JASS Blog Archives for November 2008

by Martha Tholanah on November 27, 2008 on 7:32 am

I got home in Harare back from AWID Forum in Cape Town to even more distressing situation with prices of basic commodities beyond skyrocketing, cholera out of control while officialdom claims everything is under control. In the meantime NGOs are doing business as usual - trying to finish the pennies they were pinching during the year - they need to finish them before the end of the year. So, we are in a mad rush of workshops in hotels, while many are dying. So, why won't donors allow NGOs to redirect money to humanitarian crises? Do NGOs ever request this redirection to more worthy causes on their doorsteps? Our so-called leaders are also engaged in the never ending talks while we suffer.

Meanwhile, I am also distressed by the latest information we have received on Lynde Francis' condition. While we were in Cape Town for the AWID Forum, we were assured that everything to do with her treatment was being taken care of. Apparently, this is not quite correct. While she is now at home, she still needs a lot of medication that is quite costly, and she is getting intensive physiotherapy that comes at high cost as well. Surely, all those big feminist minds that came together in Cape Town can surely do better in coming up with strategies that prevent our icons and role models going through such distress.

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by JASS on November 25, 2008 on 11:29 am

JASS had a strong and visible presence at the AWID (Association for Women's Rights in Development) Forum held in Cape Town, South Africa in November 2008. JASS core team leaders Nani Zulminarni (Indonesia) and Martha Tholanah (Zimbabwe) were featured in the third opening plenary on the "Context of Our Work," and JASS board Co-chair Srilatha Batliwala and JASS Southern Africa activist Sindi Blose (South Africa) closed the forum on the final plenary. JASS staff and allies participated on and led half a dozen workshops and presentations, JASS videos were a big hit, and the JASS booth was the heart of the ballroom with friends, music, and space for sharing and networking.

Marching through the streets of Cape Town


Cross-regional merriment at the JASS booth

Young feminists crossing the line in style


Intergenerational Tech Camp!

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by JASS on November 17, 2008 on 10:28 am

By Keba, South Africa

A session that was supposed to be about experiences of hate crimes, and remembering people we have lost at the hand of homophobia ended up into something else. The session started so well, we had panelists who did presentations and expressions from different organisations, but same people that we always see in these meetings and panels. I loved what Chan from Zambia, if not mistaken said, who he identifies as a transmen. He feels that there is no unity within the feminist movement. A lot of people identified with her.

Two Palistinine women expressed their views on what they think about homosexuality in which a lot of people felt uncomfortable hearing such expressions and called them homophobic, especially in AWID. Isn't that interesting? But what we need to realise is that, they have their own different background, and to quickly judge and crush is really not a strategic move, especially when we are in one struggle for change.

Like I said, what was suppose to be a session about hate crimes and experiences ended up into an emotional session where people expressed their anger and hurt by organisations. These are some of the quote: "We attend matches, risk our lives on TV and papers for change, we write about our sad stories on books during the 16 days of activism, we attend the same meetings that are facilitated by the same people, the terminologies are beyond our understanding, and there is never a follow up. Follow up, is it important?"

After our brave efforts on TV and papers, we are never called the next day just to check how we travelled home and if we are safe or not. The same people in the townships that victims us sexually maybe, pose threats, we speak about these issues to the same orgs that we make efforts for in solidarity but there has never been a change to protect us. No empowerment for those who need it, those who risk their lives to advocate for change, but we are in solidarity.

Some felt the need to go corporate because the movement is not inclusive of other marginalised people, doesn't recognise the need to empower when necessary. In South Africa, black lesbians have taken a brave stand to speak out as an effort to change and be part of but it is not in reality, it is an ambition I say. We have never seen a young, black lesbian in any of these panels, representing other young voices in our language unlike the number you see in the street, outside the courts.

A lot of people, particularly black lesbian feels that they are important during the 16 days of activism and matches but never in these spaces.

Others felt that they are not feminst and in fact the movement on its own is divided. There is no unity.

As a young, black feminist with a lesbian identity, I share the same sentiment with those who expressed how they felt. It is painful, it is tiring. Some even gate crashed the meeting just to be in the space and express these issues.

Are we really in solidarity? Is empowerment important and for who? We are represented, wow, great effort but is it how we would want our voices to be painted?

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