Maximizing Impact of Research on SSE and Gender; Young Scholars Think Piece Series Runners Up; UNRISD Seminars: Issue 21 November 2014
UNRISD is an autonomous institution within the UN system that carries out multidisciplinary research and policy analysis on the social dimensions of contemporary development issues.


As we move closer to 2015, much energy across the UN system is geared towards negotiating the goals, and elaborating means of implementation and financing of the post-2015, or sustainable development, agenda. UNRISD research increasingly looks to the questions that will be critical beyond 2015: the political processes which determine how domestic resources can be mobilized and utilized for developmental purposes; the processes by which claims are made that can lead to gender-egalitarian change; how social protection interventions can lead to stable systems of universal coverage; and the synergies between social, economic and environmental dimensions laid out in the global agenda aimed at a transformation to sustainability.

Among the news reported on in this eBulletin, it is worth highlighting the increasing visibility of activities around the social and solidarity economy (SSE) as an alternative to mainstream forms of economic organizing. Launched through a conference convened on this theme in 2013, UNRISD has continued its inquiry into the diverse forms, contexts and conditions, and limits and potential, of production, distribution and exchange aimed at socially just and ecologically sustainable outcomes. One key result to date is the establishment of a UN Inter-Agency Task Force on SSE, now involving 19 agencies as well as the major global and regional civil society networks on SSE. The growing importance of such alternative forms is increasingly recognized by governmental and intergovernmental agencies, as well as by social movements and academics. UNRISD has participated in numerous activities organized by external partners, from an academic conference on Gender and SSE and the Global Social Economy Forum (GSEF) in Seoul, to meetings organized by the European Economic and Social Committee in Brussels and the European Union under the Presidency of Italy. UNRISD Research Analyst, Marie-Adelaïde Matheï, presents a summary of this work.

We look forward to strengthening this network and working with partners in the coming year, to deepen our understanding of the potential for transformation through SSE, and to consider its role in transitioning to more sustainable development outcomes.


A Precariat Charter: From Denizens to Citizens

11 November 2014, Geneva Guy Standing, Professor of Development at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, gave a seminar on the precariat: an emerging mass class characterized by inequality and insecurity, whose rights—political, civil, social, cultural and economic—have been denied. He considered the kind of progressive politics that could form the vision of a good society in which inequality, and the instability it produces, is reduced. He proposed a Precariat Charter that is a programme to revive the great trinity of freedom, equality and fraternity, and advance emancipatory income redistribution.

Second Project Workshop: “When and Why Do States Respond to Women’s Claims?”

29-31 October 2014, New Delhi At the recent project workshop on When and Why Do States Respond to Women’s Claims?, national level teams presented the primary research conducted in China, Indonesia and India, and compared findings across issues. The teams also planned the next stage of the project: dissemination of the research findings and analysis. With the support of resource people from academia, civil society, development agencies and UN agencies, they will develop a strategy to meaningfully contribute to academic, policy and activist debates and practices at national and international levels.

Are African Welfare States Different? Welfare State-Building in Africa in Comparative Perspective

29 September 2014, Geneva Should welfare focus on the poor rather than on workers in formal employment? Some countries in East and Southern Africa have welfare states that go against the grain of much standard welfare thinking. This is because of their modest public expenditure on contributory social insurance compared to relatively high expenditure on non-contributory social assistance. In this seminar, Jeremy Seekings, Professor of Politics and Sociology at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, examined how these welfare regimes differ from those in other parts of the global South, and looked at their historical origins and contemporary reforms.

Politics of Domestic Resource Mobilization: Uganda National Workshop

24-25 September 2014, Kampala At the national project workshop on Politics of Domestic Resource Mobilization, the Uganda team had an opportunity to discuss the preliminary research findings with other experts in the field and strengthen links with key project stakeholders. Participants included representatives of a variety of institutions active in the field of public finance in Uganda, whose interventions will further feed into the finalization of the research. Research for the project is also being conducted in three other countries: Bolivia, Nicaragua and Zimbabwe.


Rethinking Social Development for a Post-2015 World

Sarah Cook and Esuna Dugarova An article by UNRISD Director Sarah Cook and Research Analyst Esuna Dugarova exploring some of the challenges of moving from the poverty-focused targets of the MDGs toward a socially sustainable development agenda has been published in Development, Vol. 57, Issue 1. The issue, produced in partnership with the Club de Madrid, was launched at a Policy Dialogue in New York.

Articles in Gender and Development

UNRISD researchers published three articles in Gender and Development, Volume 22, Issue 3.

—Valeria Esquivel: What is a Transformative Approach to Care, and Why Do We Need It?
—Magdalena Sepúlveda Carmona and Kate Donald: What Does Care Have to Do with Human Rights? Analysing the Impact on Women's Rights and Gender Equality
—Sarah Cook: Review of New Frontiers in Feminist Political Economy

State Preconditions in Dealing with Ebola: A Comparison between Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire

Katharina Heitz Tokpa, Andrea Kaufmann and Franzisca Zanker This article was published in German in Giga Focus and co-authored by Andrea Kaufmann, UNRISD Gender Expert. It looks at access to health services in Liberia and Côte d'Ivoire in the context of the Ebola crisis. Whereas Liberia has reported the most deaths, not a single case was reported in Côte d’Ivoire as of 29 October 2014. The comparative analysis shows that prior to the period of civil war, the majority of the Liberian population did not have access to proper health services or educational systems: for the most part post-war reconstruction efforts focused on the security sector. Neighbouring Côte d’Ivoire, by contrast, has a history of solid public goods and services provision, and a well-tested communication structure that has helped it prevent the spread of Ebola.

Alternatives to Austerity: A Human Rights Framework for Economic Recovery

Magdalena Sepúlveda Carmona UNRISD Senior Research Fellow Magdalena Sepúlveda Carmona contributed a chapter to Economic and Social Rights after the Global Financial Crisis, edited by Aoife Nolan. The book focuses on the interrelationship between contemporary and historic economic and financial crises, the responses to these crises, and the resulting impact upon economic and social rights.


Social and Solidarity Economy: A Rising Force?

As the outlines of the post-2015 agenda become clearer and sustainable development goals (SGDs) are defined, many actors are beginning to wonder how to implement the new SDGs. Policy makers, the UN and civil society will soon have to identify forms of production and consumption and partnership that espouse the ideal of sustainable development. Social and solidarity economy (SSE) has a lot of potential in this regard. In this update on progress being made in putting social and solidarity economy on the UN agenda, UNRISD Research Analyst Marie-Adélaïde Matheï reviews its position in post-2015 debates, and UNRISD policy and research activities.

UNRISD Research on SSE Presented to European Economic and Social Committee

UNRISD Director Sarah Cook presented the Institute's SSE work to the European Economic and Social Committee at a conference on Social Economy and Social Innovation as Drivers of Competitiveness, Growth and Social Well-Being: Perspectives and Priorities for the New Commission and the European Parliament, held in Brussels. The EESC conference took stock of political achievements over the last five years, discussed how to learn from examples of best practice, and explored priorities for the next five years.

"Thanks, Otto! 125 Years of Pensions": UNRISD Speaker at International Conference on Pension Reform

UNRISD Research Coordinator Katja Hujo was a panellist at the international conference on pension reform, Thanks, Otto! 125 Years of Pensions, hosted by BMZ, GIZ, Helpage International and Allianz in Berlin.The conference celebrated 125 years since the first ever public pension system was introduced in 1889 by then German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, and which has influenced the development of pension systems around the world. The conference brought together representatives from international organizations, government, academia, the private sector and civil society. Participants signed the Berlin Communiqué on Pensions, advocating for joint action to secure universal social protection for older populations worldwide.

UNRISD at the ECE Beijing+20 Regional Review Meeting

UNRISD Director Sarah Cook moderated a distinguished panel of speakers at the first substantive session of the UN Economic Commission for Europe (ECE) Beijing+20 Regional Review Meeting, held in Geneva on 6 November 2014. The panel discussion on Long-Term Trends in Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women and Girls in the ECE region was part of a two-day meeting to review progress and challenges in the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, signed 20 years ago. The report from this meeting will serve as the European region’s input to the global Beijing+20 review to be held in New York in March 2015 during the 59th session of the Commission on the Status of Women.

UNRISD Gender Team Maximizes Research Impact

In October, UNRISD’s gender team engaged directly with three of UNRISD’s main constituencies to disseminate research on gender.

What is a Transformative Approach to Care, and Why Do We Need It?
In a seminar at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (IHEID), UNRISD Research Coordinator Valeria Esquivel presented a conceptual introduction to care, focusing on how different understandings of the term affect the way policy makers approach the issue.

Women's Empowerment and Gender Equality: The Role of Transnational Corporations (TNCs)
At a panel of distinguished discussants during the UNCTAD World Investment Forum, policy makers, executives and international experts including UNRISD Director Sarah Cook discussed the role of investment by TNCs for women's empowerment and gender equality in developing countries, including relevant policy dimensions and future research directions.

Feminist Economics from the South
In a presentation at the conference on "Homo Oeconomicus, Mulier Solidaria": Can Solidarity Economy Be Feminist? organized by the Graduate Institute, Valeria Esquivel argued for a radically globalized understanding of feminist economics and highlighted a selection of concepts developed in the South that could be used to build bridges between feminist economics and social and solidarity economy.

UNRISD Continues to Support Capacity Building in Africa

UNRISD Research Coordinator Ilcheong Yi continued the Institute’s long-standing collaboration with the African Institute of Economic Planning and Development (UN-IDEP) course, Social Policy for Development Planners. Focusing on lessons to be learned from the East Asian development experience, Ilcheong Yi presented one of the eight modules in the course, which trains mid-level and senior African development officials and decision makers and took place in Dakar, Senegal.

New UNRISD Twitter Account Dedicated to Publications

UNRISD publications: Cutting-edge, critical research—past and present—providing you with analytical insights for today's development challenges and debates.Via our new Twitter account, revisit UNRISD texts that hold important lessons about what worked, what went wrong, and what might be done differently. Timely, now that the international development community is once again turning its attention to "rethinking development".

Follow UNRISD Publications

UNRISD Collaborating Researchers Among “Most Influential in 2014”

Three of our Collaborating Researchers—Carmelo Mesa-Lago, Manuel Castells and Rodolfo Stavenhagen—have been recognized as among the "50 Most Influential Latin-American Intellectuals of 2014", according to a list established by ESGLOBAL, a leading internet source of analysis of world events. We would like to heartily congratulate our Collaborating Researchers on their inclusion in the list. ESGLOBAL is also inviting readers to contribute to a discussion of their list.

Thandika Mkandawire Recognized by Prestigious Africa-America Institute Award

Former UNRISD Director, Thandika Mkandawire, received the 2014 Distinguished Alumnus Award from the Africa-America Institute (AAI), a New York-based international education and policy organization. On receiving his award, Mkandawire thanked the the AAI for giving him a chance as a young person to come to the United States to study, and also applauded the organization for continuing to support higher education in Africa in recent decades, a time when others were pulling out in favour of primary education.

UNRISD Meets with the Liberian Mission to the UN

Representatives of UNRISD and the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Liberia to the UN in Geneva met as part of the Institute’s engagement with the diplomatic community in Geneva and, in particular, representatives from countries of the Global South. UNRISD Gender Expert Andrea Kaufmann, a social anthropologist who has worked in Liberia, and Magdalena Sepúlveda, Senior Research Fellow and former UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, met with Chargé d’affaires Paul Wolokollie Tate, who expressed strong interest in the Institute’s work, in particular the planned research on When Security Meets Social Security: Social Policy in Post-Conflict Contexts. He said that the project could help develop new ideas and approaches for governance and social policy in Liberia, especially in the context of Ebola and the past conflict in the country. Building the strength of UNRISD's global network close to home, through face-to-face consultations here in Geneva, is one way the Institute is continuing the conversation with its stakeholders.

Leading Group Discusses Public Policies for Social and Solidarity Economy, and the Promotion of SSE Enterprises

The Leading Group is a platform comprising representatives of states, cities and territories; international institutions via the UN Inter-Agency Task Force on SSE (of which UNRISD is a founding member); and civil society organizations. At its first meeting on the sidelines of the 69th session of the General Assembly, the group discussed public policies on social and solidarity economy (SSE) and the promotion of SSE enterprise.

Watch the video.

UN Inter-Agency Task Force on Social and Solidarity Economy Website Launched

On the new Task Force website, users can access publications, get the latest news and learn about its activities. The Task Force was established to raise the visibility of the SSE in international knowledge and policy circles. It brings together UN agencies and other intergovernmental organizations, as well as umbrella associations of SSE networks.

UNRISD Senior Research Associate at Regional Policy Debates

UNRISD Senior Research Associate Gabriele Koehler has been taking part in regional policy debates in the UK and in Mongolia. She was a plenary speaker in the closing session of the UK Development Studies Association's Annual Conference which took place in London on 1 November 2014. On the podium with her to discuss the state of play in global discussions on the post-2015 development agenda was Debapriya Bhattacharya, Distinguished Fellow of the Centre for Policy Dialogue, Dhaka, Bangladesh, and Chair of Southern Voices on post-MDG International Development Goals. The session was chaired by Charles Gore, UNRISD Visiting Fellow and Honorary Professor of Economics at the University of Glasgow.

Gabriele Koehler also attended the Friedrich Ebert Foundation's first Social Protection Forum Asia, "A Key Element of Economic Policy – Social Protection for Socially Just and Sustainable Growth in Asia", which took place on 4-5 November 2014 in Ulan Bator, Mongolia. At the Forum, she presented the introductory session, "Asian trajectories and approaches towards a rights-based developmental welfare state." Her paper on Asian welfare states was translated into Mongolian for the conference.

Watch the video of Gabriele Koehler's UNRISD seminar on Asian welfare states.

"Gold Medal" for Health in All Policies Book

The International Journal of Health Policy and Management has reviewed an UNRISD co-publication, Health in All Policies: Seizing Opportunities, Implementing Policies, giving it a "gold medal". The review, by Ray Lewis and Vahid Yazdi Feyzabadi , says that the book "helps improve our understanding of the dynamics of HiAP at the levels of policy-making and policy implementation". The book was the Finnish contribution ot the 8th Global Conference on Health Promotion and published by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health of Finland, in collaboration with the National Institute for Health and Welfare of Finland (THL), the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies, and UNRISD.

UNRISD Visiting Fellow Takes Part in Transparency and Information Management Forum

UNRISD Visiting Fellow Prashant Sharma spoke on Ambiguous Accountability: The In-Between World of Public-Private Partnerships at the World Bank's Transparency and Information Management Open Discussion Forum. In a context where the state is no longer the primary provider of public goods and services, how and to what extent can public transparency and social accountability norms be extended to non-state actors that perform essential public functions? With this as the overarching question, the discussion focused on public-private partnerships, which are not owned or managed exclusively by either the state or a private company, yet are increasingly being used to deliver public goods and services throughout the world.

Watch the video.

Right to Information Act Subject of New Book by UNRISD Visiting Fellow

Democracy and Transparency in the Indian State: The Making of the Right to Information Act, by UNRISD Visiting Fellow Prashant Sharma, examines the factors underlying the enactment of the Right to Information Act and suggests that they are more complex than they seem. Taking the production of the RTI Act as a lens, the book argues that while there is much to celebrate in the consolidation of procedural democracy in India over the last six decades, existing social and political structures may limit the extent and forms of democratic deepening occurring in the near future.

New Creative Design Team Member

UNRISD is pleased to announce that Sergio Sandoval joined us on 20 November to support the creative design/digital/web/events work of the Communications and Outreach Unit. We bid farewell and happy trails to Jordi Vaqué, whose contributions to our visual communications efforts have been truly stunning.


Young Scholars Series—Runners Up

The Young Scholars Think Piece Series provides young researchers with an opportunity to present their research on social development and contribute to the diversity of ideas within the development community. The winning think pieces and the runners up have been selected for their alternative perspectives and the way they highlight marginalized viewpoints and bring neglected issues to the fore. 

"Crops" or "Carats"? Gold Mining, Cocoa Production and the Livelihood Dilemma in Amansie Central District of Ghana
Stephen Yeboah For the past two decades, gold mining and agriculture have contributed consistently to economic growth and development in Ghana. While farming is the traditional source of livelihood, in communities endowed with natural resources artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) offers remarkable income-generating potential. Mining and agriculture may co-exist and interact to generate economic and social benefits, but at the same time they compete for land, water resources and labour. The author argues that though ASM generates income for some farmers, its costs in terms of collective loss of vast agricultural lands and water pollution diminish these benefits.

African Mining, Gender and Local Employment
Anja Tolonen Large-scale mining operations have been accused of being economically isolated enclaves, with few positive benefits for nearby communities. In addition, it has been argued that extractive industries hinder women’s labour market participation by increasing reservation wages and decreasing demand for female labour, thus reinforcing gender inequality. This think piece builds upon original research performing the first cross-national study using micro-data testing these important hypotheses.

New Think Piece Series on Women's Claims Making

We are launching a new series of think pieces as part of the UNRISD research project When and Why do States Respond to Women’s Claims? Understanding Gender-Egalitarian Policy Change. In this project, we seek to understand how policy change to strengthen women’s rights occurs by analysing the conditions under which non-state actors can effectively trigger and influence processes of change.

Influencing Policy for Gender Justice: The Role of International Non-Governmental Organizations
Ines Smyth A supportive, progressive and policy environment is crucial to promote women’s rights. International non-governmental organizations (INGOs) have a variety of resources to help create such an environment, such as finances, skills, technology and personnel, reach with policy makers and the public, and recognition. This think piece explores the role that INGOs can play on national and international policy levels via the example of Oxfam’s work on gender-based violence and violence against women.

Think Pieces on Linking Social Protection and Human Rights

Advocates, practitioners, policy makers and academics share practical guidance and thought-provoking commentary on their experiences with a human rights approach to social protection. These posts are part of the UNRISD resource platform Linking Social Protection and Human Rights.

What Does Privacy Have To Do With Social Protection? - Robert Maganga Mwanyumba

Judicial Protection of the Right to Social Security - Alison Graham

Using Human Rights in the Courts to Broaden Social Protection—The South African Example - Beth Goldblatt

A Rights-Based Approach to Social Protection: The Case of Tunisia - Mehdi Ben Braham and Seynabou Dia

Sustainable Development Goals and the Case for a Developmental Welfare State - Gabriele Koehler

Unpacking the ILO’s Social Protection Floor Recommendation (2012) from a Women’s Rights Perspective - Lucie Lamarche

Achieving Development at the Cost of the Right to Privacy? The Promise and Peril of New Technologies in Social Protection Programmes - Carly Nyst

The Case Against the Commodification of Social Protection - Manuel Couret Branco

Do Social Protection Programmes that Impose Conditionalities on Women Fail to Confront Patriarchy as a Root Cause of Inequality? - Sophie Plagerson

The Role of Civil Society in Keeping Vigil over the Human Rights Implications of States’ Social Protection Policies, Programmes and Activities - Letlhokwa George Mpedi

Banner photo credit: arbyreed via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)


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