Strong women ’bout to walk across the line // This ain’t no once upon a…
“Women, regardless of their level of education, where they live, or status of their marriage or in society, have knowledge and experience. In Feminist Popular Education, women are subjects at the centre, not objects.”
–Nani Zulminarni, JASS Co-Founder and Southeast Asia Regional Advisor
When we think about education, we might picture a classroom setting with a teacher at the front and students taking notes. But learning is not confined to formal education. In fact, many traditional learning spaces often promote ideas rooted in patriarchy, colonialism, white supremacy, and other dominant belief systems. These beliefs replicate power inequities which hinder the emergence of liberating and politically powerful forms of knowledge.
For those seeking social transformation, it is critical to tap into the knowledge that comes from lived experience while simultaneously unlearning harmful ideas about ourselves and our communities. Engaging in critical reflection and analysis can help us see the world in a new light, filled with possibilities, and see ourselves as active agents capable of creating positive change.
As JASS celebrates 20 years of feminist movement building, we honour what’s always been the engine of our work: feminist popular education (FPE). FPE is the driving force that fuels our mission to build and strengthen womxn’s voice, visibility, and collective power for a just world. As we imagine and build into the future, we recognise that this work is more vital than ever before.
FPE challenges our ideas about how knowledge is acquired. Rather than being imparted by “experts,” learning is a collective, participatory, and political process that centres the perspectives and knowledge of those most affected by a problem. It engages people in critical reflection on how power dynamics shape their experiences and how they can create change, activating them as leaders and change-makers in their own lives, communities, and ultimately, the world.
Through FPE, JASS creates safe spaces that bring womxn together across age, gender, sexuality, race, and ethnicity to examine how different kinds of power including violence, exclusion, rigid social norms, and inequity, affect their lives. This process facilitates the building of common ground and shared analysis, a foundation and catalyst for organising, solidarity, collective power, and solutions.
In this newsletter, we are excited to spotlight FPE through a mix of stories, praxis, theory, and tools. You’ll hear firsthand from a woman leader in Honduras, learn more about what FPE is and how it is applied in practice, and access resources you can adapt to support your own work.
Women Crossing the Line
Sowing Seeds of Collective Power
Ana Clementina Mejia, a woman leader from Honduras, shares her reflections on the skills and tools she gained after completing JASS Mesoamerica’s Alquimia Political Facilitators’ Course in 2022. The course uses FPE methodologies to strengthen feminist leadership, solidarity, and movement commitment whether in-person or online. “Now I recognise that I am a woman with a lot of power, a lot of capacity,” she says proudly. Keep reading.
In Theory and In Practice
Alquimia: The Alchemy of Cross Pollination in Movement Learning
In this journal article, originally published in the 50th edition of Women’s Studies Quarterly (WSQ), JASS’ Shereen Essof and Patricia Ardón, explore feminist movement pedagogy by examining FPE through five frames: Thinking about power; embracing multiplicity and complementary forms of knowledge; heart, mind, and body; conceptualisations of space; communities of practice. Keep reading.
“Feminist popular education is actually about making the overthrow of patriarchy the starting point, and a whole range of things flow from that, because it forces you to think in a different way about almost everything.”
Insights from our community of practice
Feminist Popular Education is a liberating endeavour
Ronald Wesso, a popular educator and researcher from South Africa, shares his personal journey with FPE, provides historical context and a current overview of FPE in Southern Africa, and sheds light on the ongoing evolution of FPE as a political and pedagogical tool for transformation. Keep reading.
Ideas and Tools for Movement Builders
What’s the Big Idea?
Explore the world of FPE both inside and outside of JASS on our interactive platform, BIG IDEAS, which also features Power, Intersectionality and Feminism. These concepts offer deep insight and analysis of the challenges we face and inspire radical imagination for a new way going forward. Keep reading.
If you’re searching for tools to use in your work, visit We Rise: Movement Building Reimagined, an online resource where you’ll find a wide range of tools available for download on various topics.
As always, we invite you to connect with us on social media and engage in conversation about the insights that resonate with your own experiences and contexts.