WoMin is cooperating with the Southern Africa programme of Just Associates to develop and pilot a WoMin feminist political education school (FPES). The school will target women’s rights activists in community-based organisations, grassroots movements and non-governmental organisations in the WoMin alliance or those working with WoMin alliance members. The school will run for ten days and aims to empower women’s rights activists with the tools they need to understand and respond to their own experiences and the world around them from a feminist standpoint.
The first school will be held in the first quarter of 2016 and will involve leading women activists from organisations in five countries in Southern Africa. Key WoMin activists from East and West Africa will also attend to prepare to lead feminist political schools in their regions later in 2016 and in early 2017. All participants in the schools will be selected from organisations that are involved, or likely to be involved, in one of WoMin’s three content areas of work. This will ensure that movement-building support follows on from their participation in the school, and that the school assists in carrying out the various WoMin objectives. By the end of 2017, WoMin will hopefully be in a position to draw the strongest participants from the FPES in the three sub-regions into a train-the-trainers programme that will ensure deeper outreach in countries and in specific localities within countries.
In terms of content, the curriculum for the first FPES is currently in a development stage. In brief, the curriculum will be composed of five blocks:
The personal is the political: drawing from the participants’ life experiences, basic feminist ideas and concepts will be introduced.
Understanding power: various notions and layers of power will be explored, from the powerlessness experience by the individual woman to institutional power; visible and invisible forms of power; historical power structures particularly relevant to understanding mining and other extractive industries.
Transformative power: social change and collective power will be theorised as well as historicised within the African context. The history of the women’s movement in the region, and the different approaches to women’s liberation will be examined closely.
Movement-building: using the theoretical concepts and historical experiences of transformative power, participants will be tasked with re-envisioning their own work on women and extractives and completing a planning exercise around some aspect of their movement-building work for WoMin support.
Policy analysis: feminist analysis will be applied to national and regional policy documents relating to extractive industries, thus building on all of the previous blocks but focusing on their relevance for feminist interventions around extractive industry policy.
In August 2014, as part of the process of preparing the ground for the development of the WoMin Political Education School, WoMin co-convened a regional Feminist Political Education and Movement-Building roundtable with the Southern African Rural Women’s Assembly (RWA) and the Open Society Initiative of Southern Africa (OSISA). The space we created was a powerful one in which there was a significant exchange of concrete experiences of women’s rights, political education/capacity development, and movement-building work regionally. New political relations were constructed; women’s rights methodology for meeting, strategising and talking were sought and new collaborations emerged.