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Alquimia: Feminist Popular Education School

Alquimia seeks to challenge and transform aspects of power that marginalize, demean and threaten women and their communities.

As JASS Mesoamerica’s learning and education initiative, Alquimia integrates leadership training, research and knowledge generation to strengthen feminist movement building. Part of Alquimia’s magic and dynamism – alchemy in English – lies in its nature and origins. The regional initiative emerges from the wisdom and expertise of JASS’ Latin American founders and international community – women who have worked together through moments of revolution, reform and resistance. Building on principles of feminist popular education, JASS supports regional collective processes of reflection, critical thinking, organizing and action.

By retooling and supporting activist leaders and producing cutting edge analysis and how-tos, Alquimia seeks to challenge and transform aspects of power that marginalize, demean and threaten women and their communities. Throughout the region, legislative and political gains won by women over the years are facing unprecedented backlash and violence. Yet women continue to resist, forging alternatives and inspiring hope.

Building Movements: Alquimia in action

Today’s political challenges demand different kinds of feminist leaders who are activists, educators and organizers. Their success is measured by their ability to mediate and bridge differences and convene, build and organize women, communities and networks; their abilities include changing mindsets, inspiring solidarity, and putting democratic values into practice. Effective feminist leaders fully understand and navigate the current power dynamics that endanger women’s lives and threaten policy advances. By combing three key elements – training, learning and knowledge-generation – Alquimia aims to:

  • Strengthen women’s political analysis, skills, information and strategies through learning linked to action – grounded in feminist theory, power and conflict analyses, and human rights;
  • Generate new knowledge from practice about innovative, democratic forms of capacity building, organizing, political action and leadership that draw on women’s experiences.

Leadership Training for Organizing & Action

Alquimia serves a rich diversity of Mesoamerican women across ethnicities, movements, organizations and generations. JASS convenes workshops and exchanges of diverse women activists to strengthen personal and collective leadership skills and develop tools and strategies. Our participants include: popular educators, organizers, human rights defenders, academics, as well as community, movement and NGO leaders. Based on the principles of feminist popular education, our approaches are participatory, problem posing and action-oriented. Most importantly, they are focused on cultivating a collective and personal analysis of power and its links to strategy, action and theory. Alquimia’s leadership training draws from and contributes to similar Mesoamerican education and learning processes as well as those developed by JASS colleagues in Africa and Asia.

Our work has focused on extending and strengthening the use of traditional and alternative communications and media tools from radio to social media. JASS trainings include the importance of accessing international, regional and national conventions on the rights of indigenous peoples and those concerning women, such as the UN CEDAW. In addition, they celebrate women’s rights struggles and examine political lessons from those struggles through JASS’ Mural of Ancestors.

Indigenous and Rural Women Leaders

JASS has tailored learning and training efforts to address the violence and discrimination faced by indigenous and rural women as they lead struggles for land, water, and community rights. Responding to the immediate needs and risks unique to these leaders, JASS’ workshops, exchanges and meetings provide them with the space to develop strategic common agendas and actions.

Knowledge & Learning

Alquimia seeks to generate new knowledge and learning that strengthens activists and movements committed to equality, justice, solidarity, and respect for nature. Shaped by power dynamics and contextual factors, feminist knowledge and research reflects this mix of values and ethical principles. We build on participatory processes that produce cutting-edge analysis and publications based on and for women’s activism.

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