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Celebrating the Transformative Power of Grassroots Feminisms

#Blog#Photo Essays#Grassroots Feminisms
March 2024

Josephine Chu

Donor Engagement Manager

In honor of International Women’s Day, we are excited to spotlight the work of one of our long-term partners, World March of Women. 

In October 2023, the World March of Women (WMW) hosted its 13th International Meeting in Ankara, Turkey and the first in-person gathering since 2019. We were honored to have two of our staff members, Solidarity Program Officer for Brazil Lydia Simas and Donor Engagement Manager Josephine Chu, join this convening.

Partnership between World March of Women and Grassroots International

World March of Women is an international feminist social movement that brings together grassroots feminist groups from around the globe to make transformative change. WMW was born in 1998 in Quebec to end the root causes of poverty and violence against women and gender nonconforming people. It is a key part of the movement infrastructure to connect and organize feminist movements in solidarity across the globe. 

After many years of allied work together, Grassroots International and World March of Women entered into a long-term partnership in 2017. Beyond support in the form of multi-year grants, we have also partnered with WMW along with other partners and allies – including the Grassroots Global Justice Alliance and the Indigenous Environmental Network – in a collaboration to strengthen grassroots feminist movements globally. This collaboration has included providing direct support to grassroots feminist movements in several geographies around the world that have experienced a rise in right-wing governments; launching Capire, a communications hub led by the World March of Women to amplify grassroots feminist voices and visions; and organizing the Berta Cáceres International Feminist Organizing School (IFOS) to strengthen global grassroots feminist movement building through popular education and action. 

Our partnership with WMW has been one of continual learning and accompaniment, and through this learning, we added the focus of grassroots feminisms as a core part of our work, in addition to health and wellbeing. We see our role as working in philanthropy in order to increase the understanding of why it is so important to support and move money to movements like the World March of Women, to Capire, to grassroots feminisms around the world, and to do this in a way that respects the autonomy of movements.

Below, read the reflections of Josephine of her experiences at the 13th International Meeting.

 “Feminist Strength to Transform the World” at the 13th International Meeting in Turkey

The World March of Women gathering in Ankara brought together over 150 women and gender nonconforming people from 65 countries to build feminist strength to transform the world through political education and organizing. As someone who formerly co-founded a women-of-color business, it felt like a special honor to spend time with so many luminary and fierce women and gender nonconforming leaders. It was especially inspiring to see a large contingent of people represented from Asia and Africa while the delegation from the Americas remained as strong as ever.

The beauty of movement leaders from across the world sharing their experiences through místicas, group conversations, and cultural moments was underpinned by the theme of how similar our realities and struggles are, underscoring the importance of solidarity with each other. Activists new to the movement learned alongside those who had been involved with the movement since the beginning.

Indeed, the slogan for the convening, “Feminist Strength to Transform the World,” aptly conveyed the camaraderie formed and deepened among the participants, bolstering the movement to make change. 

A major focal point was organizing toward the 6th International Action in 2025, focused around the themes of defense of the commons; peace and demilitarization; feminist economies and food sovereignty; and bodily and sexual autonomy. During the gathering, speakers shared about the history of WMW so that future generations could learn, the importance of political training to strengthen movements, and the connections between patriarchy, racism, capitalism, militarization. A speaker from Friends of the Earth Japan shared about the disproportionate impact of the Fukushima nuclear disaster on women and LGBTQIA+ people. Members of the WMW from all regions expressed their solidarity with Palestine. 

Given the numerous languages spoken, WMW’s commitment to language justice by hiring interpreters and providing headsets made it possible for everyone to understand and be understood. The art and music performances of the místicas conveyed a sense of belonging and community that transcended any language. The ceremony handing over the Solidarity Quilt, which was made in 2005 by women and LGBTQIA+ people from 53 countries, from the previous WMW secretariat in Mozambique to the new secretariat in Turkey was a poignant symbol of the diversity and resiliency of the movement.

members of WMW surround the quilt

At this gathering, we met with people from two organizations, Sector de Mujeres and Sempreviva Organização Feminista, that are both long-term partners of Grassroots International and key member organizations of the World March of Women. Hear from a leader of Sector de Mujeres describe our partnership below:

While a core part of past WMW gatherings has been to host a march, unfortunately, the march was banned in Ankara. This further highlighted the ongoing need for the organizing work of WMW as well as the participants’ resourcefulness as they used opportunities traveling between locations – from the lodging to the meeting spaces – to chant and make themselves heard. 

Sadly, the International Meeting began soon after the passing of Nalu Faria, a long-time leader of the WMW and of Grassroots’ partner Sempreviva Organização Feminista (SOF) in Brazil. Her words and spirit permeated the meeting space and reaffirmed everyone’s commitment to grassroots feminisms and the work ahead. 

Nalu once said, “Struggling against violence against women [and gender nonconforming people] is about challenging the patriarchal system, as it is imbricated with capitalism, racism, colonialism, and LGBTİ+ phobia.” 

WMW members took Nalu’s words and actions to heart as they committed to carry this work forward. Members reiterated their opposition to war, extractivism, and exploitation as they planned mobilizations and organized towards a good living for all, in harmony with the natural world.

Photo Credits: Hanae Takahashi, Friends of the Earth Japan

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