“The unfulfilled promise of women’s equality cannot be realized without mobilizing the power of women’s voices, knowledge and numbers for sustained pressure and influence on policies, institutions and social norms. With growing backlash and violence today, organizing women is also about using women’s organizing power for self-defense, and for protecting activists and their organizations.”
– JASS Annual Report, 2012
JASS’ theory of change is built on the belief that achieving fundamental and lasting change in women’s lives is only possible when women have the collective power and agency to change policies, institutions and social norms that perpetuate inequality, discrimination, violence and environmental destruction. To this end, JASS equips and accompanies community based women activists, organizations and networks to build the organized power and capacity to lead fundamental change in their contexts. This work, which we call feminist movement building, integrates the development of effective movement leadership, strategic and cross-movement alliances and impactful organizing and advocacy strategies.
JASS understands that women’s lives sit at the cross section of inequality, violence and power and are shaped by the experiences of exclusion, exploitation, and oppression (power over) in every area of their lives. Our movement building work, anchored in deep feminist popular education, is designed to enable women to build transformative forms of power (power within, power to and power with) to create fundamental change. See JASS’ power analysis.
Our vision of transformation is built on challenging and changing power relationships and structures from those in social and political institutions, to those held in the hearts, minds and day-to-day interactions of both men and women. This cannot be achieved solely by tinkering at the edges of laws or policies or by getting a few more resources into women’s hands, or by gender mainstreaming or any other instrumental ‘magic-bullet’ approaches. The social transformation we seek depends on strategic and sustained interventions that center what women know and want, a sharp analysis of power and context, and a powerful vision for change that we both create and demand. These enable us to create a world of individual and collective freedom, equality, and justice.
Feminist Movement Building work includes three interrelated change strategies: building, mobilizing, and transforming power.
Building power is about raising women’s awareness and sense of self. Our feminist popular education and sustained political accompaniment equip women with the knowledge, skills and capacity they need to build critical consciousness, collective leadership, common agendas and collective strategies for action. Our power analysis framework enables them to critically examine the context and build positive forms of power that enable women to challenge and change those dynamics. Our reach is increased as women use their new skills to organize and educate others, creating a ripple effect of change in their communities. Because we know that confronting entrenched power can increase risk and violence, we also strengthen strategies for collective activist safety and protection.
Organizing and mobilizing power is about amplifying women’s leadership and feminist perspectives across movements.
To enhance women’s political and social impact and increase their safety as activists, we catalyze and accompany cross-movement collaborations and alliances at local, national, regional, and global levels. We convene cross-movement dialogues and exchanges with diverse allies, centering feminist perspectives and JASS’ power analysis framework to build collective agendas and forge solidarity as a basis for collective action and advocacy. This contributes to stronger country-level, regional and global alliances that center gender justice and support feminist agendas and women’s movement building.
Transforming power is about impacting policies, ideas, and funding on social, economic, and environmental justice.
JASS supports the women and allies we work with to agree on their demands, use the power analysis to identify power holders, collect evidence and define creative, effective tactics for strategic advocacy and engagement. This results in women having increased access and control over resources, impacts on decision making and the ability to gain and sustain implementation of laws and policies which eliminate discrimination and violence.
To amplify women-led solutions, JASS uses its access and platforms to enable women to share their experiences, demands and solutions and to promote narratives of gender equality, inclusion, and diversity. This leads to women’s leadership being more visible, increased public support for women’s agendas and intolerance for discrimination and violence.
To influence how other development actors and power holders think about and practice social change work, JASS acts as a key thought leader, capturing learnings from practice and sharing insights and analysis. This contributes to shaping the thinking, practices and resource allocation among human rights, social change, and development organizations so that they more explicitly support feminist movement- building and activist strategies for protection.