1,800 feminist activists from 130 countries: AWID Forum

Chiara Capraro | Sep 09, 2016
Chiara Capraro on panel at AWID forum

Our new Policy Manager for Women's Economic Rights, Chiara Capraro, blogs about day 1 at the AWID (Association for Women's Rights in Development) Forum in Brazil, 8-11 September. The forum brings together the global, feminist movement to build collective power for rights and justice. 

The long journey to the AWID forum has started in the best possible way: meeting fellow sleepy feminists on the 6am flight to Lisbon. A long journey to Salvador but absolutely worth it, we are in the beautiful setting of Costa del Sauipe, a resort in a protected area. 1,800 activists from 130 countries are coming together for 4 days to co-create feminist futures, care and learn from each other.

We started with a plenary yesterday where we heard about the dire state of our world today: an out of control climate crisis which is literally wiping our Pacific sisters off the face of the planet; the persecution of diversity on the basis of gender, sexuality and belief; the commodification of nature and lives sacrificed in an endless quest for profit; the backlash against women's rights and their autonomy, an ironic repercussion of how far we have come.

Lived experiences

We heard the powerful declaration of our black sisters, from their black feminist forum, a powerful call to fight injustice, racism and all oppressions that are killing black women and men.

I was really impressed by the caliber of people speaking; this is like no other international conference. People are speaking from lived experiences of fighting for their rights and their lives, of ending up in prison, of having friends murdered because of who they are.

I felt personally challenged since much of my privilege was laid bare against the structural injustices which were exposed. What does it mean to be a white, northern feminist working in a development institution, how can we stand in true solidarity with others, how can we challenge structures of power when we are so deeply embedded in them, to the point that we depend on the status quo? All these questions are buzzing in my head as I go through these 4 days.

Our first event 

Yesterday afternoon was also time for our first session on macroeconomics and gender justice in partnership with Gender and Development Network, Christian Aid and Bretton Woods Project. Despite being in the last slot of a hectic first day, we had an attendance of about 50 people and an engaging Q&A session with our panel: Patricia Miranda from Fundación Jubileo, Dinah Musindarzewo from FEMNET, Ana Tallada from Latindadd and Emma Burgisser from Bretton Woods Project.

There was broad agreement in the room that understanding macroeconomic policy is indeed feminist work but there's a huge need to demystify and translate economic speech so that we fully understand how it impacts our everyday live as individuals and as a collective of diverse women, and the opportunities and constraints we face.

We also discussed the need to develop and propose alternatives to the current model, rather than limiting ourselves to critique. And the alternatives are already nascent, from the practices of rural and indigenous communities, from the concept of buen vivir and self care, from production and consumption models that respect the boundaries of our planet.

Walking thin lines

We also discussed the discomfort we experience as feminists advocating in an environment where women's rights are instrumentalised for economic growth, of the thin lines we have to walk between progress and co-option.

It was refreshing to discuss openly about such discomfort and dilemmas. Personally, I think we need more of this as more and more institutions up their rhetoric on gender equality, while at the same time promoting an economic model which has been proven lethal to people and planet.

Stay tuned for more updates from #AWIDForum and follow it live on Twitter

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