A special note from the WEDO team,
We hope that this message finds you in good health and good spirits, as we live through these difficult times. At WEDO, similarly to many of you, we have spent the last few weeks thinking through how we move forward as the world continues to shift beneath our feet. What are the appropriate next steps? How can we best show up for our families, our communities, ourselves?
For us, the first step was to turn to our movement allies around the globe, recognizing that our resilience has always come from feminist solidarity. In dialogues with our partners earlier this week, we shared many similar hopes and fears, as well as a deep desire for continued feminist collective reflection – to plan, strategize, and hold on to the many ways in which this crisis is uncovering the critical ways in which feminist solutions are vital to a resilient world.
- This is a deeply personal and embodied crisis, one being faced by each and every person in their own intersecting ways. We should fully embrace and lift up feminist leadership in promoting self-care, in being kind and compassionate not only to others but to ourselves, in reaching out to each other and finding comfort in feminist solidarity.
- This is a moment that demands re-valuing and centering care. The world is understanding what feminists have been working on for decades: a full scale re-evaluation of what work is “essential”. With this, comes an understanding of the gendered nature of this crisis and who is at the frontlines, and concern about those whose work is already informal and precarious, who may not have access to social protection measures even where such measures are in place.
- This crisis interlinks deeply with migration and migrant justice, and the impact of closing borders in the long-term has to be understood in the context of human rights.
Countries around the globe are implementing punitive and authoritarian measures, focused on the control of people and movement, currently in the context of public health.
- What are the long-term impacts of these swift, top-down measures for democratic governance and human rights? How can we remain vigilant in our protection of rights while also supporting measures to combat this pandemic?.
- The impact on the realization of sexual and reproductive health and rights will be devastating. We are already seeing essential services being deemed “non-essential”, all in the context of a public health emergency and strained health infrastructure.
- What are the implications for multilateralism? What does this mean for critical areas of concern, including climate change, biodiversity, macro-economic issues, health? How will we uphold the multilateral space and ensure it continues in an inclusive, equitable and transparent manner?
- And finally, this pandemic requires solutions that are framed in the context of global justice. What does relief look like from an equity perspective and what is the framework for developing and least developed countries in a just response to this crisis?
As feminist advocates, part of our work is reflecting on, responding to and planning around these key questions. However, we cannot underestimate the critical importance of the first reflection, of understanding this as an embodied crisis, deeply intertwined with self-care and mental health. We cannot move forward without an acknowledgement and commitment to collective, compassionate leadership – we will slow down, we will make space for each other, we will allow time to build and time to heal.
In these regards, WEDO has organized its work for the foreseeable future in three key areas:
Response & Resilience
This moment requires us to be in community in many ways.This is a critical moment to utilize skills in organizing and advocacy to engage in local mutual aid networks, to create space for collective experience sharing and to re-orient towards urgent policy asks.
This past week, WEDO joined hundreds of organizations in calling for a People’s Bailout here in the United States, based on 5 key principles: 1) Health is a top priority, for all people, with no exceptions; 2) Provide economic relief directly to the people; 3) Rescue workers and communities not corporate executives; 4) Make a down payment on a regenerative economy, while preventing future crises; and 5) Protect our democratic process while protecting each other.
We are seeing similar types of urgent and critical work being undertaken by many of our partners, from Jacqui Patterson and the NAACP who released the “Ten Equity Implications of the Coronavirus COVID-19 Outbreak in the United States” to FEMNET’s Mwanahamisi Singano, who wrote about “How to stop Coronavirus Lockdown Leading to an Upsurge in Violence Against Women.”
The work to ensure a just response and recovery, here in the United States and around the globe, is just beginning, and WEDO aims to engage with feminist allies to articulate what a feminist response to COVID-19 looks like. In all this urgent work, we emphasize three key messages:
- A world centered on regeneration and care, for ourselves, for others, for our planet, is the only sustainable future.
- Inequality and injustice are incompatible with a healthy world.
- We can radically transform our world to meet global crises, if we work with purpose and in solidarity.
As we make space for self-care, community organizing and urgent advocacy, we must also work to mark the inflection points – across our societies – where the “impossible” is not only becoming the “possible” but the “necessary.” We are witnessing many of the elements of a just society that feminists have long pushed for being integrated into the fabric of Governments’ responses to the crisis.
We are tasked with the work of analyzing and strategizing about both the positive radical transformations and the many potential negative ones in order to be able to uplift and center feminist solutions.
In this work, WEDO will connect analysis from across our allied networks, from the key principles outlined for a Feminist Green New Deal, to the solutions and demands of global climate justice movements, in creating a just and health planet.
Finally, WEDO will remain steadfast in its global advocacy for gender equality and environmental integrity. We have been in touch with many of our key allies over the past few weeks, from movement partners, to Governments and allies in the United Nations – all displaying the collective desire to ensure we move forward in upholding momentum to fighting the interlocking crises of climate change, ecosystem destruction and gender injustice.
In the coming weeks and months, we will reach back out to share with you and engage you in some of this continuing work. We invite you to also share the ongoing work you are doing to uphold critical advocacy in this time of crisis.
To bring us back to our starting point, being in community with you, our allies, our partners, our friends, is what drives us as individuals and as an organization. In the coming days and months we hope to share the many examples of the power & resilience that comes with feminist movement-building and advocacy.
We can radically transform our world to meet global crises, if we work with purpose and in solidarity.
The WEDO Team
A Note on Mutual Aid
As feminists, we know that collective and mutual aid in this time is critical to ensuring our community’s well-being, needs and health, as well as our own. As a personal reflection: in a time where it can be confusing to know where to turn to support, supporting mutual aid networks in our own community in Brooklyn has been both powerful and grounding. For fellow feminists also based in the United States, please check out this document on all mutual aid networks across the country and this mutual aid coordination slack in order to find networks to support and access support. Mutual aid is and has been practiced all over the world, and our spirits are lifted by seeing colleagues creatively finding ways to come together in community, like FEMNET’s recent #InclusiveLockdown Twitter campaign that spurred a vibrant online discussion of what a radically inclusive response during this crisis looks like. We invite all of you to share the networks and initiatives you are building within our larger community, both to welcome participation and to share ideas and knowledge across the world.
Resources for Virtual Organizing
Our partners at WECF International have just hosted a virtual civil society forum for 190 registered participants to discuss and plan our collective input to the UNECE’s virtual Regional Forum on Sustainable Development – and they have kindly shared their learning and resources in this useful post.