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JASS facilitators share many years of deep practice of feminist popular education:

●   building on participants’ experience

●   inviting and deepening their analysis

●   strategizing and taking action 

●   nurturing leadership

●   honing and sharing holistic facilitation skills


The JASS feminist popular education starts with her story. Deep, personal gripping life stories, stories that take each woman to her cellar where demeaning stories buried in a box are shared. Each woman shines a light into all the corners of her body and the story is aired. Each story is carved in some power dynamics, be it the power a chief wields, power wielded by tradition and religion and hence internalized, power of a security guard at a local clinic who won’t let this woman go in to get her ARVs: Power, power, power. In sharing these stories, her body becomes a vehicle for learning to question different kinds of powers that society normally takes for granted, and with this understanding, her possibilities are released, blockages are cleared, and she is able to break free of limits. Her inner knowing and personal shifts reverberate in the room and there is new energy. At this moment, there is some kind of relief as individually and collectively, the women cross a threshold; in their words, they cross many lines. They start getting empowered, advancing to another level of critical consciousness, and organizing. They become alive to the world around them.

Hope Chigudu, JASS Southern Africa

In Malawi, we started with a really powerful process of body mapping, where women spoke really intimately about their life journeys and their bodies and how it is that they carry differing manifestations of patriarchy on their body, including what it means to live positively (HIV+). In these spaces we sit on the floor and over drinks and snacks we share stories of our lives, our coping strategies and indigenous knowledge systems around sex and sexuality, and what it means to live positively. It was really in that process that we began to realize the issues that women were experiencing with specific ARVs. And so that became the very potent and pivotal moment that allowed us to escalate the movement building agenda in Malawi.

Shereen Essof, JASS Director


We use a lot of personal stories to share among the activists and then we turn to inspirational stories so activists can learn about the societal, regional, and cultural systems that oppress them. Storytelling helps not only to inspire others, but also to reinforce within themselves this encouraging notion of confidence and self-worth. When activists hear similar stories of shared experiences, they will come to an understanding of rooted systemic obstacles that women face, and therefore find common ground and cross the line hand in hand.

Chan Kunthea, JASS Southeast Asia

The JASS Mesoamerica School of Feminist Alchemy (Escuela de Alquimia Feminista) is a space where women from different organizations come together to learn, build collective knowledge, and exchange experiences and strategies. Alquimia is a place not only for academic or theoretical training, but also for the exchange of strategies of struggle and experiences of resilience. It’s a space where collective dreams and learning processes are generated by both the popular educators and the activists who participate in these trainings.

Mariela Arce, JASS Mesoamerica


JASS creates a domain within which a woman living with HIV continually deepens her understanding of power, sex, and resources. It shares with this woman some feminist popular education tools that enable her to realize that she has the capacity to participate actively in the same world that humiliates her. She can be visible and can amplify her voice. With the right tools, especially those that explain how systems of power operate, a huge fundamental shift of mind occurs. She develops a different sense of what it means to be human. This woman starts to appreciate that she is a legitimate citizen, that it’s possible for her life to have meaning. She stops embodying the labels and the trademarks imposed by society. She leaves them behind like a pile of citrus peel. She blossoms into her rightful name.

Hope Chigudu, JASS Southern Africa

Women find common ground when they realize they are impacted by the same issues, and share the knowledge they have in their hearts, minds, and bodies for their wellbeing. Finding common ground when we are building communities or movements is really important because it enables women to build their collective power, define and drive their agenda, and bring about the change they want.

Sibongile Singini, JASS Southern Africa

We are convinced that systemic structural changes should and can only be possible through alliances between women from different parts of the world, through methodologies and strategies that allow us to exchange, and the conviction that political education is fundamental. That it is not only daily activism that counts, but also being able to grow together. And that remains at the heart of JASS.

Patricia Ardón, JASS Mesoamerica

The moment we choose to love we begin to move against domination, against oppression. The moment we choose to love we begin to move towards freedom, to act in ways that liberate ourselves and others.

bell hooks, author, professor, feminist, and social activist


JASS has developed feminist leadership principles over many decades and currently works on applying and refining them through training in our feminist movement building schools. This training uses an evolving, highly interactive, feminist popular education curriculum that focuses on giving women who are already involved in grassroots organizing the confidence, skills, allies, and strategies they need to be stronger and make their movements stronger.

Chan Kunthea, JASS South East Asia

We decided to create these spaces and processes like the Alquimia leadership course, with the idea of generating learning and analysis about power and other themes central to build indigenous women and land defenders’ strategies, of trying to link the local with the global, of provoking alliances between them, because it is not only the knowledge that we share among all of them to strengthen the struggles and movements, but also spaces where they can get to know each other, exchange, build common strategies and accompany each other.

Patricia Ardón, JASS Mesoamerica


We want to move away from calling ourselves ‘trainers’ because our approach to knowledge is much more political and dynamic. We’re not delivering knowledge to those who don’t know; we are generating knowledge collectively from personal and political experience, with new ideas and how-to’s woven in. The process forges relationships between women that are critical for movement-building, and the knowledge guides our collective action.

Lisa VeneKlasen, JASS co-founder

How do you explain the magic of JASS’s Alquimia Leadership and Training School? The School provides truly miraculous moments of collaboration, creativity, and critical inquiry – all focused on building and strengthening women activists and their movements for justice. Add some good music, dancing, singing and a few bad jokes and – abracadabra – wonderful synergy and solidarity.

Valerie Miller, JASS co-founder

Education [is] the practice of freedom, the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of the world.

Paulo Freire, Philosopher

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