AWID: Why Feminists need to Network
On 15th December 2021, I’ve had a very fortunate chance to attend an online Feminist Mixer held by AWID for AWID members. The theme of the mixer was Feminism in the News and around 30 to 40 people attended the event from around the world.
During the event, there was a small presentation by feminist activists regarding women in media and gender perspectives in the news. The participants were then to mix through small breakout rooms which consist of 2-3 people. We were given questions to discuss the current state of journalism in our countries.
In the first round, I was partnered with a feminist from Serbia. We were warming up with basic questions like “Which news and through what platform do we get our news from?” In the second round, I was then matched with a feminist from Kenya and India. We talked about how rape is being told in our media, and how it is being politicized by the media and politicians to benefit them, especially when they publish clickbaity news. And on the third round, I met a feminist from Jamaica and the Philippines, and we discussed on what are the things we would like to see more in media, and what we would like to see less of.
Although this event was only 1.5 hours long, there was so much to take from this. I realized that this kind of networking event is so important for feminists to do, especially when you have the chance to meet other activists from different countries and different fields. So here are some takeaways from the event.
1. Understanding current issues
Women and marginalized groups come from different cultures and different contexts, but we experience rampant power abuse and sexual violence everywhere. It is important to note that we hear from different women to know what they are currently facing. It practices our empathy and further acknowledges what’s currently happening. Most of the time we don’t even know such problems exist until someone talks about it. Thus we cannot address an issue without acknowledging and knowing what different women are facing.
When we talk about women’s issues, sometimes certain issues can be left out unintendedly. While I was listening to a transwoman talking about what she see’s in the media regarding transwomen in her country, I realized that I was still living in this heteronormative bubble. I am still in the process of unlearning things. And it is important that we expose ourselves to listening to people outside the heteronormative standard. I took this opportunity as a chance to keep being familiarized with Queer perspectives and to embed it in my own thinking.
3. Knowledge exchange
It is important that we learn and take examples from other feminists across the world. Though our contexts and lived experience may be different, their methodologies can be replicated and tweaked to meet the needs of our movement. This exchange is important so that we can keep the knowledge transfer ongoing. It also helps to keep the knowledge itself alive and updated.
As feminists, we can not work alone to advance our agenda. We need to work together across different platforms and entities. Thus, networking became one of the many ways that we need to do to understand what other women are working on and struggling with. From there, we can collaborate to create effective advocacy and facilitate campaigns.
Tak kenal maka tak sayang is an Indonesian proverb that can be translated into: If you don’t know someone, then you can not love them. Learning about intersectionality is also about learning how to show solidarity. As we come from different classes we may become antipathy towards other women’s struggles, thus we need to learn to accommodate our solidarity to cater to the voices that don’t always get the spotlight. We can work as amplifiers and show solidarity in different ways.
As feminists, it is important to stay updated with current situations happening around the world. We can not let our sisters down by being distant. Thus it is important to stay connected and to familiarize ourselves with the realities that women and marginalized groups are currently living in. AWID envision a world where feminist realities flourish so that everyone can thrive, with dignity, love, and respect.
Online feminist mixers can also have a downside. Most of the time women and LGBTIQ groups don’t have access to the internet and current technology. Thus it can also marginalize people who do not know how to access these online spaces. It can also be unfriendly to disabled people and those who do not speak English. And that is where the challenge lies.
The feminist online movement is not always going to stay the same. They evolve based on the needs of their subjects.
The Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID) is a global, feminist, membership, movement-support organization. AWID membership is an open and free platform for anyone who wants to engage with the feminist movement from across the globe. It offers its members free events and information on jobs and funding. To learn more you can visit their website.