Open letter: The Covid-19 ‘recovery’ must supercharge the fight against inequality

The Covid-19 ‘recovery’ must supercharge the fight against inequality


Covid-19 has turned our world upside down. There has already been a huge and tragic loss of life. Whilst billionaires see their fortunes continue to rise, hundreds of millions of ordinary people face destitution and hunger. We now face the biggest single increase in inequality since the Great Depression. The gap between rich and poor is likely to rise in every country on Earth at once.  

We experience the spiralling inequality crisis daily in our homes, streets, schools, workplaces, communities and on our bodies. Our governments and international institutions have failed us so far in their response. The neoliberal economic system, and the systemic inequalities of centuries of racism, patriarchy and colonialism have made people on the frontlines of inequality more vulnerable and most affected, causing widespread death and mass unemployment. 

Covid-19 has supercharged existing inequalities - of race, gender, sexual identity, class, caste, disability and indigenous group. It has laid bare the structural inequalities in our societies that render so many people’s lives vulnerable, exploited, marginalised and abused. Repressive governments have also been supercharged during this pandemic.

The gender dimensions of our economic system are still not fully acknowledged or considered. It deepens women’s economic inequality by exploiting their labour inside and outside the home; rendering it invisible, poorly paid, unpaid, and insecure. The absence of social safety nets needed by women due to their greater vulnerability to economic shocks has exposed the failures of an economic model prioritising productivity for growth over the wellbeing of people. 

Whilst governments have been found lacking, ordinary people all over the world showed what solidarity means in the face of this virus. We have been there for each other. Health workers, supermarket shelf stackers, bus drivers, community organisers, carers, put their political leaders to shame. Whilst the hedge fund managers and tax accountants stayed home, essential workers were the ones keeping our world moving and more people safe.  

So if we are searching for answers or what a “recovery” looks like, we must supercharge the fight against inequality. We do not want to return to “normal”. We have hope because we are re-imagining and creating very different economies and societies. Where everyone has a life of dignity. Where billionaires do not make the rules. Where we care for the planet. 

Our hope has its roots in people, not leaders. We must demand our governments step up. That international institutions like the IMF radically change. 

All governments and multilateral institutions must deliver:


We demand a People’s Vaccine, so a Covid-19 vaccine, when ready, is available to all and not determined by what passport someone holds, and does not make huge profits for pharmaceutical companies

We demand an end to the brutal austerity measures governments and international institutions force on our economies

We demand universal public services, including health, water and education 

We demand universal basic income and global social protection systems

We demand the cancellation of all unpayable external debt for countries in need

We demand wealth taxes so the richest pay their fair share for the costs of the crisis and an end to industrial levels of tax dodging

We demand the recognition, redistribution and reward of the billions of hours of women’s care work, unpaid and paid, that keeps our economies going.  

Today we stand at a crossroads. We can choose to stay on a path to an ever-increasing divide between rich and poor, destroying our world. Or we can choose a better world.

We choose a better world. We will not rely on politicians to act. They are failing us. Or for the powerful to simply give up their privilege and wealth. We know the answers lie with us.

Across the world, people are joining together to demand greater equality and an end to extreme wealth. We believe another world is possible, where everyone matters and we respect the planet. Where nobody is rich or powerful enough to be immune from the rules. Powerful elites and corporations can no longer be allowed to rig the system in their favour. To achieve this, we will loudly challenge the concentration of power in the hands of an elite few, and demand a more equal world. In creating the world we want, we know that there will be nothing about us without us. Together we will #fightinequality.




International Trade Union Confederation

KRuHA, Indonesia

Asia People’s Movement on Debt & Development

Economic Policy Research Institute, South Africa

Equality Network New Zealand 

Income Equality Aotearoa New Zealand & Closing the Gap




ActionAid International

Tax Justice UK

Jubilee Debt Campaign, UK

Arab Watch Coalition

AbibiNsroma Foundation, Ghana

Positive Money, UK

Nawi - Afrifem Macroeconomics Collective

My Voice Organization, Kenya

Young Urban Women Coordinated Mombasa County, Kenya

Youth for Sustainable Development - Kilifi, Kenya

South Asia Alliance for Poverty Eradication (SAAPE)

Humanitarian Accountability Monitoring Initiative (HAMI), Nepal

Karnali Integrated Rural Development and Research Centre (KIRDARC), Nepal

Ageing Nepal

Canadians for Tax Fairness

Justice Is Global, USA

Fight Inequality Alliance India

Gauteng Housing Crisis Committee, South Africa 

World Basic Income

ActionAid Sierra Leone

Waterberg Women Advocacy Organization, South Africa

Botshabelo Unemployed Movement, South Africa

Global Policy Forum

Uganda Coalition for Sustainable Development / INFORSE East Africa

Westside Park Community Crisis Committee, South Africa

Young Urban and Rural Self Empowerment (YURSE), South Africa

Land Access Movement of South Africa

Southern Africa People's Solidarity Network, Southern Africa

SAFIGI Outreach Foundation (Safety First for Girls), Zambia

Sanlakas Philippines

Daughters of Mumbi Global Resource Centre, Kenya

WomanHealth Philippines

Center for Economic and Social Rights

MACODEFO (Makause Community Development Forum), South Africa

Beautiful Minds Org, Kenya

Africans Rising for Peace, Justice and Dignity

Norwegian Church Aid Southern Africa Regional Office

Sisterhood Adult Teen and Girl Child Movement, South Africa

Be The Change Organization, Afghanistan

Red Juvenil ICIECH, Panamá

ONGD-España, España


Fight Inequality Alliance México

The Americas Program, Perú

Ensamble, México

INDESIG / Gatitos Contra la Desigualdad, México

Waricha, Guatemala 

Fundación Comunitaria Malinalco, México

Agape Woman and Child Empowerment Foundation (AWOCHE), Kenya

American Friends Service Committee, Oficina Regional de América Latina y El Caribe

Equalita Mx, México

Instituto Mexicano para el Desarrollo Comunitario (IMDEC), México

NYU - Center on International Cooperation

Indian Social Action Forum

Growthwatch, India

Digo Bikas Institute (DBI), Nepal

Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum

Centre for Environmental Justice, Sri Lanka

National Hawkers Federation, India

Freedom From Debt Coalition, Philippines

Philippine Movement for Climate Justice

All India Women Hawkers Federation

Oriang Women's Movement, Philippines

Tax and Fiscal Justice Alliance, Nepal

Global Alliance for Tax Justice

Solidar Suisse, Switzerland 

LATINDADD Red Latinoamericana por Justicia Económica y Social

Instituto Mexicano para el Desarrollo Comunitario (IMDEC), México



Isabel Ortiz, Director, Global Social Justice  

Professor Guy Standing

Irlanda Agraz, México

Ruth Serecer, México

Steffany Elena Polanco Siguere, Guatemala

Andrés Rojas, Paraguay

Hannah Diaz, South Africa

Patrick Mabude, South Africa

John Christensen, Global

Andrew Myendo, Kenya

Adrian, Wangatiah, Kenya

Evans Muswahili, Kenya

Nelson Joao, Angola

Lena Dominelli, United Kingdom

Jose Manuel Roche, Global

Caroline O'Reilly, South Africa

Frances Stewart, United Kingdom

T. Sabri Öncü, Turkey

Ümit Yamantürk, Turkey

Julio Boltvinik, Mexico

Fambai Ngirande, Zimbabwe

Brighton Chanda Chisanga, Zambia

Dorothee Spannagel, Germany

Valentina Montanaro, Portugal

Jorge Pimentel, México