On April 21st, 15 women activist leaders who are driving the Our Bodies, Our Lives Campaign met with Malawian parliamentarians to put positive women’s issues front and centre on the national HIV/AIDS agenda including the need for comprehensive treatment literacy. The campaign leaders also gave voice to the need for universal access to antiretroviral treatment and healthcare and resources that ensure Malawians have the means to adhere to their treatment regimens. This was a powerful opportunity for the campaign to help shape the critical Malawi HIV and AIDS Management Bill, and push government representatives to prioritise HIV and AIDS financing as per constitutional guidelines. Hopeful for the future, Sibongile Singini of MANERELA+ (who convened the meeting as part of the JASS partnership) says, “I am excited about the commitment from the parliamentarians. They are willing to act with us and to let us set the agenda. Nationally and at district level, they have promised that they are here and will listen to us.”

“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. “But there’s a link—what we see in our families is linked to culture, tradition, the state. We need to go back and teach women this, then we start from ourselves, our families, our communities and then our country.” 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. 

JASS' Executive Director's hometown of Santa Fe, New Mexico, signed a proclamation declaring October 18th JASS Day. In celebration, our Santa Fe friends and family—Marg VeneKlasen, Marilyn Bane, Kayle Higinbotham, and Laura Jeffers—hosted the first-ever Women Crossing the Line Symposium and Reception. Lisa, Daysi Flores, and Marusia Lopez addressed a welcoming crowd of more than 50 Santa Fe-ers, eager to support and learn more about JASS’ work to ensure the safety of women activists in Mexico and Central America.

The Our Bodies, Our Lives Campaign for Better ARVs has grown from strength to strength since its inception in 2012. JASS Southern Africa gathered over 18 Malawian partners and allies to reflect on three years of organizing alongside the women activist leaders who drive the campaign within their communities by standing up and speaking out for alternative ARVs, better healthcare and the resources to sustain their lives and livelihoods. For the women, the tangible fruits of this campaign and more than a decade of HIV-AIDS organizing are a strong marker that a movement is not built by one organization but through the learning, sharing, exchange and collaboration of many.

Over 40 women activist leaders came together to blow the lid open on sex, sexuality, power, and the silence and stigma around pleasure and women’s bodies at 2 regional Malawi Feminist Movement Builders Schools in the northern and central regions of the country.

November 2013- US Congresswoman Michelle Grisham (D-NM) and the Mesoamerican Working Group (MAWG) hosted a congressional briefing on US policies that are militarizing Mesoamerica. Panel featured: Laura Carlsen, CIP Americas, Javier Sicilia, Mexico's Movement for Peace with Justice & Dignity, Claudia Samayoa, UDEFEGUA and Alex Main, CEPR. Recommendations were based on MAWG's work with local groups in Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala, and aimed to make their voices visible. 

Thirty women activists met at the JASS Malawi Feminist Movement Builders School to dig deep into feminist analysis, principles and practice. For one woman activist leader, the school embodied, ‘revolutionary change, I know that this change begins with me and if I work with my sisters, we can make a better world.’

On September 20, 2013 The Elliot School of George Washington University held a panel discussion on the concept of "Disruption" and what that means in the context of women's movements, past and present in the shift to move beyond gender mainstreaming. JASS Director Lisa VeneKlasen and Board co-Chair Srilatha Batliwala were invited to speak alongside Aruna Rao and Joanne Sandler from Gender at Work and Alivelu Ramisetty, Gender Advisor for Oxfam America. Listen to the audio of the event! 

From June 17-18, twenty-five Southeast Asian researchers, human rights advocates, grassroots leaders, and activists came together for a conversation about the changing context in Southeast Asia and its impact on women, women’s rights and women’s activism.  

Over 250 women activists from across the continent gathered in Lilongwe, Malawi in September 2013 to forge a new path in women’s leadership. The Women Steering Innovative Leadership in Africa Conference was an exciting space for exploding traditional notions of women’s activism and leadership, linking women across generations and contexts to think about leadership for transformation.