Women of the world, protagonists of the SSE – editorial of Judith Hitchman, RIPESS Co-coordinator

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International Women’s Day is a relatively recent creation: it only dates back to 1975. The struggle for women’s rights, however is far older. And has been a long and arduous one. And is still as relevant today as ever it was. And while some rights are now internationally fully accepted, such as the right to vote, or have your own bank account, this is only the visible part of the iceberg.

 

Globally women still have less access to education than men. They are paid less, and in the corporate capitalist world have far less opportunities to rise through the ranks. This is the famous ‘glass ceiling’. And in many cases their legal rights to inherit and own land are not fulfilled, not to mention their sexual and reproductive rights. The world is still all too often dominated by patriarchal systems…

 

The fact that during the Covid-19 crisis domestic violence against women has doubled (and this is a conservative guess, based on UN statistics), and that ILO calculated that at least 255 million jobs have been lost is also significant. But these are only the formal jobs; and many women globally are still in the informal sector. And these jobs have also been lost. There are the figures, and then there is a much harsher reality.

 

But what about the feminist economy and women in Social Solidarity Economy? SSE focuses on people before profit, which sits well with the feminist approach.

 

As explained by Julie Matthei (2009), “Women have been key players in the construction of transformative, solidarity economy solutions to capitalist crises, for three main reasons. First, women are severely disadvantaged with capitalist labor markets due to their lesser access to family income and education, because of their caring labor obligations, and because of the persistence of sex discrimination and sexual harassment. Second, these same caring labor obligations can motivate women to extreme resourcefulness when their families,’ especially their children’s, basic needs are not being met. Thirdly, women’s gender training to prioritize caring for others and the concrete provisioning of their needs often leads us to craft economic solutions which are distinct from capitalist ones; solutions which place the provisioning of needs above other values.”

 

Although women represent the majority in SSE movements and contribute to developing the economy everywhere in the world, they still remain invisible.

 

The realities that they face are often overlooked or dealt with as peripheral to the exchange initiated by local, national and international networks of social solidarity economy. Given that the public sector in different parts of the world is just starting to recognise the added value of SSE to community development, the importance of high-lighting the contribution and skills of women in the SSE sector will ensure that their needs and interests are more taken into consideration.

 

This is why we have decided to pay tribute to these invisible heroines, and present eight women who are fighting for a fairer and more united world. We know that this is only a small grain of sand, but we truly believe that making women more visible, valuing their work, fulfilling their human, economic, social and environmental rights in the fullest sense of the term is something that is supported by the fundamental concepts of SSE.

Ripess
RIPESS is a worldwide network of continental networks promoting the Social Solidarity Economy, in order to transform our economy by putting people and the planet at the center of our activities.