Documentary supports urgent call for policy innovation in relation to the informal economy in the Global South

“The understanding of informality has been and continues to be that it is a problem for national economies, and that the best way to solve it is to integrate informal workers into the formal economy.” Dr Luis Eslava

A documentary exploring the impact of COVID-19 on informal workers in Colombia supports an urgent call for policy innovation from an interdisciplinary research project team led by Kent Law School Reader Dr Luis Eslava.

Newly available in English, the documentary is one of the outcomes of ‘Informality in Times of COVID-19’, a project which focuses on Colombia as a case study for exploring the impact of the global pandemic on informal workers, their families, and public policies in general.

By highlighting the contributions made by the informal economy to the general economy and wellbeing of countries, the project reveals how the precarities that accompany informal work become ultra-precarities during a public health crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

‘Informality in Times of COVID-19’ is the first intervention of Ruptures21: Towards New Economies, Societies and Legalities, which seeks to advance new ways to understand and solve global issues.

Co-ordinated by Dr Eslava, the Ruptures21 ‘Informality in Times of COVID-19’ project comprises a team of more than 20 socio-legal academics, labour economists, public health experts, anthropologists, film makers, graphic designers, translators, research assistants and public policy makers. Kent Law School Professor Donatella Alessandrini is a member of the project’s Academic and Research Committee.

As a result of their research, Ruptures21 makes an urgent call for a new set of social, economic, and health policies in relation to the informal economy in Colombia and similar countries in the Global South.

Dr Eslava said: ‘In the documentary, the struggles of informal workers during the pandemic are contextualised in terms of the ongoing struggle for social justice in Colombia and many other places. Our goal is to support these transformations.’

The project team collaborated with informal workers, their families, and Bogotá-based art collective ArtoArte to produce the documentary.

Originally released in November in Spanish, the documentary has now been made available in English. Other project outcomes include a series of multilingual reports, life histories, data clips, and the first comprehensive aggregated database on informality in Colombia.

‘Informality in Times of Covid-19’ is supported by the University of Kent, the University of Essex, the University of Warwick and Universidad del Rosario and forms part of ongoing work by The IEL Collective to encourage public debate and policy innovation in relation to the functioning of the international legal, political and economic order.

Dr Eslava and Professor Alessandrini, received support for the ‘Informality in Times of COVID-19’ project through the University of Kent’s Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) Emergency Response Fund.

Follow Ruptures21 on Twitter for project updates.

Image credit: Ruptures21 & Colectivo ArtoArte (2021)

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