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Feminist Analysis of Social and Solidarity Economy Practices: Views from Latin America and India

April, 2016

ISST is a principal partner of a research project entitled, “Feminist Analysis of Social and Solidarity Economy Practices: Views from Latin America and India” funded by Swiss Network of International Studies.

Solidarity Economy is not commonly used in Indian context. Though, feminist politics/movement based on solidarity economy has already been consolidated in several Latin American countries for quite some time now.  On the other hand, in India there is a long standing tradition of feminist movements combining “struggle” and “development”. Though the term “solidarity economy” is not used, their method of intervention echoes the SSE practices observed in Latin America. In addition to everyday practical support (such as care and health services, popular education, microfinance, cooperatives of producers or artisans, management of common resources, etc.), these initiatives engage in various lobbying activities with local governments, employers (when they can be identified), ministries (both at the central and state level), traditional trade unions (most often gender blind) and sometimes international organizations. Given the prevalence of informal labour in India, social protection is a major issue. SEWA (Self-Employed Women's Association-India) is one of the best-known example but many other initiatives exist, both in rural and urban areas, in various sectors of the economy (agriculture, producers, artisans, waste pickers, street vendors, domestic workers, etc.). Unlike Latin America, where “solidarity economy” is formally recognized and institutionalized through specific public policies, these initiatives don’t come under a common umbrella and rather promote sectorial or territorial approaches. Looking at these contrasted institutional contexts and strategies will be added values of using a comparative approach. The proposed project hypothesizes that to be truly transformative SSE needs to also address the reorganisation of social reproduction, integrating the political goals of gender equality and more equitable power relations.

The research aims at understanding practices, social relations and power relations in relation to social reproduction within SSE. It furthermore seeks explore the contribution of SSE to the renewal of public action and policies, in the field of production and social reproduction.

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