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 July Newsletter 2019

Dear Friends,

We’re Going to be OK.

Just when the actors and forces behind inequality and violence seem to bring new levels of injustice, fresh, joyful, and courageous expressions of resistance shine through – reminding us that the forces that unite us around a better future for everyone and the planet are resilient. And women are on the frontlines and in the trenches building and mobilizing new kinds of power.

Behold Sudanese women activists leading the brave citizen mobilizations to topple a brutal military dictatorship. As the 22-year-old Sudanese activist, whose iconic image atop a car in the midst of protests symbolized the movement, explained, “Since the beginning of the uprising I have been going out every day and participating in the demonstrations because my parents raised me to love our home.” Just yesterday, our new sports hero (not to mention equal pay and LGBTQI rights advocate), Megan Rapinoe, said during the U.S. Women’s Soccer World Cup victory parade: “We have to be better. We have to love more. Hate less.” Their common message? Love. We all belong.

In this issue of our newsletter, we celebrate the inspirational efforts that show us a better world is on its way and shine a light on the less famous (but no less important) struggles to democratize democracy and economic development led by the women and organizations that are part of our networks. We go to Southern Africa, Honduras, the Philippines, and multiple places across the world where women are struggling to decide what happens to their bodies. Capturing the interconnected nature of these many justice struggles, the extraordinary Guatemalan feminist activist and Member of Congress Sandra Morán recently explained during an exchange we co-organized between U.S. and Mesoamerican activists, “We have seven territories in dispute: body, land, nature, memory, history, worldview, and the state. We have a lot to do.

Pass it on. Thanks for all you do for a just future for all.

Lisa VeneKlasen & the JASS community

The latest from JASS Southern Africa

Check out the highlights from JASS Southern Africa’s Defending Rights in Hostile Contexts convening! We shared quotes and questions on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram with #DefendingRights and #MovementsMatter.

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Immerse yourself in our latest feminist toolkit – the Zines – co-created with Raising Voices and FURIA! Watch and listen to Phumi Mtetwa and Zephanie Repollo share their perspectives on movement building and Daysi Flores with the latest on intersectionality and collective care.

Read what Rosa Chávez (JASS Mesoamerica) has to say on how self and collective care can build #strongermovements.


Mining ≠ Development: “We’re not going to eat minerals”

By Adelaide Mazwarira

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Mining is one the most prominent extractive industries in Southern Africa, as it has been throughout its history. Governments are big proponents of its viability as a crucial pathway to “development” – citing and justifying its benefits to ordinary people. Reality tells a different and more complex story. Communities in places such as Marange in Zimbabwe and Xolobeni in South Africa will tell you that mining comes at a dire cost to the quality of their lives and communities with minimal benefit to them. They will tell you that speaking out and demanding accountability for basic environmental standards and promises to the community is a dangerous form of activism. Despite the violence and risks they face, they are standing up and saying, “NO” to mining because they believe what Nonhle Mbuthuma, leader of the Amadiba Crisis Committee, said – “Development is supposed to come from the bottom-up and start with the people.” Read More


Fighting for Abortion Access Amid Bans & Gag Rules

By Lindsee Gregory

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In recent months, the forces against the right to abortion have shifted their strategies from the slow reversal of access through procedural changes to full out war at the state level. These abortion bans have dominated the headlines. In 2019 alone, nine U.S. states have passed laws severely limiting access – it’s clear that the rights of women, gender non-conforming, and trans people are under assault. But these battles are not only happening in the U.S. We talked to colleagues and allies about abortion rights in Nicaragua, Mexico, the Philippines, and Zimbabwe – and what that means for people who need to access the full range of reproductive care. Check out the latest on abortion access across the world as grassroots activists and a range of movements and organizations, in alliance with progressive legislators and physicians, find new and creative ways to #StoptheBans. Read More


Still in Resistance: Honduras 10 Years after the Coup

Interview with Daysi Flores

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June 28 marked the 10-year anniversary of the coup that ousted the democratically elected President, Manuel Zelaya. This precipitated a series of political crises and a dramatic decline in the country’s human rights situation that catalyzed a broad-based citizen’s resistance movement. Since the fraudulent elections in 2017, nationwide protests have grown around the demand for President Juan Orlando Hernández to step down. Just two months ago, nurses, doctors, teachers, and students created a new formation in the ongoing resistance called the Platform in the Defense of Health and Education. As a coalition, they’re protesting privatization measures that would have led to massive layoffs and demanding improvements to the country’s failing health and education sectors. Though the government hoped to appease protestors by backing down from initial proposals, repressive police and military tactics have only fueled citizen mobilizations demanding the president’s resignation. We spoke with JASS Mesoamerica’s Daysi Flores to hear the latest. Read More


Filipino Women Push for Human Rights Defenders Law

By Osang Langara

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Our JASS Southeast Asia team in the Philippines report that after more than a decade of persistent grassroots organizing and advocacy, legislation that would guarantee protection for human rights defenders (HRD) may finally come to fruition this year. If passed, this law would be an invaluable policy tool to challenge the Duterte administration for widely reported human rights abuses and attacks on HRDs. In the past three years alone, 134 defenders have been killed. Women’s groups have been at the forefront of this important agenda, and they are working hard to confront this crisis form multiple angles. Read More

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