BY Sachini Perera
This editorial was pieced together over two months, as RESURJ members gathered in Kigali, Rwanda to attend Women Deliver following which we retreated together into our annual meeting that is at the same time a cocoon to reflect and plan as well as a space to practice our feminist accountability through deep, difficult and hopeful conversations. A collection of thoughts, in no particular order.
This is a time when more perfection is demanded from our imperfect politics than ever and a time when semantics and performance of politics hold more currency than the harder and more long-term work of arriving at our politics through our experiences, mistakes and reflexivity. Accountability has reached buzzword status in social movements but it’s time to ask ourselves and each other if we are indeed just replicating in the name of accountability, the same systems of oppression we profess to challenge and end through our organizing. RESURJ member Oriana López Uribe from Mexico in her reflection reminds us that “there is no credential vending to belong to social movements, we are activists not for our ideals, or for our words, but for our coherent actions”.
Dana Zhang, our member from Taiwan, chimes in along similar lines while reflecting on a recent #MeToo moment in Taiwan during which “the original call for systemic change is being overshadowed by a wave of cancel culture, fueled by social media outrage”. Dana notes that this wave is blocking space for more nuanced and complex conversations about what accountability can look like, which she calls “rational” conversations but I’d go so far as to also call them “radical” conversations.
In a personal essay, Mangia Macuacua from Mozambique who is one of our newest members reflects on feminism as a way of knowing, whether it is about our bodies or societies or cultures or the colonial-imperialist-patriarchal systems and structures that continue to oppress us in different ways. “Feminism deconstructs the idea of the centrality of social, political and cultural privileges”, reflects Mangia.
LGBTIQ Pride. Whose pride and whose liberation? Celebration, protest, capitalist co-option or a bit of everything? These are some of the questions explored by RESURJ member Sibusiso Malunga from Zambia and RESURJ consultant Bruna David from Brazil. “Capitalism works to never lose its dominant status and acts as a juggernaut that co-opts social agendas and issues and uses it for its own benefit, or rather, the benefit of the Capital”, reflects Bruna while also acknowledging the faultline that as of now, this co-option also seems to be the main way to socialize LGBTIQ issues to the general public. Sibusiso observes that “while the world organizes Pride parades and celebrates in different ways, Zambian LGBTQI activists come together to plan ways of mitigating and responding to safety and security risks that are anticipated around June”.
Countering anti-gender and anti-rights actors and movements has long been a priority in feminist and LGBTIQ movements and we are currently seeing a surge of discussions, resource mobilization and momentum around this, and not without good reason. However there is also a need to constantly challenge and complicate how we frame and position these conversations, to move away from polarizations and binaries, and examine all the different ways these ideologies permeate society, from the insidious to the institutional. In her reflection on the election of commissioners to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), RESURJ member Mirta Moragas from Paraguay reminds us of the need to stay engaged in the institutional aspects. She examines the role of the IACHR in introducing and upholding high standards for reproductive, sexual and LGBTIQ rights in the region and that while this election hasn’t tipped the progressive balance of the Commission, “the next ones are marked by elections in various countries, which could mean a further turn to the right for the region, which could impact the candidacies for the next election”.
We hope you find this edition of Reflections giving you food for thought and a more textured understanding of the micro and macro challenges feminists are grappling with in various parts of the Global South.