes austerity is key to fighting back against cuts that have hit women in the previous parliament. In the past five years, the benefit of having women in the cabinet remains to be seen, for migrant, low paid, or abused women.&nbsp; David Cameron increased the gender representation in his cabinet after much criticism: an outpouring of policies that directly benefit women remains elusive. For now, it seems as though there is no difference: the powerful look after the powerful, with gender as an afterthought, or a bargaining chip when trying to deflect criticism for cuts that harm women.</p> <p>The idea that getting more women into positions of power automatically benefits women as a whole seems logical, but curtly overlooks competing interests, of class, race, and social and economic position. Whilst parliaments and cabinets continue to be predominantly white, male, pale and stale, those women who do elbow their way in tend not to be the acutely underrepresented, but those who fit into a similar culture. The Conservative’s portrait of Margaret Thatcher, a lowly daughter of a greengrocer, crucially misrepresents the fact that she was a university educated barrister, and her father was less a grocer, more an entrepreneur and business owner. For most women, Thatcher’s policies had a clear detrimental effect on their lives, if they weren’t cushioned by wealth.&nbsp;</p> <p>The fact that briefs including health, education and business are seen as less important than treasury and defence posts is insulting to the women appointed to these positions, but also corresponds to a way of thinking that Corbyn seeks to combat. For now, critics and supporters of Corbyn have little option but to wait and see what policies emerge under the new leader, and how his opposition fares on fighting policies that hurt women. His <a href="https://yougov.co.uk/news/2015/08/10/corbyn-pull-ahead/">popularity with women polled</a> suggests he may do very well, in spite of his gender.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/heather-mcrobie/austerity-and-domestic-violence-mapping-damage">Austerity and domestic violence: mapping the damage</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/emily-wight/jeremy-corbyn-and-womens-experiences-of-austerity">Jeremy Corbyn and women’s experiences of austerity</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/heather-mcrobie/austerity-and-domestic-violence-mapping-damage">Austerity and domestic violence: mapping the damage</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/heather-mcrobie/when-austerity-sounds-like-backlash-gender-and-economic-crisis">When austerity sounds like backlash: gender and the economic crisis</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/emily-thomson-and-susanne-ross/women-postrecession-moving-towards-insecurity">Women post-recession: moving towards insecurity</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/dawn-foster/whose-recovery-gendered-austerity-in-uk">Whose recovery?: Gendered austerity in the UK </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/heather-mcrobie/is-gendered-austerity-finally-on-political-agenda">Is gendered austerity finally on the political agenda?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/angela-neustatter/welcome-to-my-home-welcome-to-my-hell">Welcome to my home, welcome to my hell</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/barbara-gunnell/how-women-are-paying-for-recession-in-uk">How women are paying for the recession in the UK</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/ch%C3%A9-ramsden/jeremy-corbyn-and-myth-of-hysterical-woman">Jeremy Corbyn and the myth of the hysterical woman</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rahila-gupta/jeremy-corbyn-labours-gift-to-british-women">Jeremy Corbyn: Labour’s gift to British women?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/fran-bennett/our-lives-poverty-then-and-now-in-uk">Our Lives: Poverty then and now in the UK</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/kate-donald/feminisation-of-poverty-and-myth-of-welfare-queen">The feminisation of poverty and the myth of the &#039;welfare queen&#039;</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/jenny-phillimore/gender-and-destitution-in-uk">Gender and destitution in the UK</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/fran-bennett/gender-and-poverty-in-uk-inside-household-and-across-life-course">Gender and poverty in the UK: Inside the household and across the life course</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 uk UK Women and the Economy temp 50.50 Editor's Pick 50.50 Voices for Change women and power patriarchy gendered poverty gender justice gender 50.50 newsletter women's work Dawn Foster Mon, 14 Sep 2015 15:45:33 +0000 Dawn Foster 95955 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Exposing the daily violence of women's hotel work https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/maid-in-london/exposing-daily-violence-of-womens-hotel-work <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Employment conditions in hotels are hidden, but activists are going undercover to expose the terrible working practices maids and cleaners endure.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/557135/1792854787_60c5bfe1dd_z.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/557135/1792854787_60c5bfe1dd_z.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p>I’ve served time in hospitality – years in bars, pubs, restaurants and cafes as well as a short stint in a hotel - but only ever as a bartender, kitchen assistant, deli worker or waitress, and occasionally in room service. Undertaking the role of a room attendant was a first for me. I wanted to do it to understand it because I want to see the hospitality sector here in London - or anywhere for that matter - organised. I want people to be unionised, to have collective bargaining and representation and rights on their own terms, and not those of the phoney workplace committees that go by all kinds of weird and wonderful names, established by hotel management and human resources to essentially keep unions out.</p> <p><span>We need hotel unions and, New York City and Finland are great examples, where working in a hotel is a good, dignified, even sought after job. Hotel workers in New York are paid $24 per hour, they can afford to send their kids to university, they have decent, steady contracts with sick pay and good holidays and they’re not worked to the absolute bone. Union density is over 90%. In London it’s about 1%.</span></p> <p><span>The way such high levels of unionisation were achieved in the US has to do with a few factors: the union Unite Here putting in serious dollars to fund organisers (two per hotel I have heard), the support of the pro-union city mayor Bill Deblasio, and the extensive use of </span><em>salts</em><span> (volunteers who take jobs in hotels to build organisation from within).</span></p> <p><span>You can call me a kind of salt….</span></p> <p><span>Back in January I walked into the agency with my passport and my details, filled out some forms, and an hour later I had the job and could start the next day. That’s how quick and easy it was, and that shows you just how desperate these hotels are for fresh blood. Because the work is so degrading and intense and the worst paid you can find, staff retention is virtually impossible. The turnover in housekeeping departments is about 50%. Agencies know this, which is why my agency - Omni Facilities Management or ‘OmniShambles’ as I have renamed them - have an illegal clause in their contract which states that if you leave the position before three months probation are up, you’ll not be paid for your first two weeks of work which instead will be labelled as ‘training’. This needs challenging.</span></p> <p><span>I knew that being a room attendant would give me intimate insights into the workplaces I wanted to organise. It would give me an understanding of hotel culture, and enable me to interact on a daily basis with fellow workers, bosses and customers. I would understand the job. And I would use my humble writing skills to try and convey as vividly and evocatively as possible, what the job means. I wanted to make it tangible to those who barely give workers in hotels a second thought, or </span><em>would</em><span> care if they only knew how bad it is.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>With any organising strategy, economic leverage is key. This means being in a position to identify and influence and if necessary move the money in the company or industry you are dealing with, to your advantage. This means being able to influence customers, investors, key business stakeholders and owners. This means, if necessary, having an impact on the revenues of a company, through not just workers withdrawing their labour but customers withdrawing their capital, and costing the company.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>Hotels sell an irreplaceable experience – the stay is the product and if you can’t access your stay or you have a disrupted stay, you can’t make back that time or experience. We work to the minute, and people’s lives in hotels play out to the minute. ‘Just in Time Production’ – delivery of services and clean ready rooms – are our daily bread, 24/7. And we have the power to make or break that.</span></p> <p><span>So my blog audience, leverage-wise, is the hotel guests and the industry. But my collaborators, the people I want to see directly empowered and involved in this project, are necessarily other hotel workers, in the same chain, which we will expose soon.&nbsp;</span></p> <p>By encouraging them to write and contribute their experiences I hope to encourage a recovery from the normalisation of the exploitation of the work and the embedded idea that nothing can change.&nbsp;</p> <p><span>The daily violence of hotel work has become normalised for many people in the industry. It began to feel normalised for me too after some time. I started to withdraw and feel despondent and quiet. I wasn’t prepared for the sheer exhaustion from doing such a manual, physical, time-pressured, and intense job. I wasn’t being flippant when I said it was like a full body work-out. You are running. It’s so repetitive you become semi-automatic. You reprogramme yourself to adapt to it. And people expire, their bodies wear out, they take painkillers and drink energy drinks to get through it. The violence of the race to the bottom is played out across overwhelmingly migrant women’s bodies who are coerced into carrying out this labour because they believe - and structurally in many ways they’re right - that they have no alternative.</span></p> <p><span>With other jobs I’ve done, and here is where I feel class power gets most sharply defined, I had more time to myself and was able to have cups of tea, have down-time - sometimes through commuting, sometimes through periods of quiet time to talk to other people, time to eat some snacks or surf the news on the web or catch up on emails, engage in social media etc. Not with hotel work. Not in housekeeping and not in the other departments.&nbsp;</span></p> <p>You can see this intensification of labour happening in casualised factory and warehouse work, cleaning, logistics and haulage too, in jobs where you are timed and every minute counts; where you’re bare labour. The privileges of reading, talking, making calls, having untimed breaks, even tweeting, which workers in cultural, academic, media, NGO and some office-based and local government work have, don’t apply to millions of manual workers. Participation in cultural production or political activism is limited by time, access to the means of cultural production and exhaustion. The difference with hospitality, is that we are urban and we are visible. We’re not stuck in some remote warehouse in a place you’ve never heard of.</p> <p>Hotel work as we know it in the UK is another world. And it’s a really dark place for many people who have to ‘live’ there.&nbsp;</p> <p>But I want it to be exposed and to attract the controversy the conditions deserve. I want people to empathise with the workers. I want to humanise the ‘invisible golden hands’ as room attendants have sometimes referred to themselves. I want workers who do read the blog to feel inspired to share their experiences and desires and to organise, and they do feel heard and empowered when the blog is read by 83,000 people. I want it to grow into a collective voice. I believe in popular cultural production which is politicised and accessible and inspires creativity. I want us – workers - to have as much support as possible when we come to assert our rights to collectively bargain, to win a living wage, sick pay, and ultimately - less work and more time for ourselves. We are building for that moment.&nbsp;</p> <p>If hotels are the workhouses of the 21st century then what we need is something akin to the New Unionism response to the industrial and municipal workhouses of the Victorian era. At the time this meant workers who the traditional craft unions said could never be organised (casual workers, Irish immigrants, women, poor people working in unskilled jobs in the docks, the gasworks, the Bryant and May match girls) organising and challenging employers, and working with community and radical groups, before themselves becoming the new leadership of the Labour movement and taking it in a more radical direction. Watch this space.</p><p><span>Read more at: </span><a href="http://www.maidinlondonnow.blogspot.co.uk/">www.maidinlondonnow.blogspot.co.uk</a><span> or follow @hotelunionnow</span></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/angela-mcrobbie/womens-working-lives-in-new-university">Women&#039;s working lives in the ‘new’ university</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/dawn-foster/women%27s-paid-and-unpaid-work-and-colonial-hangover">Women&#039;s paid and unpaid work, and the colonial hangover</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/srilatha-batliwala/what-does-transforming-economic-power-mean">What does transforming economic power mean?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/emily-thomson-and-susanne-ross/women-postrecession-moving-towards-insecurity">Women post-recession: moving towards insecurity</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Women and the Economy 50.50 Women's Movement Building 50.50 Editor's Pick 50.50 Voices for Change gendered poverty 50.50 newsletter women's work Maid in London Wed, 19 Aug 2015 22:53:40 +0000 Maid in London 95371 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Women's working lives in the ‘new’ university https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/angela-mcrobbie/womens-working-lives-in-new-university <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Is there room for any women other than the "exceptional woman", let alone women with children, in the new hyper-stratified university?</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/557135/4826465311_3cdb1b9da5_z.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/557135/4826465311_3cdb1b9da5_z.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Graduation Day. Credit: David Morris from Flickr.</span></span></span></p><p>A few weeks ago the prize-winning French economist Thomas Piketty was<a href="http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/7ca6cfc2-1b39-11e5-a130-2e7db721f996.html"> interviewed for the Financial Times</a> for the regular ‘Lunch with the FT’ interview profiles which typically include a copy of the bill inserted into the text. However on this occasion it was not the very modest bill which aroused my attention (Piketty insisted, presumably to save time from his working day, on eating at a local café) but rather the overall account of his working days. He told the journalist that to be an academic one really needed to be buried away writing or in the library from 9am to 7pm each day. He also referred in passing to the enjoyable family life he had, as a 50-something French academic. This included a second wife along with two daughters from his first marriage, ‘the girls’. </p><p>These unremarkable facts somehow got stored in my feminist brain, especially the idea of being totally alone and able to work uninterrupted for up to 10 hours a day. As an academic I could hardly disagree, this is indeed what is required to do the job properly, as a feminist I thought that this working day surely relied on high levels of unseen support to shop, cook, and attend to the various aspects of domestic administration so that bills are paid, food is bought, clothes are collected from the dry cleaners, parents nights are attended and so on. In this case one might guess that Piketty leaves his home at 8am and returns at 8pm, and has perhaps done so throughout his entire working life.&nbsp;</p> <p>Meanwhile I was also reading, as it happened, the biography of another French academic Jacques Derrida by Benoit Peeters. Derrida died aged 74 in 2004, he was generally hailed as a friend to feminism, but as his biographer described, his wife Marguerite (a psychoanalyst) looked after everything for the duration of their long marriage which included bringing up two sons, indeed Derrida had never once entered his local bank, he did not even know where it was. His wife obviously created a beautiful home which provided hospitality to many visiting scholars from across the world many of whom seemed to stay for weeks at a time. Even when on vacation Derrida expressed the need for time alone to work for several hours each morning followed by swimming and relaxation.&nbsp;</p> <p>Given that women still bear the brunt of responsibility for running households and organising the school schedules of children and so on, the question I was asking myself was how can women academics ever hope to achieve success in their working lives when this kind of pattern is seen as not just normal but entirely unremarkable, especially in a sector deemed by and large to be well-disposed towards working parents? Deciding not to have children, and having a partner who is also an academic or at least very familiar with these kinds of schedules would seem like the obvious answer. </p><p>But to concede to this demand would be to comply with some of the most retrogressive aspects of our sexually divided society. And university faculties need to be able to demonstrate to young people, male and female, that women can be just as inspiring teachers and researchers, and be able to live as enjoyable a domestic life as their male counterparts. If we do not actively endorse this principle then we may as well go back to how it was when I first went to university myself in 1969, with the assumption that the figure of the professor is male. In short female academics ought to be able to demonstrate to enthusiastic young women that it is possible to succeed and to have children. Otherwise feminism has failed. &nbsp;</p> <p>Fifteen years ago, on the occasion of Stuart Hall’s retirement from the Open University I was invited to give a short talk as part of a day conference to mark the event. Where Stuart had been charting the move from Thatcherism to Blairism as part of a forming of a new right politics, what we now call neoliberalism, and where he saw the signs of this across the public sector including higher education under the guise of the ‘new managerialism’ I was at the time pre-occupied with how the new audit culture, and with what was then called the Research Assessment Exercise (now REF) impacted on young women in the academy who were trying to combine a career with motherhood. The RAE/REF introduced a rankings system whereby departments are measured and funds distributed according to the quality of the publications produced over a period of time by faculty. Alongside this there are other criteria that have to be met, including getting the research into the public realm and creating a rich research ‘environment’. In my talk I outlined the timelines for a ‘normal’ academic career through to post-doctoral research awards (perhaps aged 27) and then perhaps to a series of temporary posts (around the age of 28-33) leading, if all goes well and books and publications appear on time and grant applications are completed and the awards flow in, to a full time job perhaps aged 35. </p><p>As it happens this is exactly the age I myself first was offered a full time job after 5 years of temporary jobs. Indeed earlier on aged 30 I had been lucky enough to get a full time post but it meant commuting weekly, a round trip of 200 miles, and I had a young child and a family life back home in Birmingham, so after a year I had to resign and return, with much anxiety, to the rounds of temporary posts until I was eventually offered another job nearer to home.&nbsp; It was precisely this kind of dilemma I remember discussing at the OU event, it may seem banal but the ideal career track in the academy especially one which carried all the laurels of prizes, awards, fellowships and a high volume of grants seemed to have been tailored around the image of the brilliant young man untrammelled by any of the fine details of domestic life. And if the young woman was to follow this pathway and plan the right time to have a child, then when would this right time be? The first few years of full time work (34-38) are marked by all kinds of expectations, and so it may be that just before getting to 40 having children could be embarked upon. &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;</p> <p>In the book <a href="http://www.versobooks.com/books/696-without-guarantees">Without Guarantees: In Honour of Stuart Hall</a> I unpicked these fine details of RAE culture with an additional question uppermost in my mind. It was not so much the fairly minimum exclusion clauses for maternity or career interruptions, permitted by the Research Assessment Exercise, more the whole new vocabulary which had not just descended upon the world of the universities so much so that it had become literally part of everyday life, entering all of our professional conversations and our day to day vocabularies. It felt as though we had become to define ourselves in these very terms. ‘Am I a 3 or a 4?’ Since then and in the last decade other academics have dissected this <em>dispositif </em>of ‘excellence’ . They have described how this &nbsp; means not just fulfilling endless benchmarks against a grid of criteria which include leadership and achievement in teaching, administration and management (ie setting up new degrees) and in research, scholarship and publication, but also keeping a strict diary of everything that happens, all events attended, all papers given, all targets met with students,&nbsp; all the citations, radio slots etc, these too should be noted to be duly referred to in all annual performance reviews which in turn are connected to promotions and pay increments. </p><p>The self-promotional rhetoric which now wraps its way round academic self-description has also become what Wendy Brown, in her recent book Undoing the Demos describes as a normative aspect of this new political rationality. Indeed it is a mark of self-responsibilisation to assume this boasting kind of stance.&nbsp; It is not just the number of books written but the ranking of the journal or publisher, it is not just the grants awarded but the prestige of the funding body, and so on. There is a requirement to be exceptional, and I would argue that only a truly exceptional young woman, one who was also lucky in her life-planning with a partner could have children and could survive this new style of university governmentality without falling apart.</p> <p>The point of these various instruments which shape the working environment is to introduce higher levels of competition in the expectation that this triggers economic growth, innovation and a more entrepreneurial outlook. But what they also do is pathologise failure, if one is not excellent then one can only be at best mediocre and at worst bad at ones job. Again for young women these benchmarking strategies are all the more pernicious since they add yet more layers to the already many varieties of self-admonishment&nbsp; which target female insecurities, if only to be able to offer implausible&nbsp; ‘solutions’ available through the consumer culture. Through their teenage years girls are constantly encouraged to be ‘perfect’ and this gives rise to the <a href="http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/08164649.2015.1011485">pernicious culture of self-beratement</a>.&nbsp;</p> <p>Apart from the more obvious feminist strategies which would involve trying to find collaborative ways of countering the excellence regime in the university, there are perhaps other ways of resisting these forces. For over a decade for example, while my daughter was at school,&nbsp; I myself stayed in a near to the bottom of the ranks former polytechnic, where I could pace myself, do research on my own terms and enjoy the teaching. As it happened this time in a non-elite ‘new university’ worked out well, and I never regretted being there. Alternately one could insist that the right to go-slow for particular periods of the working life need not mean the defeatism of the ‘mommy track’. </p><p>Indeed if Richard Sennett is right when he claims that the modern work regime has a corrosive effect on the individual, then for women embracing the idea of ordinariness may be good for the soul, while letting go of the drive to succeed, or to get the perfect ‘balance’ in life and work, could mean inventing new ways of thinking about work which replaces the logic of the talent led economy with the more commonplace idea of a ‘good job well done’. Often I have thought surely it should be enough to spend a morning teaching, an afternoon doing supervisions and some marking of essays and then go home and switch off and enjoy the children or indeed grandchildren, and help with home-work rather than feeling the need to return late night to the computer and to the completion of yet another peer–reviewed journal article. &nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/maria-do-mar-pereira/dangerous-laughter-mocking-of-gender-studies-in-academia">Dangerous laughter: the mocking of Gender Studies in academia</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ourkingdom/heather-savigny/women-universities-and-zombies">Women - Universities and Zombies</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/heather-mcrobie/will-academia-ever-graduate-from-sexism">Will academia ever graduate from sexism?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/jennifer-allsopp/womens-library-in-london-kh%C3%B4ra-and-call-to-arms">The Women&#039;s Library in London: a khôra and a call to arms </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/jennifer-allsopp/visible-players-power-and-risks-for-young-feminists">Visible players: the power and the risks for young feminists</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Women and the Economy 50.50 Women's Movement Building 50.50 Structures of Sexism 50.50 Contesting Patriarchy 50.50 Editor's Pick 50.50 Voices for Change gender feminism everyday feminism 50.50 newsletter patriarchy women and power women's work Angela McRobbie Mon, 10 Aug 2015 11:07:24 +0000 Angela McRobbie 95129 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Breastfeeding is a human right, but does society truly enable women to breastfeed? https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/inka-barnett/breastfeeding-is-human-right-but-does-society-truly-enable-women-to-breastfeed <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>We know breast is best, but the challenges of juggling work and motherhood still throw up insurmountable barriers for women.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="p1"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/557135/534723284_bb99b7a278_z.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/557135/534723284_bb99b7a278_z.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="342" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Browsing and breastfeeding. Credit: Pinot Dita from Flickr.</span></span></span></p><p class="p1">Breastmilk is the optimal nutrition for an infant in the first 6 months of life. It promotes healthy child development and growth and prevents diseases in adulthood.&nbsp; Especially in resource-poor settings in which formula feeding is not affordable, feasible or sustainable, breastfeeding is often the only option to ensure<a href="http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736%252813%252960937-X/abstract"> child survival and health</a>.&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1">A recent Lancet paper recommends breastfeeding promotion as one of the 10 evidence-based core interventions to address child undernutrition. Increasing breastfeeding rates is on the agenda of more and more Ministries of Health and Family Welfare, international agencies and non-governmental organisations that work on improving child health. At community-level, lactation counsellors and breastfeeding peer support groups have become a common feature in many places. Since 1991, the <a href="http://www.waba.org.my/">World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action</a>, a global network of organisations and individuals, has been organising the annual World Breastfeeding Week to raise international awareness, from&nbsp; 1-7th August. &nbsp;</p> <p class="p1">So why, despite all these efforts, are only <a href="http://www.who.int/gho/publications/world_health_statistics/2015/en/">36% of all infants worldwide</a>&nbsp; breastfed for the recommended first 6 month of their lives? Why do so few women breastfeed or discontinue breastfeeding early? What prevents mums from giving their children the best nutritional start possible?</p> <p class="p1">The reasons for low breastfeeding rates in almost every country in the world are complex and multi-dimensional. If we want to be serious about increasing&nbsp; breastfeeding rates, we need to do much more than simply raising awareness and providing individual-level breastfeeding support to mums. &nbsp;</p> <p class="p2"><strong>The unmet challenges of work and breastfeeding&nbsp;</strong></p> <p class="p1">The topic of this year’s <a href="http://worldbreastfeedingweek.org/">World Breastfeeding Week</a> is on how to support women to better combine breastfeeding and work. <a href="http://www.ilo.org/dyn/normlex/en/f?p=NORMLEXPUB:12100:0::NO::P12100_ILO_CODE:C183">The International Labour Organisation’s maternity protection from 2000</a> paved the way for women to claim their right to breastfeed and work. Paid maternity allowance in line with the breastfeeding targets, flexible working hours with sufficient break times to allow mothers to nurse or express breastmilk and supportive workplace environments are some of the measures that are currently mooted to help nursing women.</p> <p class="p1">While all of these can be supportive for nursing mothers, they are only the tip of the iceberg. The majority of working women (especially in low and middle income countries) are not eligible or are excluded from these supportive measures, for example because they work in the informal sector without any legislative or social protection mechanisms such as maternity leave, or are self-employed.&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1">The realities of work life including long working hours, work-related stress (especially in the context of high levels of unemployment and constant fears of being ‘laid off’ or made redundant), crowded and hazardous working conditions, lack of safe places at work to express and safely store breastmilk, unsupportive employers and long commutes add further and often insurmountable challenges for women. &nbsp;</p> <p class="p1">We need to think more creatively and inclusively about breastfeeding at work. Legal protection is an important first step, but is only the beginning of creating an environment that enables breastfeeding at work.&nbsp;</p> <p class="p2"><strong>The need for a supportive social environment</strong></p> <p class="p1">Breastfeeding might be natural but it is far from straightforward. A <a href="http://www.degruyter.com/view/j/jpme.2014.42.issue-1/jpm-2013-0095/jpm-2013-0095.xml">recent review</a> estimates that up to 80% of mother-infant pairs encounter difficulties with breastfeeding. To exclusively breastfeed for 6 months is a huge commitment with regards to the mother’s time and energy. It requires determination and constant perseverance, both of which can be difficult for mothers who also <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/dawn-foster/women%2527s-paid-and-unpaid-work-and-colonial-hangover">shoulder most of the burden of caring for other children and/or household members</a>, do household chores, work and still recover from (often traumatic) births.&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1">Lactation experts, peer support and health visitors can help women to overcome some of these challenges. But they also inadvertently place all of the responsibility for breastfeeding on the mother alone, forgetting about the influences, needs and demands of her home environment and community setting.&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1">Support and encouragement from relatives, partners and the wider community have been shown to be important for successful breastfeeding. In many cultures it used to be custom that new mothers and their babies stayed separate from their families for the first few months after birth and were well cared for by the entire community. This custom gave mother and child time and space to rest, bond and establish a good breastfeeding practice. Sadly, things have changed and mothers all over the world need to go back to their usual chores (or parts of their routine) shortly after birth. Lack of supportive social networks in nuclear family settings, anonymous and often isolated living conditions in urban metropoles and poverty add further challenges.</p> <p class="p1">Breastfeeding does not take place in isolation but within a family and community. Hence, breastfeeding promotions needs to target the entire social environment of a mother and not only the mother to be effective.</p> <p class="p1">There is no doubt that ‘breast is best’ for a baby. But to empower women to do what is best, we need to create an environment that truly supports and enables women to breastfeed.&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/dawn-foster/who-cooked-adam-smith%E2%80%99s-dinner-women-and-work-postcrash">Who Cooked Adam Smith’s Dinner? Women and work post-crash</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/kate-donald/unpaid-care-missing-women%E2%80%99s-rights-issue">Unpaid care: the missing women’s rights issue </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/ana-alice-alc%C3%A2ntara-cecilia-sardenberg/brazil-state-feminism-at-work">Brazil: &quot;state feminism&quot; at work</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/rachael-panizzo/manufacturing-people-and-reproductive-technology">Manufacturing people and reproductive technology</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/nelly-bassily/shackles-different-from-my-own-building-intergenerational-women%27s-movement">Shackles different from my own: building an intergenerational women&#039;s movement</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Women and the Economy women's human rights women's health gender feminism Inka Barnett Tue, 04 Aug 2015 08:13:04 +0000 Inka Barnett 94989 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Women post-recession: moving towards insecurity https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/emily-thomson-and-susanne-ross/women-postrecession-moving-towards-insecurity <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>After the recession, the rise in casual and precarious contracts is entrenching gender inequality in the UK.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>&nbsp;</p><p><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/4530434211_c7df851ee1_z.jpg" alt="A woman walks past an anti-austerity placard on the Southbank." width="460px" /> </p><p><em>A woman walks past an anti-austerity placard on the Southbank.</em></p><p><em></em><span>In the second quarter of 2008, t</span><span>he UK economy followed the US into recession and remained there for six successive quarters. By early 2010</span><strong> </strong><span>UK GDP contracted by 6.2%, the worst loss of output and the longest recession since World War II. The associated loss in employment was worse for men than for women in the initial stages of the recession. The impact of any economic downturn tends to be borne mostly by men because there is a greater concentration of male workers in cyclically sensitive industries, such as construction and manufacturing. Other industries, particularly within the public sector, such as health and education, are not as vulnerable to the effects of the economic cycle. Women’s employment increased in both health and education sectors in the initial phases of the UK recession and increased overall within the public sector. So, to some extent women workers were sheltered from the recession due to the role of the public sector and women’s higher rates of participation in that sector. However, female employment in the public sector has been far from immune from the UK government’s response to the ‘Great Recession’ which focuses on fiscal consolidation in the form of public sector spending cuts underpinned by deficit reduction ‘fetishism’.&nbsp;</span></p> <p>Analysis of labour market statistics suggests that since recovery took hold in 2010 the UK labour market has shifted towards increased underemployment and wider use of insecure forms of employment, particularly for women. Public sector spending cuts have drastically weakened the public sector ‘safety-net’ for low paid workers on the margins of the labour market, who are most likely to be women. Similarly, it is likely that reductions in the public provision of care services has increased the burden of unpaid work for women, further jeopardising their economic security.&nbsp;<span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p><strong>Gender Dimension of Employment Recovery in the UK</strong></p> <p><span>Total employment is now higher than pre-recession levels, with female employment currently at the highest since comparable records began. Since economic recovery took hold in 2010, total employment has increased by 2.1 million; men increased their employment by 1.2 million compared to 910,000 for women. The male employment rate therefore rose slightly faster than the female employment rate, increasing by 3.5% compared to 3.1% for women.</span></p> <p><span>One significant feature of the recovery is that the gender gap in employment has narrowed from 12.1% to 9.8%, explained somewhat by the synchronisation of male and female state pension ages from 2010 onwards. The UK Government policy of equalising male and female retirement ages to 65 by 2018 has resulted in an increased labour supply over the medium term, with more women in the labour market now working past the age of 60.</span></p> <p><span>Women accounted for 80% of the fall in levels of economic inactivity (defined as not working or actively seeking work) in the recovery period. The fall in economic inactivity therefore has been much more significant for women than that experienced by men, with their inactivity decreasing by 399,000 compared to 104,000 for men. One possible reason for this is the changes implemented to lone parent conditionality, effective from October 2011, which has seen increasing numbers of women being classified as unemployed due to changes in benefit conditions for single parents, the overwhelming majority of whom are female. To ensure continued eligibility for, and receipt of, welfare payments, once their youngest child reaches the age of 5, lone parents are required to seek employment therefore moving from receipt of benefit payments in the form of income support to job seekers allowance. This embodies a significant change in the way these individuals are captured in the labour force survey as payments of income support signify economic inactivity whereas individuals in receipt of job seekers allowance are classified as unemployed.&nbsp; The gender gap in economic inactivity therefore has narrowed since the start of the recession from 13.4% to 10.7% in 2015, driven by falling female economic inactivity.</span></p> <p><span>Women are still more likely to be economically </span><em>inactive</em><span> than men (currently 27% of women and 17% of men of working age are economically inactive). Women are five times more likely to be classified as economically inactive as a result of ‘looking after the family/home’ compared to men, the proportion of which has not significantly changed over the recessionary period. Clearly individuals who are caring for their family and the home are working, they just are not getting paid for it. Their contribution to the economy is largely invisible in official statistics.&nbsp;</span></p> <p>&nbsp;<strong>Labour Market Structure: Moving towards insecurity</strong></p> <p><span>Historically women have a greater tendency to work part-time, mainly as a means to juggling paid employment with caring responsibilities. Since 2010 part-time employment has increased by over half a million, which has been evenly shared by both men and women, with men filling 280,000 part-time jobs compared to 310,000 for women. Of all the part-time jobs created during the recovery period, two in every five were in what the Office for National Statistics classifies as lower skilled jobs such as in elementary occupations or caring, leisure and other service roles, of which two thirds were attributed to increases in female part-time employment in these occupations.</span></p> <p>Since 2010 there has been an increase of 207,000 temporary forms of employment. Over half the temporary jobs created in the recovery were through agency temping. In terms of part-time temporary employment, increases came predominantly from casual&nbsp; work, increasing by 40,000. Men and women have shared increases in all of these forms of temporary/insecure work relatively equally. Interestingly, since 2010 the number of women employed on part-time fixed term contracts has reduced by 27,000 compared to an increase of 4,000 for men. &nbsp;</p> <p>Increased incidence of other forms of precarious and insecure working practices have become more prevalent in a post-recession UK labour market, particularly through the use of zero-hours and short-hours contracts. Zero-hours are contracts offering no assurance of minimum working hours per week and have increased by 114,000 since 2013 to 700,000 in 2014. This amounts to approximately 2.3% of those in employment. Individuals employed on these contracts are more likely to be women (55%), more likely work part-time (66%) than full-time and nearly half (45%) are employed in accommodation and food as well as admin and support service sectors. &nbsp;</p> <p>Furthermore the <a href="https://www.tuc.org.uk/economic-issues/zero-hours-contracts-just-tip-iceberg-low-paid-and-insecure-jobs-says-tuc ">Trade Unions Congress estimated</a> that in 2014 there were 820,000 workers in the UK employed on short-hours contracts, which guarantee as little as 1 working hour per week. These contracts have gained popularity amongst employers as a means of avoiding paying national insurance contributions for individuals if working less than 18 hours per week.&nbsp; Individuals employed on these contracts are predominately women (72%) and the majority (71%) are used in retail; education; accommodation and food services and health and social care sectors.&nbsp;</p> <p>In addition to increasingly insecure and/or hours constrained waged employment, evidence also suggests that self-employment has risen by just over half a million since 2010. Despite the fact that the majority of self-employed individuals are men, female self-employment has risen at twice the pace of male self-employment since the onset of the recovery, increasing by 22% compared to 11% for their male counterparts.&nbsp;</p> <p><span>Individuals may be entering self-employment out of economic necessity; rather than an increase in entrepreneurial spirit, self-employment could therefore be more of a <a href="http://www.cipd.co.uk/publicpolicy/policy-reports/rise-self-employment.aspx">survival strategy for many</a>. This is reflected in the occupations and sectors in which the number of the self-employed are increasing. For example, the service sector has seen the largest increase in female part-time self-employment, rising by 209,000 since 2010.&nbsp; In terms of self-employment by occupation, nearly one in three (31%) self-employed women took up self-employment in low paid occupations such as caring, leisure and other service; elementary occupations or as process, plant and machine operatives. This compares with one in every twenty self-employed men taking up self-employment in these occupations. Women therefore are doing the work they have always done but now on a contractual, and hence less secure, basis. The largest increase in male self-employment since 2010 was for self-employed managers, directors and senior officials, increasing by 133,000 compared to rise of 70,000 for women. It can be concluded then that the increase in female self-employment for women has been in low paid, low status sectors reinforcing gender inequalities in self-employment including a gendered pay gap in self-employment </span><a href="http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/mar/08/women-self-employed-gender-pay-gap-jobs">which in 2012 stood at 40%</a><span>. &nbsp;</span></p> <p>Underemployment in the UK increased to 9.9% in 2014. This amounts to nearly 3 million individuals in the UK who would have liked to work more hours, rising by 220,000 since economic recovery. Sales and customer services, with an underemployment rate of 19%, as well as caring, leisure and other service workers, with an underemployment rate of 14% have seen significantly higher experiences of underemployment since the start of the recession. This would suggest that despite increases in employment opportunities in these occupational groups, through part-time and temporary employment, there are a growing number of individuals working in these jobs who are unsatisfied with their current hours of work, the majority of whom are likely to be women.&nbsp;</p> <p>Women are more likely than men to work in the public sector <a href="http://www.ifs.org.uk/publications/7113">making up two thirds of the workforce</a> and public sector employment now stands lower than at any point in the last four decades. Employment in the private sector has increased by 2.4 million, whilst public sector employment has fallen by 420,000 since 2010. This can be explained in some degree by public bodies increasingly outsourcing the delivery of public services to private sector organisations in an effort to reduce costs. This has resulted in local government staff being transferred into the private sector signifying that as the size of the public sector changes, women will be disproportionately affected as public sector employees. &nbsp;</p> <p>It is not unreasonable to assume that in times of recession, as jobs are lost in the formal paid labour market, the demand for market substitutes for domestic work such as cleaning will contract. At the same time, job losses will have a negative impact on the demand for market-based childcare. Under such circumstances, the burden of unpaid work in the household could increase as paid employment decreases and as public services are withdrawn, especially in care, signifying a transfer of public responsibility to private responsibility.</p> <p>It is clear then that, despite economic growth, recovery has been largely fuelled by increasingly precarious and casual forms of employment as well as insecure self-employment which has impacted more on women. As evidenced above, these forms of employment are increasing often in lower skilled, female dominated and subsequently low paid sectors of the economy. The question therefore remains as to whether these precarious and casual forms of employment are becoming the norm in a post-recession UK labour market, reinforcing low paid and insecure forms of employment, predominantly undertaken by women. Evidence so far suggests that they are entrenching gender inequality within the formal paid labour market in the UK.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/dawn-foster/can-i-help-emotional-labour-and-precarity">&quot;Can I help?&quot; Emotional labour and precarity</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/heather-mcrobie/when-austerity-sounds-like-backlash-gender-and-economic-crisis">When austerity sounds like backlash: gender and the economic crisis</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/dawn-foster/who-cooked-adam-smith%E2%80%99s-dinner-women-and-work-postcrash">Who Cooked Adam Smith’s Dinner? Women and work post-crash</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/towards-plan-f-planning-for-feminist-economy-in-uk">Towards Plan F: planning for a feminist economy in the UK</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 UK Women and the Economy women and power gendered poverty gender justice feminism Susanne Ross Emily Thomson Mon, 27 Jul 2015 09:58:26 +0000 Emily Thomson and Susanne Ross 94773 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Women's paid and unpaid work, and the colonial hangover https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/dawn-foster/women%27s-paid-and-unpaid-work-and-colonial-hangover <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>At the International Association for Feminist Economics conference, social scientists, researchers and economists agree that women's work is still undervalued globally, and dogged by an enduring subconscious colonial mindset.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/557135/1988367438_a76abefec0_z.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/557135/1988367438_a76abefec0_z.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="300" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Woman with newborn child in post-natal ward of hospital, Sri Lanka. Credit: World Bank Photo Collection</span></span></span></p><p><span>Women’s labour is undervalued. Few could argue with that statement: the evidence is available anecdotally in our day to day lives, in the types of work available to women across the globe, and in the pay and remuneration women receive for their labour. Statistically, it’s undeniable: wherever a labour market exists, a gender pay gap is evident. Speaking at the IAFFE, Nuria Molina and Kasia Staswezska pointed out that globally, the cost of the gender pay gap is $17trillion: comparable to the combined gross domestic product of France, the United Kingdom, and Germany.&nbsp;</span></p><p><span>But focussing on paid labour overlooks the problem of care in attempts to widen and improve women’s economic empowerment globally. Priya Raghavan argues that addressing heavy and unequal care is the only way of achieving more economic justice for women. While women carry out more housework and more childcare, economic empowerment often means that paid labour is taken on in addition to the heavy burden of care work in the home.</span><span></span></p><p><span>Gender inequality even affects sleep, when it comes to work. Due to care burdens, women sleep less than men even when they are not participating in paid work, an ActionAid report into households in ten developing countries showed. Oxfam found that in the six countries they surveyed, when combining paid work, and unpaid care work, women worked for more hours than men in every country. So while unpaid care and work is undervalued, it also encroaches on women’s leisure, and rest, and therefore health.</span></p><p><span><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/557135/Care Infographic-1_India.gif" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/557135/Care Infographic-1_India.gif" alt="" title="" width="460" height="256" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><br /></span></p><p><span>But care burdens can violate women’s human rights, specifically the right to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress, the right to participation in civic life, and the right to rest and leisure.</span><span></span></p><p><span>Women’s economic empowerment is not simply about labour force participation: it must also encompass and consider choice to work, choice of sector, location and working hours. When working for women’s economic empowerment, societies, politicians and development workers need to make sure women’s economic empowerment doesn’t come at the cost of time poverty: leisure and rest are just as important.</span><span>&nbsp;</span><span></span></p><p><span>For instance, introducing low-cost fuel-efficient stoves, washing machines and improving access to safe water reduces the time women spend on unpaid labour and care work, because the tasks are completed more efficiently, in a shorter space of time, freeing women’s time and allowing more space for leisure, rest, or entry into the paid workforce.</span><span>&nbsp;</span><span></span></p><p><span>Conversely, some studies have found that introducing electricity into homes often has the opposite effect: with the period in which work can be undertaken expanding, work grows to fill the time, rather than allowing tasks to be performed in a shorter period. Technology alone cannot be a liberator without an attendant change in social attitudes towards unpaid work and a shift in the gender burden of work.</span><span>&nbsp;</span><span></span></p><p><span>The question “who performs the drudgery?” in society is a gendered one, but one that cannot be considered without looking at intrinsic class and race factors. Care workers, low paid health assistants, cleaners and child minders in society are predominantly women, but also working class, and often black or asian, globally.</span><span>&nbsp;</span></p><p><span><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/557135/Care Infographic-3_UK.gif" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/557135/Care Infographic-3_UK.gif" alt="" title="" width="460" height="256" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><br /></span></p><p><span>When theorists of contemporary global justice focus intently on income inequality without considering the colonial legacy’s impact on inequality, five centuries of oppression are ignored when seeking to understand modernity. To imagine that the colonial period is purely of the past, and that there is no economic, social and political hangover is to deny reality. The experience of migrant workers, and migration patterns globally prove this to be a falsehood.</span><span>&nbsp;</span><span></span></p><p><span>Joan Tronto directs our attention to a passage in Thomas More’s </span><em>Utopia</em><span>, on who carries out the back-breaking, menial work: “Another sort of slave are the poor of the neighbouring countries, who offer of their own accord to come and serve them: they treat these better, and use them in all other respects as well as their own countrymen, except their imposing more labour upon them, which is no hard task to those that have been accustomed to it.”</span><span></span></p><p><span>This illustrates the colonial hangover in our attitude towards care and “drudgery”: thousands of professionals, especially in medicine, still migrate from the global south to work in caring professions in the West. Without migrant workers, the National Health Service in the UK would collapse - health workers simply aren’t being trained fast enough to cope with demand.</span><span>&nbsp;</span><span></span></p><p><span>Meanwhile, a “brain drain” or “care drain” continues to affect the global south. Tronto notes that Africa trains 3% of the world’s physicians, but shoulders 24% of the world’s “disease burden”. The world is already short of four million health care workers, many of whom train in the global south, then migrate to the North.</span><span>&nbsp;</span><span></span></p><p><span>That this is rarely considered, speaks of the continuing subconscious mindset of colonialism - that accepting the fact so many people migrate from developing countries to perform the “drudgery” work is only socially palatable if we attach different worths to human lives, based on nationality, gender and economic position. The neoliberal attachment to capital as a measure of human worth and value only bolsters this mindset, and so further entrenches women’s position as the underclass in society.</span><span></span></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/kate-donald/unpaid-care-missing-women%E2%80%99s-rights-issue">Unpaid care: the missing women’s rights issue </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/srilatha-batliwala/what-does-transforming-economic-power-mean">What does transforming economic power mean?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/emily-esplen/reclaiming-care-as-fundamental-end-in-itself">Reclaiming care as a fundamental end in itself</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Economics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Economics Women and the Economy 50.50 Structures of Sexism women's human rights women and power patriarchy gendered poverty gendered migration gender justice gender feminism Dawn Foster Fri, 17 Jul 2015 10:56:42 +0000 Dawn Foster 94517 at https://www.opendemocracy.net "Can I help?" Emotional labour and precarity https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/dawn-foster/can-i-help-emotional-labour-and-precarity <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>With increasing precarity post-crash, are women's jobs subject to more psychological labour than ever before?</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/557135/shutterstock_282664916-2.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/557135/shutterstock_282664916-2.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Protestors against zero hours contracts gather outside a Hastings shop</span></span></span></p><p><span>A little over a decade ago, I received a phone call offering me a part-time job in a nearby high street shop. Having sent in the application on a whim, with little expectation of success, it was a pleasant shock. My previous work experience amounted to Saturday jobs burning my hands on unwieldy coffee machines, and trying not to drop fried breakfasts while winding my way through scores of tables.&nbsp;</span></p><p><span>So the first day, with five other women being inducted, was a moment of tentative excitement. There was a uniform, a generous staff discount, and a large staff room upstairs. We were told, matter-of-factly, that we were all on “zero hours contracts” though later we all confessed outside that we had no idea what that meant in practice.&nbsp;</span></p><p><span>We found out shortly. Each week, a rota was drawn up. Initially the shifts seemed to be regular, and shared relatively equally. As the weeks wore on, the dynamic changed. I was polite and smart, and turned out to have a knack for selling shoes: one of the more involved shop floor jobs, involving a certain amount of cajoling, and measuring of customers’ moods. But I was also able to respond positively to my manager’s attempts to strike up conversation: to read her manner and second guess what the subtext of her queries were; to guess when she was in a bad mood and offer support; to sense when she was stressed and offer help.&nbsp;</span></p><p><span>Other colleagues worked just as hard, but focussed less on this emotional labour. They were paid to do a certain task, so they’d do it well. Everything else was outside their remit. Another colleague enjoyed the job, but wasn’t able to be as flexible with her hours, due to childcare issues. Slowly, these colleagues noticed their names cropping up less and less often on the rotas, until they realised the reality of zero hours contracts. Other staff members were hired, despite the fact three or four colleagues were sat at home, wondering whether to take a chance on finding a new job.&nbsp;</span><span>&nbsp;</span></p><p><span>Ten years ago, zero hours contracts weren’t as common as they are now in Britain. Most part-time jobs offered you a minimum guarantee of hours, with the option of more overtime. The precarity of a zero hours contract is well documented - when your employer can continue your employment with no guarantee of work, there’s obviously no guarantee you can pay your rent. Even if your employer has not offered you work for weeks, you still can’t quit and claim Jobseekers’ Allowance in the UK, as the Department for Work and Pensions deem you to have made yourself deliberately unemployed.&nbsp;</span><span>&nbsp;</span></p><p><span>The recession hastened this sea change in employment rights. Seemingly overnight, workers in countries hit by the crash were told to be thankful they had a job at all. Especially for the lowest paid workers, the message was clear that they should accept scraps from the table rather than demand their fair share of the bread. For my boss, and many others, this meant their role shifted from simply managing a small team in a straightforward manner, to an intense power play. To have a minimum wage shift bestowed upon you, rearranging shirts by size order and tidying the shop floor wasn’t enough. You had to perform for your manager, and engage in affective labour to curry favour and win rewards.&nbsp;</span><span>&nbsp;</span></p><p><span>The psychological dynamics of workplaces run on zero hours contracts are starkly different to salaried offices. Every colleague is competition, yet you’re constantly on edge, aware that the tiniest slip of the tongue, or careless mistake could mean a fall from grace and loss of income. In such circumstances, its impossible to organise collectively. No one employed so precariously dare step out of line first, knowing the inevitable consequences.&nbsp;</span></p><p><span>Instead, the workplace becomes more atomised, suspicion of colleagues higher, job satisfaction lower. Meanwhile the UK government wonder why productivity is so low: post-crash productivity has remained at roughly 16% below pre-crash levels. Ensuring your employees are kept in a state of precarity deskills your workforce. Productivity predictably slumps.</span></p><p><span>But the rise of precarity and attendant affective labour aren’t confined to the lowest paid sections of the workforce. Creative industries, and especially PR, expect extensive periods of free work, for which the unpaid are expected to be grateful, before even a sniff at a permanent contract. Much of the work involved in PR and publicity, <a href="//www.jacobinmag.com/2014/06/pink-collar/">“pink collar” jobs</a>, as Jennifer Pan wrote in Jacobin,&nbsp;revolve around the building of relationships. Relationships that are unlikely to be sincere, but require plenty of emotional labour regardless: the input is the same, and the attendant weariness and sting of rejection, and rebuffs from journalists, producers and clients has a high mental toll.</span></p><p><span>This work, like low paid retail work in which zero hours contracts are common, is still predominantly carried out by women. As a result, it is undervalued, underpaid and precarious. The psychological toll of endlessly performing emotional labour and projecting certain personas to yield results is underestimated and seen to be as valueless as it is unquantifiable. Anyone raising grievances with regard to their treatment is reminded that pink collar jobs are competitive and desirable, in a cut-throat jobs market. The message is clear: in female dominated industries and roles, you are always replaceable, and therefore of little value.&nbsp;</span></p><p><span>In Joanna Biggs’ recent book <em>All Day Long: A portrait of Britain</em> at work, she profiles two baristas in a London branch of sandwich shop Pret a Manger. Pret a Manger prides itself on enforcing “The Pret Behaviours” listed in a book handed out to all staff, which explains all staff must smile, try to chat to customers while their coffee is being prepared and act with the utmost enthusiasm at all times. Rather than receiving tips, bonuses are accrued based on the findings of Pret’s mystery shoppers: with the bonus, an average worker’s basic salary rises from £200 to £245.</span></p><p><span>Eighty per cent of mystery shoppers are happy, and the bonus is paid out. But it’s indicative of a skewing of workplace dynamics and feelings about employees. Previously, if workers were unhappy in a workplace, the likelihood of strikes, or workplace negotiations could improve conditions. Logic dictates that if workers are unhappy, making their working conditions and rewards more attractive will increase work satisfaction and therefore production. But instead, corporations mandate happiness, making the performance a core skill of the job. Your happiness is no longer seen as an integral part of you, and contingent on outside forces, but instead a performative skill. Whether you’re genuinely happy or not is irrelevant: but dare show a flash of genuine emotion at work, and know that your income is at risk.</span></p><p><span>Post-crash, the psychological power play between managers and the managed is more fraught than ever, with far more at stake. But employees, especially women, are no longer allowed to separate their working life from their personal life. Much of work now relies on emotional performance and projecting the impression that your working self is your whole self - the long term implications for women are yet to be seen.</span></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/dawn-foster/who-cooked-adam-smith%E2%80%99s-dinner-women-and-work-postcrash">Who Cooked Adam Smith’s Dinner? Women and work post-crash</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/fran-bennett/gender-and-poverty-in-uk-inside-household-and-across-life-course">Gender and poverty in the UK: Inside the household and across the life course</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/barbara-gunnell/how-women-are-paying-for-recession-in-uk">How women are paying for the recession in the UK</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/kate-donald/feminisation-of-poverty-and-myth-of-welfare-queen">The feminisation of poverty and the myth of the &#039;welfare queen&#039;</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/heather-mcrobie/when-austerity-sounds-like-backlash-gender-and-economic-crisis">When austerity sounds like backlash: gender and the economic crisis</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/heather-mcrobie/is-gendered-austerity-finally-on-political-agenda">Is gendered austerity finally on the political agenda?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/dawn-foster/there%E2%80%99s-nothing-left-women%E2%80%99s-future-under-conservatives-in-uk">&quot;There’s nothing left&quot; - women’s future under the Conservatives in the UK</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> 50.50 50.50 Women and the Economy 50.50 Women's Movement Building 50.50 Editor's Pick gendered poverty 50.50 newsletter Dawn Foster Tue, 16 Jun 2015 08:00:03 +0000 Dawn Foster 93567 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Gender and tax justice https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/liz-nelson/gender-and-tax-justice <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The heart of tax injustice is gender dominance, the language of secrecy, and an industry and culture which under free-market rules has normalised the subjugation and exclusion of women.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><em>Humanity is male and man defines woman not in herself but as relative to him; she is not regarded as an autonomous being…she is the incidental, the inessential as opposed to the essential. He is the Subject, he is the Absolute – she is the Other. </em><a href="http://trove.nla.gov.au/work/7142301">Simone de Beauvoir</a>, 1949.<em> <br /></em></p> <p>The otherness of women that Simone de Beauvoir described more than sixty-five years ago still plays out in international, global and UK economic and fiscal policy as lost opportunities, grinding poverty and premature death for millions of women and girls. The latest&nbsp; edition of Tax Justice Focus is concerned with raising the visibility of gender in the context of tax justice issues. </p> <p>It is important to stress that gender inequality in relation to fiscal policy and tax is not an ‘untold’ story. On the contrary feminist commentators, economists, and lawyers have been writing about these issues for many years. Among them, <a href="https://www.essex.ac.uk/sociology/staff/profile.aspx?ID=129">Diane Elson</a> has written extensively on gender and economic policy; <a href="http://law.queensu.ca/faculty-research/faculty-directory/Lahey">Kathleen Lahey</a> has drawn up blueprints for tax policy that takes gender justice seriously; and <a href="http://www.apmdd.org/">Mae Buenaventura</a> has campaigned to give gender justice its proper weight in both national policy-making and in the global institutions. But too often policy-makers and the experts and lobbyists on whom they depend for advice have been able to ignore this work. Back in 2007 Caren Grown and Imraan Valodia argued in <em><a href="http://www.taxjustice.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/TJF_3-1_final.pdf">Tax Justice Focus</a></em> that, while some progressive regimes acknowledged the importance of gender-sensitive budgeting, there were too few examples where revenue raising initiatives articulated equality. Gender, they argued, was ‘overlooked’ in favour of administrative simplification or goals set by the institutions of financial liberalisation. </p> <p>In 2015 the economic context in much of the world is very different. Several years of austerity have placed disproportionate burdens on women in gendered tax regimes. Neo-liberalism mixes with old-fashioned patriarchy to ensure that in many societies, north and south, the cards are stacked against efforts to secure gender justice. </p> <p>It is time for a re-assessment of gender and taxation and of the gendered assumptions that hide in neutral-sounding technical language. We should not be deterred by the apparent complexity of fiscal and financial policy. As in any discipline it requires some effort to master unfamiliar jargon and to grasp key ideas. But the heart of tax justice is the demand for social justice, for the redistribution of wealth, and for equality; at the heart of tax ‘injustice’ is gender dominance, the language of secrecy, and an industry and culture which under free-market rules has normalised the subjugation and exclusion of women. </p> <p>The relationship between the offshore world and the politics of gender also needs closer examination and exposure. Too little is understood; too little has been scrutinised.&nbsp; Nicholas Shaxson, one writer in the tax justice world who has examined&nbsp; the activity beneath several tax haven ‘stones’, <a href="http://www.amazon.co.uk/Treasure-Islands-Havens-Stole-World/dp/0099541726">describes</a> them in this way:&nbsp; ‘Tax havens aren’t just about tax. They are about escape – escape from criminal laws, escape from creditors, escape from tax, escape from prudent financial regulation – above all, escape from democratic scrutiny and accountability’.&nbsp; </p> <p><em><a href="https://www.bushtheatre.co.uk/event/islands/">Islands</a>, </em>a play by Caroline Horton, invites us to press ‘our grubby noses’ against the glass that separates most of us from the offshore world.&nbsp; In the place she describes there are no boundaries and no moral restraints. The Golden Rule is that those with the gold make the rules. And those with the gold are overwhelmingly men. In such an environment finding a place for the female perspective becomes a dramatic challenge in its own right. And Caroline’s experience of the development process tells a gender story, too, where in pre-production discussions her male collaborators acted out a ‘point-scoring frenzy’. Caroline’s <a href="http://www.taxjustice.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/TJF_2015_Women.pdf">description</a> of the plan and of the production reminds us that gender inequality, privilege and subjugation have the ability to inhabit every aspect of society and culture, including its movements for reform. </p> <p>The story of tax havens is incomplete. A gendered view of financial offshore centres can see behaviour and gendered codes as ‘naturalising’ the exclusion of women - whether in the ‘hiding’ of assets from spouses, or from intimacy and power of social structures. Beyond the raw statistics of capital flight, tax avoidance and tax evasion, financial secrecy plays out in the politics of the household as much as in the world of public administration. Overtly patriarchal attitudes have become increasingly unacceptable over the last three decades. At the same time the substance of patriarchy – from polygamy to the domination of children - has taken refuge in the opaque world of trusts. </p> <p>At a macro-economic level the ramifications are pernicious. Illicit money alludes scrutiny and denies jurisdictions, often low income jurisdictions. The pernicious ramifications fall without redress on the poor. Women and girls feel these disproportionately.&nbsp; In spite of what has been characterised as ‘major strides since 1990’, continuing discrimination against women and girls has profound ‘<a href="http://hdr.undp.org/en/content/gender-inequality-index-gii">negative repercussions for development of their capabilities and their freedom of choice’</a>.</p> <p><em>"Excess female child mortality exists in some countries and maternal mortality and morbidity remain high in parts of Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean • Girls in the two most populous countries start off at a disadvantage. China and India are among the few countries where under-five mortality is higher among girls than among boys. In China, excess female mortality is concentrated among infants under one year of age. In India, mortality under age one is about equal for girls and boys, but it is higher for girls aged 1 to 4 than for boys of the same age. In both countries, preference for sons translates into delays in seeking healthcare for girls who are sick and poorer nutrition among girls, all of which contribute to their higher mortality relative to that of boys. Because of the weight of China and India, under-five mortality for Asia as a whole is higher for girls (61 per 1,000 in 2005-2010) than for boys (56&nbsp;per 1,000)". - United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs • Population Division, No. 2010/4, April, 2010.</em></p><p>Tax justice requires that we engage in broad and inclusive discussions to understand the damage caused to women and children - and to most men - by regressive tax systems and by the global financial architecture. The latest <a href="http://www.taxjustice.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/TJF_2015_Women.pdf">newsletter</a> of the Tax Justice Network looks at tax and gender from a range of fiscal, political, cultural and sociological perspectives. Collectively they show that gender is much more than a variable in fiscal policy and economic structures. Gender shapes institutions, systems and psyches. The struggle for gender justice is a struggle against the forms of unaccountable power that have taken shape offshore and in the circuits of neo-liberal policy-making. </p> <p>As the United Nations embarks on the delivery of new set of universal development <a href="https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/topics/sustainabledevelopmentgoals">goals</a> and as the public begins to question the justifications offered for steepening economic inequality, we must build on what has already been achieved to create new narratives and forge new communities to understand and advocate for gender justice. To revise a familiar slogan, fiscal policy is a feminist issue. </p> <p><em>This article is the first in a series stemming from the latest edition of </em><strong><a href="http://www.taxjustice.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/TJF_2015_Women.pdf">Tax Justice Focus</a><em> </em></strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/dawn-foster/there%E2%80%99s-nothing-left-women%E2%80%99s-future-under-conservatives-in-uk">&quot;There’s nothing left&quot; - women’s future under the Conservatives in the UK</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/maggie-murphy/g20-and-corruption-why-gender-matters">G20 and corruption: why gender matters </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/srilatha-batliwala/what-does-transforming-economic-power-mean">What does transforming economic power mean?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/lyric-thompson/world%27s-girls-no-voice-no-rights">The world&#039;s girls: no voice, no rights</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/dawn-foster/whose-recovery-gendered-austerity-in-uk">Whose recovery?: Gendered austerity in the UK </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/fran-bennett/gender-and-poverty-in-uk-inside-household-and-across-life-course">Gender and poverty in the UK: Inside the household and across the life course</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/susan-harris-rimmer/gender-at-g20">Gender at the G20</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/barbara-gunnell/how-women-are-paying-for-recession-in-uk">How women are paying for the recession in the UK</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/beatrix-campbell/neoliberal-neopatriarchy-case-for-gender-revolution">Neoliberal neopatriarchy: the case for gender revolution</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/article/putting_power_back_into_empowerment_0">Putting power back into empowerment</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/kate-donald/feminisation-of-poverty-and-myth-of-welfare-queen">The feminisation of poverty and the myth of the &#039;welfare queen&#039;</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/dawn-foster/whose-recovery-gendered-austerity-in-uk">Whose recovery?: Gendered austerity in the UK </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/heather-mcrobie/when-austerity-sounds-like-backlash-gender-and-economic-crisis">When austerity sounds like backlash: gender and the economic crisis</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/helen-szoke/why-g20-needs-to-tackle-gender-inequality-brisbane-and-beyond">Why the G20 needs to tackle gender inequality: Brisbane and beyond </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/dawn-foster/who-cooked-adam-smith%E2%80%99s-dinner-women-and-work-postcrash">Who Cooked Adam Smith’s Dinner? Women and work post-crash</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/srilatha-batliwala/transformative-strategy-true-value-of-investing-in-women%E2%80%99s-rights">A transformative strategy: the true value of investing in women’s rights</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/finn-mackay/it%27s-time-for-feminists-to-get-in-not-lean-in">It&#039;s time for feminists to Get In, not Lean In. </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/dawn-foster/northern-ireland-when-austerity-makes-poorest-even-poorer">When austerity in the UK makes the poorest even poorer</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/jennifer-allsopp/women-defining-economic-citizenship">Women defining economic citizenship </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/jenny-phillimore/gender-and-destitution-in-uk">Gender and destitution in the UK</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/ged-kearney/g20-union-movement%27s-fight-for-gender-equality-in-labour-market">G20: the union movement&#039;s fight for gender equality in the labour market </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/heather-mcrobie/is-gendered-austerity-finally-on-political-agenda">Is gendered austerity finally on the political agenda?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/lyric-thompson/best-time-to-be-born-female-worst-to-be-feminist-advocate">The &quot;best time to be born female&quot;: the worst to be a feminist advocate</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/heather-mcrobie/austerity-policies-in-europe-are-fuelling-social-injustice-and-violating-human-">Austerity policies in Europe are fuelling social injustice - and violating human rights </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/heather-mcrobie/from-war-on-terror-to-austerity-lost-decade-for-women-and-human-rights">From the war on terror to austerity: a lost decade for women and human rights</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/fran-bennett/our-lives-poverty-then-and-now-in-uk">Our Lives: Poverty then and now in the UK</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/dawn-foster/cuts-hit-home-austerity-in-oxford">The cuts hit home: austerity in Oxford</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Economics </div> <div class="field-item even"> Equality </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Economics Equality Women and the Economy 50.50 Women's Movement Building 50.50 Structures of Sexism 50.50 Editor's Pick 50.50 Voices for Change women and power patriarchy gendered poverty gender justice feminism 50.50 newsletter women's work Liz Nelson Mon, 08 Jun 2015 08:18:27 +0000 Liz Nelson 93371 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Who Cooked Adam Smith’s Dinner? Women and work post-crash https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/dawn-foster/who-cooked-adam-smith%E2%80%99s-dinner-women-and-work-postcrash <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The value of women’s unpaid and undervalued work is slowly beginning to be appreciated: the time is right for a re-examination of who gets paid, how much, and for what</p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="Body">The idea of the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homo_economicus">Economic Man</a> forms the cornerstone of orthodox economic thought, Katrine Marcal, a Swedish journalist, argues in her newly translated book - <a href="http://portobellobooks.com/who-cooked-adam-smiths-dinner">Who Cooked Adam Smith’s Dinner? </a>The bulk of women’s work: caring, cleaning, child-rearing is excluded from the idea of the economic man, who acts out of rational self interest, and must then be incentivised to work through monetary remuneration. Marcal argues that when looking at how Adam Smith’s dinner arrived at the table: through the baker, the butcher, the farmer, all of whom carried out their work due to rational self interest, economic theory overlooks the final stage - his mother, who lived with the unmarried philosopher for his entire life, cooked his dinner, and did so because of love, and familial ties. </p> <p class="Body">But this could be changing, with big implications for women. Late last year, the UK’s Office for National Statistics announced unpaid care and housework would be included in the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) calculations, classed as “unpaid GDP”. Essentially, if the task carried out unpaid could have been carried out by a worker, be it cleaning, childcare or elderly care, it will be given a value. This is no small move: the estimated value of unpaid GDP (still predominantly the burden of women) £440.2billion. Cleaning and laundry alone was worth £97.2billion in 2012, the equivalent of 5.9 per cent of GDP. Unpaid childcare was worth £343billion when calculated in 2010, which represents approximately three times the contribution of the entire financial services industry in the UK. </p> <p class="Body">Depending on your position in the economy, the relation between your motivation in work and how much you’re paid differs wildly. A recent undercover investigation revealed British MPs Jack Straw and Malcolm Rifkind on camera <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/feb/23/cash-for-access-allegations-jack-straw-malcolm-rifkind">negotiating cash for access to senior politicians</a>, with journalists posing as senior executives of a fake Chinese firm. In response to the scandal, other politicians clamoured to defend the eye watering sums many command in second jobs and nebulous consultancy roles, arguing that an MP’s flat rate of pay, excluding expenses for travel, accommodation and living costs, is £67,000 a year. To attract the best, the public were told, the salary needed to rise. </p> <p class="Body">At the opposite end of the scale, the story is different. Across Europe and the United States, wages have <a href="http://www.economist.com/news/finance-and-economics/21615589-throughout-rich-world-wages-are-stuck-big-freeze">stagnated for the poorest post-crash</a>. The austerity project filters down to the pay checks of the ordinary citizen, but somehow the highest paid have plead extenuating circumstances and lobbied for higher pay. The average FTSE100 chief executive is now paid <a href="http://highpaycentre.org/blog/ftse-100-bosses-now-paid-an-average-143-times-as-much-as-their-employees">130 times the salary</a> of their average employee. To keep these people working, they need to be paid exorbitant sums. Meanwhile, the UK government have increased the rate of sanctions on unemployed people’s subsistence benefits. For the poorest, the stick remains, while the rich hoard carrots. </p> <p class="Body">For once, women have been <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/jan/30/british-wage-slump-post-financial-crisis-uk">relatively cushioned</a> from part of the blow, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies: because women are more likely to work in public sector jobs, and wages have been more protected through unionisation, than they would be in the private sector. </p> <p class="Body">But part of the reason women’s pay has dropped at a lower rate is because women were paid less to start with: income tax receipts returned to the UK Treasury have been lower than expected, this year, which impacts on growth. This weathering only applies to women in employment however - for unemployed women, especially single mothers and disabled women, the story is very different. And as Marcal points out, the “invisible labour” that remains largely the women’s realm, is absent from free market economic thought. </p> <p class="Body">“The truth is, we are all dependent and therefore society’s task cannot be to separate those who nourish from those who consume”. </p> <p class="Body">“Housework is cyclical in nature. Therefore, women’s work wasn’t an economic activity. What she did was just a logical extension of her fair, loving nature. She would always carry out this work, so it didn’t need quantifying.” This attitude carries across into paid work. When teachers and nurses pay is squeezed, their hours lengthened, it’s assumed that the work they carry out, with it’s direct impact on young or vulnerable lives, will be carried out regardless: there’s too much at stake for a nurse not to administer care, or for a teacher to deliver a lacklustre class or spend less time marking and lesson planning. </p> <p class="Body">Employees in male-dominated roles on the other hand, are compensated for their greed. Ministers and MPs clamoured in the wake of the Straw/Rifkind scandal for more pay to attract “the brightest and best”. Whereas when care home abuse scandals are revealed, the answer seems to be more surveillance: installing CCTV in rooms, rather than asking why skilled carers for the most vulnerable are paid so little. “Economics should help us rise against fear and greed. It should not exploit these feelings,” Marcal argues. The reaction to the cash for access scandal from MPs, that the answer to greed is to institutionally satisfy the money grabbers rather than discipline them for unethical and corrupt behaviour makes little sense in this respect. </p> <p class="Body">“There is nothing in a woman’s biology that makes her better suited to unpaid housework. Or wearing herself out in a vastly unpaid job in the public sector,” Marcal points out. But biological essentialism is helpful for free market economics - if you can argue women are naturally suited and predisposed to the jobs that are paid less, or even nothing at all, you can do without examining why the value we have placed on these roles is so low. If women spend time caring anyway, why pay them as though it’s a professional, learned skill? The structures that mean the economy systematically places a lower value on female-dominated jobs and roles can therefore continue unexamined. Historical oppression of women is seen as a case of evolutionary biology, rather than a systemic worldwide injustice. That women globally were increasingly participating in the workforce, until the global recession, then took the hit, shows that progress in economic equality is still at the behest of historic structural oppression, snapping at the heels of women’s emancipation whenever times get tough. </p> <p class="Body">But actually, none of this is inevitable. During the Greek snap election in January, Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras announced that if elected, Syriza would reinstate 595 cleaners, all women, who had been fired by Antonis Samaras’s coalition government. Syriza would achieve this by instead laying off some of the countless financial advisers crowding the Greek parliament’s corridors. The move, which came to pass, was dismissed as “gesture politics” by some on the right. But all politics concerns gestures, and laying out ideological battlelines. And Syriza’s promise made clear that they viewed the women, symbolic of the fact middle-aged Greek women have been <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/dawn-foster/from-heart-attacks-to-maternal-care-human-cost-of-austerity-in-greece">particularly hard hit by punishing austerity measures</a>, as more important than the financialisation of the country. </p> <p class="Body">This argument isn’t new, but it’s rare to see it formalised even in so small a way in state politics. Selma James’s Wages for Housework campaign sought to draw attention to how domestic labour, and the affective labour routinely the domain of women’s work is <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/kathleen-b-jones/reflections-of-revolutionary-moment">systematically undervalued and excluded</a> from dominant arguments on economic compensation for labour. A report in the US in 2013 by the National Domestic Workers Alliance showed that 95 percent of domestic workers were women, 51 percent were women of colour, 36% were undocumented immigrants, and the vast majority didn’t have health insurance or sick pay. <a href="http://www.apple.com/">Unpaid care</a> [https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/kate-donald/unpaid-care-missing-women’s-rights-issue] continues to exacerbate and entrench women’s poverty, but a slow sea change in attitudes seems to be emerging post-crash. With the Office for National Statistics accepting that a large part of the country’s productivity is down to women’s unpaid work, and that unpaid work which forms the bedrock of society is a natural resource in itself, the theoretical argument that only cold, rational self interest can keep an economy going looks increasingly precarious. </p> <p class="Body">With a broken and unequal economic system, focussed on wealth transfer from the rich to the poor, the time is right for a reexamination of who gets paid, and for what. Slowly, the value of women’s unpaid and undervalued work is beginning to be appreciated: and once valued correctly, the opportunity to argue for fairer remuneration has to be snatched. </p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/kate-donald/unpaid-care-missing-women%E2%80%99s-rights-issue">Unpaid care: the missing women’s rights issue </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/beatrix-campbell/neoliberal-neopatriarchy-case-for-gender-revolution">Neoliberal neopatriarchy: the case for gender revolution</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/kate-donald/feminisation-of-poverty-and-myth-of-welfare-queen">The feminisation of poverty and the myth of the &#039;welfare queen&#039;</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/emily-esplen/reclaiming-care-as-fundamental-end-in-itself">Reclaiming care as a fundamental end in itself</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/heather-mcrobie/is-gendered-austerity-finally-on-political-agenda">Is gendered austerity finally on the political agenda?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/marion-bowman/women-in-uk-back-to-future">Women in the UK: back to the future</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/kate-donald/vicious-circle-of-poverty-and-injustice">The vicious circle of poverty and injustice</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/heather-mcrobie/handmaids-tale-of-coalition-britain">The Handmaid&#039;s Tale of Coalition Britain</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> 50.50 50.50 Women and the Economy International Women's Day 2015 gendered poverty gender justice 50.50 newsletter women's work Dawn Foster Fri, 06 Mar 2015 19:28:33 +0000 Dawn Foster 90997 at https://www.opendemocracy.net