Theories about social contracts have been around for a long time, but have also often been criticised for excluding women and people who are marginalised. We believe that many deliberations are needed to rebuild a sense of what we owe each other and the planet. Any genuinely transformative social contract needs to be feminist and anti-racist, to shift power, address historic injustices and their present-day manifestations, and support reparations.
Our aim is to understand how to transform relationships, not only between the citizen and the state, but also (particularly in fragile states) within communities, and between people and the planet. We wanted to consider what we owe each other and to future generations. How to build mutual accountability between peoples, states, business and nature and in doing so, how we can move from theory to practice. Read on to explore the essays. The views expressed are not necessarily those of Christian Aid.
- 1. A feminist social contract and a rights-based economy
- 2. A feminist social contract in the globalized world
- 3. Ubuntu: A Framework for a New Feminist Contract for People and Planet
- 4. The dream that can still be
- 5. Conflict, fragility and bottom-up approaches
- 6. A feminist Social Contract, Theologically Speaking
- 7. How can a transformational new social contract be won?
- 8. The world is waking up
- 9. Erosion of multilateralism
- 10. The invisible black women: Gender, reparations and a retroactive social contract
1. A feminist social contract and a rights-based economy: where are the intersections?
By Ohene Ampofo-Anti and Kate Donald, Center for Economic and Social Rights
This essay explores the idea of a feminist social contract through the human rights framework, asking what support international human rights law and principles provide for this goal and the journey towards it. It compares the vision of a 'feminist social contract' with calls for a 'Rights-Based Economy', and analyses the extent of alignment, the intersections and the potential points of tension.
2. A feminist social contract in the globalized world
By Roberto Bissio, Social Watch
Focused on Latin America this essay explores the gendered impacts of rising inequalities; how inequalities in the region effectively create a situation of segregation along lines of race or gender; and the ideological offensive and influence of conservative groups opposed to progressive gender policies and inclusive language. Despite the challenges, it explores the signs of hope as well as the many barriers to gender equality and other progressive change at the global level and provides some recommendations for a more enabling policy environment.
3. Ubuntu: A Framework for a New Feminist Contract for People and Planet
By Bob Kikuyu, Christian Aid
Ubuntu is derived from the relational way of being in many African societies. This essay discusses a new feminist social contract for people and the planet from the perspective of relationships and their value in building resilience, conflict resolution and peacebuilding, and in facilitating consensus and inclusion in decision-making. It also explores Ubuntu from a feminist perspective that challenges patriarchy, and asks, how does this fit when Ubuntu itself may be a vestige of patriarchy?
4. The dream that can still be
By Magdalena Sepúlveda Carmona and Valentina Contreras Orrego, Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
This essay focuses on the Chilean ‘awakening’ which has occurred since longstanding economic policies which have privileged an elite led to social unrest in 2019, the proposed new Constitution that would have responded to the calls of activists, and the subsequent backlash. With the Pinochet-era constitution still in place, it explores the complexities and power imbalances and how this relates to the global context.
5. Conflict, fragility and bottom-up approaches
By Helen Kezie-Nwoha
The essay interrogates the ‘social contract’ and redefines it for conflict contexts and fragile settings, evaluating the extent to which this concept can be applied in such settings using a feminist lens. It reflects on what marginalised communities can expect from states, particularly when they may have to cross borders due to conflict/crisis. It suggests what is required from the international community and makes some feminist proposals for the re-establishment of social contracts in conflict and fragility.
6. A feminist Social Contract, Theologically Speaking
By Kuzipa Nalwamba, World Council of Churches
This essay discusses relational theological imagery constructed by (eco)feminist theologians, including theological discourses that have constructed imagery of the earth as the interconnected body of God, permeated by God’s spirit, thereby rendering it sacred. It draws from examples of African women’s theologies and an intertextual reading of African women’s lives, highlighting the need to affirm and build (inter)relationships in all their diversity as contribution to the envisioned feminist social contract.
7. How can a transformational new social contract be won?
By Ben Phillips
Philosophers have interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it. This essay will be about how to change the world together, and looks at:
- how a transformational new social contract can be realised, looking at
- how the lessons from history and from emerging currents today can be applied today
- the important role that faith organisations (and people inspired by faith) have historically played - and could play today - in advancing a social contract that helps all people and our planet thrive
8. The world is waking up
By Kavita Naidu
This essay mourns our planet’s economic collapse amidst rising inequality and a backlash against women’s rights. It explores the root causes of the current global state of affairs, offering an alternative feminist and anti-racist perspective on what could be, including, in our understanding of economies, the recognition of unpaid care and valuing of ecosystem integrity. It also discusses the missed opportunity that was the New International Economic Order, proposed in the 1970s, based on global cooperation with equity, which never came to be.
9. Erosion of multilateralism
By Emilia Reyes, Equidad de Género
This essay discusses how global power imbalances, an elitist disdain for democratic and universal processes and solutions, the rise of fundamentalisms, and overburdening of social movements, environmentalists and human rights defenders, in contexts of exacerbated crises, have depleted the global conditions for a multilateralism based on solidarity, paving the way for corporate capture, and the tools, the vision for a new social contract for multilateralism.
10. The invisible black women: Gender, reparations and a retroactive social contract
By Robert Beckford
Robert’s essay discusses how social contracts discussion in the West has a poor record on ‘race’ and gender, marginalising Black women’s demands for justice. It stresses the need for specific consideration of the suffering of Black women, and discusses how, despite Black women’s founding and leading role in reparations movements, calculations for financial reparations and the categories for compensation discussed disavow specific gender consideration, failing to address the complexity of enslavement and its long-lasting implications for Black women.
Lessons learnt from grassroots women living in rural and indigenous communities
By Esther Mwaura-Muiru
This essay expounds on the Ideas of social contracts experienced from a grassroots women's perspective who live in rural communities and considers what works. It discusses intrinsic social contracts with nature, solidarity economies and capital, placing emphasis on the need to build social contracts from the ground up and thus ensure the ‘micro’ informs the ‘macro’, because the ‘macro’ structures often marginalise or place external threats to the grassroots fabrics of social contracts.
A feminist social contract is rooted in feminist fiscal justice
By Bhumika Muchhala, Third World Network
This essay focuses on public financing for public services, the structural constraints and challenges faced by Global South nations and people, possible policy solutions and the need for a shift away from the current system of neoclassical economic epistemology. It addresses the question of a fiscal policy consensus that directs public investments in social sectors and public services that directly support and strengthen gender equality and justice.