Southern Africa Rural Women’s Assembly
4th Feminist School
July 1st – July 7th 2018
This is the 4th Feminist School of the Rural Women’s Assembly (RWA). The annual feminist school has become an important space for the RWA. Over the past four years we have managed to introduce the notion of feminism into the RWA. In our view, this is a process with a longer perspective for developing a strong layer of feminist leaders in RWA and in society, as a whole. Building and creating strong feminist methodology and practice is an important task given that RWA today has become rooted in ten countries in Southern Africa confronting strong systems of patriarchy, sexism, misogyny, violence against women and so called cultural practices aimed at keeping women oppressed. These processes are deeply rooted and women are often the “custodians” of these entrenched values.
The task of our feminist school is not simply about raising consciousness about feminism, but it is about developing and deepening consciousness of rural women, farmers and producers, both young and old, of a feminism that is rooted in Africa and in our work with nature. Our feminism needs to be relevant for our realities and a tool for effective organising. Hence, the objectives of the school are multi-faceted in that we are attempting to build conscious feminist leaders, share analyses of the ecological crises ensuring an enhanced understanding of humanity as part of nature. Additionally, we want to develop alternatives to the dominant modes of agriculture, consumption and ecology destruction. Critical in our process is to draw on our know-how and experience.
Making the exploitation of women’s work visible is an important aspect of the feminist school, this is essential given that women are responsible for farming an estimated 50-80% of the world’s food. Not only do women grow food, they are also responsible for household food consumption and hence a gendered division of labor means that women usually grow food for consumption while men usually grow food for cash crops and export.
This school aims to build on the strong tradition of rural women’s activism and fight back against the way in which the commons are been grabbed, privatised and commercialised by cultivating a rural movement of women that can both defend their common interests and pose concrete alternatives and solidarity.
Note from Mercia Andrews