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Paula Sánchez de la Blanca

The dynamic scene of community currencies in Spain

Encuentromsalcala

Learning about the civic innovation potential of alternative currencies during the 5th Meeting of Community Currencies

In the context of the ‘2016 Social Spring’, Alcalá de Henares, hometown of Miguel de Cervantes, hosted the 5th Meeting of Community Currencies (or ‘monedas sociales’) in Spain. Members of more than 20 community currencies (CCs) attended the meeting during the weekend of the 20th -22nd May 2016 and a series of thematic lectures during the previous week. A few academics including Georgina Gómez and myself, on behalf of ISS CIRI team, were also present at this meeting interested in the civic innovation dynamics of this gathering.

The major themes during the lectures were software applications for CCs, local currencies in public policy and the social transformation potential of solidarity-based community projects. There was also time for self-organized workshops among participants who were members of a community currency, an open space to exchange experiences and a general assembly to reach agreements for upcoming coordination projects. Indeed, the main objective of this meeting was to bring together the different community currencies throughout Spain, enhancing interaction and exchange of challenges and solutions.

The interactive nature of this meeting is a reflection of the dynamic scenario of Spanish community currencies. Community currencies have extraordinarily spread throughout Spain during last decade. According to Julio Gisbert’s CCs database, more than 300 initiatives are counted nowadays.

Contextualizing CCs in Spain

Over the past hundred years, Spain has had a rich history of local currency innovation. During the civil war (1936-1939), Francoist forces refused to accept the official money split Spain in two opposing currency zones. In parallel, communities with a tradition of anarchist ideas in the South and East of the country started to issue their own local forms of money (Hugues, 2015). As historian Wilko von Prittwitz put it, Spain became in that period a variety of currency experiments.

CommunityCurrencySpain1

Historical community currency in Spain

According to Hugues, a second wave of currency innovation was in the late 1990s, when Spanish local governments engaged in ‘municipal timebanking’ creating or offering assistance to groups willing to use time-banking to support people’s needs and solidarity networks in the city areas.

 

 

Since 2009, Spain is living a third wave of experimentation in alternative economic practices. This recent rise of community currencies in Spain is framed in the context of economic crisis where CCs are responding to social needs created or accentuated by the crisis.

As evidenced in the Alcala de Henares meeting, there is also an important role for what Hugues calls ‘CC pioneers’, like Julio Gisbert or Enric Durant. Julio Gisbert is author of the book ‘Vivir sin empleo’ and a blog with the same name. He is also the president of the Association for the development of timebanks in Spain. Nicknamed ‘The Bank Robin Hood’, Durant is the co-founder of the crypto currency Fair coin and its cooperative Fair Coop, and he has been actively engaged in the Catalonian integral cooperatives. Besides, Hugues sees a growing influence of heterogeneous social movements such as the de-growth activists and the 15M Movement.

Although CCs in Spain differ substantially in their principles and goals, there is a common understanding of the systemic problems of a growth-based economy and the need of alternative economic practices experimentation, recognizing that money is socially-constructed. The 15M movement emerged in 2011 out of demonstrations where hundreds of thousands of ‘indignant’ citizens occupy city squares across the country (see our related post here). Many of the self-managed local groups remained committed to mutuality and locality and they join or create a community currency. For example, in the Canary Islands Demos, a self-organized CC with a basic income revenue scheme emerged from the 15M Assembly of La Isleta. In her research on Puma LETS in Seville, Medina (2015: 26) concludes that ‘contentious claims as well as the plans and actions of the 15-M social movement, motivated degrowth activists to inaugurate a LETS within the Pumarejo neighbourhood, transforming potential for mobilisation into action.’

Diversity and increasing interaction

Julio Gisbert’s database currently maps out more than 300 CCs throughout Spain, with Catalonia, Andalousie and Madrid being the most active regions.

GisbertMap

Julio Gisbert’s map of community currencies

He differentiates time-banks, bartering schemes and social currencies/markets. Among them there is a wide variety of principles, designs and actors involved. In terms of community currencies, they can be euro-backed (such as the Boniato en Madrid and the Ekhi in Bilbao). However, the most widespread type is mutual-credit schemes where a virtual currency is created through the exchange of goods/services of its products. In fact, the vast majority of participants in Alcala de Henares were part of a mutual-credit currency. Examples include the Puma in Seville, the Turuta in Vilanova i la Geltrú, the ekos in the Castellón, the común in Malaga, the Demos in the Canary Islands, the pita in Almeria and the Osel in Murcia.

In this diverse mosaic of alternative economic practices in Spain, there is not a common project. However, many CCs are increasingly interacting with each other. The Alcala de Henares meeting has been the fifth nation-wide effort to exchange experiences and meet strategic stakeholders (such as local governments and software design companies). There is a growing interest in learning from each other. For instance, out of the assembly of this V meeting, an open document was created to exchange practical challenges and solutions among CCs. Also, a workgroup was created to organize a journey-documentary visiting all CCs initiatives in Spain trying to only use social money.

Concluding, community currencies in Spain are opening new learning spaces from where many people are better coping with the social needs created or accentuated by the economic crisis. However, is their civic innovation potential limited to the context of crisis? Looking at the current scenario of Spanish CCs, it seems many of them have already created new ways of understanding and doing a sustainable social economy.

 

 

 

Mansoureh Shojaee, CIRI Visiting Fellow

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I will share the stories of some of my photos during the upcoming DRS Dialogue on “Coloniality of gender, cyberfeminism and the poetics of resistance” on 6 June 2016.

Paulina Trejo Mendez, ISS

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I am looking forward to share my artwork and reflect on it jointly with you during the upcoming ISS Development Research Seminar (DRS) on “Coloniality of gender, cyberfeminism and the poetics of resistance” on 6 June 2016!

Liz Hilton, Empower Foundation

 

We were asked “What makes sex work a precarious and often dangerous occupation?” For us it is more interesting to be asked “What makes sex work such a viable occupation for millions of people when it seems precarious and often dangerous?”

The majority of people in the world have no qualifications, no capital and a need to earn cash for their survival and the survival of the people they love. In many countries, children of 8 or 9 years begin to earn money to help the family income or look after younger siblings while parents are out working. They work after school, weekends and holidays. By the time they reach the age of full time work, usually 15 years old, they have experienced many jobs. The adult labor market for those without qualifications or access to capital offers work that is often either excruciatingly tedious and/or physically grinding on our bodies. This work takes up more than a third of our days, which is our life. It rarely provides access to social protection and rarely leads to any opportunities.

HousewifeCartoon

Not work, but ‘labour of love’?

As women and mothers much of the work offered to us is the work of caring e.g. cleaning, cooking, washing, child minding, aged and disabled care. This is the kind of work we are expected to do free in our homes as a ‘labor of love’, so of course it is not valued much more when we do it outside the home for money. We are also expected to have sex for free, another ‘labor of love’. Asking to be compensated for sex in cash rather than in flowers is actively condemned both legally and morally. However, we find that men value sex more highly than ironed shirts etc., so are willing to pay more for this than any other service we women provide in the market. Still, it is just a small minority of women who will decide that the opportunities sex work provides are worth the risks of working outside State protection and social approval. Sex work provides a chance to end generational poverty for themselves and their families. It is not surprising people decide to do sex work; given the inequality between rich and poor combined with the tyranny of the man-made market.

NoBadWhoresBadLaws

Criminalisation and lack of recognition as work makes sex work precarious

Tens of millions of people, mainly women, decide to do sex work. It does not seem reasonable that the punishment for this decision should be total disregard for their right to human dignity, physical integrity, access to protection and justice. Even people who have committed serious crimes are still accorded their full human rights – why not sex workers?

I am looking forward to discussing these thoughts with you during the ISS Dialogue on Civic Innovation Research on “Decent Work for Sex Workers” on 24 May 2016. Also, have a look at Empower’s recent research report that details steps for “Moving toward Decent Sex Work“.

Karin Pape, European Regional Coordinator of the International Domestic Workers’ Federation (IDWF)

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Domestic workers celebrate the ratification of the ILO Domestic Workers Convention C189 in June 2011 (image: IDWN ILO Blog)

Over the last 10 years, organized domestic workers have entered the international scene and created a movement. It achieved the first ever comprehensive, international standard, which regulates minimum working conditions for domestic workers – the ILO Convention 189 that was adopted in 2011. How did a bunch of invisible, disperse, marginalized workers – many of whom are migrants – successfully organize for change?

Almost every fifth out of the estimated 67 million domestic workers in the world is an international migrant. In addition, in many countries, for example, in Latin America, there are internal migrants – women from rural areas going to the cities in order to find domestic work. The vast majority of all domestic workers, migrants and nationals alike, are women.

There are many vulnerabilities, which are shared by migrant and national domestic workers. However, there are some aspects specific to migrant domestic work. Among others, these are:

  • Migrant domestic workers are at the crossroads of origin and destination countries’ policies with regard to immigration laws and laws which regulate the labour market in the destination countries. These frameworks define the level of labour protection and sometimes provide very little or almost no protection at all.
  • Migrant domestic workers are in particular exposed to violations of human and labour rights as they face disadvantages, compared to nationals, with regard to power relations: th
    DomesticWorkerLebanon

    In many countries, like here in Lebanon, migrant domestic workers enjoy even less legal protection than their national colleagues (image: Middle East Online)

    ey often have language deficits, are not familiar with the rights and customs in the countries they work, they lack access to local support networks and are reluctant to report abuses because they fear deportation. Living with the employer can mean to be staying in a protected environment, but too often live-in migrant domestic workers are subject to violence, including sexual abuses and other human rights violations.

Getting from the “kitchen table to the UN” did not come out of the blue. Domestic workers around the globe have a long history of organizing. However, the first international gathering of domestic workers in 2006 in Amsterdam triggered a process of international organising. In this context, the ILO Convention was seen as one tool to achieve a “global movement of domestic workers”, as stated by Marcelina Bautista, the then Chair of the Confederación Latinoamericana de Trabajadoras del Hogar (CONLACTRAHO) during the Amsterdam Conference in 2006.

The Amsterdam Conference in 2006 brought together active domestic workers’ organizations, as well as a wide range of support organizations, such as: trade union organizations, international NGOs and networks like Anti Slavery International, Migrant Forum Asia (MFA), Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO), to name just a few. This broad alliance was kept and used strategically to involve organized domestic workers in the process of getting an ILO Convention from the very beginning.

The ILO Convention No. 189 does not distinguish between migrant and national domestic workers. It applies to all domestic workers (Article 2.1). However, there are some Articles, which refer to particular protection needs of migrant domestic workers, such as:

  • having contracts before departing from their country of origin (Article 8),
  • the regulation of (cross-boarder) recruitment agencies (Article 15), and
  • the right to keep one’s travel and identity documents (9 c).

In order to be informed about and enforcing rights, it is indispensible for workers in general, but in particular for migrant domestic workers, to organize into organizations of their choosing. Trade unions have increasingly become open to take on vulnerable occupational groups, which are not part of traditional work forces. If they have done so with regard to domestic workers, they have realized that – unlike other workers – domestic workers do not organise and, in fact, cannot be organized at the work place. Individual membership raises expectations that the unions cannot meet and leads to frustrations on both sides. These may even develop into an anti-union, hostile attitude from the side of the workers. Only when (migrant) domestic workers have already formed pre-organizations and enter into “negotiations” with a union as a group, which includes being represented in trade union decision-making bodies, organizing (migrant) domestic workers can be successful. In fact, migrant domestic workers, including the undocumented, are among the most active if they are represented in the unions.

Despite all progress, the relationship between (migrant) domestic workers and trade unions is still “in the making” and everything but easy. Very often stereotypes on both sides persist, such as:

  • “It is impossible to organize domestic workers.”
  • “Unions don’t do anything – they just want my money.“

I am looking forward to discuss these and other experiences, including those from the audience, during a guest lecture at the ISS on 26 April 2016.

Paulina Trejo Mendez, ISS, Giulia Simula, ISS, Laura Angelica Santamaria Buitrago, ISS & Paula Sanchez de la Blanca Díaz-Meco, 15M, Spain

JuventudSinFuturo

Spanish ‘Youth without future’

In the next session of our  Dialogues on Civic Innovation Research on 25 April 2016, we will be looking at youth responses of resistance and hope to the economic crisis in Southern Europe.

We are interested in the voices and alternatives is the current dominant narrative on the economic crisis leaving out. How are young people in Europe trying to counter this narrative with alternatives that consciously try to de-link from capitalist social relations and how are they re-inventing new economic and social relations?

Youth networks in southern Europe are working to form alternatives in ways that differ from older more traditional struggles of class and capital. We see youth as part of a contemporary form of protest today that is resisting inequalities and responding to global consumer capitalism in ways that go beyond the old class/capital battles. In negotiating current relations and futures youth are dealing with issues like generation, gender, sexuality, race/ethnicity, care and environment. We explore how these concerns lead to more messy and heterogeneous modes of organizing, chronologies and agendas. The new forms of relations particularly linked to non-hierarchical ways of organizing are not entirely new, but can co-exist with previous experiences of collective leadership (e.g. long-term autonomistas (autonomy) and anarchist traditions in Spain).

Our dialogue is inspired by a series of discussions among ourselves as young people aged from 16-30 in dialogue with Wendy Harcourt. All of us have lived or undertaken research in Spain and Italy. We experimented in writing a chapter of the CIRI book on “Exploring Civic Innovation for Social and Economic Transformation“as a series of conversations about theory, experience of resistance and possibilities of hope told in the interviews and conversations. We have drawn from our own experiences shared with other young activists in dialogue with different theories about social movements, embodied research and youth studies. In the dialogue on 25 April, we will reflect together on the questions above in an interactive fishbowl conversation.

We would like to focus on the doing and being of youth in their own understanding of politics in this specific historical moment. In particular, we look at how youth resistance is creating innovative ways to challenge the contemporary dominant order of things and in this way are creating alternatives to current dominant economic practices.

Examples of youth resistance that will be discussed in the panel include the Spanish ‘Juventud sin futuro’ (Youth without Future) and the group ‘no nos vamos nos echan’ . On the Italian side, we will discuss youth alternatives born in schools, centri sociali and about the precarious generation.

By bringing together the interpretations and narratives as told by youth themselves we aim to displace the gloomy unemployment statistics and economic forecasts and instead present the crisis as forging possibilities for a change of the current social, economic and political order. As the Spanish based movement ‘Youth without Future’ state, they came together first in order to make their plight visible as youth ‘without a home, without a job’, but also as people ‘without fear’ for the future. We see youth not as lost, but rather as building forms of civic innovation; searching for alternative forms of economics, revaluing care, creating places for discussion, and creating new forms of relations. We/they are searching for change, not as part of political parties or organized NGOs or even social movements but rather in their own ways of living precarity and loss and uncertainty. In this, we see youth as going beyond dominant hegemonic ideologies of economics, politics and society and challenging even the idea of what is southern Europe – and what type of futures youth are creating now.

Taekema2Sanne Taekema, Erasmus School of Law

Legal instrumentalism has a bad name: it is criticized for reducing law to a policy instrument for external political or economic goals. During the ISS Dialogue on Civic Innovation Research on April 4, I aim to rehabilitate instrumentalism, at least to some extent, by reinterpreting it from the perspective of pragmatist interactionism. By seeing law as emerging from the interactional expectancies of people towards one another, law is conceptually based on horizontal relationships (building on the theory of Lon Fuller). I will argue that this horizontal orientation can provide a specific version of an instrumental view of law because it pluralizes law’s instrumentality. Law is no longer seen as a policy instrument in the hands of authorities, but as a tool for everyone who makes use of it (making use of John Dewey’s pragmatism). Such a bottom-up account of law as an instrument requires arguing how the purposive activities of people in legal practices shape law as an interactional phenomenon. It also requires an argument on how the horizontal and vertical dimensions of law are connected. This means exploring to what extent law as set by official authority figures in, limits or enables, the different uses ordinary people make of law. Legal mobilization by activist individuals and groups is used to see how the vertical relationship involves bottom-up instrumentalization of law and how this relates to law’s values.

Statements

  1. To give a good account of legal mobilisation, we need to rethink the idea of law merely serving as a policy instrument.
  1. Law does not only consist of rules and is not framed by legal professionals exclusively; we also need to acknowledge and better understand the creative role of citizens and social movements.
  1. Legal mobilization needs to engage with law’s internal values, not work against them.

 

By Ruben Korevaar, Business Development Manager at Simavi

How social and technological innovation support menstrual hygiene management and women empowerment

menstrual hygiene, Uganda, civic innovation

Micro entrepreneur promoting MHM in Uganda (image: Mona van den Berg)

Increasingly women participate in economic life, generate income and are an important driver for economic development. Girls’ school enrollment is increasing and in many countries more girls pass secondary school certificate than boys. More than ever we have access to various sources of information. However, millions of women and girls still lack information on menstrual hygiene, and lack access to hygienic and affordable solutions to manage their menstruation. In many countries girls and women are being excluded from public life – like going to school or work – because they are having their period. How can social change and technological innovation contribute to turn the tide?

Social constraints for women’s socio-economic participation

We give periods many names like “Aunt Flo,” “time of the month,” “crimson wave” or a number of other weird euphemisms that only serve to mystify and hide the process that women go through every month. Menstruation is a natural and essential part of the reproductive cycle. However, in many parts of the world it remains a taboo that is rarely talked about. These taboos and social norms restrict the participation of women and girls in society during menstruation. In addition, limited access to clean water, proper sanitation facilities and sanitary napkins make it difficult for women to manage their menstruation hygienically. As a result, many (young) women around the world face considerable physical and social challenges during their menstruation period.

Menstruation is a cross-cutting issue that relates to several of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), e.g. SDG 3-6. While menstruation issues and menstrual hygiene management have recently gained attention in the global development agenda, menstrual hygiene management (MHM) is not specifically mentioned as such in the SDGs.

Social change

Development organisations like Simavi believe that solutions for menstruation issues are vital in empowering women and ensuring basic health conditions. Approaches include:

  • Creating awareness on sexuality, reproductive cycle and menstrual hygiene among girls, women and men in order to empower women to take care of themselves during their menstruation, self-develop and live a healthy life.
  • Creating a supportive environment, in which menstruation is socially accepted and women are not excluded or discriminated because of their monthly periods.
  • Improving access to services, such as sanitary pads and sexual, reproductive health services, as well as sanitation facilities and clean water.

Where NGOs are well-rooted in society and have access to especially the Bottom of the Pyramid (BoP), the private sector is a driving force in producing MHM solutions like pads, tampons or menstruation cups. Therefore, a multisector collaboration in addressing menstruation is needed to accelerate change and increase impact.

Innovations to reduce the environmental burden of waste

While promoting MHM and creating access to modern methods, we do not want to create more plastic waste. The average woman uses up to 11,000 pads or tampons during her lifetime. Imagine what this means with regard to the amount of waste in a country like Bangladesh where about 40 million women/girls menstruate.

The role of the private sector is important in looking for innovations and developing environmental friendly alternatives. For example Simavi, together with TNO and a private partner in Bangladesh, is developing and producing biodegradable sanitary napkins. The involvement of the private sector is crucial to ensure supplies can actually be provided in a cost-efficient way and at scale. Looking at sustainability, NGOs can encourage sanitary producers to consider environmental friendly solutions that are also reaching girls and women who have limited resources to spend.

By facilitating social change, working together with the private sector and encouraging technological innovations, NGOs contribute to ensure that all girls and women have comprehensive knowledge of menstrual hygiene, appropriate methods to manage their cycle and are in the position to do so.

I am looking forward to discuss these ideas about technological innovation on this blog and during the ISS Dialogue on Civic Innovation on March 7, 2016!

Latest CIRI Working Paper on ‘Dutch social entrepreneurs in international development’ now available

We are pleased to provide an update on the CIRI Working Paper series. The fifth working paper, by Bert Helmsing, Peter Knorringa and Daniel Gomez Gonzalez on ‘Dutch social entrepreneurs in international development’, was published in December 2015 and is available here.

Please find below a list with links to the other papers in the series.

CIRI Working Paper update

Publish your Civic Innovation Research in the CIRI Working Paper Series!

We would like to re-issue our call for proposals for papers to be published in this series.

The CIRI Working Paper series is part of the well-known ISS Working Paper series. It is intended to make research papers available to an audience both within and outside the ISS, with the purpose of inviting comments and provoking discussion. For papers yet to be submitted for publication, this discussion might assist in developing the paper into an improved final manuscript.

We welcome submissions that fall within the broad scope of the Civic Innovation Research Initiative, i.e. exploring how organizations and individuals mobilize to change their societies. We particularly welcome submissions that treat the methodological challenges of conducting research in this area, i.e. inter-cultural dialogues, engaged research, activist research, participatory research, actor self-reflexivity, and multi-stakeholder encounters and exchanges.

We also encourage submissions of non-academic writings such as in-depth interviews and conversations with ‘civic innovators’ and dialogues on ‘innovative’ ideas related to the CIRI research agenda.

For more information, including the author guidelines and the paper template, contact the editor Sylvia I. Bergh at bergh@iss.nl

 

Have a look at the CIRI Working PapersCIRI-logo-RGB

CIRI Working Paper No. 1: A.H.J. Helmsing (Bert): Analyzing Local Institutional Change: Comparing small farmer participation in high value export chains in Uganda and Peru (September 2013)

CIRI Working Paper No. 2: A.A. Corradi (Ariane Agnes): The building blocks of a resource-based theory of business start-ups: A mixed methods approach to investigate the interaction between markets, institutions, and entrepreneurial learning (March 2014)

CIRI Working Paper No. 3: A.F. Fowler (Alan): Innovation in institutional collaboration: The role of interlocutors (April 2014)

CIRI Working Paper No. 4: K.A. Siegmann (Karin Astrid), J. Merk (Jeroen)1 and P. Knorringa (Peter): Voluntary initiatives in global value chains: Towards labour-led social upgrading? (May 2014)

CIRI Working Paper No. 5: A.H.J. Helmsing (Bert), P. Knorringa (Peter) and D. Gomez Gonzalez (Daniel): Dutch social entrepreneurs in international development: Defying existing micro and macro characterizations (December 2015)

One of my most successful strategies of translating feminist visions into economic policy is simply doing it without spending too many words on the why I do this. I am a feminist. And an economist, scholar, critical thinker, activist, lobbyist, teacher, writer, mother, partner, daughter, sister, rower, reader, home-owner, board member, and learning to become a very basic level drummer. That’s enough words on the ‘what’ and ‘why’ of me. Let me explain rather the ‘how’. How I translate my feminism, connected with or disconnected from my other identities, through my economics, in teaching, lobbying, advocacy, and non-academic writing.

First, I will publish an economics book on the very day that we will have this seminar about feminist visions for economic policy, on the 15th of February at the ISS. In Dutch (sorry). I have opted to write an accessible book for a general public, including policy makers and students and fellow economists, because I am frustrated by the lack of depth and width in economic policy debates. As if there is not a rich history of economic thought from Adam Smith to Amartya Sen.

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As if we have to learn time and time again to prevent crises and to get out of them from scratch. As if Marx was only a revolutionary whose ideas have been proven wrong by the fall of the Berlin wall. As if Adam Smith was really the father of neoliberalism. As if Keynes can be reduced to overspending governments. I am angry about such a violation of the history of economic thought. This reductionism seems a strategy to prevent students of economics to learn about other theories than the mainstream, to learn about qualitative methods in economic research, and to learn about the ethical foundations of various economic theories (yes, also utilitarianism as the ethics on which neoclassical economics is founded). To provide a tiny little bit of a balance to this bias, I have decided to explain the basic lessons we could have learned to prevent the 2008 financial crisis, in ten chapters, each dedicated to an innovative insight by a key economist. My book includes two female economists. And it discusses feminist themes of equality, diversity, and caring in the chapters on male economists who dared to talk about these issues. Such as Adam Smith in his Theory of Moral Sentiments (not read by economists), and John Maynard Keynes who wrote about gender equality, and Gunnar Myrdal who explained the persistence of the discrimination of blacks in the US economy in the 1940s. I have not labelled a single chapter “feminist”. But I have written one chapter on a founding mother of feminist economics, Barbara Bergmann, explaining the importance of her work.

lagardeSecond, I have analyzed the Lehman Sisters Hypothesis, put forward by high-level women such as Christine Lagarde and Neelie Kroes, right after the crisis. I found that there is a grain of truth in it, both on the ground of gender differences in the average financial behavior of men and women and, more sensitive in feminist debates, because of biological differences that mediate the behavioral patterns. For example by discussing research on testosterone, cortisol and oxytocine and their two-way relationship with economic variables (including the German Bond rate!) and economic behavior (in particular risk taking and stress-resilience). That research has resulted in invitations as keynote speaker at interesting events. Such as the OECD Head Quarter in Paris, in a seminar series attended by OECD ambassadors or their deputies and OECD staff. And an invitation to Reykjavik, where a female banker whose investment fund was the only one that did not go bankrupt in Iceland in 2008, had organized a conference in order to get the lessons from Lehman Sisters out to an audience of business people, women and men. That was a very inspiring event, where business leaders, from the CEOs of banks to CEOs of global fish exporters, were eager to learn about balancing biased male behavior in finance jobs and leadership positions. And where actress Geena Davis made an insightful and sometimes hilarious speech about her own experiences with gender biases in the film industry.

davisThird, I have done a survey among Dutch bankers on banking culture. My key finding is that the average bank employee is client-oriented but banking culture is not. They do value caring, but their bosses care more for profit. They are generally service-oriented, but the bank leadership focuses on shareholders. To my own surprise many ordinary bankers agree with these findings. And they ask me to train them on how to understand the dominant banking culture and how they can make a contribution to make it more caring. I have done several trainings now with small groups of bankers. One such training took four hours with 22 Amsterdam-based investment bankers (20 male, 2 female). After having explained the ethics of care and how it differs from both utilitarianism and deontology (a rights-perspective), I handed out big sheets of paper and color pencils. I asked them to make a color drawing to illustrate what these ethical approaches mean to them in their daily work. This resulted not only in very creative and sometimes also very funny drawings. But it also led to extremely interesting discussions among the bankers themselves, talking for the first time in their lives about the meaning of serving clients. The same bank has now asked me to repeat the training for another group and not in four hours but in eight hours. I should get canvass and oil paint.sheila e

In conclusion, for me, feminist economics is about doing it, showing how diversity, equality, and caring matter for economic life, and pointing out how policy makers, business people, and others can “do it” as well, integrating these three key feminist themes in their policies and activities. Without having to go through debates about feminism. Remember that economists value efficiency: we like to get straight to the point of ‘how’. Simply doing it, not talking about it. Like my heroine Sheila E on her drumset (for this link you really need to switch on the sound of your device and put it at the max!).


International Institute of Social Studies

CIRI aims to scale up and identify synergies between existing research at ISS on civic agency and change agents, as drivers of societal change and development. This blog is a forum on which to share and discuss themes and issues which fall within the broad framework of the programme.

  • Paula Sánchez: I will be very happy to bring to the discussion also the current movement nuit debout that is spread [...]
  • Sanne Taekema: It is also helpful to consider some historical examples of mobilizing law for social purposes. It i [...]
  • 4 April 2016: prof. Taekema speaks at ISS – INFAR: […] Read the whole abstract of prof. Taekema on the blog of ISS, by clicking here. […] [...]
  • Jeff: Here is a more concrete example: If you are discussing THE ROLE OF LAW IN PROTECTING THE ENVIRONM [...]
  • Jeff: Legal mobilization is a crucial topic to discuss, particularly among those in the legal field who te [...]