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JASS Movements Newsletter

november 2015                                                 

Beirut, Paris, Baghdad, Syria... Too many communities torn by violence. We grieve with the families and communities hurt. Amidst the senseless and inevitable clamors for more war, the many gestures of solidarity that ripple across social media remind us of our common humanity and the enduring demand for peace.

Against this dark backdrop, there are promising signs of light and change as a whole new generation of activists and movement formations roll into action—demanding to be heard as they rise up against inequality, austerity, racism, corruption, state violence and inaction. And they’re succeeding in getting on the agenda and gaining concessions from reluctant power holders—while continuing to strategize on how to sustain change against backlash. Students in South Africa mobilize and defy water cannons to stop the rising cost of school fees while the accompanying twitter campaign, #FeesMustFall triggers mobilizations by students in the UK and USA who have been simmering with these issues for years. In the Guatemala article below, students mobilized an unexpected cross-section of society against corruption, giving energy to the long-time battles of human rights and social movements with (#RenunciaYa - Resign now)—forcing President Pérez Molina to resign. #BlackLivesMatter continues to catalyze activism from Ferguson to the University of Missouri and around the globe—placing institutionalized racism and injustice firmly in the American media and political conversation.

Women are at the forefront of these mobilizations and feminism is woven tightly into the intricate webs of ideas and strategies unfolding. When Africa Is a Country compiled an eleven minute video on #FeesMustFall, they interviewed seven women leaders some of whom highlight the influences of afro-feminism, black consciousness and anti-imperialism. While #BlackLivesMatter is often described as a “leaderless” movement and largely framed by the bodies of slain black men and boys, women of color are at the heart of this movement where again, fresh forms of feminism mix to create new ideas about democracy as lived and demanded. And as the world prepares for another critical round of climate talks, women are on the forefront of climate justice efforts—both pushing governments to take meaningful action and confronting the impacts on their lives and communities as illustrated by Southeast Asia article below.

These are the rays of light that motivate us and remind us that solidarity is the antidote to violence and hate. Not war, but solidarity mobilized for peace.

Stay inspired. Stay together. Keep organizing!

Lisa VeneKlasen & the JASS community

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Women Fighting Floods & Fires in Southeast Asia

Indonesia activists for climate justice

By Niken Lestari and Osang Langara

 

From landslides and floods to earthquakes and forest fires—environmental crises are plaguing the people of Southeast Asia. Women are leading emergency responses—courageously rebuilding their communities to be more resilient and sounding the alarm about the continued exploitation of natural resources by unregulated companies. In Indonesia, FAMM (Forum Aktivis Perempuan Muda-Indonesia)—a 300+ member young women’s alliance co-created with JASS—is raising young people’s awareness about the cause and impact of the current forest fires and haze pollutions on communities. Women’s Hand Myanmar Foundation (WHMF) is leading flood relief efforts in four of Chin State’s remote areas which are not reached by the government or donor organizations. With the Cop 21: UN Climate Change Conference set for Nov. 30-Dec. 11 in Paris, how do we make sure that women who are on the frontlines improvising responses with their communities have a voice at the table? Read more


Guatemala: Hope Goes Viral

By Catalina Ruiz-Navarro

 

In late August, the calls for President Otto Pérez Molina’s resignation amidst fraud and corruption charges grew louder. But no one expected what happened next. We watched in awe as Pérez Molina resigned on September 2nd and then, arrested just a day later. Guatemalan citizens had done what many saw as, “the impossible.” Led by university students adept at social media, they mobilized a unified demand  for justice that hadn’t been seen in the country in decades—bringing together all Guatemalan voices, including urban middle class, women, and indigenous and rural peoples. While the future is uncertain if not troubling with the newly elected President, these events have given new life to calls for justice. Describing the historic roots of this citizen uprising Patricia Ardon from JASS Mesoamerica explained, "This is not new. It is cumulative of 36 years of conflict. There is a glut of corruption and impunity that is not unique to this government. There is an accumulation of a lot of pain, but there were no exit channels for those wounds and no justice was delivered." Read more

guatemala article
 photo credit: Luis Echeverria/ZUMA @Mother Jones

Activists Fight Back Using ICTs

SNA ICT Toolkit for activists

By Maggie Mapondera

 

Like #FeesMustFall in South Africa, across the world women are using information and communications technologies (ICTs) to amplify and make visible their demands, tell their own stories and tackle emerging issues. What will it take to bridge the gender divide and make ICTs accessible to more women? And while ICTs are a game changer, it’s still the slow process of face-to-face organizing and building relationships of political trust around a common vision that create the change we need on the ground. How do we turn these critical mobilizations and the important victories they produce into a sustained shift of how we think and live together in this world? And how do we do this in a world where it has become increasingly risky to speak out online and offline? Read more