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JASS Movements Newsletter

December 2013

Dear Friends,

We close 2013 by adding our own heart-felt goodbye to the many beautiful tributes in honor of the extraordinary life of Nelson Mandela. Among the many ways that Mandela has shaped what we do and how we do it at JASS was his rare ability to bring together power and love as a potent force for change that made the impossible, possible.

Amidst the tributes are the equally important reminders that Mandela's life was about a long, difficult liberation struggle against inequality—in all its forms—one that was waged by organizing and mobilizing the collective power of people, one heart and mind at a time, over many years. It was the unity of purpose across so many divisions that changed the world.

Together with many allies and friends like you, we aspire to follow in Mandela's footsteps and continue to demand an end to racism, economic injustice, women's inequality and the struggle of LGBTI people. We build and support movement-leaders from all walks of life, confident that in the 21st century, the face of the movement leader is finally a woman—not one, but many diverse women—Crossing the Line for justice, equality and a better life for all.

For us, it has been a year full of challenges and great leaps forward. This newsletter captures a few of those moments—from the extraordinary relief and recovery role played by our allies in the Philippines in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan to JASS Mesoamerica's co-leadership in the passage of the first ever UN Resolution for the protection of women human rights defenders—an invaluable new instrument for activists facing daily risks for the cause of justice in places like Honduras, Mexico and Zimbabwe.

None of this slow patient work of building and mobilizing the next generation of fighters for equality would be possible without your support. Keep it up as we need to be many on this long road to justice.

Celebrating power and love with you.

Happy holidays,

Lisa VeneKlasen & the JASS community

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LGBTI Rights in Africa: When will we get there?

We are all human!! Gay or not - Lesbian or not
photo credit:

Zambia's First Lady, Dr. Christine Kaseba-Sata surprised the international community when she called for an end to discrimination against sexual minorities at a recent UNAIDS event in Lusaka. While her statement supporting LGBTI rights is a step away from the homophobic rhetoric of some African politicians, many activists and JASS allies in the region are wondering whether this will put LGBTI rights on the political and social agenda across the continent, and begin to make a difference in the lives of LGBTI people in Zambia and beyond. "It is important that a high-level leader has spoken out to initiate dialogue and break the taboos. We cannot say we are effectively addressing human rights for all citizens while we leave out or actually deny those rights to others. We cannot wish them away," says longtime activist and JASS ally, Martha Tholanah, Chairperson of Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ). Read more

Honduran Elections a Setback for Women's Rights

On the eve of the Honduran elections, activist Esly Banegas described the atmosphere to JASS' Daysi Flores, "In Aguan, we are hopeful that there will be changes. There is a real opportunity to demand respect for our rights which have been trampled on in every way." Fast forward to today—the result—a contested election has many concerned, particularly women and women activists, who bear the brunt of trying to feed families, defend their homes from forced displacement due to corrupt land deals, and stand up for human rights. As uncertainty and tension build, JASS Mesoamerica and our growing women defenders' networks appeal to the international community to join us in speaking out on violence against women defenders and human rights violations in Honduras. Read JASS' post-election analysis

Libre supporters at election rally, Honduras
photo credit: Feministing

Women Leading Responses in the Philippines

Candle lighting, Typhoon Hiyan, Philippines

In the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan, women activists and their organizations are at the forefront of organized efforts to help families meet their basic needs, regroup, and begin to recover. JASS Southeast Asia, together with its Filipina sisters and partners pooled their connections and resources to bring women together and lead the rebuilding process. Placing women's wellbeing at the core, JASS Philippines and allies co-convened a discussion forum and fundraising event to address women's coping mechanisms when faced with violence and trauma. "For typhoon survivors, having spaces where they can share their stories is very helpful. It is difficult to overcome one's trauma and to stand up for your rights in a society that has a low regard for women, especially in the wake of the hurricane." said Jacqueline "Jac" Ruiz, psychologist from the SALINLAHI. Read more