Movement Building Journeys
These Movement Building Journeys take you behind the scenes to explore and learn from the real challenges, choices and changes made over time by activists and leaders in three very different places—from HIV-ositive women in Malawi, to those fighting to protect democracy, land and life in Honduras, to the young women building a new kind of women’s movement in Southeast Asia. Following our Cycles of Movement Building model, each story moves through different moments—Rising Up, Building Up, Standing Up and Shaking Up—to reveal the evolving and dynamic nature of organizing for change. Within each journey you can experience actual setbacks, detours, break-throughs and impacts made along the way. You will be able to hear the voices of women involved, download tools and methodologies they used and gain insight from their reflections. We hope these inside-stories help you strengthen your movement work wherever you are.
The story of young women activists in Southeast Asia is one that captures and exemplifies what it takes to do movement-building from the ground-up. It starts with talking and learning about sex and sexuality—a critical aspect of how JASS strengthens young women’s leadership—and transforms into an act of rebellion and strategy, of collective resistance to traditional roles and fundamentalist taboos. These young women demonstrate the incredible potential of linking local-to-regional grassroots organizing with online activism to challenge the social expectations which dictate that young women should be seen and not heard. Their journey is shaped by the many faces of diversity—age, nationality, class, history, culture, religion and sexuality. Across their differences, they are shedding the feelings of loneliness, arising from stigma and exclusion, and instead finding strength in their individual and shared experiences to stand up and speak out without fear.
This is the story of how HIV-positive women across Malawi organized to make medicine and healthcare accessible for all HIV-positive people. It’s a story about women fighting stigma from the inside out—starting with their own feelings of shame and moving to take on discrimination in their communities. It’s a story about how women living with HIV—and the inequality that breeds it—came to see that their day-to-day experience was precisely the expertise most needed by policymakers to find better solutions. It’s a story about women overcoming taboos and prejudice to talk about sex, care for their bodies in a new way, and help others do the same. It’s a story about marginalized women finding their voice; building connection and collective power; and using their anger, love, and determination to imagine alternatives, create a healthier life, and impact policy.
This is not a linear story with a simple path. This is a region with strong social movements relative to the rest of the world. It is a perfect illustration of how cycles—Rising Up, Building Up, Standing Up, Shaking Up—don't move in a perfect sequence. There are times when Rising Up becomes a vehicle for Building Up, and Standing Up as a way to Build Up and Shaking Up helps to Rise Up. Early in the story, a coup d’état changes everything. Many unexpected obstacles arise that demand changing in organization and tactics, and occasional retreats from action. Some strategies reach dead ends, while others open up new horizons for people-led change as unexpected political opportunities emerge. Throughout the story, Honduran women leaders from all walks of life become a vital political force in the construction of their futures, and the defense of dignity in the midst of uncertainty and violence.