This International Women’s Day (#IWD) and month, we are celebrating women leaders from all over the world who are crossing the line every day to challenge oppressive systems and build just futures. Despite the precariousness laid bare by the Covid-19 pandemic, women are leading struggles to create a more sustainable and caring world for everyone. Their bold leadership, innovative organizing strategies, and ‘stubborn hope’ provide a blueprint for the transformation we seek.
We also recognize the risks women face in crossing the line. This month, we honor the women human rights defenders and activists who lost their lives while fighting for justice and equality. We salute the women who have come before us (some not always recognized) – our mothers, our grandmothers, and our sisters – who have, in their own way and wisdom, stood for the rights and freedoms we enjoy and defend today. Lastly, we celebrate you for all your support and investment in building women’s collective power for a better world.
Following IWD’s theme, #ChooseToChallenge, we asked women activists in our community to share what they cross the line for, and here is what they had to say:
- #ChooseToChallenge Dictatorship: In a blog, “We will fight until we win,” JASS’ Southeast Asia team spotlights women’s central role in the anti-coup protests and demand for democracy in Myanmar. “I bang pots and pans, [and] never thought I would become a safety guard, but I am; the age of fear is over… We formed civilian night guards at wards to protect ourselves from armed forces. Brave women are night angels. We won’t sleep until we gain democracy…,” said feminist, Mai T. Sui Leng. Read the full blog
- #ChooseToChallenge Women’s Lack of Access to Land: Getrude Mgawi, one of the 8,000 HIV+ women leading and mobilizing the Our Bodies, Our Lives Campaign to improve access to ARVs (antiretrovirals) and quality healthcare said, “I choose to challenge the culture of silence pertaining to women’s access and control to land ownership. After attending one of the workshops organized by JASS with the Malawi Economic for Justice Networks on land ownership, I decided to engage with chiefs in my community. After several negotiations, my six sisters and I inherited back the land we lost from our relatives when my mother passed in 2004. Since then, I have helped other women in my community, educating them on the importance of registering and having ownership to land documents.” Read the extraordinary stories of Malawian women
#ChoosetoChallenge Extractive Development: The indigenous and rural women from our Alquimia Feminist Leadership School are leading the fight to protect their rights and territories against the damaging impacts of extractive projects such as mining. Magda Tum said, “Resistance and finding strength in ourselves [are] important [strategies] to stop companies from entering our territories. It is also important to recognize the struggles of women at the political and public level throughout history. Our ancestors fought for many rights so that the living conditions of women could improve.” Read more about the indigenous women of Alquimia
Stay tuned this month as we share more stories of women crossing the line for economic and environmental justice, food security, health equity, collective safety, and democracy in Southeast Asia, Southern Africa and Mesoamerica. Follow JASS’ social media channels, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for the latest updates.