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 March Newsletter 2019

Dear Friends,

On this International Women’s Day in this all-important International Women’s Month, with so much to shout about, we are lifting up three things to celebrate with you:

Women as first-responders to crises. Often invisibly and usually under-resourced, women quietly hold their communities together at the first sign of drought, polluted water, depleted soil, food scarcity, epidemics and violence. In many places where we are, the most powerful political organizing takes shape in response to crises as the Zimbabwean story reflects.

#GlobalSisterhood. When the going gets tough, sisters rally. Women are joining to shake things up and get a fair shake. The essence of feminist solidarity is the core belief that your struggle is my struggle. Yet, because of our many differences, sisterhood takes work. As Radha Bhatt, writes, “it is a vision” — an aspiration — and to make it real demands the kind of openhearted deep political conversations that took place between our Mesoamerican team and allies and US activists in Guatemala over the last 10 days.

Feminism for everybody. Welcome and learn with us. bell hooks reminds us that “feminism is a struggle against sexism, not against men” and that feminism demands a transformation of the mind, heart and body that is essential for the dignity and freedom of everyone. While these are dark times, we are inspired and excited by the ways that many justice organizations and male allies are recognizing the vital importance of gender and women, and the need for feminisms (and feminists) to democratize democracy. The world will not be just and healed, unless it is feminist.

As always, we thank you for your support and solidarity.

Lisa VeneKlasen & the JASS community

Join us at the UN in NYC – CSW63!

We are convening exciting dialogues with our partners and governments. Check them out and register here

Join our global team of feminist activists!

We are looking for a Program & Development Assistant in Washington, DC to support operations, communications, and fundraising. Apply or help us spread the word.

Read our latest ideas & analysis!

An online resource kit: Power and Protection multimedia page, from JASS’ & the Fund for Global Human Rights (FGHR) & many allies

#6 in our Making Change Happen series: Rethinking Protection, Power, and Movements

Power and Safety: Rethinking Protection for HRDs, in OpenGlobalrights by Lisa VeneKlasen & James Savage (FGHR)

Solidarity, Safety and Power: Young Women Organizing in Indonesia

Zimbabwe: Women Build Economic Alternatives for Survival

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Relative calm has returned to Zimbabwe since the protests over 150% hike in fuel prices in January.  The political repression that ensued injured and detained hundreds. Twelve people were killed and at least six women were raped. This combined economic and political crisis unfolded only five months after the first post-Mugabe election in 37 years. Though the situation is quieter, the economy continues to crumble with massive unemployment, cash and basic food shortages, a deteriorating healthcare system and legal restrictions on street vendors. Women are among the most affected by the growing surveillance, militarization and continuing economic hardship. Tendai has to walk miles to fetch water and firewood because of water and power cuts. Revai who commutes daily is contending with rising public transport fares. Tsitsi worries about a 70% spike in school fees, while Chenai worries how she will afford sanitary pads next month. Despite this grim reality, women are coming together to address these basic needs collectively – a critical organizing strategy that is laying the groundwork for a future-oriented agenda to advance economic rights and democracy. Read More

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

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Authoritarianism. Militarism. Fundamentalism. Extractivism. While contexts differ, the convergence of these four trends have become fertile ground for escalating violence against women and women activists around the world. Resistance is the fifth trend as women are leading justice struggles on all issues as well as defending their own rights. Women human rights defenders and feminists in many countries are attacked for resisting blatant abuses of power and sounding the alarm about the corrupt consolidation of economic and political power, and the inequality and social conflict they fuel. In our latest publication, Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Women, Power and Change in Southeast Asia, co-author and scholar, Margo Okazawa-Rey provides a deep contextual analysis of how these trends are playing out in women’s lives in Southeast Asia. In particular, how women are organizing to resist and confront them, and why feminist movement building matters as a strategy to counter backlash and ensure that activists are stronger, safer and louder. Read More

#GlobalSisterhood: Building Solidarity Across the Americas

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In this collaboration with JASS we realize how our bodies, lives and communities are interconnected. We feel proud to be here to learn about your work, your struggle and resistance and together say: Yes to life!” These are the words of Priscilla (MEV-US) from the US during her visit to the indigenous community of La Puya where women have co-led a blockade that has successfully halted mining. The visit to La Puya is part of a 10-day women-to-women cross-border exchange among 21 women of color activists leading grassroots women’s organizing in the U.S., with JASS Mesoamerica and our allies from Guatemala and Honduras. Organized jointly by JASS and Move to End Violence, this exchange, which just ended, aimed to build cross-border connections and learning, and explore how to connect our strategies to combat violence, climate change, corruption, and the crises of governance in our countries. We have compiled a few of the reflections and strong feelings about the process from some of the women activists and JASS staff who participated. Read More

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