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Joey Hasson

Living in: London, UK
Nationality: South African and Italian

 
 

Joey works with grassroots movements and political campaigns which challenge systemic inequalities. He has spent over 10 years working in this area, in South Africa and the UK.Joey completed an undergraduate degree in Psychology and Social Anthropology from the University of Cape Town in 2003.

In 2003, Joey met anti-apartheid and AIDS activist Zackie Achmat. Achmat had founded the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), a grassroots movement of people living with HIV fighting the South African government for access to life-saving antiretroviral treatment. Between 2003 and 2008, he worked alongside TAC activists to develop community health organising and advocacy capacities. Joey subsequently worked for the South African Labour Research Institute at the South African Clothing and Textile Workers Union in Cape Town, building a coalition to try and stem clothing industry job losses. During this period he also established an organisation promoting active engagement and dialogue between Jewish and Muslim youth in Cape Town.

Inspired by the TAC example of social mobilisation, policy advocacy and strategic litigation to impact lives and reduce inequality, Joey co-founded Equal Education (EE) in 2008. EE is a movement of thousands of high school-learners campaigning for equitable state education in South Africa. Over 5 years he lead the movement’s youth and campaigns strategy and later its policy, research and training department. Joey organised weekly meetings, youth camps and training to develop leaders and build a national activist movement. The demonstrations, letter-writing campaigns, public petitions and media advocacy he directed led to the adoption of a national school infrastructure policy prioritising the poorest schools in 2013. EE is today among the largest democratic organisations of students, teachers and parents across urban townships and rural schools in South Africa.

Joey moved to the United Kingdom in 2012 to work as campaign coordinator of two multi-country socio-economic and cultural rights campaigns with Amnesty International. The first focused on housing rights and forced evictions in Kenya, Nigeria, Italy, Romania and Brazil; the second focused on sexual and reproductive health rights in Ireland, Burkina Faso, Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia. Both public campaigns involved strengthening international activist networks, developing campaign materials, engaging human rights law and policy using media and advocacy strategy to impact on national governments and United Nations bodies.

In 2015 Joey helped establish the Tshisimani Centre for Activist Education in Cape Town, South Africa. As senior fellow at the centre, he developed curriculum and programmes for community activists on history, theory, policy and political economy. Most recently, Joey developed and ran a political education series on the life and ideas of post-colonial theorist and revolutionary humanist, Frantz Fanon.

 

Personal Statement

I passionately believe in the unity and equality of all human beings. All deserve a dignified life and equal access to housing, health, education and employment opportunities. I am disturbed by the ways in which extremes in the distribution of wealth and power limits access to these fundamental entitlements.

Over the last 12 years, I have worked within activist movements and organisations and have gained practical experience tackling inequality. My experience developing campaigns has used community organising, law and public engagement to improve provision of education, sanitation, housing and health, and has given me a broad understanding of the effects of inequality.

My work countering the effects of inequality politically, has inspired me to engage further with the subject theoretically. I am interested in the historical foundations and global manifestations of our unequal world as well as the intersections of class, race and gender which characterise contemporary inequalities. Through the programme, I am seeking to expand my knowledge of the systemic political-economic processes of commodification, alienation, exploitation and oppression which are observable everywhere.

I am strongly committed in my current work to the idea that activists can enhance their efficacy through learning, reflection and regeneration. Having benefited from the opportunity to read broadly, reflect and engage intellectually with others in the field while part of the Atlantic Fellows for Social and Economic Equity, I intend to extend internationally the educational programmes I have been developing in South Africa, with activists and networks in other inequality fields.

The international educational programme I hope to set up will enhance and extend the understanding and creativity of activists involved in struggles with inequality. To achieve this, I believe such a project must, to use Frantz Fanon’s words, ‘put itself to school with the people’. Although content and expertise could be pooled and centralised, Fanon’s meaning is that educational programmes and settings for teaching should take place within – and be determined by – sites of real political struggle. The programme will also link activists, practitioners and experts working in specific fields of inequality, so they can share knowledge and gain new perspectives in order to act effectively to reduce systemic inequality.