PRESS STATEMENT: In response to Covid-19 and the climate emergency: organizations around the world call for a Care Income Now!

For more information contact: Global Women’s Strike (India, Ireland, Peru, Thailand, UK, US)
+44 20 7482 2496 or +1 215 848 1120

The Global Women’s Strike and Women of Colour GWS, which have campaigned for financial recognition for unwaged caring work for decades, have joined with the Green New Deal for Europe to urge governments everywhere to provide a Care Income, starting now. This would prioritize and support the work of all those, of every gender, who care for people, for the urban and rural environment, and for the natural world. (This Care Income is quite different from the universal basic income which prioritizes neither caring work nor the climate emergency.)  

So far organizations and individuals from 33 countries, South and North – women’s, human rights defenders, environmentalists, domestic workers, subsistence farmers, disabled people, breastfeeding advocates, anti-rape, anti-deportation, sex workers… have endorsed the Open Letter to Governments.

The drastic measures in response to Covid-19 show that governments can take swift action and find money to deal with “emergencies” – if they want to. But, while they propose to replace some lost wages, there is no relief package for caregivers, only more work.

Everyone can now see how dependent we all are on caring work – in the home, the hospital, the community. Yet this invaluable work, typically performed by women, is mostly unwaged. When waged, it is usually the lowest paid, reflecting the low status governments and corporations place on those who do it, and on the lives and needs of most of those we care for.

Almost 70% of healthcare workers around the world are women.[1] They and other “key workers” risk their own lives to keep people alive in hospitals and care homes, and to see that everyone has access to food and other essentials, in rural and urban areas. For example, of three million people in “high exposure” jobs in the UK– 77% are women and one third (98% women) earn “poverty wages”. A large percentage are on temporary or zero-hours contracts, and are disproportionately people of colour and/or immigrant, often denied services and resources available to others.[2]

But why did it take Covid-19 to get governments to act when we already face a climate emergency as well as growing poverty and inequality, rape and domestic violence, war and displacement on an epidemic scale? If this pandemic teaches anything it is that we cannot go back to economic and social priorities that destroy people and the planet we depend on. The lockdowns are reducing air pollution (which kills an estimated seven million people annually worldwide)[3] and making way for the natural world. We must build on that, not return to the mindless growth that pays us to do work that pollutes and threatens our very survival.

We urge you to report and circulate this vital demand.


[1] https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/311314/WHO-HIS-HWF-Gender-WP1-2019.1-eng.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y

[2] Women’s Budget Group on figures supplied by Autonomy.

[3] WHO: https://www.who.int/health-topics/air-pollution#tab=tab_1

Ham & High: Kentish Town women’s group call for ‘carer’s income’ amid coronavirus pandemic

PUBLISHED: 18:15 07 April 2020 Sam Volpe

Shoda Rackal and Kay Chapman ahead of the Crossroads Women’s Centre’s International Women’s Day celebration. Picture: Crossroads Women’s Centre

The Kentish Town-based Global Women’s Strike (GWS) group have written an open letter to the UK government – and others around the world – calling for a “care income” to be instituted to protect the, often predominantly female, care workforce amid the coronavirus pandemic.

In collaboration with the Green New Deal for Europe group, GWS have called for “the indispensable work of life and survival” to be recognised.

Kay Chapman and SHoda Rackal from GWS, which runs out of the Crossroads Womens’ Centre, said: “As mothers, we know that every day and in every emergency women are called on to protect and care for everyone.

“With this pandemic all can see how dependent the whole population is on caring work – at home, in care homes, in the NHS. Despite billions promised to keep the economy functioning, there is no relief package for mothers and other carers, only more work.”

See the full open letter here.

https://www.hamhigh.co.uk/news/health/global-women-s-strike-group-call-for-carer-s-income-amid-coronavirus-pandemic-1-6597946

Endorsers to the Open Letter to Governments – A Care Income Now!

Organizational endorsers:

#MeToo Survivors, US

Alexandria House, US

All African Women’s Group, UK

Alliance for Global Justice, US

ALTSEAN-Burma

Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development, Thailand

Asian-Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women (ARROW), Malaysia

Auckland Feminist Action, NZ

Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union, UK

BirthStrike, UK

Black Women’s Rape Action Project, UK

Borstvoeding vzw, Belgium

Community WHRD Collective, Thailand

Compassion in Care The Whistler, UK

Empower Foundation, Thailand

English Collective of Prostitutes, UK

Every Mother is a Working Mother Network, US

Experimental Experience CIC, UK

Feminist Legal Clinic Inc., Australia

Fuel Poverty Action, UK

GAIA Environmental Action and Intervention group, Portugal

Global Justice Rebellion, UK

Global Women Against Deportations, UK

Globallyaware, Australia

Hampshire County Federation of Women’s Institutes, UK

Help & Shelter, Guyana

Howie Hawkins for Pres (Green Party), US

Int’l Black Women for Wages for Housework, UK/US

International Committee on the Rights of Sex Workers in Europe, Belgium

International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, UK/US

International Women’s Strike/LA, US

Justice for Peace Foundation, Thailand

Lactation Consultants of Great Britain

Legal Action for Women, UK

Leicester MAMMAs, UK

Lewisham Housing Forum, UK

MAP Foundation, Thailand

Migrant Sex Workers Project, Canada

Migrant Women’s Network, Thailand

Milk of Human Kindness, UK

Naked Punch Review, Pakistan

National Ugly Mugs, UK

National Welfare Rights Union, US

Old Women’s Project, US

Parents for Inclusion Newham, UK

Payday men’s network, UK/US

Planning for Sustainable Communities, US

PM Press, US

Psychotherapists and Counsellors for Social Responsibility, UK

Public Carers, UK

Queer Strike, UK/US

Reclaim the Power, UK

Red Thread, Guyana

Refugee and Asylum Seeker Participatory Action Research (RAPAR), UK

Release, UK

Research & Degrowth Barcelona, Spain

Save Liverpool Women’s Hospital, UK

Scottish Kinship Care Alliance, Scotland

Sex Worker Advocacy and Resistance Movement (SWARM), UK

Sex Worker’s Opera, UK

She’s Got the Power, Russia

Sibling Arts CIC, UK

Single Mothers’ Self-Defence, UK

Sisters Health & Wellness Collective

Somood women, Palestine

Success Capital Organisation, Botswana

Support Not Separation, UK

Sussex Refugee and Migrants Self-Support Group, UK

US PROStitutes Collective, US

WAYVE Foundation, India

We All Rise, US

Welfare Warriors, US

WinVisible – women with visible and invisible disabilities, UK/US

Women Against Rape, UK

Women’s League of Burma, Myanmar

World Breastfeeding Trends Initiative Steering Group, UK

Programme for today’s Care Income Now! webinar

Please join us for a webinar exploring the implications of a campaign for a Care Income, North and South,to stop climate change, promote caring work for people and planet, and refuse work that is destructive to the environment and to the worker.

Friday April 3, 11am-1pm US Eastern (4pm UK, 10pm Thailand)
Pre-registration necessary Register here
Be an early signer of Open Letter to Governments – Care Income Now!

Chaired by Margaret Prescod, Women of Color/Global Women’s Strike (GWS)
Selma James, GWS, London
Stefania Barca & Giacomo D’Alisa, Green New Deal for Europe, Italy/Portugal
Sam Weinstein, trade unionist, Payday men’s network, UK/US
Solveig Francis,breastfeeding advocate, London
Pranom Somwong, Protection International, Thailand

Followed by questions and discussion: what payments and support the State has been forced to give in response to the COVID-19 crisis in different countries, and how the demand for a Care Income has entered campaigning to change the world and save it.


This webinar follows on from the Women in Dialogue March 20 webinar From Coronavirus and Beyond: Valuing Caregiving — The Unwaged Work that Protects People and the Environment where 200 people from 14 countries participated. Global Women’s Strikeand Women of Color/GWS
 
careincomenow@globalwomenstrike.net

CARE INCOME NOW! Sign the letter & join webinar

Dear Friends,

We write to ask that your organization endorse the Open letter to governments – A Care Income Now!  If you are not a member of an organization or are unable to confirm your organization’s endorsement, of course personal endorsements are also welcome.  The Open Letter is jointly issued by the Global Women’s Strike, Women of Colour GWS and the Green New Deal for Europe (GNDE).

The call for a Care Income (#CareIncomeNow), which is a key part of the GNDE, was given a boost at a March 20 webinar From Coronavirus and Beyond: Valuing Caregiving — The Unwaged Work that Protects People and the Environment in which over 200 people from 14 countries participated.  The webinar was originally scheduled as a workshop for the UN Commission on the Status of Women commemorating the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Women’s Conference, but this was canceled because of the virus.

The next online webinar will be on the Care Income Now! global campaign and is scheduled for Friday April 3 at 8am PDT (Pacific Daylight Time), 4pm (UK time), 10pm (Thailand time).  It will include discussion on the implications of a Care Income for the environment, unwaged and waged work, and how we can use it in our campaigning to change the world and save it.  Register here. The Open Letter is being translated into a number of languages which will shortly be available on our website.

Open letter to governments – a Care Income Now!

Bahasa, Burmese, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Mandarin, Romanian, Spanish, Thai, Urdu so far.

Every day and in every emergency, unwaged or low waged caregivers, urban and rural, mostly women, often immigrant women, struggle to protect and care for people of every age and condition. But this work is kept invisible and therefore there is never a relief package from governments for caregivers, only more work, especially with the advent of Covid-19.

In 1980, the ILO estimated that women did 2/3 of the world’s work for 5% of its income. Today women and girls do more than three-quarters of all unpaid care work – a total of 12.5 billion hours a day.

The coronavirus pandemic came on top of the climate pandemic, the poverty pandemic, the war pandemic and the rape and domestic violence pandemics which have hit single mother families, ill, disabled and older people hardest. It is exposing weaknesses in our ability to resist and survive physically and financially – from immune systems already compromised by poverty, discrimination, pollution, war, occupation, displacement and other violence to inadequate healthcare and inadequate incomes, especially in the Global South, in communities of colour in the North, and among refugees everywhere.

In response to the virus, country after country has been shut down – from workplaces to schools and transport – and proposals to replace lost wages are being debated. These drastic measures show that governments can take swift action and find money to deal with “emergencies” – if they want to. At this critical moment, we must insist collectively on what we need. We fear that governments may use increased emergency powers to transfer wealth from taxpayers to corporations, and even impose further controls, surveillance and restrictions on our movements and our lives well after this pandemic is over.

The market values unwaged work at $10.8 trillion but never suggests that women should get any of it. Instead we are advised to get an education and a better paid job. We of course have a right to that. But it does not deal with the indispensable work of life and survival – from breastfeeding to elder care. Only increasing the status, power and income of caregivers can do that.

In the 80s, the Women Count – Count Women’s Work petition issued by the International Wages for Housework Campaign gave voice of a hidden mass movement for recognition of this work. It was signed by 1,200 organizations representing millions of women worldwide, resulting in the 1995 UN decision that governments measure and value unwaged work in national accounts.

The Green New Deal for Europe takes this forward. It looks at what work is needed for social and environmental wellbeing, and what work is not, and proposes a Care Income as a key part of its programme for climate justice. At last protecting people and protecting the Earth can be equated and prioritized over the uncaring market – a major step in transforming the world and saving it. We need this everywhere.

We demand a CARE INCOME across the planet for all those, of every gender, who care for people, the urban and rural environment, and the natural world. 

Global Women’s Strike (GWS) and Women of Colour GWS  careincomenow@globalwomenstrike.net Green New Deal for Europe

ENDORSE HERE.

There is more than one pandemic. In response to the health, climate, poverty and war crises, we call for a Care Income Now!

The coronavirus pandemic comes on top of the climate pandemic, the poverty pandemic and the war pandemics which have hit single mother families, ill, disabled and older people hardest. It is exposing weaknesses in our ability to resist and survive physically and financially – from immune systems already compromised by poverty, pollution, war, occupation and displacement to inadequate healthcare and inadequate incomes, especially in the Global South, in communities of colour in the North, and among refugees everywhere.

Every day and in every emergency, unwaged or low waged caregivers, mostly women, often immigrant women, struggle to protect and care for people of every age and condition. But this work is kept invisible and therefore there is never a relief package from governments for caregivers, only more work.

In 1980, the ILO estimated that women did 2/3 of the world’s work for 5% of its income. Over 1,500 organizations representing millions of women worldwide signed the petition Women Count – Count Women’s Work as the only way to make our contribution visible. In 1995 we won the UN commitment that governments would measure and value unwaged work in national accounts. But still today women and girls do more than three-quarters of all unpaid care work with a total of 12.5bn hours a day.

The market values this at $10.8tn but never suggests that women should get any of it.

Instead they tell us to get an education and a better paid job. We all have a right to that. But it would not deal with the indispensable work of life and survival – from breastfeeding to elder care. Only increasing the status, power and income of caregivers can do that.

In response to the virus, country after country is being shut down – from workplaces to schools and transport – and proposals to replace lost wages are being debated. These drastic measures show that governments can take swift action and find money to deal with “emergencies” – if they want to. Now is the time to spell out what we collectively need, and insist on it. If we don’t, governments may use their increased powers to transfer wealth from taxpayers to corporations, and impose further controls, surveillance and restrictions on our movements and our lives well after this pandemic is over.

What we have a need and right to is a CARE INCOME for all those, of every gender, who “care for people, the urban environment, and the natural world”. The Green New Deal for Europe, to which we have contributed, begins to look at what work we do and why. It proposes a Care Income as a key part of its programme for climate justice. For decades we have been campaigning for a living wage for mothers and other carers, North and South. A Care Income is a welcome development. At last protecting people and protecting Mother Earth can be equated and prioritized over the uncaring market – a major step in transforming the world and saving it.  On 20 March 2020, in response to the health, climate, poverty and war pandemics, in a webinar hosted within the Commission on the Status of Women, women from across the globe call for a Care Income, not only for Europe but for caregivers everywhere.

Event: Webinar From Coronavirus and Beyond Valuing Caregiving — the Unwaged Work that Protects People and the Environment.


Date And Time

Fri, March 20, 2020

11:00 AM – 12:30 PM EDT

Description

Invitation to a Webinar From Coronavirus and Beyond Valuing Caregiving — the Unwaged Work that Protects People and the Environment. The workshop we planned for the 64th UN Commission on the Status of Women has even more urgency now as the global pandemic has exposed how central caregiving is to life and survival, and how much caregivers are relied on for services governments are not providing. But where is the relief package for caregivers? We hope you can join in the webinar and follow us at: #careincomenow

With

Selma James – founder of the Intl Wages for Housework Campaign and coordinator of the Global Women’s Strike from London;
Liz Hilton, Empower (Thailand); Leddy Mozombite, Domestic Workers Federation and Global Women’s Strike (Peru);
Peggy O’Mara, former editor of Mothering Magazine;
Margaret Prescod, Women of Color in the Global Women’s Strike and Intl Black Women for Wages for Housework;
Rev Liz Theoharis, joint coordinator Poor People’s Campaign – A National Call for Moral Revival and the Kairos Center;
Chaired by Phoebe Jones, Women in Dialogue. Q&A to follow the presentations.

The Webinar aims to discuss and gather support for ● global implementation of measuring & valuing unwaged caregiving work, including the impact of COVID-19 on caregivers’ work ● accessing resources for survival and beyond – free healthcare, paid maternity leave, benefits, piped water & more for this work which is central to combating poverty & climate change ● campaigning for a Care Income for all caring for people, communities & the environment (Green New Deal for Europe, 2019).

Additional sponsors: Every Mother is a Working Mother Network, Global Women’s Strike, Intl Prostitutes Collective, Empower, Women Against Rape, Queerstrike, WinVisible, Payday men’s network.

For more information womenindialogue@crossroadswomen.net 215-848-1120
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/webinar-valuing-caregiving-the-unwaged-work-that-protects-people-and-the-environment-tickets-100185379166

Morning Star: The crucial work that women do is often overlooked

Women’s caring role in society means we end up doing a ‘double day’ whether we like it or not, writes SELMA JAMES

WHEN the women’s liberation movement began in 1970, groups sprang up all over London and all over Britain.

You would have a meeting and establish some of the things you wanted to discuss but at the next meeting there were twice as many women and you had to go over the same ground again.

So the newcomers were told “form your own group,” and the number of groups doubled and trebled.

A lot of women wanted to destroy all the hierarchies in society — not only of gender, but of race, nationality, age, disability, sexuality … but especially of class. We were almost all white but we were not all middle class.

I had been involved in the anti-imperialist movement in the Caribbean and, back in Britain, in the anti-racist movement (we were a mixed-race family).

I naturally brought that to women’s liberation. Some women embraced anti-racism but some treated it as an alien force competitive with feminism.

They had not yet registered that most of the women in the world are not white: the number of people of colour in Britain, though growing, was still relatively small.

I also brought women’s liberation to the anti-racist movement and fought it out with the men there; the women found their own voice.

At that moment in time it was difficult for most people — in any movement — to conceive of identifying as more than one sector. But some of us thought that we were all more than one sector and that we shouldn’t have to cut off any part of our identity to fit into any movement.

As women we identified first of all as those who did caring work for everyone but were the poorer and subordinate sex because we got not a bean for doing it. We had concluded that this unwaged work was central to the low status of women in every sphere and every country.

We produced and cared for all the workers of the world, and thus gave birth to and maintained every economy. In much of the world this included growing the food we fed our families. We were often asked by husbands in so called advanced countries: “What did you do all day?” as we put the meal on the table while tending a crying child. We women worked very hard doing what wasn’t considered work.

To redress this basic exploitation we formed the International Wages for Housework Campaign (WFH).

In 1975 WFH in London opened our first women’s centre — a little squat which ultimately became today’s Crossroads Women’s Centre in Kentish Town.

It’s one thing to campaign for unwaged work to be waged by governments, it’s quite another for various sectors of women to organise together with this perspective and at the same time make their own particular case — as women of colour, as lesbian women, as sex workers, as women with disabilities, as single mothers, as rape survivors, as immigrants, as asylum seekers…

It was that autonomous but mutually supportive way of campaigning that enabled us to come together in a women’s centre (there are more than one Crossroads centres in the world) and even in an international network which includes domestic workers, farmers, factory workers, students, teachers, nurses, claimants…

From 2000 WFH has co-ordinated the Global Women’s Strike in a number of countries.

This International Women’s Day is different in a number of ways. The women’s strikes which have been taking place around the world on March 8 have focused on rape, domestic violence and the murder of women, and the demand to end the impunity men are being given by the state. Caring work has featured as never before.

Caring has even entered university syllabuses. This is not only because women are insisting that this massive contribution be finally recognised but because we’ve gone out to work, doing a double day whether we like it or not. That was the only route to financial independence or even family survival once benefits were cut.

Now we face a climate emergency which threatens the whole of society, and in fact the whole world.

Strangely enough it was this crisis which opened the way to updating WFH. The Green New Deal for Europe, of which we are a dedicated part, is proposing a care income paid to all who do caring work for people and the natural world, whatever our gender.

At last protecting people and protecting Mother Earth are equated and elevated above the uncaring market.

This is light years ahead of a basic income which hides the crucial work that women do, leaves intact the sexist division of labour and the domination of the market and can even be used to abolish benefits.

And it is certainly more respectful of caring relationships than parking dependent loved ones with “professionals” in order to the “liberate” us, as some women economists urge.

We know enough about capitalism to worry that a “greening” of Europe means a new level of exploitation and environmental destruction of the global South — ie where is lithium for electric car batteries coming from and who is mining it? They will try to sell and celebrate this “development” — which makes international accountability and organising even more urgent.

The new and massively growing movement to save the earth is having to confront every prejudice which has divided us. Fighting for climate justice is our chance and our need.

This Sunday the Crossroads Women’s Centre will open its doors to women and to every gender, welcoming all to meet the 15 organisations based there and what they try to accomplish through collective self-help.

The open day on Sunday March 8 features workshops, films, exhibitions, music and refreshments. It runs from 12pm-5pm at 25 Wolsey Mews, London NW5 2DX. For more information visit crossroadswomen.net.

https://morningstaronline.co.uk/article/f/crucial-work-women-do-often-overlooked

WinVisible win £10,500 for woman with disability

You are here: Home / Benefits and Poverty / Tribunal victory gives hope to ‘failure to attend’ benefit victims

A woman speaks in front of protesters

Tribunal victory gives hope to ‘failure to attend’ benefit victims

By John Pring on 27th February 2020Category: Benefits and PovertyListenListen with webReaderFocus

A disabled woman’s tribunal victory has given hope to claimants who cannot take part in face-to-face benefit assessments for impairment, health, or trauma-related reasons, but then have their claims ended by the government for “failure to attend” their appointments.

Jane* spent two years fighting for her benefits to be reinstated, with support from the grassroots group WinVisible** and the charity Child Poverty Action Group, before the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) conceded defeat at the upper tribunal.

WinVisible said disabled people who cannot attend face-to-face assessments for health reasons or after surviving trauma or even abuse or sexual violence had become “easy targets” for DWP.

Among those claimants WinVisible has helped is a cancer patient who missed four assessment dates while struggling to cope with her diagnosis and clashing NHS appointments.

It has also highlighted Jane’s case.

She is an older woman, from the East Midlands, who has been disabled for 40 years and was previously claiming the highest rates of disability living allowance.

She had been receiving DLA since its introduction in 1992 until she had it suddenly removed by DWP in March 2018 for “failure to attend” a face-to-face assessment, after she was reassessed as part of the introduction of the new personal independence payment (PIP).

Her request for a home visit in the afternoon so she could prepare for the assessment was refused by the outsourcing company Capita.

Then her request for the assessment to be carried out on paper – because of the anxiety the process was causing her – was refused.

She had her benefits cut off after a failure to agree a suitable appointment time.

When she appealed but was unable to attend the tribunal for impairment-related reasons, she was branded “un-cooperative” by the tribunal panel, which rubber-stamped the DWP decision.

She was left with no disability benefits and unable to leave the house without someone to push her manual wheelchair. She also passed the age of 65, and so had to apply for attendance allowance, which has no mobility component.

She would have given up the fight if she had not come across WinVisible when searching online for help.

WinVisible secured support from CPAG’s upper tribunal project, which works with smaller organisations taking appeals to the upper tribunal.

Months of legal discussions, overseen by a tribunal judge, eventually saw DWP concede defeat, and agree that a fresh PIP claim could be decided only on paperwork, with the help of further medical evidence gathered by WinVisible.

The judge has now approved a “consent order”, which has seen DWP agree to award Jane the enhanced rate of PIP indefinitely – both for daily living and mobility – as well as more than £10,500 in backdated payments.

Claire Glasman (pictured, front left, speaking), from WinVisible, said: “‘Failure to attend’ is a big issue for sick, severely disabled and traumatised claimants, such as survivors of abuse and sexual violence being assessed by strangers.

“And those of us who are immigrant and refugee women face racism, where psychiatric reports about trauma are dismissed.”

She added: “A man who had an epileptic seizure on the day of his interview and was hospitalised, recently also won at upper tribunal.

“We are easy targets for the DWP to dismiss our claims in this way. As disabled claimants, we are expected to accept needless and stressful reassessments, and appointments at any time, even 9am on a Sunday morning.”

She pointed out that Jodey Whiting, who took her own life in February 2017 after being wrongly found “fit for work” following a missed work capability assessment, also lost her benefits because of a “failure to attend” decision by DWP officials.

Glasman said changes to the system were promised to Whiting’s mother, Joy Dove, but instead the system was “getting worse”.

She said: “Most services tell people to comply with the current system and are judgemental against women.

“Compliance includes routinely attending exams and interviews when asked.”

She said WinVisible was instead providing information and support for disabled women to fight their cases, highlighting the discrimination in the system, and pointing out that exemptions from “stressful” face-to-face interviews are provided for in regulations and DWP guidance.

She said: “We also try to overcome the indifference, bureaucracy and delay which exhausts sick and disabled people into giving up, by asking MPs and senior officials to intervene.”

Glasman added: “Disabled people, and disabled women especially who are dealing with added issues such as domestic violence and caring responsibilities, feel very strongly that the benefits system should not treat us like malingerers and scroungers, and should respect our rights.”

DWP declined to comment on Jane’s case.

*Not her real name

**WinVisible is based in London but is often contacted by disabled women across England, Scotland and Wales, and welcomes volunteers, with its casework and advocacy financially supported by the Oak Foundation and the National Lottery Community Fund

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