An Intern’s Perspective on CoDev

Guest Blogger: Kim Kildare, CoDev Intern

I am an anthropology student at SFU, so when I took a class about social justice that required me to volunteer at a placement for a few months, CoDev was my first choice to volunteer with. Women’s rights and labour rights have always been important to me since my first job at 17 where I feel my labour was exploited.

One of the first values I was told about at CoDev was that it was an organization that focused on working with partners. Instead of an ‘us helping them’ mindset which creates a dependency and a power hierarchy, CoDev focuses on mutually beneficial relationships where knowledge is shared between the Global North and South. These relationships are the building blocks for creating social justice.

One way in which CoDev and their partners are working towards global justice in through addressing labour rights and concerns in maquilas. Many workers are exploited in maquilas and throughout Latin America. Men and women are paid poor wages for long hours of work in often unsafe conditions. The people most found in these factories are women though this is changing as more men enter the work. The work is meticulous and repetitive, with workers incurring injuries due to the repetitive work. Thankfully, CoDev’s partners in Honduras and Nicaragua are able to accompany women and men to the labour ministries in order to get the pay they are due, start paying their health insurance, and to fight for occupational health and safety policy changes.

Neoliberal policies are spreading throughout the world which affects CoDev’s partners. The privatization of public jobs means that wages will likely go down and unemployment go up as companies try to compete with each other. In Colombia, unions who have protested such changes have been abused or people disappeared. Privatization means that the company running the service is not directly responsible to the people of the nation. CoDev supports unionization and the communication between unions in Canada and those in Latin America which help develop relationships and shared knowledge.

What I have learned to appreciate most in my time at CoDev is the relationship building at the heart of the organization and how it creates a stable platform for global justice to develop on.

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