Displaying items 1 - 15 of 18 in total
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    If You Don't See A Light In The Darkness, You Must Light A Fire: Brazilian Domestic Workers' Struggle For Rights

    The story of Brazil’s national federation of domestic workers’ union (FENATRAD) and their strategies of alliance building, mobilisation and tactical engagement is one from which broader lessons can be learnt about mobilizing informal sector workers. This chapter tells this story as recounted in a series of life historical interviews carried out in the period 2006-2009 with one of the key figures in the struggle for domestic workers’ rights in Brazil, Creuza Oliveira, then leader of FENATRAD, as part of a participatory research project on domestic workers’ rights. …

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    Introduction: Beyond The Weapons Of The Weak: Organizing Women Workers In The Informal Economy

    This book attempts to synthesize the experiences of organizing hard-to-teach working women in the informal economy and draw out their lessons. The chapters deal with examples of organisations that are working with this category of women workers in order to draw out both common patterns and unique responses to particular circumstances, and thus deepen our understanding of some of the collective pathways to change that might be relevant for different groups of working women in different sectors of the economy. In this introduction, the authors draw out some key themes from the chapters in order to address some key questions. What gave these precarious workers the impetus and courage to organize? What were the main obstacles faced by their organisations in efforts to address what Nancy Fraser calls the injustices of redistribution, recognition and representation? These relate to the unfairness of the economic system and the exploitative relations of work that it generates; the denial of respect and dignity to certain groups of workers on the basis of their identity and the work they do; and the absence of an organized voice that can articulate their needs and rights as women, as workers and as citizens. …

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    Introduction: Beyond The Weapons Of The Weak: Organizing Women Workers In The Informal Economy

    This book attempts to synthesize the experiences of organizing hard-to-teach working women in the informal economy and draw out their lessons. The chapters deal with examples of organisations that are working with this category of women workers in order to draw out both common patterns and unique responses to particular circumstances, and thus deepen our understanding of some of the collective pathways to change that might be relevant for different groups of working women in different sectors of the economy. In this introduction, the authors draw out some key themes from the chapters in order to address some key questions. What gave these precarious workers the impetus and courage to organize? What were the main obstacles faced by their organisations in efforts to address what Nancy Fraser calls the injustices of redistribution, recognition and representation? These relate to the unfairness of the economic system and the exploitative relations of work that it generates; the denial of respect and dignity to certain groups of workers on the basis of their identity and the work they do; and the absence of an organized voice that can articulate their needs and rights as women, as workers and as citizens. …

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    Looking Back On Four Decades Of Organizing: The Experience Of SEWA

    India’s economic growth will accelerate more rapidly, democratically and effectively if India invests in people and their economic potential. Investing in people, especially women and their living and working environments, is imperative for nation-building. In this chapter, Bhatt looks at SEWA and its involvement in the process of organizing poor working women since 1972, its successes and its struggles. …

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    Negotiating Patriarchies: Women Fisheries Workers Build SNEHA In Tamil Nadu

    Women play an important part in several fisheries–related activities in Asia but are less well represented in national or regional fishworker organisations than in community and local level organisations. Women’s participation has been seen to broaden the agenda of fishworker organisations by bringing in issues that concern the quality of life such as access to health, sanitation, education and in particular, bringing in a community perspective to the fisheries debate. The experiences of women’s participation in local and community based organisations; the constraints faced; the different perspective they bring in; and ways in which meaningful participation can be strengthened, are explored in this chapter through the experiences of SNEHA (Social Need Education and Human Awareness), an organization that works with women in marine fishing in Tamil Nadu in India. Christy, the founder of SNEHA, is a member of the fishing community. …

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    Organising Women Workers in the Informal Economy

    This article focuses on the challenges facing organisation among the hardest-to-reach working women in the informal economy. What gives some of them the impetus and courage to organise? What is distinctive about the strategies they draw on to transcend their structurally disadvantaged position within the economy? What barriers do they continue to face in their efforts to address the injustices of the economic system? Through analysing the organisational strategies used in different contexts and for different sets of workers, we can start to see a different battery of weapons among these working women, which serve them better and more transformatively than the weapons of the weak on which they previously relied: the weapons of the organised. This article discusses these issues specifically in relation to the experience of two organisations: MAP Foundation, Thailand, and KKPKP, Pune India. …

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    Organizing For Life And Livelihoods In The Mountains Of Uttarakhand: The Experience Of Uttarakhand Mahila Parishad

    This chapter shares insights from a place-based, women-centred programme of Uttarakhand Mahila Parishad (Uttarakhand Women’s Federation), a network of around 16,000 rural women in the hill villages of the state of Uttarakhand, in India. There are 465 whole village women’s groups (WVGs) spread over seven districts of the state, which constitute the federation. In particular, Pande highlights the point that the dynamics of local livelihoods is governed by a gender dynamic embedded in the community way of life. However, with increasing awareness about gender issues and with the improving reach of global market forces in villages, this dynamic of community life is changing. …

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    Organizing Women Workers In The Informal Economy: Beyond The Weapons Of The Weak

    Organizing Women Workers in the Informal Economy explores the emergence of an alternative repertoire among women working in the growing informal sectors of the global South: the weapons of organization and mobilisation. This crucial book offers vibrant accounts of how women working as farm workers, sex workers, domestic workers, waste pickers, fisheries workers and migrant factory workers have organized for collective action. What gives these precarious workers the impetus and courage to take up these steps? What resources do they draw on in order to transcend their structurally disadvantaged position within the economy? And what continues to hamper their efforts to gain social recognition for themselves as women, as workers and as citizens? …

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    Organizing Women Workers In The Informal Economy: Beyond The Weapons Of The Weak

    Organizing Women Workers in the Informal Economy explores the emergence of an alternative repertoire among women working in the growing informal sectors of the global South: the weapons of organization and mobilisation. This crucial book offers vibrant accounts of how women working as farm workers, sex workers, domestic workers, waste pickers, fisheries workers and migrant factory workers have organized for collective action. What gives these precarious workers the impetus and courage to take up these steps? What resources do they draw on in order to transcend their structurally disadvantaged position within the economy? And what continues to hamper their efforts to gain social recognition for themselves as women, as workers and as citizens? …

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    Power At The Bottom Of The Heap: Organizing Waste Pickers In Pune

    In several respects, waste pickers pose challenges to organizing: they are physically dispersed, have no employer, many work long hours, and they are socially shunned. Yet Kagad Kach Patra Kashtakari Panchayat (KKPKP), a waste pickers’ trade union has for nearly twenty years sustained a vibrant organization which has made tangible material and social gains on behalf of its membership. Its offspring, SWaCH (Solid Waste Collection and Handling), is growing in strength as a model for the new face of solid waste management in India; one which has put the interests of a very marginalized constituency of waste pickers in retaining access to waste as its top priority. This chapter highlights some aspects of its approach and strategies which have contributed to this progress. …

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    Quotas: Add Women And Stir?

    At the Millennium Summit world leaders committed to reducing extreme poverty through a series of targets encompassed within the MDGs, with a deadline of 2015. One of these was to promote gender equality and empower women, and the ‘proportion of seats held by women in national parliament’ was set as a key indicator. With the MDG Review Summit meeting in September 2010, this is an opportunity to consider whether the proportion of women in parliament continues to be the most adequate proxy for women’s political empowerment. This IDS Bulletin explores what the quota has meant as a motorway to women’s accession to political power by drawing on research findings from the Pathways of Women’s Empowerment Research Programme Consortium (‘Pathways’), as well as a series of articles from a special seminar in the Brazilian National Congress as part of this programme, and contributions from other country case studies. …

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    Sex, Work And Citizenship: The VAMP Sex Workers' Collective In Maharashtra

    This chapter explores the evolution of The Veshya Anyay Mukti Parishad (VAMP) collective. VAMP is a sex-worker led organization born in 1996 in the context of a growing HIV/AIDS movement which has generally taken an instrumental approach to sex workers. In contrast to many sex worker organisations emerging around that time, VAMP took an explicitly rights-based approach from the outset. It aimed to forge and consolidate a common identity among women in sex work which could empower them to articulate and assert their full range of rights as well as protect themselves from HIV infection. …

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    The Challenge Of Organizing Domestic Workers In Bangalore: Caste, Gender And Employer-Employee Relations In The Informal Economy

    Organizing domestic workers has been tried in many ways, in large part because there is so much heterogeneity within the sector. It is a sector where employer-employee relationships are very dynamic, flexible and arbitrary; domestic workers are often hard to reach, spending most of their time in the ‘private’ sphere of the home; and in some contexts, the non-monetary aspects of agreements between employers and workers may have particular significance. These are some of the many challenges to organizing. This chapter discusses the situation of domestic workers in Bangalore and the experience of Stree Jagruti Samiti, a women’s organization inspired by the women’s movement of the 1970s, in initiating and building the Karnataka Domestic Workers’ Union (KDWU), including the many challenges it has faced. …

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    Towards A Politics Of Collective Empowerment: Learning From Hill Women In Rural Uttarakhand, India

    This article argues that to understand the conditions that enable effective participation by women in politics, analysis is needed not just of the characteristics and performance of elected women leaders but also the extent to which village communities are engaged through collective processes, in demanding accountability from those elected. The article presents the experiences of a women's movement in the Uttarakhand that has evolved from a programme of environmental education in the region. Over the years, this movement has developed a strong political consciousness. Women's participation in Whole Village Groups has paved the way for active engagement with local governance institutions. …

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    Understanding The Dynamics Of An NGO/MBO Partnership: Organizing And Working With Farm Women In South Africa

    This chapter is concerned with addressing the power dynamics and inequalities in the relationship between a South African non-government organization (NGO), Women on Farms Project (WFP) and the membership-based organization (MBO), Sikhula Sonke, which it established. In particular, it focuses on the genesis and evolution of the relationship and how unanticipated and initially unarticulated tensions led to a shift in power and a new phase in the relationship between the two organisations. The first section provides a short background to WFP, including the key discourses which have informed the understanding and approach of WFP’s work with farmwomen. The next section then outlines the contextual conditions of farmwomen in post-apartheid South Africa which led to WFP forming Sikhula Sonke. …