AWID Forum Day 1

Initial thoughts while still IN the experience of the 2012 AWID Forum in Istanbul Turkey: OVERWHELMING!

Each day has started off with a morning plenary featuring a number of speakers and somehow fitting 2,245 people (huge % women) in the large Halic auditorium. The center is beautiful, overlooking the Golden Horn river.

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First day: Completely overwhelmed. There are TWO booklets for the workshop sessions. One is a full booklet just to LIST the schedule of events over the four days. The other is a large booklet of details describing each workshop session – too many to count. There are about 15 sessions per time slot! 15! TRUST the decision has been QUITE difficult for every session period so far.

Opening plenary [Economic Power: Why does it matter and how to understand it in the current global context] I walked in and magically found Cheryl and Reisa saving seats for me, Eileen and Susan. What a great team to be going through this experience with! Take aways from this plenary:

  1. Idea of TIME POVERTY. So often we think of income and financial measures as the main indicators of poverty. Many people with high incomes experience time impoverishment. They can’t spend time with their kids, or in their own homes. (It definitely resonates for me.)
  2. Care work (care of children, families, elderly, household etc.): Even when women contribute in the markets equally, these are still seen/stereotyped as women’s responsibilities. However, these cannot be completely commodified – would we want them to be? What makes women responsible for the care of human beings in a system where humans are only the means to an end? The end being economic growth and success.

Gita Sen, “This is a fierce new world” “Economic justice cannot be pitted against gender justice.”

Reflections: A striking thought for me throughout this plenary also came around the idea of the movements as a whole. The forum has called for a strengthening of a larger feminist/women’s rights movement; stating that there are many movements around social justice, but that, in many cases, they have been disconnected and siloed. The speakers made mention of a larger capitalist system and called for systemic changes in our global society. The question for me is: How can we use the current system? Social movements must push the boundaries/rules of the system – at the same time,  there are plenty of ways within the system that we need to be able to make a difference. For example: Eileen being here to see these issues opens the door to make shifts in the supply chain and use business as a movement. That inspires me.

Take aways from breakout sessions:

Feminist Economic Toolbox [Commodification of Knowledge: How increasing access and availability of the internet has transformed the way knowledge is produced and shared]: Who are the real creators of knowledge? Who are the OWNERS of that knowledge? How is it shared? How have we moved from oral storytelling to digital storytelling etc?

Transforming the Revolution: WELLNESS. A reminder to take care of ourselves. How important that is to not let our work lead to burnout and/or too much stress on our bodies. Full disclosure: I loved that this workshop started with Tai Chi exercises! Showering Light on ourselves and others, Letting Go, and bring in the future dreams. So refreshing! HOWEVER: In order to make the most of this experience I’ve been living on the edge of 4/5 hrs of sleep each night and it’s been YOGA-less thus far. That said, there is a wellness center which I will be heading over to today. I NEEDS ME A MASSAGE! 🙂

EVENING Launches and Performances:

Crea Organizer holds new publication ‘Free and Equal’

CREA is this organization I have fallen in love with! They are awesome women with great energy describing themselves as a global feminist organization based in India. They are women from the global south focused on empowering women in the global south. It was great to meet them at the launch of their awesome booklet with photos by Rebecca Swan Free and Equal on experiences of women who resist oppression.

WOW! What a day. I’ve been super psyched, inspired and making great connections. On the shuttle bus home, I met two new friends with shared interests who I’ve been spending a lot of time with throughout the week. More to come on Days 2, 3 and 4!

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