A feminist Response to Crisis
As crises become a new normal, we are being pushed to think beyond our usual responses. Practical needs have become strategic needs that fuel both survival and organizing. If you don’t have food or water, you can’t organize. Community-based groups on the frontlines need a mechanism to respond immediately.
When the pandemic hit, JASS quickly activated the Mobilization Fund to support community-based women and their organizations as critical first responders. As a result, our partners and allies have stepped into this crisis with resourcefulness and creativity to address their communities’ basic needs and safety. Since March 2020, the Fund has disbursed over $130, 000+ to over 100 groups and individuals.
Women’s community organizing and movement building is a potent response to disasters and crises. In 2019, we launched a Mobilization Fund to provide small immediate bridging funds (US$500 – US$3000) within 24 hours to enable community-based women leaders and their organizations and formations to respond to unforeseen events and strategic opportunities to build collective leadership and safety while transforming power. These include natural disasters, political attacks, and arrests, as well as protests, blockades, and other tactical actions.
This fund is not meant to replicate the critical role of donors, humanitarian support, or urgent action funds. Instead, the JASS Mobilization Fund enables the partners and allies within JASS’ network to seize opportune political moments that advance longer-term organizing efforts and to navigate emergencies as they seek more substantial support.
In times of crisis, women are on the frontlines of community response efforts – playing a critical role in addressing both immediate needs, while simultaneously responding to community needs and cohesion. However, they often confront a dilemma: to fulfill practical needs, which is for many about survival, and to continue to advance their organizing agendas at the same time. For example, when flooding occurs it often displaces communities, and while people need shelter and food, organizing to rebuild their community is just as important. This is no easy feat, particularly for community-level organizations that are often on the periphery of the main funding streams.
Many grassroots groups are not formally registered – a typical requirement for most funding applications – or may lack the capacity within their organization to apply for funding quickly. Sometimes, urgent funding application processes can take several days or longer to materialize, which can leave groups vulnerable as they await money. In addition, most traditional relief approaches don’t address the deep accompaniment and sustained work needed to repair communities over the long term.
The JASS Mobilization Fund is positioned to address this gap. As a movement-support organization, JASS brings over 10+ years’ experience working with grassroots women leaders on the margins, (including indigenous, rural, LBTI, young, and poor women) who are leading solutions to inequality and violence. Through these longstanding relationships, JASS brings access and critical lessons about the kinds of support needed to sustain women and their communities, while strengthening their organizing. Utilizing our global positioning and relationships, we’ve connected these leaders and groups to funders and opportunities for global influence and visibility. The fund builds on these efforts by ensuring critical funding is readily available to support women’s tactical and practical needs, alongside our longer-term investments in building collective leadership and safety.