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The 5th Annual RWA Feminist School

Southern Africa Rural Women’s Assembly 

5th Feminist School

9 – 14 June 2019

Lusaka, Zambia

 This year the RWA Southern Africa will celebrate its 10th Anniversary! This is indeed a milestone. Celebrating our tenth year of existence cannot be separated from spaces that we have created in the RWA, such as the annual Feminist School.  Organising the Feminist School is one of the main tools we use to shape and build a common perspective, a common methodology and deepen our approach to feminism. We have also used the Feminist School to introduce women to feminist literature, analysis and approaches.

 The RWA continues to stress that it is a rural women’s movement that strives to integrate and develop feminist principles, analysis and praxis. For us arriving and using feminist principles and analysis is a journey, we continue to build our approach. It’s a more useful approach, given that to claim the title of a feminist is a great responsibility!

 Feminism is not simply about theory. It is also about how to act in our local structures, how we relate to each other, how we understand and respond to all the daily challenges we face.  What is a feminist approach to land? What do we mean when we say, ‘a lack of water affects rural women in a very direct way’! How do we understand power and have we as leaders in the RWA adopted a ‘masculine approach to leadership’?

 The theme for this year’s school is Towards a Transformative Agenda for the Countryside. It is important to note that as RWA we have already done a great deal of work in thinking about what a transformative agenda could look like. Some of that includes the development of alternatives around farmer managed seeds, the protection of our own traditional seeds, the struggle around land, the struggle for space in agriculture and in developing a very strong understanding and practice of agroecology. This is part of a transformative agenda. Building women’s voice and building our movement is another aspect of our transformative agenda. We have begun to take this journey. This school is about helping us to deepen and open our imagination around more aspects of what a transformative agenda could look like.

 Each year the Feminist School attempts to deal with some of these issues. This is why we stress that it’s a journey, we have to learn together, we all have to own the analysis as the leaders of the RWA, not only a few individuals in the RWA.

 What is exciting is that grassroots rural women, farm workers, farmers and fishers are grappling with these concepts but not only the concepts, we are grappling with how we ensure that we integrate a feminist practice and theory in all our movement building strategies.

Note from Mercia Andrews

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