I’m just completing the Caring Economy Advocates certification program with Cohort Aster and would like to share a few words about my connection to caring economy work, my practicum experience and next steps.
I am a single mother of two beautiful, bicultural children and an inclusive economic development specialist with a specialty in women’s entrepreneurship. As a parent, I’ve been working to honor and invest in my very significant role as sole caregiver. In my profession, I’ve been working to build a better critical analysis of gender in economic development.
I’m very grateful for the opportunity this course has provided to examine these issues with my peers in Cohort Aster and the participants that came to my practicum session. My session was held on April 7th at my workplace in central Vancouver, Canada. We were a small group of six professionals working in the fields of gender equality, early childhood education/attachment parenting and environmental protection. The group size enabled the participants to dive into an intimate conversation that flowed between personal sharing, professional insights and pointers to related resources. Though I had planned to focus the presentation on the caring economy advocacy platform and its local application, participants wanted to engage most with the domination/partnership continuum. I followed the participants’ interest. For future presentations, I will limit my slide deck to 10 slides (the conceptual diagrams) and offer some facilitation rules and timekeeping at the beginning of the session.
My practicum participants were very knowledgeable and articulate on various dimensions of the caring economy framework and also quite fearless in sharing personally. Nobody in the room had it “all figured out” but all had very valuable thoughts and resources to share – from local early childhood research to bell hooks to the Japanese system of time banking care credits. My group wanted to drill down on the theoretical issues, in particular whether capitalism was inherently flawed or could deliver a caring economy. We agreed that our (capitalist) economy was entirely predicated on environmental resources and unpaid care work. One participant pointed to a book by Laurie Penny (Meat Market: Female Flesh under Capitalism) for further reading. Ultimately I would like to be in the position to provide more thought leadership on these issues, but to do so will need to sharpen up my own analysis and arguments.
In terms of next steps, I’ll be meeting with several of the participants who are most plugged into local campaigns that relate to building a more caring economy, as well as the invitees who could not make it to the session. The group discussion really brought home to me that Dr. Eisler’s vision of the caring economy is truly disruptive to the foundations of our current economic system, but that there are many initiatives—both within and without of the dominant culture—that are moving us in a positive direction. Continuing to raise awareness on the issues and create space for them in a wide variety of initiatives is the key – which of course is what the Caring Economy Campaign is all about.
I see my role as engaging more deeply in advocacy for the specific needs of single mothers, and getting the support I need to strengthen my confidence that I can manage being a sole caregiver as well as a career. I’d like to investigate—and contribute to—the available research on single mothers that are successful in raising their children well. Single mothers need hope and guidance, to counteract all of the stereotypes and negative information. More broadly, I’d like to explore economic interventions and programs at different levels that support and reward caregiving alongside career and enterprise success for both men and women. Along the way, I’m looking forward to hearing more stories of people who have found creative ways of navigating both career/entrepreneurship and caregiving and the internal and external factors that have enabled them to successfully do so.