Blog / 20 September 2016

The counterpower has to be smarter than its opponents

The counterpower does not accept 'business as usual' because it is not fair. The race after the big money is not leading to happiness for everyone, and is usually not good for, for example, the environment or women.

But 'business as usual' is big and powerful, and the counterpower is a minority. Therefore you have to be smarter than your opponent. Often it is convenient to form coalitions so that you are not alone and can inspire each other.

Both ENDS tries, as a member of the global counterpower, to change things both structurally at international level and at the grassroots level. It is this connection between local realities and the high level what makes working at Both ENDS useful and interesting.

A good example comes from South Africa, where women stand up against mining companies in a township in Mpumalanga. I would not call them a real counterpower yet, because they still have no power, but the first steps have been made: the women have united their forces, made their voices heard and are developing their capacity to defend their rights. In the end, counterpower must come from these kind of groups!

They are now engaged in a lawsuit. This will not make the mining disappear from their region, as there are too many vested interests involved. But they can perhaps claim some compensation and thus gain recognition for their problems.

Simultaneously, Both ENDS can ask attention on an international scale for their situation, which serves as an example of the problems faced by many communities worldwide. Moreover, Both ENDS promotes the compliance with human rights standards by both governments and companies at the UN Human Rights Council.


Sabina Voogd is international capital flows advisor at Both ENDS

Also see our short movie about the women in Mpumalanga:

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