Mobilising support example:
COVID-19: Campaign for basic income
|Organisation||Basic income coalition of civil society organisations and movements|
|Topic||Access to Government Funding|
SummaryBetween March and April 2020, the basic income coalition of civil society organisations and movements conducted an activity to mobilise society and parliamentarians for the approval of a federal law for emergency financial aid, as a measure to confront the COVID-19 pandemic in Brazil. Aimed at the low-income population, who are more vulnerable and have difficulty working under social isolation measures, the approval of the law was also seen as important for preventing the dissemination of the coronavirus and the collapse of health services in the country. The action took place under the 'Campaign for the basic income that we want', launched on 20 March, which was joined by approximately 160 civil society organisations and movements.
To attain their objectives, these organisations put into practice a series of strategies and actions, such as the mobilisation of partner civil society organisations and other stakeholders to plan activities; the preparation of informative and mobilisation materials, as well as tools to collect signatures via an online petition; dissemination of the agenda to the media; an online e-mail tool to put pressure on party leaders in the Federal Senate; meetings, contacts and advocacy with parliamentarians, the Chamber of Deputies, the Federal Senate, and the public authorities, both for approval and for initial payments to be made promptly.
As a result, more than half a million signatures were collected to support the basic income project; awareness was raised in the media with publications in favour of approval of the bill and with civil society in general, through informative materials and numerous mentions of the campaign on social networks; senate members were pressurized through more than 20 thousand e-mails; a public hearing was held in the Federal Senate with campaign representatives and members, culminating in the approval of Federal Law 13,982 of 2 April 2020 in the National Congress, signed into law by the President.
Over the years, there have been a number of basic income policy proposals in Brazil, but approval in the current context, through the significant mobilisation of civil society, was essential in order to reach approximately 60 million people with monthly support over three months, from April 2020, at a value of BRL 600.00 to confront inequalities and poverty, a significant advance from the initial government proposal of only BRL 200.00 for fewer people. This period may be extended if the health emergency continues. This significant mobilisation, which gained support from several sectors of society and parliamentarians from different parties, demonstrated the strength of coordinated action and the multiple possibilities of advocacy using different strategies, even in a political situation that is unfavourable and complex, due both to the COVID-19 pandemic, social isolation and distancing measures, and to the current political situation in Brazil, which is in a crisis involving grave threats to democratic institutions.
Brazil is a country that accumulates intense historical social and racial inequalities that impact on access to several public policies, including health, education and labour. That said, the country was the first to have a universal basic income provided for in legislation (Law 10,385/2004), but never regulated, despite the implementation of income transfer policies. Data released by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística: IBGE) in 2019, estimate that 13.5 million people in Brazil live in extreme poverty and that this affects more black people and women, while approximately 38 million work in informal labour, the highest level since 2016.
Brazil has been severely affected by the 2020 global COVID-19 pandemic, deepening existing inequalities and impacting on groups and populations that already face socio-economic and racial inequalities and who live in constant vulnerability. In March, five thousand cases had been notified and 200 people died due to COVID-19 in the country. Less than three months later, Brazil reached more than 1 million confirmed cases and almost 50 thousand deaths (data from the Ministry of Health and the consortium of press vehicles based on data from the state health departments).
Social isolation measures during the pandemic, necessary to contain its spread and avoid the collapse of the health system and services, also impact on the livelihoods of low-income families, especially informal workers, with particular concern for female-headed households. The problem therefore involves the denial of basic rights, where access to health and sanitation services and the guarantee of the right to food and food security in this population are seriously compromised.
We note that resources aimed at the guarantee of certain basic rights, such as health, social care and sanitation were under threat prior to the pandemic and were the target of public funding disinvestment policies, as in the case of Constitutional Amendment no. 95, which establishes a new tax regime in favour of supposed economic growth without social equity policies. In addition, the current political situation in Brazil, with political crises and serious threats to democratic institutions, make this an even more challenging issue.
The current context is characterized by threats to basic rights during the COVID-19 pandemic, which were already negatively impacted, and unfavourable national policies. The challenge is to develop and gain approval of protective policies and regulations for the low-income population and vulnerable groups, such as informal workers and others, in order to: combat unemployment; allocate more resources to the public health system; enact measures to protect women and girls experiencing violence during social isolation; and provide the population with information about and access to public policies.
In order to address these issues, the basic income coalition of civil society organisations and movements focused particularly on a mobilisation campaign aimed at an emergency financial aid policy, with the approval of federal legislation. The campaign involved activities such as the mobilisation of civil society organisations, the preparation of informative and mobilisation materials, awareness raising with the media and with civil society in general, the collection of virtual signatures through an online petition; and advocacy with parliamentarians and with the public authorities. This activity was essential to avoid the dissemination of the coronavirus and the collapse of the country’s health services, enabling the low-income population, particularly informal workers, to obtain some funds to sustain their families and remain at home during social isolation, as well as to access hygiene and prevention items, thereby reducing the spread of the disease.
Which stakeholders (NGO’s, government, private sector) did you identify as allies and how did you involve them?
In general, allied stakeholders are organisations and networks from civil society, grassroots movements, religious and ecumenical organisations, unions, public sector bodies, and parliamentarians, with some groups directly involved in action and others potential allies to the cause, as we shall see:
- INESC: Institute for Socio-economic Studies, the Brazilian Basic Income Network, the Black Coalition for Rights, Nossas and the Ethos Institute, which initially launched the Campaign for the Basic Income that We Want.
- Approximately 160 organisations and movements that joined the campaign and can be identified on the following website: https://www.rendabasica.org.br (in Portuguese). These also became involved in disseminating the campaign, carrying out advocacy activities and operating as agents of influence with other organisations, the media and parliamentarians. These organisations include INESC: Institute for Socio-economic Studies, the Black Coalition for Rights, the Brazilian Women's Coalition, the Association of Non-Governmental Organisations for the Defence of Rights and Common Goods (ABONG), the Brazilian Human Rights Platform, the Brazilian Basic Income Network, Education Action, Ecumenical Forum Brazil, Terra de Direitos, the Geledés Institute of the Black Woman, the National Coordination of Black Rural Quilombola Communities and others.
- Parliamentarians connected to the cause to confront socio-economic inequalities during the COVID-19 pandemic, who supported the approval of the bill.
- Specialists from various fields of operation, particularly the economy, who provided support for the project’s rationale.
- International bodies, such as the United Nations, which defended the idea of establishing a minimum income during the COVID-19 pandemic, from a human rights and social stability point of view, for the most vulnerable populations, with a focus on informal workers.
Which stakeholders did you identify as neutral and how did you mobilise them?
- The population in general and some organisations that did not know about the right to basic income, specifically mobilised through the call to sign the online petition and access the informative materials.
- Some parliamentarians who, although not connected to the grassroots, were sensitive to policies to support the poorest populations during the COVID-19 pandemic, mobilised through contacts and meetings.
- Media outlets, through press releases and contacts.
Which stakeholders did you identify as opponents and why were they opposed?
- Federal Government sectors who announced their proposal for BRL 200.00 per month for informal and freelance workers over three months.
- Some parliamentarians from the government and conservative camps and those linked to the private sector, who argued for fiscal adjustment policies.
- Some representatives from the private sector who are rights violators and not interested in income distribution policies.
How did you involve your beneficiaries in the stakeholder analysis/campaign?
Involvement took different forms, such as preparatory activities; activities to mobilise other organisations; participation in advocacy activities with parliamentarians, from the Chamber of Deputies and the Federal Senate, as well as with the public authorities; the preparation and dissemination of communication materials; as well as disseminating and signing the campaign’s online petition and pressurizing Senate members by e-mail.
Short description of the organisation implementing the action/campaign
The Campaign for the Basic Income that We Want was set up by a basic income coalition of civil society organisations and movements. This is not a permanent network, but rather an initiative coordinated by several organisations aimed at advocacy for a common cause. The activity involved approximately 160 organisations and movements that joined the campaign and can be identified at https://www.rendabasica.org.br (in Portuguese). It is worth pointing out the diversity of organisations, movements, networks and forums involved, including those that defend the rights of women, the black population, street dwellers, the quilombola populations, young people, and the LGBTQI+ population, and those defending the right to education, to the city, to housing, to human rights and democracy, as well as ecumenical and religious freedom organisations, professional organisations and unions.
March to April 2020
1. To support the approval of bill 873/2020 for emergency basic income by mobilising civil society and parliamentarians in the National Congress.
2. Collaboration to mobilise society for the approval of emergency basic income by collecting signatures in an online petition and e-mails to put pressure on parliamentarians through the Campaign for the Basic Income that We Want promoted by a coalition of approximately 160 organisations.
3. Supporting visibility of and access to information about the emergency basic income agenda and its relevance in combatting socio-economic inequalities during the COVID-19 pandemic, through materials such as booklets, posters and virtual banners, texts, etc.
1.1. Proposed bill submitted and Law 13,982 of April 2020 approved in the National Congress and signed into law by the President.
1.2. Public hearing held in the Federal Senate in March 2020 in the presence of parliamentarians and representatives from organisations and movements of the Campaign for the Basic Income that We Want.
2.1. Increased support for the emergency basic income bill with the collection of more than half a million signatures in five days via an online petition from the Campaign for the Basic Income that We Want, and by sending more than 20 thousand e-mails to party leaders in the Federal Senate.
3. Civil society in general is better informed about the emergency basic income, and journalists and advocacy networks for the defence of rights promote points of view favourable to the regulation of emergency basic income in Brazil.
Description of preparatory activities
Mobilisation of partner civil society organisations and other stakeholders to plan activities for the Campaign for the Basic Income that We Want.
Preparation of informative and mobilisation materials.
Preparation of materials and technological tools to collect signatures via an online petition for the Campaign for the Basic Income that We Want.
Preparation of materials and technological tools to send e-mails directly to Senate parliamentarians as a means to apply pressure.
Dissemination of the agenda to the country’s main traditional media outlets and to alternative and grassroots media.
Meetings, contact and advocacy with parliamentarians from the Chamber of Deputies and the Federal Senate, as well as the public authorities, about the bill for emergency basic income.
Description of implementation
Publication of informative and mobilisation materials for the Campaign for the Basic Income that We Want (posters, virtual banners, booklet).
Participating members of coalition organisations mobilise society and collect signatures for the online petition of the Campaign for the Basic Income that We Want.
Participating members of coalition organisations mobilise society to send e-mails directly to Senate leaders.
Coverage of campaign activities by conventional media outlets and human rights communication networks, particularly regarding the bill for emergency basic income.
Virtual public hearing held in the Federal Senate on 26 March 2020, in the presence of parliamentarians and representatives of movements and organisations from the Campaign for the Basic Income that We Want.
Approval of Federal Law 13,982 of 2 April 2020 in the National Congress, signed into law by the President.
Description of time investment
The initiative continues to gain ground. Over the years, several proposals for basic income policies have been put forward in Brazil, but approval through civil society mobilisation in the current context was essential in order to reach approximately 60 million people with monthly support for three months from April 2020, at a value of BRL 600.00, in order to confront inequalities and poverty, considered real progress given the government’s suggestion of BRL 200.00. This significant mobilisation, which obtained support from several sectors of society and parliamentarians from different parties, demonstrated the strength of coordinated action and the multiple possibilities of advocacy using different strategies, even in this challenging and complex situation, due to COVID-19, social distancing and isolation measures, and given the current political situation in Brazil. The most immediate result, following approval of the legislation, was continuity in mobilisation and advocacy for initial payments to be made promptly. The hashtag #PagaLogoBolsonaro (PayNowBolsonaro) became one of the most popular in Brazil and around the world. Other bills about extending the three-month period and increasing the amount also began to pass through Congress or to be debated; as did proposals for the basic citizen’s income to become permanent. It is also important to highlight that a second phase of the campaign was launched in June 2020, since the government announced the intention of reducing the amount and the duration of the programme. The second phase of the campaign includes new communication actions and pieces, as well as pressure on the Congress members. Another important follow-up initiative from this period is the proposal to tax large fortunes, being addressed by several of the organisations involved in the basic income campaign. The proposal gained added impetus during the pandemic, particularly from April onwards, through a campaign to defend the taxation of large fortunes to combat the coronavirus pandemic and social inequality, run by social movements and unions and supported by some parliamentarians. At that time, there were four bills going through the Federal Senate for the creation of a tax on the wealthiest individuals, as provided for in Brazil’s Federal Constitution, but never regulated.
Scripts and tools used
Booklet about basic income (in Portuguese)