International Exchange in Mesoamerica: Exploring the Power of Transnational Movement Building to End Violence Against All Girls and Women Around the World
[This blog was authored in partnership with Daysi Yamileth Flores Hernandez of JASS and MEV.]
For this cycle’s International Exchange Move to End Violence, a program of the NoVo Foundation, is honored and excited to be partnering with JASS, an international movement-building support network that strengthens the voice, collective organizing power and safety of women activists and movements. The International Exchange is a crucial part of the Move to End Violence (MEV) program to steep ourselves in the power of transnational movement-building to address the root causes of violence against girls and women around the world.
Later this month, the current cohort of MEV Movement Makers will spend 10 days building cross-border connections and learning with a group of Guatemalan and Honduran women activists with whom JASS works. Read on to learn more about JASS, its approach to feminist movement-building, and this exciting learning exchange.
“Women Crossing the Line” is a phrase that JASS uses to describe women who are challenging the borders and boundaries of discrimination, and inequity and coming together in solidarity and collective action. This idea is at the heart of the upcoming exchange between the current Move to End Violence (MEV) cohort and women activists in Guatemala and Honduras with whom JASS works.
At a time “when we are witnessing extreme intolerance and a lack of compassion and humanity in the face of the Central American migration crises,” as Ana Perez, a core member of MEV’s facilitation team put it, it feels hopeful and important to be crossing borders and “challenging the logic that isolates us and makes us separate entities.”
JASS equips and accompanies Guatemalan and Honduran women activists as they organize in contexts of political repression, racism, patriarchy, and violence. Both countries mirror the long history of a region whose democracies are undermined and communities devastated by an extractive economic model driven by transnational companies and local elites.
“The women activists with whom JASS works,” explains Daysi Flores, part of the JASS facilitation team, “are part of social movements that not only resist that model, but envision and create alternatives that allow us to live in more harmonious ways with one another and the earth.”
There is a clear affinity between JASS’ work with activists who tackle many issues – including land and territory protection, human rights, women’s/LGBTQ rights, economic justice – and the goals and focus of Move to End Violence. MEV supports leaders of social movements in the United States working to eradicate violence against women and girls by helping leaders clearly visualize the change they wish to create, try on liberating practices, imagine new strategies, and develop the capacity needed to implement those changes.
JASS and MEV have been building on this affinity and working together to build a collaborative learning exchange that will bring together Mesoamerican women and U.S.-based women of color from transformative social movements to share their stories and strategies of resistance in diverse and adverse contexts and to dream together as a way to unleash profound synergies and solidarity.
Through the exchange of methodologies, histories, and strategies as the basis for a safe, generative, and catalytic exchange among activists, JASS and MEV staff and partners have been working closely together to envision and create a space where these women, across multiple languages, can see the resistance, resilience, and dreams they share. The exchange will incorporate movement, art, stories, reflection, rituals, self-care, co-constructed histories of struggle and resistance, visual sharing of ideas, and community visits.
It is our hope that this exchange will support these women in stepping back from the tensions and challenges of their day to day movement work, to build relationships, to connect energetically, spiritually and creatively, and to find resonance across borders, stories, organizing experiences, and movement struggles —and, return to their homes and work full of the inspiration, resilience and strength they discovered. As Rosa Chavez, part of JASS’ Mesoamerican team, described it, “it is like when you drop a small stone in the water and the circles it makes keep getting bigger and bigger.” Here we are creating circles of trust and learning across cultures – learning from our survival as women and that of our people – learning helps us grow together and strengthens us in our work for social transformation.