Social and Solidarity Economy Blog, El Salto Diario, by Confluencia feminista del FSMET2020 19 Oct 2020

After discussing care in times of pandemic economies (in Spanish), we embarked on a second dialogue to share the serious consequences that the legacy of the neoliberal policies of the last four decades has had on the living conditions of working people and on the public health system.

The first and second neo-liberal waves involved the dismantling of public health and social security, as well as the precarization of the working class and, consequently, a greater burden of invisible and unpaid work for women and a general worsening for millions of people. It is in this scenario of patriarchal and colonial capitalism that the various governments had to face the pandemic. Some, openly neoliberal, like the regimes of Lenin Moreno in Ecuador, Ivan Duque in Colombia and the self-proclaimed Jeanine Añez in Bolivia, took advantage of the health emergency to lay off workers, cut social budgets, continue to pay the foreign debt, feminize poverty and reinforce the imperialist and proto-fascist agenda of security and militarization. The governments found that this was the most effective way to stop the processes of mobilization, protest and strikes unleashed in the Latin American continent. As a way to avoid contagion, many of these authoritarian governments ordered the armed forces and police to control the streets. In this way, the conservative onslaught did not take long and revealed the multidimensional crisis we are witnessing.

…. COVID-19 highlighted the existence of societies like Argentina’s that, despite a certain policy of recovery of the public sphere, have internalised neoliberal programming. …

The workforce that sustains the world

This second dialogue recovered what the long memory of feminism and feminist economics has illuminated for decades: that women are the workforce that sustains the world.

That enormous contribution we make has increased in these months of quarantine: we are the ones who always work the most, who take care of the tele-education of children, of the health and emotional burdens of our families, those of us who are in the fields facing extractive activities, those of us who produce and provide healthy food, those of us who raise the community pots (ollas comunitarias) and, at the same time, those of us who have less access to health and occupy a large part of the essential jobs but, at the same time, are more precarious, feminized and with worse working conditions….As Daniela Camozzi and Florencia Montes Paez stated in the dialogue, “it is with this diagram that our community and feminist projects of accompaniment, workshops and collective house have shown strength and are sustained during the pandemic. But the quarantine brought us another temporality and, therefore, another path in the organisation, “the politics of social isolation made our network, which had been fighting against the hetero-patriarchal capitalist ways of life, withdraw. Faced with the risk of self-absorption that the lock-down brings, the challenge is to think beyond resistance and to network the struggle with more comrades”….In the case of Ecuador, Belén Valencia and Alejandra Santillana showed that the reaffirmation of the business project in these months has meant that not only is life in misogynist and racist capitalism undignified, but that under neoliberal governments the management of death is under a mercantile logic….

As the researchers of the Observatory for Rural Change reported, it is rural women, peasants, villages and nationalities from popular sectors in Ecuador who have sustained the resistance in these times. In the case of rural women, eco-dependence in times of crisis marks an adjustment in their relationship with the land. The commitment to agro-ecology and the diversification of agricultural production and medicinal plants is linked to the revaluation of their work as a way of providing family and social food. In short, care is the unpaid work that makes it possible to satisfy collective life.

From the “Women of the World” network, Graciela Quintero, María Victoria Bojacá, Carla Gutierrez and Natalia Resimont shared the actions developed by the women’s collectives of the city of Hunza in Bogotá and the Gregoria Apaza Women’s Promotion Centre in Bolivia. In the face of this context generated by the capitalist-patriarchal system and amplified by the global pandemic situation, these collectives are developing integral and integrated projects, located in their communities, which provide microchanges for the “buen vivir” of women and their families from ecofeminist proposals. The project “From the roof to the plate” makes it possible to guarantee the food security of a part of the community, to question the methods of agro-food production and to rehabilitate seeds and ancestral agricultural techniques. …

From resistance to subversion

As the compañeras mentioned throughout this second dialogue, we are faced with the challenge of moving from resistance to subversion against neoliberal reason and practice, reflecting on the place from which we relate to the institutional and to the State. In this sense, it would be key to think about feminist justifications, to weave that diversity and to abandon essentialisms. In addition, we are challenged to move away from the paradigm of protecting the rights to self-management and self-organisation, through a constant pedagogy for autonomy that maintains a permanent dynamic of community creation, building experiences that challenge and propose articulated alternatives for life, imagining a world where care is the central element in sustaining life.

For her part, from the Spanish Ecofeminist Network, Charo Marcos pointed out the effects of the dismantling of the public sphere since the crisis of 2008. This is how the health emergency at Covid-19 has been dealt with in recent months with an under-staffed public health service, which prioritises investment in building hospitals, even though the sites are later closed because the necessary personnel have not been hired to attend to them. …

In this second dialogue, the compañeras synthesized how feminisms and, especially, those who propose views from the feminist economy, have been talking about care for some time and have built a political discourse around it: it is now that we are able to land them both in our daily lives and through public policies and thus participate with proposals as lucid as the feminist contribution to the debate on post-Covid-19 reconstruction

Finally, the compañeras from the North and the South were able to exchange experiences that made it clear that feminisms, and above all those that are overflowing and transforming everyday life, constitute a critical thought in which the different movements, collectives, platforms, networks, confluences and parliaments have created different spaces for dialogue and reflection. An expression of these times is that which welcomes the dialogue of the Feminist Confluence of Transformative Economies, or the creation of a Plurinational and Popular Parliament of Women and Feminist Organisations of Ecuador which emerged after the uprising and strike of October 2019 or the Argentinean process of the Assembly of Women Workers in Times of Pandemic where women and LGBTI+ people from various organisations meet weekly. An example of more than a decade is undoubtedly the Ecofeminist Network, which began as a virtual meeting and was transformed into a Permanent Seminar on Ecofeminism. This space for collective reflection and production of feminist thought strengthened its links and possibilities for collective growth, making necessity a virtue.

Feminisms are indivisible from praxis and are, above all, the possibility for us to think together about the world we want to co-construct. Perhaps in this internationalist feminism that starts from the common to then manage its differences, care is a pedagogy of our relationships and a light to revolutionise life. These and other reflections continue their path of encounter in the second part of the World Social Forum on Transformative Economies (23 October – 22 November).

This dialogue included the voices of the No Tan Distintas, Mujeres y Personas LGBTI+ en situación de calle en Argentina, the Observatorio del Cambio Rural in Ecuador, the experiences of the Spanish ecofeminist network and the participation of the Women of the World Network from Belgium, Colombia and Bolivia.