Reflections from Tanika Thompson
My name is Tanika Thompson and I am a Food Access Organizer at an organization called Got Green in Seattle, Washington. Got Green is a people of color led organization fighting for living wage jobs for young people of color, access to healthy food, and community led solutions to climate change. In May 2016 I attended a Feminist Organizing School hosted by South West Organizing Project (SWOP) in Albuquerque, New Mexico where I was introduced to the World March of Women, what it meant to be a feminist organizer, as well as given tools to grow not only myself, but other women in the movement as well.
I had the opportunity to attend the 10th World March of Women International Meeting in Maputo, Mozambique from October 10th – 16th in 2016. Grassroots Global Justice, (GGJ) sent three delegates; myself, Beva Sanchez, and Helena Wong to represent the United States national coordinating body of WMW. Together we shared the responsibility of discussing the issues that women are facing in the US, gathering information shared by others about what is happening in their countries, having discussions about our context, alternatives, the movement, actions, and food sovereignty.
We discussed how patriarchy, capitalism, and racism are affecting each of us. As I listened to the issues that women are facing in other countries, I became overwhelmed and amazed at their struggles as I imagined them to be my own. Can you imagine having to get written authorization from your husband before getting a job or a bank account? Doesn’t your heart go out to the nine year old girl who is expected to get married and have children because she is now facing puberty? I have nothing but respect for the women who have had the courage to stand up and fight for their own rights as well as the rights of women around the world. The women of the World March of Women are not only strong, but intelligent and I am proud to call them, “Sister.”
Attending this meeting gave me a stronger sense of the solidarity capable between women across the world and how we are all connected. It has strengthened my leadership abilities and broadened my network. I have made relationships that I would not have been able to make without traveling to Africa and having the opportunity to interact and bond with women with so much knowledge and experience. Together we are much stronger than any one person is alone.
We discussed the importance of having women in positions of power and debated the value of that power if they are unable to make decisions that will help to change women’s suffrage. We contemplated alternative solutions to the issues that we all face and brainstormed ideas on how to change our undesired realities. We made decisions about days of actions in solidarity for the upcoming year based on historic events and annual calls to actions.
In closing I would like to share a personal reflection. The day that we arrived in Maputo I was so tired from traveling and all that I wanted to do was lay down and sleep, but they had planned an opening ceremony for us to attend. A woman walked onto the stage and began to sing. Her voice was strong and beautiful. The African women in the audience, above me on the balcony began to sing in response and the sounds they produced sent shivers through my body as I began to cry. I cried because the sound of their song told me that I had just come home for the first time. It was my heritage, my roots, the place where I come from.