It’s easy to assume that global economics are value-neutral and simply reflect the “natural” order of things. In reality, our economic world order is shaped by distinct ideologies and beliefs about who should have access to and control over what resources, such as education, property, credit, and even time. The predominant paradigm is based on neoliberal and capitalist principles that promote free markets, unregulated trade, consumer-driven growth, and privatization of essential services, for example. But genuine alternatives exist and have always existed.
Defending, Reclaiming, and Reinventing the Commons
“Community rights are something the Western concept of sovereignty cannot – or rather can no longer – accommodate. Rights are only rights of the individual or of a nation-state, but not of a village, a tribe, the community of peasants, the community of women, etcetera.” – Mies and Benholdt-Thomsen
“Commons” thinking can be useful in exploring how we manage and protect the things for which everyone can claim ownership but that no one really owns, like clean air or advances in medicine. Economic models of the past two centuries have promoted privatization, whereby a handful of people profit from the use of what are really shared resources, such as timber, minerals, and genetic technology. Today, activists are “reinventing” and “reclaiming” the commons, as in this article by Maria Mies and Veronika Benholdt-Thomsen, to democratize access to these vital resources and ensure that we protect them for current and future generations.
Resources on Women’s Rights and Economic Change
AWID’s key goals is to build knowledge and understanding of the forces, trends, institutions and aspects that are undermining women’s rights. It seeks to create and disseminate capacity-building resources and strategies that can strengthen the overall impact of women’s rights advocates worldwide. Therefore, AWID’s publications cover a broad range of topics of interest to our members and other women’s rights activists around the world.
AWID journals, handbooks and materials on women’s rights and economic change are available at AWID publications.
Fair trade: What is Ethical Fair Trade? WIEGO
The Solidarity Economy … is grounded on solidarity and cooperation, rather than the pursuit of narrow, individual self-interest, and that promotes economic democracy, alternative models of local economic governance, equity and sustainability rather than the unfettered rule of the market. – U.S. Solidarity Economy Network
Solidarity Economy is a socio-economic order and new way of life that deliberately chooses serving the needs of people and ecological sustainability as the goal of economic activity rather than maximization of profits under the unfettered rule of the market. It places economic and technological development at the service of social and human development rather than the pursuit of narrow, individual self-interest. In A Non-Patriarchal Economy is Possible, members of the Alliance for a Responsible, Plural, and Solidarity-based Economy (ALOE) present examples from Asia, North America, Europe, and Latin America.
Asset-based Approach to Community Development
An asset-based approach to community level micro-planning encourages a shift in orientation from “needs” and “problems” towards “assets,” no matter how modest, that can be mobilized to support sustained livelihoods. In An Asset-Based Approach to Community Development: A manual for village organizers, produced by the Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) India and the Coady International Institute, St. Francis Xavier University (Canada), provides an example of how the asset-based approach to community development (ABCD) is being used in a livelihood project for earthquake affected women in three of the poorest districts in Gujarat.
IDS Social Protection Responses to the Financial Crisis: What do we Know?
Social protection describes a group of policy initiatives that transfer income or assets to the poor. They protect vulnerable people against livelihood risks, and seek to enhance the social status and rights of the marginalized (Institute for Development Studies, 2010). Transformative social protection does all this and works to ensure that all people realize their rights to the resources needed to maintain and sustain a decent living and security. Read more about Social protection responses to the financial crisis from the Institute for Development Studies.
In the same way that political democracy empowers citizens, economic democracy promotes the economic empowerment of all citizens to prevent the concentration of economic power that drives inequality and undermines development. Learn more about JASS’ commitment to Economic Democracy.
Economic Literacy Tools
For many people around the world, economic policy is shrouded in the mystique of “expertise” that tends to obscure the politics behind the economics and prevents citizens from participating fully and openly in economic policy making. This selection of resources aims to equip activists with practical information and tools to form their own critical analysis of current economic policies and develop strategies for making them more democratic, just, and humane.