Why now is the time to strengthen the Modern Slavery Act

by Michael Bloomfield and Genevieve LeBaron

(This blog was originally published at Bath Business and Society blog )

While research continues to inform us about the dark side of global production, the difficulties in tackling issues like forced labour and climate change remain. In this piece, Michael Bloomfield of the University of Bath’s Department of Social & Policy Sciences, and Genevieve LeBaron of Sheffield University, argue that while the UK’s Modern Slavery Act has been a promising first step in tackling forced labour in the supply chain, much more needs to be done to strengthen the Act and bring about real change.

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These shoes and this handbag

by Hannah West

Having joined the Royal Navy in 2000, I am always surprised that less than 10 years earlier I would have had to join the Women’s Royal Naval Service (only disbanded in 1993) and would not have been permitted to serve at sea (an option only opened to women from 1990). By 2014 the Submarine Service had its first female Officers and last year the ban on women serving in ground close combat roles, including the Royal Marines, was lifted. The last 30 years has seen significant change in the employment of women in the military and yet there are certain idiosyncrasies relating to women’s military service that still remain. On International Women’s day it seemed a good moment to reflect on this evolution and how far women have come – and how far we still have to go.

Having interviewed women who served in the military from the 1970s onwards, one thing that is guaranteed to get a mention every time is uniform. Continue reading

Student placements as mutually beneficial partnerships

by Simon Milligan, Imogen Mullet, Rose Murota, Mathew Rupanga and Rushil Ranchod

In March and April 2018, Imogen Mullett, an MSc student in International Development (2017-18), spent a month in Harare, Zimbabwe, on placement to the UK Department for International Development’s Livelihoods and Food Security Programme (LFSP). This conversational blog describes the lifecycle of the placement from the perspectives of those involved. Continue reading

Under the Shadow of Brexit: A Tipping Point for UK Aid?

by James Copestake

While attention is focused on Brexit, is the UK’s role in the field of international development also being quietly but radically redefined? The headline figures suggest some continuity. The commitment to allocating 0.7% of gross national income (GNI) to Official Development Assistance (ODA) was made under Labour, but subsequent governments have held to it, despite ODA budget increases (from £7.4 billion in 2005 to £13.6 billion in 2017) coinciding with heavy cuts in other areas of public expenditure. There has also been continuity in the shift towards outsourcing management of UK ODA, leaving government more in the role of aid commissioner than direct provider of aid services.

However, looking more closely under the bonnet, there are indications of a more radical change. The 2002 International Development Act granted the Department for International Development (DFID) an unambiguous mandate to prioritize poverty elimination. This aligns DFID strongly then with Target 1.1 of the Sustainable Development Goals: to eliminate extreme poverty by 2030. (Extreme poverty being for this purpose very narrowly defined as US$1.9 per day at 2011 PPP prices). But to what extent is the growing UK ODA budget still so single-mindedly lined up behind the moral imperative to leave no-one behind? Continue reading

Celebrating Priscilla Wakefield: Financial Inclusion Heroine and Forgotten Feminist Economist

by Susan Johnson

Priscilla Wakefield – the “Mother of Microsavings” – is credited as being the founder of savings banks (Moss 2011). She was a Quaker from Tottenham, North London, and from the Barclays family of banking fame. On 22nd October I had the pleasure of joining citizens and activists to celebrate her achievements and unveil a new plaque in her honour. This was, to the day, the 220th anniversary of the founding of the Tottenham Benefit society for Women and Children, and she subsequently founded Tottenham Savings Bank in 1804. Her philanthropic initiatives also included a School for Industry for girls, a “Lying-in” charity for women (i.e. offering maternity support), and she wrote many educational books for children which were very popular.

Her journey from the Benefit Society to the Savings Bank is a micro prefiguring of the learning journey of the microfinance sector some 200 years later Continue reading

Social cost of the IMF programme

(This blog was originally posted at The Express Tribune)

By  Hari R Lohano

Pakistan is going back to the IMF, the ‘global lender of last resort’, to support the deteriorating level of its balance of payments, its declining foreign exchange reserves, and its difficulty in repaying foreign debts and meeting international financial obligations. In principle, there is nothing wrong with asking an international lender for financial support. However, in the case of the IMF, this is not straightforward.

There are a number of concerns to be addressed even before formally asking for an IMF loan. This is the reason that Imran Khan was in denial about going to the IMF, both before the election and after taking power. The main question about an IMF loan is: ‘What will be the impact of IMF policies on the poor and on the social sector?’ More specifically, what will be the cost of the IMF’s condition that the poor pay to stabilise the country’s economy? Continue reading

Work, utopia and the reproduction of life

(This blog was originally published at FUTURES OF WORK)

By Ana Cecilia Dinerstein

We are here to live. Obvious as it sounds, this simple fact is becoming progressively problematic. This is particularly so if you are a child forced to work for the São Paolo mafia; an asylum seeker travelling on a hazardous boat to Australia; a 13 year old sex worker in Malaysia; or a father of five working for a transnational company in which trade unions are forbidden. These examples are not the exception but, rather, becoming the norm. They share a common struggle to work or to find work in order to produce the means for individual or collective survival under diverse and adverse circumstances. In global capitalism, such means are synonymous with money. And, so far, the futures of work on which we depend on to earn that money appear gloomy. Continue reading

Argentina votes to legalise abortion in latest victory for global feminism

(This blog was originally published at The Conversation)

By Ana Cecilia Dinerstein and Lucía Cirmi Obón

“Nothing will stop us now!” These were the words of the excited and emotional activists when Argentina’s parliament voted narrowly (129 votes to 125) to decriminalise abortion. The National Congress in Buenos Aires was surrounded by women wearing green scarves around their necks, heads and wrists. Since 2005 this has been the symbol of their campaign. It represents life and hope and evokes memories of the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo – a group of women whose children disappeared under the dictatorship in Argentina during the 1970s and 1980s.

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Local Elections in Nepal and Sri Lanka: Empowering or Underming the Margins?

(This blog was originally published at Borderlands Asia)

By Oliver Walton

In the aftermath of civil wars, local elections are often viewed as transformative moments when voices from the margins can be heard and where new, more inclusive political settlements can be forged. Many post-war state reform packages emphasise measures to devolve power to local government as a mechanism for addressing the post-war grievances of marginalised groups.

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