collective power

This beautiful new Barefoot Guide, published by JASS-ally The Barefoot Guide Connection, dedicates Chapter 1 to JASS’ movement building work with HIV+ women organizing for health justice in Malawi.
In Seram Islands, Indonesia, women rise from poverty through Bina Masadah (Women, There is Hope), a women farmers’ cooperative that they formed in the coastal community of Nuruwe. Women lead the seaweed processing and run the cooperative themselves.
In 2015, women activists in Southeast Asia were on the frontlines of crises and change. Despite experiencing some setbacks, women activists united and took collective action on critical issues affecting them such as repressive laws and backlash. The following stories highlight the different ways that Southeast Asian women rose above some of 2015’s most challenging moments: 
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Filipina human trafficking Mary Jane Veloso who is on death row on Indonesia for alleged drug charges is touted as the woman that rallied her country. In the Philippines, Indonesia, and the rest of Southeast Asia and the world – migrant rights organizations, women’s and other justice groups led different initiatives – all to save Mary Jane from impending execution. Vigils and protest actions were held, petition letters were sent, and signature campaigns as well as social media campaigns were launched. Indeed, Mary Jane’s case was a testament to the power of movements.
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“Many of us women might say, I’ve been abused and believe that it’s just my husband without realising that it’s a system,” says activist Primrose Kavhumbura. Along with 19 other feminist activists, Primrose participated in a feminist movement builder’s school convened by JASS Southern Africa and Katswe Sistahood in Zimbabwe. It was a dynamic week of sharing and learning how women are challenging what it means to be a “good woman” and breaking the silence on sex, sexuality and violence in their communities.
It is hard to conceive the magnitude of what Malawian women activist leaders with whom JASS works and the hundreds of women they represent in their communities have accomplished through their organising and the Our Bodies, Our Lives Campaign for Better ARVs. Let's take a look at the story beyond the numbers.
Julie Lun (Caing Ngaih Lwin), a woman activist from Myanmar, examines violence against women and gender inequality in Myanmar. Julie, who has worked in the humanitarian field, especially for the rights of women and children since 2008, is also one of the regional coordinating group (RCG) representatives of JASS Southeast Asia (JASS SEA).
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I read Ngugi wa Thiongo’s The Trial of Dedani Kimathi years back when I was still in lower secondary school. The character that sticks with me most since that time is the woman political activist who works to support the liberation movement. She smuggles a gun into the courtroom by storing it in a loaf of bread with its insides removed expertly for that purpose. She is an ordinary market woman but uses her agency as part of the formidable people’s liberation movement to unseat colonialism in Kenya.
Winnet Shamuyarira and Maggie Mapondera recall seven striking things about the Stop Rape Now peaceful protest in Zimbabwe that saw hundreds of women take to the streets to end violence.
The Cambodian Young Women’s Empowerment Network (CYWEN) and other young women’s groups stood in solidarity with women workers who are calling for decent wages. These young women demanded no less than justice for the woman who died in a recent SL workers’ demonstration in Phnom Penh.

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