It’s always great to be able to uplift success stories and inspiring accounts from women’s organizing worldwide. That’s why we wanted to showcase a report released last fall by the Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID). As part of their Building Feminist Movements and Organizations initiative, AWID brought together ten case studies illustrating the strategies of women’s movements. The report is titled “Changing Their World”, and the following are short examples and excerpts from their publication.
Mexico’s National Coordinating Committee of Indigenous Women is a network found in 14 states of Mexico and consists of Indigenous women’s groups and statewide women’s networks. The initial goal of the CNMI was to provide a broad, inclusive space in which the voices of Indigenous women could be heard but has broadened to include defending the demands of the national Indigenous movement as well as political participation.
“The dialogue carried on in various meetings and forums between feminists and Indigenous women’s activists has led to many advances that includes broadening the comprehension of how to relate gender identity to other identities; dismantling the view of Indigenous women as a vulnerable group lacking the ability and power to bring about changes in their own condition; and recognizing the needs to create alliances with other social movements.”
“The voice of the Indigenous women of Mexico resounds more intensely day by day and there’s no doubt that these women have become a fundamental political anchor in re-founding the nation.”
Those of the lowest castes in India, sometimes known as “untouchables,” adopted the name “Dalit,” meaning crack or split in Sanskrit, in the late sixties. The term Dalit refers to those who have been broken, ground down by those above them in a deliberate way. The Dalit Mahila Samiti (DMS) is an organization of over 1500 Dalit women located in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh who are working to end this discrimination.
“The collective nature of the leadership of the DMS is a major strength as it is based on collective decision making and not on one or two charismatic leaders. The leadership also comes from a large geographical area, and draws on the extensive experience of many women.”
“This movement of over 1500 women from a remote area in a very feudal, backward part of India has shown its power to challenge injustice and oppression, and enhance equality, justice and dignity for both Dalit women and men.”
What differentiates GROOTS Kenya is that it sees itself as a movement and not as a network or NGO. GROOTS Kenya works within four main areas: community response to HIV/AIDS, community resources and livelihood, women and property, and women leadership and governance.
“GROOTS Kenya has been one of the lead organizations pushing for a change in Africa from traditional NGO organizing towards having grassroots women at the forefront of advocacy, with NGOs providing back support.”
“…the politics of exclusion and inclusion generally, and due to geography specifically, continue to be a problem that causes major rifts in what could otherwise be a coherent women’s movement in Kenya. For this reason, there are many ways in which the work that GROOTS Kenya is doing is laudable, in terms of its efforts at building a grassroots based movement that spans geographical and ethnic divides of Kenya.”