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Combating poverty and social economy in Africa - Interview with Patrizia Toia

17 Maggio 2010 - Autore: Redazione

Combating poverty and social economy in Africa
Europe can only be strong if each individual’s potential is realized.
Interview with Patrizia Toia

  • Graduate in political science (University degli Studi, Milan)
  • Specialised in strategic planning (Bocconi University, Milan)
  • Managerial post at Executive Committee of the Lombardy Region
  • Member of the federal executive and 'La Margherita' provincial party coordinator for Milan
  • Municipal councillor of Vanzago (Milan) (1975-1985)
  • Member of Lombardy Regional Council (1985-1995), Member of Regional
  • Executive with responsibility for coordination of social services (1989-1990), health (1990-1991) and the budget (1994-1995)
  • Member of the Italian Chamber of Deputies (1995-1996)
  • Senator (1996-2004)
  • Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Minister for Community Policies, Minister for Relations with Parliament (1996-2001)

On the last 2nd of March, during a Bruxelles European Economic and Social Committee meeting, you made a speech about the social economy role in Africa. The European Union has declared 2010 the European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion. Why this choice, and how will this materialize? What does inclusion of the fight against poverty and exclusion into the same campaign mean?

17% of EU citizens have such limited resources that they cannot afford the basic needs, this percentage is the reason why the European Institutions decided to start series of campaigns and actions to combat poverty and social exclusion.

Poverty is often associated with developing countries, but Europe is also affected by poverty and social exclusion. In 2010 these conditions are unacceptable. Poverty and exclusion of one individual amounts to the poverty of society as a whole. Europe can only be strong if each individual’s potential is realized.

There is no miracle solution to put an end to poverty and social exclusion. However, one thing is sure: we cannot win the fight if we do not work together: institutions, non-state actors and all citizens. The time is ripe to renew our commitment to solidarity, social justice and greater inclusion.

A key value of the European Union is solidarity. As a union we are facing the crisis together, and this solidarity creates a safety net for each and all of us.

The aim of the European Institutions is to encourage involvement and political commitment from each and every segment of society to participate in the fight against poverty and social exclusion, from the European to the local level, whether public or private. Concerns and needs of people experiencing poverty and social exclusion can not be underestimated, for this reason the European Commission asks to civil society and non-governmental organizations to fight poverty and social exclusion with concrete actions.

Poverty and social exclusion are linked one another, many people in need are excluded from work and society in general, and our commitment is to promote a society that sustains and develops quality of life, social well-being and equal opportunities for all, to boost solidarity between generations and ensure sustainable development.

Has a meeting on social economy role in Africa something to do with the European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion? What does social economy represent for you and why do you think it is so important to extend it?

The role of social economy institutions and organizations in Europe as well as in Africa has to become central in our policies. Social economy aims at promoting livelihoods and job creation in the fight against poverty, in fact social economy enterprises offer an important source of employment in the face of global unemployment and underemployment problem.

Currently, it is estimated that the global cooperative movement directly provides productive self-employment for several hundred million workers-owners of production and services cooperatives, as well as the non-member employees and other cooperative enterprises. Agricultural cooperatives create employment in areas such as food production, marketing, credit, insurance and transportation. Social Economy enterprises provide more quality job opportunities for youth, women, persons with disabilities and other marginalized groups.

In Africa cooperatives, for example, contribute to poverty reduction by typically placing more emphasis on job security for employee-members and employees’ family members, paying competitive wages, promoting additional income through profit-sharing, distribution of dividends and other benefits, and supporting community facilities such as health clinics and schools that do private sector businesses.

The article continues to International Alternative Investment Review - n.1, 2010


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