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An Intro to Feminist Movement Building

An Introduction to Activism & Feminist Movement Building

Amina Doherty

on 19 September 2013

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Transcript of An Intro to Feminist Movement Building

Feminist Activism & Movement Building 101
Ideas to consider....
> As activists, what are we trying to achieve? What are our goals? What outcomes? How do we know we've been successful? What are our measures of success?

> What strategies/processes are we using? How are activist groups structured? How are power relations handled? Who makes decisions etc.
Working Definition
An activist (for justice) is someone who cares deeply about injustice, inequality and/or the wellbeing of others and the planet, and who takes or organizes political action with others and is driven by a belief in an alternative, and the hope and conviction that a better world is possible.
~ Feminist Movement Builders Dictionary, Just Associates (JASS)
Who is an Activist?
Do you consider yourself to be an Activist
Why/Why not?
What is Activism?
Activism in Social Movements
"Not all activism takes place in social movements, however all social movements are by definition ‘activist’ in that they aim to change something in the social order. In general the concept of movement-based activism implies that there is a popular / collective base involved in the activism being discussed."
~ Fahamu, MBBC Platform
What is a Movement?
What words/ideas come to mind?
what makes a movement?

"A movement is an organised set of constituents, pursuing a common political agenda of change
through collective action”
~ Srilatha Batliwala, AWID (2008)

(membership base, people you are fighting ‘for’/with, individual and institutional allies)
(shared concern about & common analysis on how to change it)
(various scale, formal and informal, targeting various forms of power)
(pursued over time, not a one-off event, diff. strategies)

What is 'Feminist' Movement Building?
Source: Fahamu, MBBC
Movements ...
Are made up of a range of different actors
Emerge out of particular circumstances (social, political economic crises)
Rely on a range of resources to sustain and support activities. Resources can be both financial and non financial (i.e. space, membership etc).
Have different kinds of leadership (Individuals, collective and so on...
Caribbean Social Movements
1. Identify an example of a movement related to people in your country/the region
2. What does the movement aim to achieve? What is political agenda?
3. Who is involved in key movement work (e.g. organisations, support groups, sections of the media, general public, academics, artists etc) -- be as specific as possible.
4. What kinds of activities the movement has engaged in and for how long.

Feminist Movements
Gendered political goals
- they seek a change that privileges women’s interests and that transforms both gender and social power relations
Gendered strategies
– that build on women’s own strategies and capacities, and involve women members at every stage of the process
An agenda built from
gendered analyses
of the problem or situation they are seeking to change
Feminist activists involved in movement building are therefore concerned with all three
Building women’s activist citizenship:
- leveraging power of numbers
= sustained pressure & demand

Fresh worldviews & alternatives:
changing hearts & minds
care for women’s spirits

Source: Srilatha Batliwala, 2008
Small Group Exercise...
Think about the context in which you are working, identify the “stage” of a movement you know or are part of;
Make a “perfect world” plan for taking this movement to the next stage of maturity; do this by identifying:
The next three steps you would take
The challenges that could arise
How these could be handled
The changes in the movement’s organizational and decision-making structure

Feminism is....
...that advocates the transformation of all social relations of power that oppress, exploit, or marginalize any set of people, women and men, on the basis of their gender, age, sexual orientation, ability, race, religion, nationality, location, ability, class, caste, or ethnicity

An analytical FRAMEWORK
that allows us to expand (and challenge) our thinking about the concepts of Patriarchy (the social order of male rights and
privilege) and Gender (the socially constructed differences of power, privilege, and norms between men and women)

A social change STRATEGY
that critiques and transforms the approaches and strategies of social movements and social change organizations (e.g. gender- disaggregated data did not exist before the 1970s)
Feminism is not....
- Against men, but against all systems and ideologies of male privilege

- Against children, but for women’s right of choice and control over their reproductive lives (including the right to choose NOT to bear children)

- Against heterosexual relationships! It is for women’s – and men’s – right to choose their sexual orientation and to express their sexuality

- Against families, but for the creation of diverse intimate spheres that are not oppressive

- Not a western import! Feminist struggles have existed in all parts of the world...
Source: Srilatha Batliwala, 2012
Movements in Construction
Mobilization, awareness and identity building
Movements in the making
Political consciousness and issues/identification
Preliminary political agenda
Tentative actions for change
Nascent constituency-based leadership
Higher dependence on support organization
Emerging Movements
Steady and sustained base
Higher political consciousness and evolving organizational structure
Longer-term political agenda and change strategies
Internal leadership and decision-making structures and systems
Relationships with growing range of allies
Greater autonomy
Increasing (visible) impacts on society, discourses, policy, law, community etc
Mature Movements
Strong and sustained membership base consciously identifying with the movement
Strong autonomous organisational and governance structure
Extensive and deep leadership
sophisticated analysis, strategies and political acumen
high/measurable impact on state and non-state actors, community...
strategic alliances and adversaries
Stages of Movement Growth

Continuum of Movement Development
Source: Srilatha Batliwala, 2008
1. Imagine and Inspire (Who/What)
2. Found and Frame (Theory of Change)
3. Ground and Grow (Mobilise)
4. Struggle and Learn (Engage)
5. Review and Renew (Learn)
Clusters of NGO's do NOT make a movement!
So what then is 'Movement Building'?
"Organizing and nurturing the collective power of people united across many differences by a common cause for social and political change"
~ Lisa VeneKlasen
Why Social Justice Movements?
Why Now?

"We are living in a fierce new world where social contracts are being broken, where new players are emerging, but old ones are not willing to give up. The definitions and meanings of development are being fought over from who is being appointed at the IMF and the World Bank to what the G20 decides. There has been growing inequality with enormous increases between and within countries during the last two decades. There is a viciousness that these increases in inequality have given rise to, and is very much part of this, fierce new world: whether it is what happened to young Trayvon Martin in the United States, or the ongoing atrocities against Dalits in India, the killing of LGBT activists in different parts of the world, the backlash against migrants. This kind of viciousness is part of this fierce new world. And it is the context of our struggle to see how we can go forward from here." ~ Gita Sen (DAWN)
Feminist Movements and Change
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