Feminist movement-building

A participatory contextual analysis produced by 22 women activists, researchers, academics and practitioners at a two-day Thinkshop organized by JASS Southern Africa.
JASS works to develop and galvanize women activists and their movements to change powerful institutions, policies and beliefs. Inspired by a feminist vision of justice, we help build new forms and practices of power that contribute to more egalitarian and democratic societies and a healthier planet.
We’re in Detroit where more than 8000 grassroots and union organizers and activists of all stripes are debating, performing, strategizing. It’s an awesome multigenerational, multiracial, multi-everything mix with great vibes, smart politics and incredible T-shirts. Bringing life to Detroit for sure – called the ground zero of the failures of capitalism – USSF attendees seem to multiply the city’s population, a resilient town limping along with 30% unemployment and staggering poverty.  
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When I think of JASS, the first thing that comes to mind is jazz music. Travis Jackson describes jazz music as “swinging, improvising, group interaction, developing an ‘individual voice’ and being ‘open’ to different musical possibilities.” JASS, as an organization and a community, celebrates innovation and improvisation.
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Movement building in Rumphi, Tiwonge Gondwe’s village (Tiwonge has been part of JASS movement building in Southern Africa from 2007)
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At the 11th AWID International Forum on Women’s Rights and Development (November 14, 2008, in Cape Town), Geeta Misra painted the landscape for ‘The Power of Movements’ by suggesting five common elements amongst movements: a feeling of injustice; an understanding of oppression as a political condition; the desire to change political conditions or to shift power; the belief in the power of many; and the presence of the powerless.
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This time we moved from the workshop rooms to the communities. We are humbly learning from the experience of the those who live on the margin, from their perspective, from their perseverance, from their assertiveness, from their desire to make something of their lives, from their love for one another and their determination to survive the ravages of HIV and AIDS. The ‘graduates’ of JASS whose projects we have visited, so far, are implementing their plans.
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A dozen young women have converged on the Protea Hotel Cairo Road in Lusaka, as JASS (Just Associates) Southern Africa continues with the process of movement-building in Zambia. This part of the process is Leadership Training: Young Women Political Facilitators Workshop.
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