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Global Dialogue 1: No movements, no power: Feminist Movement Building at the Heart of Reclaiming Democracy

Movements and movement formations need strengthening in a global climate of authoritarian resurgence that overtly disregards human rights and democratic institutions, populist right wing and fundamentalist mobilizations, and economic and climate instability – all of which set the stage for increasing violence and repression. The technocratic and often paternalistic focus of international development, alongside the NGO-ization of social change work, have both contributed to the “projectization”, and some would say, delegitimization of movement work.

Many civil society sectors and donors are still looking for quick fixes and don’t really understand the deeper work that movement strengthening requires. We are seeing the erosion of FPE as a practice. Practitioners are dispersed and with them important tools and learnings developed over decades. In that sense, FPE sits at the heart of JASS’ Feminist Movement Building approach and methodology to build the creative, vibrant and strong movements needed to turn the tide.

Movements are (and always have been) vital for opening/creating the political space needed for the change we seek, especially at a time of backlash, authoritarian consolidation and rejection of democracy and human rights. There is an essential link between FPE and long term power building / movement strengthening – it is the basis for aligned, bold and strategic cross movement leadership and collaboration. FPE creates the space for deeper critical thinking, critical consciousness, unlearning/learning oppressive patterns and developing new thinking, cultivation of relationships and strategic collaboration, discovering avenues for action from local to global, etc – all necessary as a solution to the challenges we are facing currently – but also historically.

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Hope Chigudu

Hope is an uncontainable feminist activist with decades of experience in feminist movement building and feminist
leadership development, considering her homes both Uganda and Zimbabwe. Co-founder of the Zimbabwe Women’s Resource Centre and Network and also rubbed shoulders with the
founder of Just Associates (JASS), Hope has served on the boards of the Global Fund for Women, Urgent Action Fund-Africa, Global Fund for Community Foundation, and Oxfam SA, and now serves on the board of Practical Action.

Mariela Arce Andrade

Panamanian educator, economist, public policy planner and researcher in political advocacy for women’s public policies, methodological trainings in feminist popular education, and citizen consultations at
national and regional level. Since 1980, together with other social activists, she has founded forums for education and human rights at the national and Latin American level. She is former Director of the
Panamanian Center for Studies and Social Action – CEASPA- (1996-2000), founder and co-coordinator of the Citizens’ Initiative Cuidemos a Panamá – CAP and founding member of several human rights organizations in Latin America. She is currently part of the team that designs and facilitates the JASS Women’s Strategic Leadership Schools in Mesoamerica.

Richa Nagar

Richa Nagar’s scholarship and creative work in English and Hindustani has evolved across the borders of India, the U.S., and Tanzania. An anti-disciplinary border-crosser, she agitates stabilized ways of knowing and telling through collective creativity while engaging questions of ethics, responsibility, and justice. At the University of Minnesota, she has held the Bennett Chair in Excellence, the Fink Chair in Liberal Arts, and the honorific title of Professor of the College, alongside affiliations with Feminist Studies, Geography, Theatre, Asian & Middle Eastern Studies, American Studies, Institute on the Environment, and Interdisciplinary Center for the Study of Global Change. She holds honorary appointments in Politics at York University in Toronto, Gender Studies at Kadir Has University in Istanbul, and Sociology at Savitribai Phule Pune University.

Jojo Guan

Mary Joan (Jojo) Guan is a long-time human rights and women’s rights activist. She is the former executive director of a non-profit non-government organization based in Quezon City, the Philippines, the Center for Women’s Resources (CWR). It was during her leadership that CWR has linked with JASS, which has been sustained for 15 years now. She is formerly the chairperson of the Board of the Children’s Rehabilitation Center, a service institution for children affected by war trauma and abuses in the Philippines. At the moment, she serves as a board member of CWR, as well as Lila Pilipina, a women’s organization campaigning for the rights of comfort women victimized during World War II. She is also the newest board member of JASS.

Kunthea Chan

Kunthea is a feminist popular educator committed to a just society for all. Currently, she is working with Thousand Currents as the Tactical Program Manager for Asia and The Pacific. Before joining Thousand Currents, she worked with a local organization for eight years and a global feminist movement support organization, JASS-Just Associates for more than 11 years, where she contributed to the organization’s development and shaped strategy. Kunthea has played various leadership roles in the organization using an intersectional approach to support women’s leadership. She supported organizing strategies in trade unions of garment workers, LBT groups, Indigenous and rural women, and young feminists.

Laura Zúñiga

Laura Zúniga Cáceres is from La Esperanza, Intibucá, Honduras. Since a teenager she’s participated in youth, communication and popular education spaces in her community. After the coup d’état in Honduras, she migrated to Argentina where she participated in youth and feminist movements and spaces for popular education. Laura received the Human Rights Award of the Spanish Lawyers – XXI Edition, and was named Human Rights Champion by the UN in the framework of the ‘Defend today’ campaign. Currently living in La Esperanza, she works as a popular feminist educator with JASS Mesoamerica.

Shereen Essof, moderator

Shereen is a Zimbabwean feminist, activist, popular educator, academic and JASS Executive Director since 2020. Shereen’s work is grounded in her engagement with women in trade unions, social movements, and community-based organizations. Shereen has published widely on feminism, women’s movements, and social movement organizing in journals in South Africa and internationally.

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