Articles and Book Chapters
Drydyk, Jay, Kerry Ellen O’Neill, and Diana Velasco. “Empowerment and Poverty.” In Routledge Handbook of Philosophy and Poverty, edited by Gottfried Schweiger and Clemens Sedmak. New York, NY: Routledge, forthcoming Dec. 2022.
Empowerment has been much discussed in relation to poverty reduction, but, unfortunately, not much by philosophers. The purpose of this chapter is to begin filling that gap by arguing for three claims. First: empowerment can be conceived either as a process or as an end. As a process it involves reversing the powerlessness that subjects people to poverty; as an end it involves not merely expanding choices but becoming freer to shape one’s life for the better. Second: conceptions of poverty, like poverty-reduction programs themselves, may be friendly or hostile to this kind of freedom, and we should be wary of those that are hostile. Third: philosophers (like John Rawls) who frame poverty as an injustice should explicitly advocate empowerment as a necessary part of social change to reverse this injustice; Rawls did not do so, even though there is much in his philosophy that would seem to favour empowerment implicitly.
O’Neill, Kerry Ellen. “Water Pricing: A Strategy for Rights Fulfillment or Rights Violation?” In Ethical Stewardship: Securing Water for Everyone, edited by Ingrid Leman Stefanovic and Zafar Adeel, 197-216. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer, 2020.
Providing and gaining access to safe drinking water has been a challenge across millennia. Today, approximately three billion people lack secure and sustainable access to safe water. In 2010, the United Nations’ member states voted in favour of Resolution 15/9, recognizing access to safe drinking water as a human right. In this chapter, I examine the role that water pricing plays in the fulfillment and violation of the human right to water. I argue that a tax base or other forms of public revenue, where feasible, should be used to cover the cost of a minimum amount of safe drinking water. Under the current global order, it may not be economically possible for many nations, especially countries in the global South, to cover the cost of a minimum amount of water; however, a restructuring of the global order could enable nations in the global South to use their public revenue to provide their citizens with access to a minimum amount of safe drinking water.
O’Neill, Kerry Ellen. “Gendered Labour Divisions and a Reconception of the Right to Water.” Journal of Ethical Urban Living 1, no. 2 (2018): 67-88.
Economic theories have typically failed to adequately take into account gendered divisions of labour and, in doing so, fail to recognize the economically productive labour of women around the world. Women spend countless hours engaged in water fetching activities for drinking water, cooking, cleaning, and sanitation purposes. Water collection is not considered to be work as it does not, in the case of domestic collection, result in a transfer of money contributing to the belief that women’s time and labour is less valuable than that of males. While the right to water and sanitation notes the importance of gender equality in its realization, the right fails to adequately take into account the way women are disproportionately burdened by water-related activities which in turn increases the burdens and stigma attached to water fetching. Thus, what is needed is a reconception of the right to water in terms of relationships.