1963-2013 - 50 years of Research for Social Change

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Back | Programme Area: Social Dimensions of Sustainable Development

Taking Solidarity Seriously: Analyzing Kudumbashree as a Women’s Social and Solidarity Economy Experiment (Draft)



This paper analyses Kudumbashree, a unique socioeconomic initiative in the Indian state of Kerala composed of nearly 4 million women below the poverty line. While Kerala has long had the highest human development indicators in India, it still exhibits significant gender inequality and multiple marginalizations (along the lines of caste, ethnicity and so on) in the social, political and economic realms. Kudumbashree was initiated by the state government 15 years ago as a poverty eradication programme. Since that time it has developed into a unique network in which marginalized women work collectively to promote prosperity through planning and implementing programmes and projects that address the root causes of their poverty. While Kudumbashree groups participate in a wide range of social, educational and economic programmes, this paper focuses specifically on their social and solidarity economy activities, highlighting how the creation of strong bonds of solidarity has enabled poor women to challenge existing power imbalances and establish innovative organizations.

Ananya Mukherjee is Professor of Political Science, York University (Toronto). Her most recent publications include Business Regulation and Non-State Actors: Whose Standards? Whose Development? (co-edited) and Human Development and Social Power: Perspectives from South Asia. Her current research focuses on collective enterprise among marginalized women in India.

Darryl Reed is Professor of Business and Society, York University (Toronto). He researches fair trade movements, alternative development models and development ethics. He is the current President of the Canadian Association for Studies in Co-operation. He recently co-edited the volume, Business Regulation and Non-State Actors: Who Standards? Whose Development?