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Feminist Popular Education

Popular education is a participatory approach to political learning where people critically examine their lives, contexts, and the issues that matter most to them to develop and shape relevant strategies for action.

JASS’ approach to feminist movement building has feminist popular education (FPE) as the foundation for critical consciousness, feminist movement leadership, power analysis, alliance building and strategy development. FPE recognizes the need to address the power dynamics of gender, race, and sexuality that silence and exclude our bodies and our “personal” lives as part of the story of oppression and liberation to give rise to genuinely transformative strategies for everyone. We draw on the thinking of Paulo Freire, Myles Horton, Malena de Montis, Mariela Arce de Leis, Marcos Arruda, Ella Baker, and others.

JASS political facilitators apply the same core principles in every region:

Create a safe space of trust and solidarity

Start with the concrete experiences of women’s daily lives

Use stories, art, theater, and other ways to generate open-ended questions that promote critical and creative thinking and deepen understanding about power

Promote learning by doing, connecting to concrete problems and practical solutions

Prioritize reflection, dialogue, and action as the primary way to learn

Recognize the need to challenge assumptions and probe alternatives

Share information and terms that enable participants to name what they are experiencing and identify the global forces behind the local and personal

Tap women’s sense of hope, inspiration, and joy

Provide time for self-care and personal renewal

Over the last 12 years, JASS has brought its tools and methodology to dozens of movement building schools, cross movement dialogues, and other movement spaces. As a result, FPE has trained thousands of women to be strong and effective leaders and catalyzed many feminist networks and cross-issue alliances among diverse people and organizations. These include:

The Mesoamerican Women Human Rights Defenders Initiative – a regional network recognized by many including receiving the 2014 Letelier-Moffitt International Award for Human Rights for its innovative work supporting the safety of over 900 women human rights defenders at-risk.

Young Women Activists’ Forum of Indonesia (FAMM-Indonesia), 350+ diverse and young women fighting fundamentalisms.

Our Bodies, Our Lives – an 8000-women-led initiative for quality equitable HIV treatment in Malawi.

Stronger women’s leadership in cross movement spaces (e.g. with indigenous women land defenders in our Mesoamerican Alquimia Schools, in regional convenings on rethinking protection from a movement perspective, and in work with Cambodian women garment workers).

In 2019, JASS launched Feminist Movement Building (FMB) 3.0, a bold five-year initiative aimed at building and activating stronger movement infrastructure, strengthening and sharing our political education curricula and growing the political facilitation capacity within JASS and with women activists in each region. By 2024, together with our partners, we will have created a skilled and interconnected network of 3,000 grassroots movement leaders who are organizing thousands, forging and mobilizing alliances, and building the solutions we need to tackle the challenges before us and withstand the inevitable backlash and repression.

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