BY Sachini Perera
Sachini Perera, June 2022
Today (14 June 2022), as Resurj’s 2022 retreat begins in Costa Rica, as many of us see each other after several years of pandemic restrictions and remote working, my heart is full for the days of reconnection, rest and reflection ahead of us. There is heartache too, for those who can’t join us because of the cruelty of borders, those who have transitioned out of the collective, and the pockets of warmth and grounding we miss as we come together.
A few months ago, we created a feminist circle of appreciation for our previous Executive Coordinator Marisa Viana. It was the warmest Zoom room I’ve been to in a long time, with a lot of reminiscing, love, feminist solidarity and history-making and people dropping in from various parts of the world, in various timezones. This gathering was a reminder of all the gifts Marisa has created and co-created, our progress and our works-in-progress. It was also a reminder that Resurj has always been a shape-shifter, nimbly turning into the container we need to be at any given moment, whether it’s members and allies working in their countries and communities or coming together for transnational and cross-regional conversations or accompanying each other in regional and global advocacy spaces.
But there is always more we can do, more we must do. To practice and refine feminist accountability, to question how the work of dismantling systems and structures can happen and if we are doing enough. To be watchful about the co-option of “Global South”, “decolonization”, “sexual and reproductive justice”, etc. only to reproduce the same systems of oppression we are fighting, except with a feminist tag.
RESURJ accomplice Mena Souilem from Western Sahara writes in her Reflection in this edition about “hope for truly inclusive non-hegemonic spaces, created by us for us”. Mena attended the Commission on the Status of Women for the first time and came back with important questions about the political realities that are absent from CSW, whether among the states or in the feminist organizing around this advocacy space. Questions we must sit with, because as Mena notes, the answers require an overhaul, not temporary or cosmetic measures.
Dana Zhang, RESURJ member from Taiwan, also reflects on the prioritisation of certain political realities over others and where global media coverage chooses to shine a spotlight. She discusses the surge of support and aid for Ukraine that emerged from Taiwan, including donations of menstrual products, and compares this to the relative lack of enthusiasm for the crises in Myanmar and Afghanistan. Dana writes that “tragedies cannot be compared, but it is noticeable how global media coverage and donation campaigns have responded to the tragedies in such different ways, further leading to enormous gaps in resource allocation”.
Two reflections from this edition flag the importance of an interlinkages approach to sexual and reproductive health and rights. RESURJ member Madiha Latif from Pakistan reflects on the 2022 heatwave in Pakistan and the “increased negative health impacts due to heat and struggles to adapt, the disproportionate impact climate change has on women and girls”. She notes that the lack of access to water and food will, among other things, highly impact reproductive and maternal and newborn health services, and that state and other responses to the climate crisis must be holistic to anticipate and address these critical interlinkages. RESURJ ally Blessing Igwe from Education as a Vaccine (EVA), Nigeria shares her reflections from the 2022 Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development (ARFSD) and the opportunity to deepen her advocacy. She also writes of an event that EVA co-hosted that “provided insights on various interlinkages” and helped first-timers “understand working modalities and ensure meaningful engagement at a high-level forum.”
The final reflection of this edition comes from Mirta Moragas Mereles, RESURJ member from Paraguay. She notes the importance of nuance and specificity in our demands for sexuality education by sharing “a dispute about two models of sex education: a conservative model and comprehensive sexuality education”. She shows how by accepting the conservative model, the Ministry of Education evades its responsibility towards children and adolescents to introduce a more comprehensive model that doesn’t stigmatize sexuality.
It’s day two of the Resurj retreat as I finish this editorial and our conversations about different generations of Resurj members, feminist knowledge sharing and the importance of historicizing the work we collectively build bring me back to Adrienne Germain, pioneer women’s health advocate and friend to Resurj, who died recently. We remember her with love.
Ps. This batch of Reflections and Editorial were written in mid-June before the Supreme Court of the United States overturned Roe v Wade. We stand in solidarity with our allies and accomplices, both in and outside the US, as we observe the effects of this decision on abortion rights. We also recognize the need for more South-North and South-South transnational and cross-regional learning on the various ways we claim abortion rights and bodily autonomy in the Global South, in a spectrum of contexts of criminalization, legalization and decriminalization of abortion. More from us later but for now, we amplify our allies.