JASS Newsletters

Dear friends,


None of us could have anticipated that the final phase of our Leadership Transition at JASS, my stepping into the role of Executive Director, would coincide with a global pandemic! While we are living through uncertain times, JASS was built and designed for resilience. The Pandemic: JASS Organizational Pivots, demonstrates how our agility has enabled us to respond creatively to our rapidly changing context.


The Pandemic: A Perspective from the Frontline lays bare what we have always known: our world is inequitable, unjust, and unsustainable. Those in power prioritize their economic interests at the expense of the livelihoods of the majority. Women, the poor, and the working class are experiencing the impacts of the pandemic exponentially.


Yet, it is precisely in the tensions and fissures deepened by this crisis that different forms of organizing and solidarity are emerging. From organizing for food through community gardens, to demanding equitable rent and access to decent health care through physically distanced strikes and caravan protests. From workers in warehouses and factories refusing to sacrifice themselves for corporate profits and downing tools to indigenous communities fighting against extractive projects that devastate land and territories, women are at the forefront of making their voices and visions heard. See more in The Pandemic: Women Lead Responses as our staff and allies share community responses to COVID-19.  


These are the forms of resistance with which we stand. They come from a place of deep care for our planet and her people. Across issues, languages, and borders, we join to strengthen and interweave our visions and struggles so that we can make the most of the transformative possibility of this moment. We will emerge from this stronger, louder, brighter, and even more connected in our pursuit of a more just world.


May you and yours stay safe and well as we make change happen in this time of the pandemic.


In solidarity,


Shereen Essof & the JASS Community


The Pandemic: A Perspective from the Frontline

We’re months into a global health pandemic that U.N. Secretary-General, António Guterres has described as “the most challenging crisis we have faced since the Second World War". COVID-19 has killed thousands, infected millions, and changed our way of life. To better understand what is happening on the ground, JASS spoke to our staff and allies on four continents about the impact of COVID-19 on their lives, their communities and the work they do in their community-based organizations and formations. We found some common threads: fragile social infrastructure, an alarming rise in authoritarianism and violence, deepening inequality and precarity, and the raw exposure of a fundamental contradiction between capitalism and life that constitutes a major threat to women’s lives and collective survival.


The Pandemic: Women Lead Responses

Women are stepping into this moment of crisis with great resolve, creativity, and resilience. While the multiple roles women play as caregivers, workers, and organizers make them more vulnerable, it also enables women to be critical first responders. Not only are women responding to immediate needs such as food, sanitation, and health care, but they are mobilizing their communities to be better organized and safer. Women are also using this moment to be resourceful and build and nurture community and sustainable ways of living that preserve the environment and our future. Rather than hear from us, hear directly from these women leaders.


The Pandemic: JASS Organizational Pivots

In the wake of COVID-19, JASS has made some exciting organizational pivots. Embedded in our DNA is agility and responsiveness to changing contexts and crises. We are proud at how we have been able to move quickly and leverage our staff who are embedded in the movements we support to rethink our work in response to this moment. These shifts are ensuring that we help our allies and constituencies meet immediate practical needs while simultaneously finding creative ways to strengthen and support strategic organizing based on these needs in a rapidly shifting context.


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JASS Movements is JASS' quarterly e-newsletter with up to date content and stories about our Movement Building Initiatives across the globe. Sign up for the newsletter to keep up with JASS Movements!

“We have seven territories in dispute: body, land, nature, memory, history, worldview, and the state. We have a lot to do.”

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, #GlobalSisterhood, Feminism for everybody.


First, a message of solidarity to the families and friends of those injured and killed in the recent Manchester bombing and to all those throughout the Middle East who continue to suffer from ceaseless wars. This sustained violence feeds on and fuels fear, anger and hatred—the key ingredients that serve to legitimize more weapons and more restrictions on basic rights. As we mourn, we must also untangle and change the policies and politics of inequality, discrimination, and dislocation that spark this violence.


“I believe that in the midst of all that despair, we need to nurture hope in ourselves as women, to believe that we are capable, that it’s possible to do something on behalf of our people.” – Berta Cáceres, 2014

It’s been a troubling week in troubling times. In the face of political fear mongering, people across the world have pulled together and amplified demands for change. Mourning and mobilizing is how love conquers hate.

Beirut, Paris, Baghdad, Syria... Too many communities torn by violence. We grieve with the families and communities hurt. Amidst the senseless and inevitable clamors for more war, the many gestures of solidarity that ripple across social media remind us of our common humanity and the enduring demand for peace.

Just like the moons and like suns, With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high, Still I’ll rise. ~ Maya Angelou

We open this newsletter with an excerpt from renowned poem, Still I Rise, which is filled with words that uplift our spirits and remind us to keep working to create a better world for all, even as the tides get steeper. It reminds us to pause, re-evaluate, and start again. An important message given the changing political landscape, where it’s becoming increasingly dangerous for activists who are on the frontlines of crises to speak out.

Four months in, 2015 has had its share of crises, but still somehow filled with extraordinary examples of courage and resilience.

First, let’s celebrate. In El Salvador, Guadalupe Vasquez, a rape survivor was pardoned and released from prison after serving 7 years of a 30 year sentence for having a miscarriage—giving us hope of a possible reversal of the 20 year sentence Purvi Patel received in Indiana, USA. Both cases reveal the transnational character of efforts to control women’s bodies and the equally transnational character of the feminist push back.

On Wednesday our team in Mexico City joined 100,000 others in the streets to demand that the 43 disappeared students from Ayotzinapa be returned alive, and that those responsible be held accountable. They marched with Nobel Laureate, Jody Williams, a close JASS ally who traveled there in solidarity to amplify the call to action.

From Gaza to Ukraine to the US-border, we are reminded of how interlinked our humanity and histories truly are, and of the importance of global citizenship—speaking out against injustice and war wherever it may be.

Happy International Women's Day! A big theme around the world is violence against women and how to stop it, and despite some grim realities, we're actually feeling optimistic. First, let's acknowledge how much progress has been made – laws, policies, services, task forces, research, training, and even phone apps! Though uneven, there is awareness that violence is wrong and unacceptable – in homes, in wars, in the military, in schools, at workplaces, at parties, on buses, and in intimate relationships.