Weaving our Fabric – Framing an African Feminist Public Services Agenda

Covid 19 and the ongoing climate and cost of living crises continue to surface fundamental questions on the state of the global economy, health systems, labour, and the holistic wellbeing of people and the planet. Across Africa we have witnessed the failure of struggling health systems to adequately take care of the sick, particularly if they are not rich; the rise in gender-based violence, loss of jobs and livelihoods; the realities of collapsed social services and the sharp increase in women’s already disproportionate share of unpaid work in homes and communities. These questions have been brought into sharp focus by the multiple crises we are facing, but they are certainly not new. Feminist, peasant, farmer, indigenous, labour and other movements have long been calling for a complete overhaul of how economies and societies are governed and organised and a reconstruction of what is valued and protected.

In April 2010, the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth produced what is popularly known as the Peoples’ Agreement of Cochabamba. The People’s Agreement calls out a dominant capitalist system underpinned by competition, progress and limitless growth, seeking profit without limits, transforming everything (‘water, the human genome, ancestral cultures, biodiversity, justice ethics, human rights and life itself into commodities and separating human beings from nature. It recognizes that capitalism relies on a powerful military industry to facilitate accumulation, control of territories and natural resources and the suppression of the resistance of the people, amounting to an ‘imperialist system of colonization of the planet’. Crucially, in proposing solutions, the People’s Agreement stresses that all countries need to produce the goods and services necessary to satisfy the needs of their populations, but that this cannot be built on a model of limitless and destructive development. It holds that it is ‘imperative that we forge a new system that restores harmony with nature and among human beings. And in order for there to be balance with nature, there must first be equity among human beings.

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