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I tider av alternativa fakta och subjektiva tolkningar av verkligheten är det viktigare än någonsin att vi hittar mötesplatser där akademin och civilsamhället möts och utbyter kunskap så att vi tillsammans skapar bättre förutsättningar och livsvillkor för kvinnor och män. GADIP är en sådan mötesplats! Vi arrangerar seminarier, workshops och filmvisningar som på olika sätt lyfter fram aktuella globala samhällsfrågor med ett genusperspektiv. Alla som är intresserade av dessa frågor är varmt välkomna att bli medlemmar i GADIP och att delta i våra aktiviteter som oftast är avgiftsfria.

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Annonser

Sobre el 14 EFLAC 2017 Montevideo 22-25 noviembre, Diversas pero no Dispersas: apuntes y reflexiones

Por Edmé Domínguez R., GADIP (Gender and Development in Practice) y Escuela de Estudios Globales, Universidad de Gotemburgo, Suecia.

Click here for english.

Este 14º Encuentro, al igual que el anterior en Lima está enmarcado dentro de la tradición general de los encuentros feministas que han tenido lugar desde 1981 en América Latina. Estos foros son los medidores del estado y la consolidación o fragmentación de este movimiento, de sus éxitos y reveses. En estas reuniones participan los movimientos feministas de base que luchan por los derechos de la mujer, desde diferentes perspectivas y enfoques. Más que la elaboración de estrategias comunes estos foros tienen como objetivo, eso, el encontrarse, el dialogar, el realizar un reconocimiento de su evolución en los diferentes sectores y temas, entre las diferentes perspectivas y puntos de vista incluso opuestos. Se trata de la creación de espacios de discusión, conocimiento y reconocimiento, de encuentro y re-encuentros, de creación o recreación de redes que compartan información y conocimiento. Reuniones para recargar energía y seguir resistiendo. Sobre todo en estos tiempos de reveses, de ‘backlash’, de luchas para sostener lo ganado, lo alcanzado hasta ahora. Y éste fue uno de los temas dominantes del 14º Encuentro: Diversas pero no Dispersas, decidir el cómo reconocer esta diversidad sin perder la cohesión del movimiento (s).

Cada país o movimiento organizador decide el programa y la forma de organizar la reunión. El 14º Encuentro abrió con una inauguración poco común. En lugar de discursos y bienvenidas (más allá de la enumeración de los países representados y de constatar que éramos poco más de 2000 el número de participantes) por parte de las organizadoras o ‘feministas históricas’ del lugar del Encuentro, la Asamblea inaugural fue dirigida por una actriz que aparte de amena nos presentó una pequeña obra de teatro un tanto inesperada pero muy bien realizada alrededor de la ‘conversión al feminismo’, la toma de conciencia de la opresión de género. Ya no habría otra plenaria sino hasta la clausura, a diferencia de Lima en 2014 donde hubo plenarias a diario además de talleres y seminarios. En Uruguay se procedió a base de ‘Asambleas’ por las mañanas y ‘Actividades autogestionadas’ por las tardes. Cada ‘asamblea’ trataría temas muy generales, como ‘Cuerpos, subjetividad y derechos’ o ‘Violencias de género, ni una menos’ o ‘Desafíos y perspectivas de la Economía Feminista’ mientras que por la tarde las actividades autogestionadas se darían en forma de talleres o charlas y discusiones o ‘performances’ en torno a temas más concretos como ‘transformar la economía para realizar los derechos’; ‘territorios en disputa, resistencias feministas’; ‘el cuerpo como territorio en construcción’; ‘el amor cura, núcleo de mujeres negras’; ‘jóvenes indígenas y feministas mirando al futuro: reflexiones interculturales´ y muchas muchas más.

Como siempre, fueron muchos los temas tratados pero dos de ellos dominaron las reuniones: la violencia de género (‘Ni una menos’) y los reveses o amenazas de reveses a las conquistas ganadas, en mucho asociados a los reveses a los gobiernos de izquierda en la región y a las reacciones de los grupos de derechas más conservadores. Casi todas las asambleas y talleres autogestionados tocaron o fueron tocados en mayor o menor medida por estos temas.

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Era imposible estar en todos los eventos o presenciar todas las discusiones, había que elegir y yo me incliné por las cuestiones económicas. Dada la diversidad de temas tocados en estas asambleas y talleres es mejor mencionarlos en base al documento que presentó las conclusiones de esta asamblea, una reflexión basada en 10 puntos cardinales:

  1. 1.El trabajo, no solo en torno a la precariedad que se expande sino también como fuente de empoderamiento (problematizando el hecho de que el trabajo en sí empodere: “No cualquier trabajo remunerado implica mayor autonomía”), como vía de entrada al sindicalismo (con los retos que esto implica), su relación con el trabajo reproductivo y el cómo lograr que el estado se haga cargo de estas tareas, la lucha por el reconocimiento de los derechos laborales de sectores como las trabajadoras domésticas pero también de las trabajadoras sexuales (aunque aquí se anotó: incluyendo alternativas laborales para las que quieren dejarlo).
    1. El cómo las políticas macroeconómicas internacionales (incluyendo los tratados de libre comercio) impactan en la vida de las mujeres en general a nivel de derechos laborales, patrones de consumo, las patentes de medicina y alimentos, el Big Data y el comercio digital. El cómo reemplazar al mercado por la vida como centro del debate económico mundial, escogiendo los foros donde debatir.
    2. El cómo problematizar los conceptos de pobreza, desarrollo, desigualdad y prestaciones sociales. En torno a la primera, el cómo buscar soluciones amplias y no solo limitadas a políticas de transferencias o emprendimientos, el verla como consecuencia lógica de los patrones de desarrollo y desde una perspectiva interseccional de raza, edad, clase, género. Esto se enlaza con la desaparición de prestaciones sociales (maternidad, pensiones…) y los niveles de endeudamiento usurero que sume a las mujeres que intentan cubrir necesidades básicas para sus familias.

    4-5. El cómo las brechas económicas de acceso a la riqueza, la propiedad y los recursos se entrecruzan con identidad de género, clase, raza y etnicidad, recreando desigualdades y exclusiones. Esto fue sumamente enfatizado en relación a las mujeres negras e indígenas en su situación económica y social pero también a nivel de salud (seguridad alimentaria y nutricional) y cultura.

    1. Presupuestos nacionales y políticas de ingreso donde se cuestionan estos presupuestos como parte de políticas públicas insuficientes cuyas reformas fiscales no han hecho sino acrecentar las brechas.
    2. El cómo fortalecer los lazos entre feministas de la academia y el activismo con la creación de espacios, la construcción de una red de economía feminista ya que “La economía feminista no es sólo un tema de economistas, es de todas”.
    3. El cómo promover programas educativos que desarrollen la igualdad de género a la par de impulsar procesos de alfabetización económica para todas las mujeres de base.
    4. El cómo los reveses en los regímenes democráticos se asocian con los reveses en las conquistas de género y en los incrementos de la violencia así como con el fortalecimiento del patriarcado.
    5. La cuestión de alternativas al modelo económico: generación de economías autónomas basadas en la cooperación, solidaridad, agroecología feminista, modelos de intercambio con valor humano, sostenibles y sustentables con los recursos naturales. Modelos que le devuelvan al gobierno local recursos y poder, donde la propiedad intelectual no amenace los saberes de las mujeres y donde no se gaste en armas o conflictos sino en la sustentabilidad de la vida.

A estos temas se podrían agregar los de la economía informal (la cuestión del micro-empleo y el autoempleo) y subrayar que la perspectiva de género en la cuestión de libre comercio y en la de los abusos de las corporaciones transnacionales tuvo varios ‘talleres autogestionados’ ligados a las actividades planeadas en torno a la ministerial de la OMC (Organización Mundial de Comercio) en diciembre 2017 en Buenos Aires.

 

Otras áreas de discusión a las que pude asistir trataron de las experiencias de desarrollo de estudios de género en la academia, sus éxitos y retrocesos, su vínculo con el activismo; de las experiencias de participación política en partidos y elecciones (con ejemplos muy concretos del lanzamiento de candidaturas feministas a la ‘constituyente’ de la Cd de México, la lucha por estos espacios electorales dentro de los partidos en Brasil, los logros y reveses en Chile entre muchos otros), las luchas de la mujeres indígenas jóvenes por conseguir espacios de acción dentro de sus movimientos y  de los movimientos feministas, etc. Los temas del aborto, sexualidad y control del cuerpo siguieron dominando los foros generales. Una novedad con respecto a Lima, casi todas estas asambleas y talleres eran acompañadas de dinámicas de ejercicios físicos en grupo, en forma de gimnasia, danza o movimientos rítmicos antes o después de las sesiones, lo que le inyectaba más energía a las discusiones.

Por otra parte vale la pena hacer notar una diferencia muy marcada con el Encuentro de 2014: la falta de asistencia de esa enorme cantidad de mujeres indígenas que desfilaban con esos bellísimos trajes en Lima en todos los talleres y plenarias. Lima estaba en el centro de la América andina y era naturalmente más fácil asistir que a la distante Montevideo donde la presencia de las activistas indígenas sí se dio pero en escala muy limitada. Un poco compensando esta ausencia lo que sí se dio en Montevideo fue una enorme presencia brasileña.

De forma inevitable en un movimiento tan amplio, las tensiones siempre existentes dentro de estos foros, resurgieron de una forma u otra: el trabajo sexual como ‘trabajo legítimo’ digno de derechos laborales-sindicales o como forma de explotación a ser eliminado, la intersección de explotaciones que hacen a las mujeres de clase media de alguna manera cómplices del sistema de explotación y discriminación de clase, raza y etnia, los conflictos de estrategia que siguen fomentando la brecha entre ‘autonomía activista’ y ‘feministas institucionalizadas’ (en NGOs o instituciones estatales) y de forma menos dramática pero aún así latente el de la falta de cooperación sistemática entre la academia y el activismo.

La logística del Encuentro reflejó un enorme trabajo con grandes ambiciones. El que todas las sesiones, foros y asambleas hayan sido en el mismo lugar ayudó mucho a la cohesión del Encuentro, las comidas, de buena calidad, fueron todo un logro de organización y logística, el programa cultural fue excelente, variado y rico en experiencias. Hubo además una exhibición de la historia del movimiento y los Encuentros muy bien documentada y presentada aunque desafortunadamente haya pasado desapercibida para muchas dada su localización y la poca difusión que tuvo desde el principio.

Por último, la plenaria de clausura quiso retomar las conclusiones de todas las asambleas, esfuerzo titánico y casi imposible pero sí logró ser un buen reflejo de la diversidad de estos Encuentros. No fue solo la presentación temática sino también orgánica del movimiento: grupos de mujeres indígenas, de mujeres negras, de mujeres transexuales, de mujeres homosexuales, de trabajadoras sexuales, etc. Todas ellas con sus banderas, sus pronunciamientos, sus lemas y su alegría eufórica de estar juntas, de reconocerse y ser reconocidas como parte del movimiento. Toda una fiesta de colores, música y diversidades. Hubo también un sketch cultural y satírico y al final la inevitable discusión de la próxima sede del Encuentro. Y como en Lima, la elección no fue fácil. La única candidatura consensuada entre sus miembras fue la de Argentina pero no se logró mayoría al respecto ya que otras participantes se inclinaban más por el Caribe: ¿República Dominicana? O incluso Centroamérica: ¿El Salvador o Costa Rica? Pero al no haber confirmación de estas candidaturas se optó por esperar varios meses por la respuesta dominicana y posponer la decisión hasta entonces. La búsqueda de la representación de la diversidad que caracteriza al movimiento me parece se esconde detrás de esta elección de sedes.

Finalmente, este Encuentro, como todos lo anteriores, refleja el momento que vive el o los movimientos feministas. La necesidad de cerrar filas para defender lo conquistado, las alianzas en contra de las violencias de género (la masiva ‘Ni una Menos’) frente a ataques cada vez más feroces de derechas conservadoras, iglesias, corporaciones. Pero también la alegría del re-encuentro, de la solidaridad, la reflexión de las experiencias, de los errores y los aciertos dentro de un respeto a la diferencia (de identidad, de opinión). Es esto lo que significó el 14º Encuentro Feminista continental: diversidad en la unión y unión en la diversidad.

Women in Diaspora – How do they meet and how are they approached in society?

Workshop October 2017

GADIP (Gender and Development in Practice) arranged a workshop with guest associations working on women’s health, violence and integration. The aim was to jointly discuss activities and experiences of working together with migrant women.
The workshop was initiated within the framework of the project The Europe We Want. It is funded by Erasmus+ and focuses on female migration and adult education.
The overarching aim of this project is to support officers in migration authorities in order to create new ways of approaching female migrants.

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Rosette E Kabandize, NargizaOzguzel , Bodil Frey, Elizabeth Franklin, Edmé Dominguez, Ulla Björnberg, Lina Lundberg, Nancy Contreras och Sara Claesson

Complementary Education for Health Workers
Patricia Olaya

Patricia Olaya
In order to strengthen employability of new arrivals who have acquired a healthcare education in their home country, the Swedish government has commissioned training programs to two hospitals in Stockholm and Gothenburg. Persons with a healthcare education from sending countries (non-EU countries) are offered complementary education and practices. Financing of the program is temporary and will last three years. Within this training program, participants also transfer knowledge to Swedish healthcare workers about typical problems and diagnoses among immigrants. This education is aiming to provide full speed learning of Swedish, since they have to reach a more complex language level as a requirement for obtaining professional accreditation.
Patricia’s role is to coordinate complementary education with Swedish language and cultural adaptation teachers in order to accelerate the learning process so the individuals can practice their profession. The complementary program duration is of two terms with three different placements and several examinations. The Unit for academic language (ASK institution) cooperates in this program.

Patricia discusses the difficulties that immigrants have to face when learning the language and finding employment. One of these difficulties is segregation, as it makes it hard for them to use the language in their everyday life and therefore forget much of it. If they do not manage to make themselves understood in the healthcare contact with the patient, they can be denied work. Another difficulty is the high segregation at the workplace, which limits a person from learning proper Swedish. Segregation is the result of prejudices of collaborators. This fact can be frustrating for immigrants that have a higher education level from their home countries but who need to practice as a nurse assistant. They feel that they are not taken seriously and they feel diminished by the Swedish society. Patricia’s ending question is whether the Swedish society is using the immigrant’s competence in a good way after the complementary education or is the complementary education just another way to test their knowledge.

Cultural Interpreters in Women’s Clinics
Elizabeth Franklin

Elizabet kulturtolkar
The hospital (NÄL) that is running this program has the goal to provide a good, safe and satisfactory healthcare for foreign-born/immigrant women. The purpose is to hire some women who can act as intercultural mediators in order to develop personalized healthcare. Cultural differences can limit personalised care. Immigrant/refugee women have experiences and life histories which can be valuable to know in connection to how they experience the healthcare and support provided. Two kinds of skills are used in the program: An intercultural interpreter that is professional and impartial but can be part of a two-party conversation and can have a personal approach to the patient. An intercultural mediator that acts both as interpreter and language support for those who have limited understanding of Swedish when in contact with the healthcare providers when they, for example, are to deliver a child. In order to increase the understanding between individuals, an important factor in cultural mediation is to think about how different concepts, metaphors, etc., can be used in the communication.

Equal Start in Life
Bodil Frey

bodil.jpg
Another project taking place is within an association for homeless, pregnant and early motherhood support to new mothers. The association started in 2012 and is a voluntary organisation financed for a three year period by the Swedish “Inheritance Fund” (Allmänna arvsfonden). Their idea is to integrate delivery services with the help of doulas as cultural interpreters. The doulas assist with translation in connection with deliveries of a child and other kinds of support. A doula differs from a professional translator since she is a professional but provides personal and continuous support. Doulas learn about the problems, fears, diagnoses and insecurities a newcomer in Sweden has. They often see a pattern of issues that migrant mothers face, such as isolation, mistrust of the Swedish society, postnatal depression, lack of support in the house hold —especially for those women that are single mothers or widows—, or lack of support from the Swedish healthcare in those cases when the woman suffers injuries after the delivery.

The doulas work at a family center where immigrant mothers are invited to attend information meetings about different support services offered; they are encouraged to seek help in their contact with different actors in the healthcare system, and parenting support so those who do not speak the language can benefit of helping actions and integrate easily. In order to help immigrant mothers in their role as new mothers and help them learn what to do when having a child, doulas make home visits too.

Teenage Mothers Empowerment Organisation
Rosette E Kabandize

Rosette
Rosette is a nurse and midwife with training in psychiatry. She migrated from Uganda in the 1990s and started the organisation in 2015 with the aim of helping young mothers reach a higher level of empowerment and independence. This is to be accomplished through counselling and help to the girls in order to widen their perspectives and seek social advice and someone to lean on. In Sweden, girls are facing different kinds of problems as isolation, they do not agree with their parents, their partners end the relationships, and many end up in need of psychiatric care. Girls from other countries who get pregnant might have been sexually abused or raped, and have a child as a result. Girls that have been exposed to this kind of traumatic experience are facing stigmatisation, guilt and isolation. They have little or no social support from authorities or family. The young mothers and their children are exposed to risks, in terms of physical, mental and social problems: they risk poverty, isolation, low self-esteem, have higher exposure to violence and other kinds of abuse.

Violence Prevention Work in Collaboration with Municipalities and Associations
Lina Lundberg

lina
Globally, prevention of violence against women and girls is now regarded as a phenomenon which must be counteracted at all possible social levels. Laws have been introduced in many countries to make violence against women illegal, but this is not enough: implementation of these laws must be enforced. There is a need to change norms and habits through education including men, women, and authorities. In Gothenburg the local government has introduced an overarching program on security, including violence prevention. The aim is to establish cooperation between the NGOs that meet the victims and the municipal institutions. On the basis of accumulated knowledge on activities for violence prevention and rehabilitation of victims, the program aims at changing norms at community level, local environment level, relationship level, and individual level. The program leader shall coordinate cooperation between the local institutions and organisations that are working with persons that have experienced violence or are at greater risk to be exposed to violence.

Social Life Enhancement Association (SYGD) in Turkey
Nargiza Ozguzel

Nargiza
Concrete examples were presented from Turkish experiences where laws are introduced to protect women but barely implemented due to social norms and attitudes. Initiatives from voluntary organisations provide knowledge through workshops in order to educate men about this issue. Nargiza represents an organisation which is providing workshops for migrant women with focus on empowerment where women are learning not only about their legal rights, psychological abuse, coping strategies, but also about which kind of support they can get from the community and state. Authorities in many cases deny help to women victims due to reluctance to accept the vulnerability of women and girls. Male cultural attitudes of rape are accepted, teenage marriages as a way to solve economic issues in families are widely applied. The media in Turkey counteract opinions that violence against women and children is a huge problem within the society. Rather, victims are often blamed for the kind of violations that they experience. Nargiza emphasises that a way to succeed is through strengthening the voices of the civil society.

Training for Labor Market in Study Circles
Sara Claesson

ABF is Sweden’s largest adult education association: Arbetarnas Bildningsförbund (Workers’ Educational Association —www.abf.se
ABF is based on a pedagogical model of learning in study circles, where participants study together and discuss amongst them. Two examples were presented. The project presented by Sara concerns the development of various programs with the aim of helping immigrants to integrate into the Swedish society. They provide activities in language training, sewing activities, and study circles. They involve the community, support immigrants with job training, and have a language café. This job training requires cooperation with the Labor Office that organises internships and job training. Sara is also working with immigrants that are illiterate and helps them get information about the Swedish community.

Work Training for Immigrant Women with Little or No Work Experience
Nancy Contreras

Nancy Contreras
The example presented by Nancy refers to women engaged in sewing and learning language at the same time. The teacher (Nancy) speaks Swedish throughout the lessons and participants learn through those who might be faster at grasping the meaning of words and finding information. They help immigrants adjust to the Swedish way of life, and create new routines. In order to avoid cultural disputes on ways of life, the teacher tries to keep the focus on human rights.
By creating with their hands, participants relax, thus improving their ability to understand language codes while learning something practical. Sewing as an activity is a language channel and a way to learn, it is also a way to empowerment and better self-esteem which can also lead to economic independence. It also helps women focus on a task and forget their everyday problems for a while, which can be a coping mechanism.

Summary and Reflections

Ulla Björnberg

Ulla Björnberg

In the workshop presenters were asked to draw on positive experiences as well as negative factors behind the development of their activities for migrant women in their organisations.
Experiences from local voluntary organisations show that interactions between the civil society and local authorities are important sources that could enlarge a knowledge base of relevance for adaptation strategies, since these local civic organisation are the ones who meet people in their everyday lives. This is about intercultural communication, about needs and conditions for support. Civil society has the advantage of being able to develop informal methods; they can gather knowledge regarding individual needs and circumstances and mediate between authorities and the individual women. The disadvantage for the civil society (voluntary workers) is, however, the unstable working conditions and the temporal financing of their activities.

The participants in the seminar recognise that institutions should be more prepared and trained on intercultural problems that can occur in contact with foreign-born individuals. Fortunately, Swedish politicians are investing a lot on developing resources for women that have been assaulted, for young parents, and for several family centres. A way forward could be a project named “Building Bridges” that is inspired by the project to end genital mutilation. The project’s purpose and goal would be to facilitate contact and cooperation between people of different ethnic backgrounds.

Experiences shared in the workshop show that language learning should involve both practical and professional issues, as well as activities to strengthen self-esteem and social mutuality. The necessity of integrating learning skills for a particular job should also take into consideration the need for self-esteem and self-confidence in such learning process. Language is about learning cultural codes and meanings, not only learning vocabulary and building sentences. Another pedagogical tool is to mix new arrivals with older arrivals who can help interpret meanings by reference to culture of origins. Intercultural interpretation in various forms is being developed in healthcare, in women’s clinics and hospitals in order to serve both professional staff and clients.

On a social level at large, migrant segregation in housing and the workplace has a negative impact on learning. All the participants agree that gender segregation in workplaces is a big problem: foreign-born women are placed where they experience segregation and exclusion, intercultural difficulties and misunderstandings, and lack of support from the employer to integrate and do a good job. Workplaces that are women-dominated are not prioritised for developmental initiatives. In themthe salaries are low and the working environment is bad and stressful. For those foreign-born who have a higher level of education, elements of practice are few which is an obstacle when trying to learn the language. New initiatives in healthcare need to develop cooperation between complementary education, hospital and practice.

Regarding migrant single mothers, there is an obvious lack of support and helping actions, especially for young mothers. This issue is more evident for those who live in vulnerable and segregated areas of the city and have limited language skills. It was commented by participants that Swedish institutions can be quite compact and bureaucratic, which complicates cooperation between states and politics, municipalities and regions, and organisations and non-profit associations.

A conclusion from the workshop emphasised the necessity to give space for social activities that draw on human rights and positive thinking. Organisations in European countries take initiatives to develop capabilities of the persons who come to settle. Identifying shared values would mean highlighting commonalities and investing in human capital and skills potential.

Another problem to take into consideration, but which was not dealt with during the workshop, is the motivation of the variety of the category ‘immigrants’. In response to the political concerns about the number of refugees and asylum seekers, various measures are applied to restrict the numbers. Consequently, we now can discern six categories of refugees to be hosted in the receiving countries. (1) Refugees who are waiting for decisions on their asylum application —first and second application. (2) Refugees who receive temporary permit to stay. (3) Refugees waiting for expulsion. (4) Refugees who cannot be expelled since the sending countries refuse to take them back. (5) Refugees who remain illegitimately. (6) And finally, Refugees who get permanent resident permit, but are denied family reunification. It is a mixed category of people that are living in the host countries and that should be included in measures undertaken by local authorities and civil society. The six categories have one crucial condition to face: uncertainty about their future and their rights during the waiting period, which can be long. It is a situation of limbo, where being in between social contexts means they have limited control their individual living conditions. We know from research that the uncertainty and stress related to waiting for a “normal” life can be harmful for health, both physical and psychological.

Ulla Björnberg, professor emerita
Dept of Sociology and Work science,
Gothenburg University Box 720 SE-405 30 Gothenburg, Sweden Mobile +46 (0)70 4241125; fax: +46 (0)31 786 4764
email: Ulla.Bjornberg@socav.gu.se

The 14th EFLAC 2017 Montevideo 22-25th November, Diversas pero no Dispersas (Different but not dispersed): remarks and reflections

By Edmé Domínguez R., GADIP (Gender and Development in Practice) and the School of Global Studies, University of Gothenburg, Sweden.

Haz click aquí para leer en español. 

This 14th Encounter, like the previous one in Lima, belongs to the general tradition of feminist summits that have taken place since 1981 in Latin America. Such fora are a measurement of the state and the consolidation or fragmentation of this movement, of its successes and setbacks. Grassroots feminist movements that fight for women’s rights from different perspectives and approaches participate in these meetings. More than a simple elaboration of common strategies, the fora have, as their objective, the meeting and the dialogue, and the recognition of the movements’ progress in the various areas and themes, among different perspectives and standpoints, including conflicting ones. It is about the creation of spaces of discussion, knowledge and recognition, of encounter and re-encounters, of creation or recreation of networks that share information and knowledge. They are meetings to recharge the energy and keep resisting. Especially in these times of setbacks, of backlash, of struggles to defend what has been gained, what has been accomplished so far. And this was one of the main themes of the 14th Encounter, Diversas pero no Dispersas (Different but not Dispersed): deciding how to acknowledge such a diversity without losing the cohesion of the movement(s).

Each organizing country or movement decides the program and the way to arrange the gathering. The 14th Encounter began with an unusual inauguration. Instead of the welcoming speeches (beyond the counting of the represented countries and the confirmation that there were little more than 2000 participants) on the part of the organizers, or the “historical feminists” of the Encounter’s host country, the inaugural Assembly was directed by an actress who, besides being entertaining, presented us a small theater play which was, even though somewhat unexpected, very well realized. It was about the “conversion to feminism”, the onset of awareness of gender oppression. There were no other plenaries until the closure, in contrast to Lima in 2014, where daily plenaries would take place alongside workshops and seminars. In Uruguay, the schedule consisted in “Assemblies” in the mornings and “Self-managed activities” in the afternoons. Each assembly dealt with fairly general themes, such as “Bodies, subjectivity and rights”, “Acts of gender violence, not one less (Ni una menos)”, or “Challenges and perspectives of Feminist Economics”. In the afternoons the self-managed activities took the form of workshops, talks, discussions, or “performances” around more concrete topics, such as “transforming the economy in order to achieve rights”; “contested territories, feminist resistances”; “the body as a construction site”; “love heals, group of black women”; “young indigenous women and feminists looking to the future: intercultural reflections” and much, much more.

As always, the topics addressed were many. However, two of them were dominant: gender violence (“Ni una menos”) and the setbacks or threats thereof to the achieved victories, often linked to the setbacks of leftist governments in the region and to the reactions of the most conservative right-wing groups. Almost all of the assemblies and self-run workshops touched upon, to a greater or lesser extent, these topics.

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Since it was impossible to partake in all the events, or witness all the discussions, choices were to be made, and I leaned towards economic issues. Given the variety of the involved themes in the assemblies and workshops, it is better to mention them on the grounds of the document that presented the conclusions of the meeting, a reflection based on 10 fundamental points:

1.Work, not only related to the expanding precariousness, but also as a source of empowerment (problematizing the fact that work is empowering per se: “Not all paid work implies more autonomy”), as a launch pad for unionism (with the challenges that it implies), its relation with reproductive work and how to make sure that the state takes charge of such tasks, the struggle for the recognition of labor rights in sectors such as domestic work, but also sex work (although a note was added here: including labor alternatives for those who want to leave it).

  1. How international macroeconomic policies (including free trade agreements) generally affect women’s lives at the level of labor rights, patterns of consumption, medicine and food patents, Big Data, and digital commerce. How to replace the market with life as the center of the global economic debate, choosing the fora to debate in.
  2. How to problematize the concepts of poverty, development, inequality and social security. Regarding poverty, how to look for broad solutions that are not limited only to transfer or entrepreneurship policies, seeing it as the logical consequence of development patterns and from an intersectional perspective of race, age, class and gender. This is connected with the disappearance of social security policies (maternity, pensions) and the levels of usurious indebtedness that weakens women who try to cover the basic necessities of their families.

4-5. How the economic gaps in accessing wealth, property and resources are interwoven with identities of gender, class, race, ethnicity, thus reproducing inequalities and exclusions. This was highly emphasized in relation to black and indigenous women in their social and economic situations, but also at the level of health (food and nutritional security) and culture.

  1. National budgets and income policies, where such budgets are questioned as part of insufficient public policies, the fiscal reforms which have done nothing apart from increasing the gaps.
  2. How to strengthen the links between feminists in academia and activists with the creation of spaces, the construction of a network of feminist economics, since “Feminist economics is not only a topic for economists, it’s for everybody”.
  3. How to promote educational programs that develop gender equality, while at the same time encouraging processes of economic literacy for all grassroots women.
  4. How disorders in democratic regimes are associated with setbacks in gender achievements and increases in violence, as well as with the strengthening of the patriarchy.
  5. The issue of alternative economic models: the creation of independent economies based on cooperation, solidarity, feminist agroecology, models of exchange based on human values and sustainable with natural resources. Models that give back resources and power to the local government, where intellectual property does not threaten the knowledge of women and where it is not spent in weapons or conflicts, but on the sustainability of life.

The themes of the informal economy (the questions of micro-employment and auto-employment) could be added to these topics, and it could be underlined that the gender perspective in the issues of free trade and of the abuses by transnational corporations surfaced in several “self-managed workshops” linked to the activities planned around the ministerial conference of the WTO (World Trade Organization) that took place in December 2017 in Buenos Aires.

Other areas of discussion that could be attended concerned the experiences of the development of gender studies in academia, their successes and defeats, their bond with activism; the experiences of political involvement in parties and elections (with the very concrete examples of the launch of feminist candidacies to the constitutional assembly of Mexico City, the struggle for electoral spots in Brazilian parties, the wins and defeats in Chile, among many others), the struggles of indigenous women to obtain spaces of action in their movements and in feminist movements, and so on. The topics of abortion, sexuality and control of the body kept dominating the general discussions. As a novelty if compared to Lima, most of the assemblies and workshops were accompanied by dynamics of physical group exercises, in the form of gymnastics, dance or rhythmic movements before or after the sessions, which infused more energy into the discussions.

On the other hand, it is worth noticing another marked difference with the Encounter of 2014: the absence of that great number of indigenous women that were seen everywhere with their magnificent traditional dresses in all the workshops and plenaries in Lima. Being at the center of the Andean region, Lima was naturally easier to attend, if compared to the faraway Montevideo, where indigenous activists were present, but in a much more limited scale. Somewhat compensating this absence, in Montevideo there was an enormous Brazilian presence.

As is inevitable in such a sizable movement, the tensions that have always existed in these gatherings reappeared in one way or another: sex work as “legitimate work”, worthy of labor and union rights, or as a type of exploitation to be eliminated; the intersection of exploitations that make middle-class women somehow accomplices of the system of class, race and ethnicity exploitation and discrimination; the strategy conflicts that keep fueling the gaps between “activist autonomy” and “institutionalized feminists” (in NGOs or state institutions), and, in a less dramatic, yet latent form, the lack of systematic cooperation between academia and activism.

The logistics of the Encounter reflected an enormous work with great ambitions. The fact that all the sessions, meetings and assemblies occurred in the same place considerably aided the cohesion of the Encounter, the meals, of good quality, were all a win of organization and logistics; the cultural program was excellent, varied and full of experiences. There was also a very well documented exhibition on the history of the movement and the Encounters, although unfortunately it went unnoticed by many, given its location and the little publicity it had from the beginning.

Lastly, the closing plenary wanted to resume the conclusions of all the assemblies, which was a massive and almost impossible effort, but it turned out to be a good reflection of the diversity of these meetings. This diversity was not only related to the thematic presentation, but to the organic one as well: groups of indigenous women, black women, transsexual women, homosexual women, sex workers and so forth. All of them with their flags, declarations, slogans, and their euphoric happiness of being together, of recognizing themselves and being recognized as part of the movement. A big party of colors, music and diversities. There was also a cultural and satirical sketch and, at the end, the inevitable discussion about the next venue of the Encounter. Much like in Lima, the choice was not an easy one. The only candidacy approved by consensus among its members was Argentina, but it did not win the majority of the votes, since other participants were leaning more towards the Caribbean: the Dominican Republic? Alternatively, including Central America: El Salvador or Costa Rica? However, not having the confirmation of these candidacies, it was decided to wait a few months for the Dominican reply, and postpone the decision until then. The search for the representation of the diversity that characterizes the movement, I believe, lies behind these venue elections.

In conclusion, this Encounter, like all the previous ones, reflects the moment that the feminist movement(s) is living. The necessity to close ranks to defend what has been achieved, the alliances against gender violence (the widespread slogan “Ni una menos”) in front of the increasingly fierce attacks of conservative right-wing factions, churches, and corporations. But also the joy of the encounter, of the solidarity, the reflection on the experiences, on the mistakes and the right choices, under the frame of a respect for difference (of identity and opinion). This is the significance of the 14th continental Feminist Encounter: diversity in unity, and unity in diversity.

Inbjudan till workshop 27 oktober 2017

logo gadip fyrkantig-rgb GADIP Gender and Development in Practice

Brev till potentiella deltagare i Workshop den 27/10

Kvinnor i diaspora tar sitt liv i egna händer.

Vill du och din förening bidra med era erfarenheter i en workshop om ert arbete med kvinnliga flyktingar och migranters möte med det svenska samhället?

Jag som skriver till dig är medlem i föreningen GADIP Gender and Development in Practice. Vårt mål är att synliggöra ett könsperspektiv på flyktingars/migranters uppfattningar om och erfarenheter av möte med det svenska samhället.

Vi tror att den förening som du är verksam i kan bidra med viktig information om hur ni arbetar kring dessa frågor. Vi kommer att ha en workshop den 27 oktober 2017 där kvinnors situation diskuteras. Workshopen är tänkt som en uppföljning av en internationell konferens som vi anordnade i oktober 2016 på temat Gender, refugees and security – könsperspektiv på flyktingar och säkerhet under och efter flykten. Workshopen ingår i ett internationellt projektmed där föreningar i Belgien, Österrike, Spanien och Sverige anordnar liknande workshops. Tanken är att personer/föreningar som arbetar med olika teman – hälsa, diskriminering, försörjning. Deltagare i workshops skall vara kvinnor som har en migrations bakgrund både som deltagare i förening och experter och som har en anknytning till vuxenutbildning och rådgivning.

Förslag på teman är:

Tema 1.
Är könsobalans bland flyktingar ett problem? Hur tar sig detta uttryck i kvinnors erfarenheter som flyktingar? Hur kan motverka obalanser i effekter av sned könsfördelning?

Tema 2
Erfarenheter och verksamhet för att hjälpa våldsutsatta kvinnor i samband med och efter flykt

Tema 3
Försörjning, diskriminering. Kvinnors erfarenhet av rasism och främlingsfientlighet?

Tema 4
Hur tar sig ökat polisiärt fokus på säkerhet uttryck i arbetet inom föreningen? Asylsökande, Gömda flyktingar som nekats uppehållstillstånd Gränskontroller. Du är välkommen att ge ett förslag på vad ni i er förening skulle kunna bidra i och diskutera.

Workshopen skall pågå under en dag från kl 9-15. Plats får vi återkomma om. Vi bjuder på lunch och kaffe under dagen. Jag vänder mig till dig i förhoppningen att du/ni vill delta i workshopen. Den ingår som ett led i ett projekt inom EU, ett s.k. ERASMUS projekt

Kontakt gadip.sverige@gmail.com