Feminist advocacy and activism to end violence against women

WEGO mentor Simona Lanzoni, vice-president of our beneficiary Fondazione Pangea, continues to advocate tirelessly to bring an end to violence against women, be it in Italy or worldwide.

feminist advocacy and activism
Source: REAMA

In March 2019 Pangea launched the Italy-wide network REAMA – Rete per l’Empowerment e il Auto Mutuo Aiuto (REAMA network for empowerment, self-help and mutual aid) connecting more than 20 anti-violence centres and women’s shelters from North to South Italy. Together they provide legal, psychological, practical and emergency support for women and their children suffering domestic violence, but also first contact points to address situations of economic violence women are facing by their partners.  

feminist advocacy and activism
Source: REAMA

See here for an article featuring Simona on occasion of the REAMA network launch at the International Women’s House in Rome in March 2019. WEGO PhD candidate Anna Katharina Voss still remembers the powerful atmosphere in the room with all these engaged feminists coming together, many of whom had travelled from all over Italy to Rome and she had picked up at the train station earlier.

How to cultivate non-violent and care-full relationships based on self-determination and autonomy as pathways out of sexist and racist inequalities? These are also discussions taking place in the agroecological networks WEGO Anna, hosted at Pangea, is exploring for her research on the intersections of agroecology and feminism in Italy.

feminist advocacy and activism
feminist advocacy and activism
feminist advocacy and activism
feminist advocacy and activism

 Photos: Anna Katharina Voss

Workshops at assemblies of grassroot networks Reclaim the Fields, Fuorimercato and Genuino Clandestino in Italy in 2019.

Simona and Anna joined many other WEGOers and scholars from ISS at the inspiring summer retreat on feminist methodologies hosted by WEGO partner Punti di Vista in August 2019 (see ourblogon Undisciplined Environments).And in November 2019 Simona, Wendy, Nick, Ilenia and Anna marched together in Rome at the demonstration to stop violence against women – as we reported here, WEGO in action on the streets!

Next to continuously moving between the spheres of national and international policy making, territorial networking and providing hands-on support for women in need, Simona and Pangea also engage in promoting public awareness and cultural change. Lately Pangea participated at the Festa della Legalità 2019(an anti-mafia festival of legality and non-violence and annual prize award) and organised a photo exhibition entitled ‘Invisibility is not a superpower’ at the beginning of 2020.

In a coalition with 70 women organisations and NGO’s, in October 2019 Pangea co-wrote the Italian Universal Periodic Review of Women Rights in Italy (you can read the full report here) covering such pressing issues as violence against women, access to justice, work and welfare, sexual and reproductive rights, environmental disasters and women’s health, migration and trafficking, peace and disarmament. In all these fields there is much work to be done stiil, as Simona pointed out during her presentation of the report at the 4th Forum of Mediterranean Women Journalists.

In March 2020, Simona was meant to participate at the United Nation’s 64th session of the Commission on the Status of Women CSW64/Beijing+25 scheduled to take place in New York 25 years after the landmark Fourth World Conference of Women. Unfortunately the event got suspended until further notice due to the global coronavirus crisis. But this doesn’t prevent Simona from speaking up as she keeps featuring on the news (for example here on AskanewsHuffington PostDire and Corriere della Sera) and reflecting on the urgent issues of safeguarding women from any form of violence. Italy has been one of the worst-hit countries during the ongoing Covid-19 emergency. And as feminist activists from all over the world are warning that lockdown and quarantine increase the risk of domestic violence when being confined to the house with an abusive partner, Pangea and REAMA continue to give urgently needed support via their online contact points. The virus can’t stop the spreading of feminist solidarity!

Feminist communitarian organization in times of femicides. Insights from the second international encounter of women who fight

From the 26th to the 29th of December 2019, the “Segundo encuentro internacional de mujeres que luchan” (Second International Encounter of Women who Fight) took place in the territory/community of “Los Zapatistas” in Chiapas Mexico. This community that emerged in the very geopolitical south of Mexico has been organizing since 1994 against the wrong decisions of the Mexican government. In doing so, this community has pointed out the need to frame these wrong decisions in the complexity of a world-system built under the premises of colonialism, capitalism, eurocentrism, modernity, and, patriarchalism. In this same line, they urge us to understand that patterns of power such as racism, classism, sex-gender inequalities, an unequal division of labour, and conquest of nature are the result and expressions of this complex world-system.  

In this context, two years ago the Zapatistas women decided to launch, for the first time, an international call to build up a network among different women coming from different geopolitical places. The purpose of this was to get organized and strategically fight together against the inequalities we, as women, experience in our everyday lives. This year, the encounter started with different workshops, but from the very first day, one of them particularly caught participant’s attention. The topic of this workshop was violence. The main idea of this space was to share in public the ways we, as women, have experienced violence in our daily life, to then categorize the kinds of violences we are most exposed to and come up with alternatives to face, address and tackle them. However, the workshop lasted at least 15 hours. I was totally shocked by the number of women telling their terrifying experiences. It was also completely bleak, because I can assure that on average around 85% of the participants who told their stories were women of colour and from the south (mostly Latins). This figure is not because we are talking about Mexico, a Latin country, as the workshop was attended by people from at least 40 nationalities. 

After several hours of listening and understanding the issue of violence, our bodies were tired and our minds were exhausted, but our task was to listen to everyone, to lend a hand, and support each other. We were sure about something: we are going through a moment in life in which what governs is a neoliberal feminist narrative. Yes, women can vote, women can achieve better jobs, they can compete against men and win, but back home, everything changes. On that journey, women cannot go back home without fear. Fear of being kidnapped, of suffering from sexual harassment, or something worse, of being murdered. There are great battles won by feminists in some public and private institutions, but in our daily lives, the government and men continue to kill us, in the streets, in the school, in our own houses. And although this is an international issue, there is no justice, nor laws that protect us. Femicide is reduced only to figures, and in this world of numbers, life is worthless. In Mexico, at least 9 women are killed every day just for being female[1], meaning that these murders are a sex-based hate crime. And they always go unpunished, there is never a culprit and there are never answers for these types of murders. They only fill the shelves and archives of the courts.The greatest consolation to this is that the feminist struggle continues and although it gets harder every day, we know that the anger we feel will make us foster new changes.

 Puuff… the encounter was more than sadness and bitter moments. There were other more hopeful workshops, in which the importance of recreation, self-care and self-defense were the order of the day. Workshops on poetry, art, dance, and culture were spaces in which we felt safe, respecting, listening, and understanding each other.We discussed the importance of readjusting care work processes in our daily lives, reconfiguring our role as women taking and recovering any social space, and building up strategies to foster new ways of doing economics, where our bodies, nature, and life are not commodified. Nature was always the main actor in all discussions, our bodies as territories and the defense of the mother earth in times of an epistemological and ecological crisis. 

During three days of sharing our experiences and commitment to readjust this world full of injustices, we promised to keep on reflecting everything that was discussed there, and spread the word with other women who could not attend and come up with new imaginaries to solve our daily struggles in a communitarian organization. The next meeting is in December 2020 where we will not only listen, combine, and share experiences but also assume the role of participants who come with proposals for a better life. 

Para un buen vivir, de los sujetos, de la naturaleza, y de la naturaleza con los sujetos. 

[1]Esquivel, K. (2018). 9 women are murdered in Mexico every day. Retrieved from: https://www.eluniversal.com.mx/english/9-murdered-everyday.

Progressive engagements with the challenges and needs of women in an aging society.

On a Friday morning in February, Nanako Nakamura visited the Older Women’s Network in Sydney that she was referred to by one of her Australian grannies.

In 1987, motivated by women members of the Combined Pensioners Association, the Older Women’s Network started their progressive engagements with the challenges and needs of women in an aging society.

Their activities focus on homelessness, wellbeing & connectedness, income security, ageism, violence, and elder abuse, which are issues of exceptional concern for senior women in Australia.

Although they have a clear focus on old women, their activities are relevant to other social groups and underlying issues in modern societies, suggesting insights to deal with everyday life and inevitabilities, such as age and gender.

Re-enchanting the world(s) through feminist activism and commoning

How to resist the devastation of territories and social relations by collectively and creatively planting the seeds for a socioecological transformation through feminist practices of commoning? Understanding the commons as the performance of care-full social relations through which alternative, anticapitalist and non-patriarchal forms of socioecological (re)production can emerge, we can re-enchant our heterogenous lifeworlds. Putting life at the centre calls for building networks and forging alliances between urban and rural experiences of commoning, recognising women’s role in socio-environmental resistances and fighting against gender violence and hierarchies in the everyday politics of being-and-doing-in-common.

Photo: Anna Katharina Voss
Photo: Anna Katharina Voss

These were the inspiring debates during two discussions with feminist writer, scholar and activist Silvia Federici I had the opportunity to attend in May and June this year in Italy – both in themselves an expression of commoning: in the immaterial space of sharing scholar and activist perspectives and experiences while being organised on the material grounds of a community farmers’ market in Bologna (as a dialogue between Federici, professor and commons scholar Massimo De Angelis, the food sovereignty association CampiAperti and local activists from the transnational feminist network Non Una Di Meno) and at Lucha y Siesta, a self-organised women’s house and cultural centre in Rome.

Gender violence regards you too. The women house Lucha y Siesta is not for sale! Image shared by Anna Katharina Voss

Lucha y Siesta has been offering housing shelter for 142 women and 65 children who escaped situations of domestic violence since activists occupied the abandoned house and plot owned by Rome’s municipal transport agency in 2011. The centre is under imminent threat of eviction and suspension of water, electricity and gas utilities… The eviction threat is still ongoing but for now the house is resisting. They are currently mobilising a broad civil society committee to collectively purchase the house – a feminist defense of the commons in action.


You can find further information here: https://luchaysiesta.wordpress.com.