Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Women workers stage a silent protest while practicing social distancing to mark Labor Day on May 1, 2020 in Quezon City, Philippines. Millions of workers and daily wage earners living in poverty in the Philippines suffer the brunt of work stoppage during the government imposed Enhanced Community Quarantine in a bid to stop the spread of the novel Coronavirus. (Photo: Jes Aznar/Getty Images)

Women workers stage a silent protest while practicing social distancing to mark Labor Day on May 1, 2020 in Quezon City, Philippines. Millions of workers and daily wage earners living in poverty in the Philippines suffer the brunt of work stoppage during the government imposed Enhanced Community Quarantine in a bid to stop the spread of the novel Coronavirus. (Photo: Jes Aznar/Getty Images)

On This May Day, The Corporate-Dominated World Faces Not One, But Three Pandemics

All three pandemics have their roots in an economic model based on profits, greed and extractivism, which has accelerated ecological destruction, aggravated loss of livelihoods, increased economic inequality, and polarised and divided society into the 1% and 99%.

Vandana Shiva

On this May Day, the world is witnessing 3 pandemics simultaneously. The first is the Coronavirus Pandemic. The second is the Hunger Pandemic. The third is Pandemic of Destruction of Livelihoods.

Thus far, he coronavirus pandemic has infected 3.19 million and killed 228,000. The World Food Programme has warned the world community of the looming “hunger pandemic,” which has the potential to engulf over a quarter of a billion people whose lives and livelihoods will be plunged into immediate danger.

According to the world food programme  more than a million people who are on the verge of starvation, and 300,000 could starve to death every single day for the next three months.

There is also a pandemic of loss of livelihoods. According to the ILO “as a result of the economic crisis created by the pandemic, almost 1.6 billion informal economy workers (representing the most vulnerable in the labour market), out of a worldwide total of two billion and a global workforce of 3.3 billion, have suffered massive damage to their capacity to earn a living. This is due to lockdown measures and/or because they work in the hardest-hit sectors.”  As pointed out by Guy Ryder, ILO Director-General: “For millions of workers, no income means no food, no security and no future. […] As the pandemic and the jobs crisis evolve, the need to protect the most vulnerable becomes even more urgent.”

All three pandemics have their roots in an economic model based on profits, greed and extractivism, which has accelerated ecological destruction, aggravated loss of livelihoods, increased economic inequality, and polarised and divided society into the 1% and 99%. On this May Day in times of the Corona Crisis let us imagine and create new economies based on Earth Democracy and economic democracy to protect the earth and humanity. Let us address all three crisis through democratic participation and solidarity. Through compassion let us ensure no one goes hungry. Through solidarity and democracy let us participate in shaping future economies to ensure no hands are without work , no person is without a voice.

"On this May Day in times of the Corona Crisis let us imagine and create new economies based on Earth Democracy and economic democracy to protect the earth and humanity."

The multiple crises are a wake up call that the economy run by the 1% is not working for people and nature. The 1% is talking of 99% being “useless people” in their idea of the future based on digital agriculture and farming without farmers, automated factories and production without workers. We have an obligation to create economies that do not destroy nature, do not destroy livelihoods and the rights of workers, economies that  do not destroy our health by spreading disease and pandemics , do not destroy livelihoods and the freedom, dignity and right to work , and do not create hunger. Let us create #ZeroHunger economies by protecting livelihoods of small farmers who provide 80% of the food. Let us shift to Poison Free organic farming to protect human health and biodiversity. Let us create local circular solidarity economies that support livelihoods of hawkers and small retailers, create community while reducing the ecological footprint.

Post Covid-19, let us regenerate the economy with the consciousness all lives are equal and that we are part of the Earth. Let us acnkowledge and embrace that we are ecological, biological beings; that working is our right and is at the heart of being human; and that care for the Earth and each other is the most important work.

There are no disposable or useless people. We are One Humanity on One Planet. Autonomy—meaning dignity, work, freedom, and democracy—are our birth-right.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.
Vandana Shiva

Vandana Shiva

Dr. Vandana Shiva is a philosopher, environmental activist and eco feminist. She is the founder/director of Navdanya Research Foundation for Science, Technology, and Ecology. She is author of numerous books including, Soil Not Oil: Environmental Justice in an Age of Climate Crisis; Stolen Harvest: The Hijacking of the Global Food Supply; Earth Democracy: Justice, Sustainability, and Peace; and Staying Alive: Women, Ecology, and Development. Shiva has also served as an adviser to governments in India and abroad as well as NGOs, including the International Forum on Globalization, the Women’s Environment and Development Organization and the Third World Network. She has received numerous awards, including 1993 Right Livelihood Award (Alternative Nobel Prize) and the 2010 Sydney Peace Prize.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

ACLU Demands 'Truly Systemic Overhaul' of US Civilian Harm Policies

"While a serious Defense Department focus on civilian harm is long overdue and welcome, it's unclear that this directive will be enough," says director of the legal group's National Security Project.

Jessica Corbett ·


'This Is Not Over': Alaska Supreme Court Rejects Youth Climate Case

"With the state continuing to undermine their health, safety, and futures," said the plaintiffs' lead counsel, "we will evaluate our next steps and will continue to fight for climate justice."

Jessica Corbett ·


Analysis Finds 'Staggering' Rise in Voter Suppression After GOP Restrictions in Georgia

"This is why we are fighting this new law in court," said one voting rights advocate.

Brett Wilkins ·


'Egregious': Pennsylvania Court Strikes Down Mail-In Voting Law

The ruling was stayed pending an appeal to the state's Supreme Court and as one voting advocate put it: "The fight's not over yet, folks."

Julia Conley ·


Big Win for Open Internet as Court Upholds California Net Neutrality Law

One legal advocate called the Ninth Circuit's opinion "a great decision and a major victory for internet users in California and nationwide."

Kenny Stancil ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo