This post is published in partnership with the Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID).
Author: Margarita Salas.
As we launch this year’s #VisibleWikiWomen 2021 campaign, we’ve invited our friends and partners at the Association of Women’s Rights in Development (AWID), to share why our theme for the campaign is “Feminist Realities”.
We were told there is no room for queerness in religion, led to believe we had either to be ourselves or renege our faith. But here is Amal, at a queer Muslim wedding, praying in jamaat* for the first time in six years. She was able to come as herself and felt a communal homecoming as she put her head to the earth. She saw herself praying at that wedding with all of her queer Muslim ancestors, her soul family, her queer Muslim family. For some people the greatest resistance is the sole act of existence.via Wiimedia Commons.
We were told to accept the stereotypical ways Romani people were portrayed in popular culture, associated with lawlessness and disorder. But as a proud feminist Romani woman, Emilie felt compelled to reclaim her experience and created the Instagram account @romani.herstory. She started to publish short biographies recounting the life journeys of women of Romani descent, unsung heroines or trailblazers who refused to conform to stereotypes. Now her followers regularly send her the names of women whose story they would like to see published. Emilie went further and created a virtual tip-jar, collecting money that she donates to different grassroots organisations helping Romani women and girls’ empowerment.
We were told our only hope was to reform the nation-State, that we could not exist beyond it, but here is Karina, at the Second International Gathering of Women Who Struggle, organized by the women compañeras of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN, in Spanish). Over 4,000 women from 49 corners of the world self-organized to come together, discuss and create proposals to tackle violence against women. 26 years ago the Zapatistas started an experience that has transformed the way this part of Mexico lives. They have faced many challenges along the way, but they exist and resist, they are a testament that shows it is possible to create an alternative Good Government, and that women can also lead it.
There are millions of stories around the world like these, of powerful ways in which feminists are creating change. At AWID we see in some of these stories of change, the possibilities for systemic transformation. We call these Feminist Realities. Sometimes they are experiences about resistance or transformations in our close circles or within our community; the important part is that each one of them can be a beacon of hope and inspiration or even a roadmap for others to craft their own path towards liberation.
When we speak about feminist realities, sometimes people respond with stories of violence and discrimination. We know and respect that these are people’s lived realities too, but we call them patriarchal realities, oppressive realities; they are not the realities feminism is proposing and creating. So we are inviting you to break away from the mediatic trend of focusing on the violence that exists in the world, to make room for the different experiences through which feminists have changed their reality, where they have managed to dismantle pieces of the oppressive beast, enabling them to create space to live their resistance and liberation.
We want to put faces to this revolution of feminist realities that is happening, which is why we are inviting you to join us in this year’s #VisibleWikiWomen campaign, by sharing the images of those people or collectives who are carrying out these alternatives in your world. We want the whole world to know their stories too; maybe it’s a neighbor, a colleague or a wonderful initiative you read about in your local newspaper. Think specially also about the feminists that may have fewer opportunities to be in the spotlight, such as grassroots organizers, black feminists, trans and non-binary folks. As we bring the images of Amal, Emilie and Karina to Wikimedia Commons, Wikipedia’s multimedia repository, and make them visible online, we hope you will join us in highlighting and celebrating all the fabulous feminists that are making Feminist Realities come alive, to strengthen our collective awareness of how many other ways there are to live in the world, that social change is possible and we’re already creating it.
(*) Islamic ritual prayer in a group