Salon #10 - April 10, 2021

Elena Skoko and Charito Basa

Elena Skoko

Presentation title: Maternal Gift Economy in Birth Activism

Elena Skoko is a mother activist, singer, multidisciplinary artist and independent researcher. Since she gave birth to her daughter she dedicated herself to the topic of motherhood and childbirth; first with her book Memoirs of a Singing Birth, where she describes her experience, later on with Singing Birth Workshops and the advocacy for the respectful maternity care. She promoted the Italian campaign #bastatacere on obstetric violence, lobbied at the Italian parliament, and founded the initiative Obstetric Violence Observatory in Italy with the aim to collect and disseminate data on the abuse and disrespect in childbirth. She is a member of numerous research networks, including the International Feminists for the Gift Economy.

Elena met Genevieve Vaughan and the Maternal Gift Economy theory while she was engaged in childbirth activism in Rome. Since then, the theory helped her make sense of both the work of motherhood as well as activism, discovering their own logic, values and outcomes. The new self-awareness helped her and her colleagues advance their actions in their own right, finding their place among epistemic bubbles of politics, professionalization and the market.

More @ Memoirs of a Singing Birth book
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Charito Basa

Presentation title: Transnational Mothers and Sisters in the Maternal Gift Economy

The global economy has undergone a series of changes that have led to the feminization of migration. Many of us have migrated to other countries to do women’s works, leaving our children and families behind.

We, migrant women have multiple maternal roles that contribute to development primarily through our remittances: from consumption and direct support to households, to community development and to broader causes for positive social change; including our voluntary organizing works which are extremely beneficial for ourselves and community, or broader, to further the position of our struggle for equal rights.

Charito Basa is a Filipina migrant activist from the Philippines who went to Rome in November 1986 to work as a domestic helper, but instead found work with Isis International, an organization founded to foster communication and networking among women’s movements at the global level. Through her work there she became interested and got deeply involved in issues related to Filipina migrant workers in Italy. She is the moving spirit of the Filipino Women’s Council she initiated in May 1991 — an organization of Filipino women migrants in Italy whose aim is to develop them as empowered women, who understand their rights as women, as women of color, as workers and migrants, and will pursue the realization of these rights.

As a resource person for many Italian and international organizations, Charito helped them to manage and coordinate development projects focused on food security, train women and conduct research. In recognition of her advocacy and voluntary contributions to the society, she was conferred the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic, Cavaliere della Repubblica, by ex-Italian President, Carlo Azeglio Ciampi in 2002.

Charito has published and co-authored various books and articles with special focus on the realities of the Filipino women in Italy.

She passionately continues to do voluntary work as inter-cultural mediator, counselor, mentor, trainer, and many more. The Filipino community in Italy, across Europe and the Middle East where she actively collaborates fondly addresses her as the Ate or Tiya/Tita.

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