Join the first of Atlantic Fellows for Social and Economic Equity’s online conversations that look towards a new social and economic future after the COVID-19 pandemic. “Lockdown is a Luxury” will be led by Fellows living and working in Asia and Africa. Saida Ali, Tracy Jooste, Appu Suresh and Kripa Basnyat will share first-hand experiences and insights on the pandemic and its current and long-term impacts.
A third of the world’s population — some 2.6 billion people — are now under varying degrees of lockdown in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. For those who have the privilege of withdrawing into comfortable isolation, who can work from home and who have enough money to weather the storm, lockdown and social distancing are effective options. But what about the poor, who make up the majority of the world’s population and who are already facing social and economic inequalities? Is the worldwide WHO-approved lockdown an unaffordable luxury?
From street vendors to house cleaners, sex workers to migrant labourers, daily wage workers everywhere are struggling with immediate and often complete losses of income and the impracticality of following measures such as lockdowns and social distancing. Those living in dense, low-income informal settlements in countries such as Kenya, India, Bangladesh, South Africa and Brazil have seen limited access to water and sanitation restricted further still. Around the world, cases of domestic violence and sexual abuse are rising. “Flattening the curve” is a distant goal, but hunger and poverty are here now.
In India, nearly 400 million migrant workers’ lives have been upended. As places of work close down, as states shut borders and halt transportation, and as workers run out of cash, they have no choice but to walk hundreds of miles back home. In Kenya, rural widows are working and walking longer hours for fewer shillings to put food on the table: the struggle now is not for social justice or gender equity, but survival. For millions of Africans, coronavirus and the responses of states and governments have only exacerbated poverty and powerlessness.
What does today look like on the ground in Asia and Africa? What will tomorrow bring? Atlantic Fellows for Social and Economic Equity — activists, policy-makers, practitioners and movement-builders from around the world — offer their insights.
Speakers: Saida Ali, Kripa Basnyat, Tracy Jooste, Appu Suresh