In this moment of global uncertainty, the work of social justice continues.
As governments around the world react to COVID-19, our counterparts are coping with an array of circumstances. Some are playing a crucial role on the ground: organizing to build handwashing stations, providing information materials to the most marginalized community members, and distributing food kits. Others are engaged in advocacy: calling on governments to address health, food and other systemic gaps exacerbated by the pandemic. Read below about their determined efforts to support their communities, and follow us on social media for regular updates.
This grassroots mobilization gives us hope. As many of us practise physical distancing, social solidarity remains vital. It is a time to emphasize collective solutions and feminist leadership, ensuring the most marginalized members of society are heard and human rights are upheld. As we look to recovery, let us seize the opportunity to make our systems more just.
Hundreds of organizations worldwide are calling for a just recovery which prioritizes people’s health, provides economic relief directly to workers and communities, creates resilience for future crises, and builds solidarity and community across borders. As a feminist organization, we add supporting women’s agency to these principles.
This is a moment we will get through, together. We feel special gratitude for health workers, agricultural workers, essential service workers, and for you, our community of supporters.
Wishing you, your loved ones, and your communities health and well-being.
The Inter Pares team
As in many countries around the world, COVID-19 has posed an unprecedented health challenge in India. In response, Deccan Development Society (DDS) mobilized. Twice a day during the 3-month lockdown period, the women farmers of DDS served highly nutritious, immunity boosting millet porridge to frontline health and sanitation workers at their workplace. DDS staff also supplied the most marginalized in their community - including single women, the elderly and migrant workers - with millets. In addition, DDS collaborated with the district administration to provide finger millet porridge to child care centres in the areas surrounding Zaheerabad. The response of DDS was truly a collective one - to support these efforts, women farmers of the sanghams procured and donated up to 44,000lbs of grains. We are honoured to support DDS is these brave and much-needed efforts.
With the COVID-19 lockdown, the situation in the countryside is increasingly challenging. Rondas campesinas (paramilitary groups) present during the civil conflict in the 1990s have re-emerged to impose their own rules and punish alleged violations of government regulations. People who fled the highlands for the cities during the armed conflict are returning to the countryside, further straining scarce resources. Health services are limited to emergencies or deliveries. Schools are closed and the lack of internet in rural areas makes virtual education next to impossible. While some of SISAY’s activities have paused, the organization has become more engaged in public outreach. With local partners, SISAY is supporting radio broadcasts in the Quechua language, including educational programs for children and information about COVID-19. Inter Pares is proud to continue supporting SISAY during this difficult time.
Our health partners in Burma have been acting quickly to increase their public health activities such as building hand wash stations, distributing soap and creating educational materials in posters, radio announcements and even short videos. Its times like these that we truly value our local, responsive and trusted health workers. A huge thank-you to health workers everywhere.
Most communities in Metro Manila are quarantined, with strict measures preventing movement outside of certain neighbourhoods. To ensure everyone has access to correct information about COVID-19, staff at Likhaan Center for Women's Health are translating World Health Organization recommendations and updates into Tagalog, and have created posters and flyers. Community mobilizers are distributing the information materials in their neighbourhoods, talking to people about preventive measures. Likhaan has also made the new resources available for other local health organizations to share.
In Guinea-Bissau, a country characterized by political instability, it is mostly civil society that steps in when things go wrong. Tiniguena, one of the country’s first national-level organizations, has convened meetings with local development organizations to build a response to COVID-19. Most of the population lives hand to mouth, and being in isolation means not being able to put food on the table. Tiniguena is preparing emergency food kits for delivery to the most vulnerable populations. For the medium term, they are building capacity on home gardening to bolster food security.
Colombia is currently in a country-wide lockdown. With high rates of unemployment and well over half the population engaged in the informal sector, many people have no access to food, medication or shelter. Corporación Arazá is working with the Colombian Coalition of Movements and Social Organizations (COMOSOC) on local responses that promote community solidarity and self-care. They are calling on the Colombian government to address systemic problems exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. They are denouncing the militarization of marginalized neighbourhoods and the alarming increase in assassinations of social leaders who, confined to their homes, have become easy targets for paramilitary assassins.
The Canadian Health Coalition (CHC) is a public advocacy organization dedicated to the preservation and improvement of public health care. COVID-19 has made the need for accessible, public health care even more evident. CHC has been working across the country in response to the pandemic, underscoring the need to support those most vulnerable including seniors in long-term care facilities, people with disabilities, and migrants. This is a moment where individual and collective health are incredibly interdependent.
The pandemic is making it even more difficult for millions of people in Canada to make ends meet, and hunger is rapidly rising. Food Secure Canada is tackling this by supporting local organizing to identify short-term needs of food security organizations, and as a thought-leader, providing solid policy proposals to the Canadian government for transformative change to our deeply unequal and fragile food system. This includes a call to move away from a charity model and toward guaranteeing the right to food through basic income measures, and supporting the growth of local and ecological food systems in Canada.
Please note that the Inter Pares office is closed until further notice. Co-managers are working from home and remain accessible via e-mail.