Women united will never be defeated…

Shobha Shukla, CNS (Citizen News Service)
That was the reverberating chant that greeted the dawn of the third and final day on 'Action' theme at the 3rd Asia Pacific Feminist Forum (APFF 2017), which was organized by the Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD) in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

The 'anger' theme on day one of the Forum (anger against systemic oppression of women under authoritarian and fundamentalist patriarchal set-ups), was followed by 'hope' theme on the second day - hope that was bolstered by the several significant wins that the feminist movements had achieved through courageous acts of solidarity - and finally culminated in the day of 'Action' to be the change!

The collective resolutions and strategies evolving from the 43 workshops, that were organised during the course of APFF 2017, were shared, and reflected upon, on a common platform - actions to make the collective power of the various feminist movements stronger, in order to challenge the structural causes of the rise of authoritarian, patriarchal, late capitalism, and reshape global systems.

There was unequivocal consensus (by the over 300 feminists representing various constituencies and countries of Asia Pacific Region) to unite in solidarity to accelerate progress not only on gender justice for all women, everywhere, but also on development justice agenda.

International Day of Women Human Rights Defenders: 29/11

The call to UNITE, so as not to create exclusion and division on the basis of geographical, cultural, economic, class, or religious differences, was strong as never before at APFFs! Women share more similarities than differences and are part of the same struggle. So, it is important to base our actions on solidarity. Women human rights defenders are under continuous attack-online attack, physical attack, extrajudicial killings, interrogations, etc.- which makes it all the more necessary to come together to join forces. In this context, all of us must lend support, in whatsoever way possible, to the International Day of Women Human Rights Defenders, which is on 29th November.
APFF 2017 participants committed to CONNECT with each other to share, learn and grow. Movements involving different constituencies must communicate effectively with each other so as to develop synergies and strengthen each other. We are all aware of the havoc poor connectivity can wreak.

They also explored possibilities and options to LITIGATE to counter the violence and judicial harassment that are being used against human rights defenders and advocates. Litigation is one of the ways to resist these attacks and human rights violations using feminist litigation strategies.

They promised to RESIST the fundamentalism, patriarchy, militarisation, corporate capture, resource grab by the powerful, social inequality and injustices prevailing in today’s world. Feminists have to reclaim and create spaces for themselves and stage a peaceful revolution. Their role of resisters in order to persist for peace has to be carried on. All of us are in this together. The solidarity messages given by participants at APFF 2017 are expected to be taken to Geneva later this month to the 36th session of United Nations Human Rights Council, to gather their support.

Global Day of Action Against Precarious Work: 7/10

Call to STRIKE - a global strike - against precarious work, to achieve decent work for every woman was loud and clear. Women far outnumber men when it comes to working in precarious conditions. If all these women stopped working for even a day or two, one can imagine the collective power and strength of their strike. The ‘global day of action against precarious work’ on 7th October calls the workers across the world to unite for a global strike.

These are some of the actions which would, in the words of Kate Lappin, Regional Coordinator of APWLD, “help feminist movements to replace the fearful hateful visions of countries that violently protect the resources of their wealthy with a vision of solidarity, care and development justice”.

Shobha Shukla, CNS (Citizen News Service)
9 September 2017

(Shobha Shukla is the Managing Editor at CNS (Citizen News Service) and the above article is based upon her interview series of key women leaders in Asia Pacific region who have played a key role in striving for development justice. Follow her on Twitter @Shobha1Shukla)

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