For the first time, AWID worked with several partners to develop a series of In-Depth Sessions at the Forum. These sessions, which each ran for six hours (four blocks of 1.5 hours each), were designed to provide for deeper levels of discussion on complex issues. The extended time-frame allowed participants to go more “in-depth” on key issues and come away with a stronger understanding of the session theme and concrete strategy ideas to take home. These sessions also aimed to facilitate deeper cross-regional and cross-sectoral movement engagement as session organizers went beyond information sharing – inviting participants to have more substantive debates and interaction. Participants were encouraged to stay throughout the four session blocks in order to get the most out of the session.
1. Changing World Geopolitics and Global Governance: Making sense of the trends, actors and their implications for women’s rights
Why and how is global governance relevant to women’s rights and why is it so complex and difficult to talk about in the current world reality? With contributions from key leaders and thinkers in this field, participants will learn about relevant characteristics of the current global context, exploring for example the connections between how growth is defined and progress is measured, increased militarization and other key phenomena within current global governance arrangements and shifts.
This session will look at some of the actors and institutions (new and old) defining what global governance looks like today. It will also provide a space for brainstorming about our vision of future global governance to advance women’s rights, justice, environmental sustainability and human rights. Then we will discuss the implications of this information, analysis and reflection for our own strategizing as women’s rights activists. We’ll close with a focus on ‘what’s next’ on the global agenda, for example: the structures being proposed as part of the Rio+20 agenda, the Cairo and Beijing + 20 process, the proposals for reshaping global financial architecture, the proposed new global development partnership and the likely ‘post-MDG’ framework.
2. Re-envisioning development, exploring alternative constructions across the globe
In the context of converging crises, this session aims to contribute to the debate on challenging the mainstream economic model from a critical feminist perspective.
By convening a range of voices from different movements and sectors, the session will begin by unpacking development, departing from the understanding that development is a politically constructed process and can therefore be defined, envisioned and (re)formulated in different ways. The mainstream development model will be discussed and its failures underscored.
While “alternatives” is a contested term, debates around diverse approaches to/and within the mainstream model have been happening for decades. The session will focus on re-envisioning development, sharing existing alternative constructions from across the globe. Frameworks and practices that challenge and aim to transform neoliberal development (and in some cases address the urgent needs of today) – such as el buen vivir, food sovereignty, diverse economies, de-growth, and the protection of the commons – will be explained and critically examined from a feminist perspective.
Finally, we will focus on the ways in which groups are presently pushing these alternatives forward. Given that global structures shape local possibilities, are there opportunities for scaling up? And, more broadly, how do we envision the role of feminist movements and groups in these debates?
Read a detailed description of this session here
3. Women’s Rights and Transitions to Democracy in the MENA Region
This session will examine in depth the challenges and opportunities that women’s rights activists face in the context of revolutionary movements and democratization processes taking place in the MENA region. Participants will share analysis and experiences from across the region, outlining challenges such as the increased presence and power of religious fundamentalist actors in the region, discussing strategies that have yielded positive results and learnings from past transitions in other regions. Participants will also brainstorm and analyze potential implications of recent developments in the MENA region for global women’s rights agendas and struggles. Finally, the session will explore how the analysis, experiences and lessons learned can be applied to strengthen future strategizing, alliance-building and collaboration, with a view to identifying concrete steps for action to build solidarity and joint mobilization in support of feminists and women’s rights movements in the MENA region.
4. Access to and control over resources: Organizing for women’s economic empowerment
Consumer-driven capitalism, the elimination of social safety nets and the privatization of public goods and services has turned everything, from land and capital to healthcare, technology, clean air, and even political influence, into a commodity – accessible only to those willing and able to pay a price. The resulting inequities in access to and control over resources are the product of a democracy deficit, where the interests of a few are served on the backs of the many, most especially those marginalized by their ethnicity, race, class, gender, sexuality, nationality, and location. As entrenched as this neoliberal economic model may seem, alternatives do exist, pioneered by women working on the front lines of social justice struggles and based on more sustainable, democratic values of solidarity, mutuality, and human rights.
This in-depth session will explore the various factors that influence women’s access to and control over resources, enabling participants to identify openings and inspiration to advance change. We will draw on case studies to illustrate how women are mobilizing their collective organizing power to cope with the medicalization of HIV/AIDS in Southern Africa; push back against land grabs in Guatemala; and build movements around alternatives to conventional microcredit schemes in Indonesia.
5. Center Staging Women’s Leadership in Climate Resilient/Sustainable Development
This 6-hour session builds upon the reality that the women’s movement has been a driving force in the environmental and sustainable development movement since the Rio Earth Summit in 1992. The opening dialogue features a range of feminist activists who will critically examine current frameworks of sustainability and climate change adaptation, reviewing Rio Plus 20, the environment, green economy and also sharing a gendered view of adaptation, mitigation and food sovereignty issues. Designed to stimulate new partnerships among women’s groups, the session will then turn to a key, often missing element—why and how to incorporate grassroots community based women’s groups–who are first responders and strategic innovators–as a central constituency in framing priorities and solutions moving forward. After the case is made in sessions 1 &2 for how the women’s movement can build on its strengths and address inclusive, representational challenges, the 3rd and & 4th sessions will concentrate on how we can inclusively frame issues, alternative policies and programs and build multi-stakeholder coalitions from the bottom up to advance them. By the session’s conclusion, our goal is to reach collective agreement on 2-3 common action priorities our groups and networks can collaborate on to broaden and sustain women’s leadership in climate resilient/sustainable development.
Facilitated in an interactive format by a team of professional and grassroots sustainable development activists, the different modules will cover emerging global policy trends along with women’s local and national initiatives through which grassroots women are negotiating their leadership as well as the survival and well being of their families and communities. Session participants will hear from and join a dialogue with diverse activists affiliated with GROOTS International, DAWN, the Indigenous People’s Forum, Huairou Commission, GCAP Feminist Task Force in a session discussion.
6. Militarism, Conflict and Violence
This session builds on ongoing concerns and understandings of militarism, violence and armed conflict, how these issues impact women’s lives, and ways women have been organizing for a peaceful world.
It will engage participants in a series of conversations that examine the processes and gender-specific impacts of militarism, militarization, armed conflict and violence. It will address concerns and analyses from the local to the global, create space to learn about and discuss women’s resilience and resistance, brainstorm creative ways to confront these challenges and promote an end to conflict and gender-based violence.
The focus of the session will be on the economics of militarism and its gendered dimensions. It will also address the processes whereby the logic and values of militarism become normalized and embedded in communities and societies, including those living under occupation, and look at what constitutes genuine security from a feminist perspective. The intersections of militarism with gender, race, class and sexuality – including sexual violence and violence against women human rights defenders – are other examples of important issues to be explored. The session will provide a space to share strategies and experiences of resistance, healing, peace-building and utilization of UN resolutions and alternative forms of transitional justice.
Read a detailed description of this session here
7. Women’s labor rights, gender equality, and economic justice: a discussion of issues and actions.
This session will examine the challenges to women´s labor rights in the context of the global economic crisis, their link to economic justice and gender equality over the long term and what strategies women, labor unions, and worker’s rights organizations are implementing to advance a women’s rights agenda.
The 6 hour session will be divided into four segments. The first will consist of an interactive panel discussion to provide an overview of trends in women’s labor globally and the link between labor rights and gender equality. In the second and third segments, participants will divide into sector focus groups (including domestic work, export manufacturing (garment and electronics), agriculture, and the public sector. In the last session, participants will reconvene to present priorities and strategies emerging from the sector-specific discussions and to discuss and debate possible new cross-regional and cross-sectoral strategies that should/ could be pursued after the forum as well as mechanisms for doing that.