By Marcia Olivo
I attended the Women’s Assembly at the World Social Forum 2015, being held in Tunis, Tunisia. The assembly
began with powerful and inspiring speeches of women leaders from different countries. In the auditorium, an audience made of mostly women and some men, celebrating the fact that through our work, strategies and leadership, we have been able to create relevant spaces within the World Social Forum—spaces that are helping us to raise the visibility of the negative impact of capitalist, neoliberal, imperialist, racist and patriarchal policies and practices on our bodies, our families and our communities.
More importantly, we reaffirmed our commitment to create and move agendas to achieve gender equality and to end physical and structural violence against women and girls of all identities. We won’t stop fighting until our demands become the permanent structural changes that allow us to dismantle all mechanisms and practices of oppression that foresee the inclusion and visibility of all the issues that daily impact the dignity, security and safety and integrity of women and girls.
As part of the audience, my heart was beating fast. I was chanting “Yes we can! “Si Se Puede!” My hands were
clapping!. At the same time, a miracle happened, my heart and my brain started working together. In unity, both my brain and my heart were internalizing the beautiful reality that women from all over the globe, from Miami to Tunisia, from Mexico to Palestine, from Nigeria to Trinidad are creating changes to dismantle systems of oppressions. Women are creating new and innovative possibilities of transformation by offering a leading way, not the way.
Suddenly something was interrupting such beauty. A group of people, men and women from a region in conflict, aggressively occupied the stage, claiming their right to inclusion and to enhance the visibility of their struggle. Suddenly, the harmony, synchronization and synergy that my body and soul were in, stop without any warning. Silence, sadness, anger and determination occupied my being.
That was the time when I really was able to appreciate and value some somatic techniques. I centered myself and as a result I was able to identify shared values: (1) We are fighting different forms of oppression that are preventing our full participation in all aspects of society. (2) We see the importance of inclusion and to lift up the visibility of issues impacting our lives. The truth is that our gatherings and our movement will not be without conflict and contradictions. Part of our work is to develop tools that allow us to meet our challenges with love, compassion, and integrity that will translate into transformation.
Then a question came to my mind: when dismantling all the obstacles that hinder our full participation in a democratic society, and raising visibility and creating inclusion are shared values, then what becomes possible?
From my seat at the auditorium where the Women’s Assembly was taking place, despite all the contradictions, I
saw and imagined many possibilities: A unified, strong movement, aiming to dismantle all forms of oppression based on love and humanity; an analysis and intersectional framework of social conditions and obstacles that prevent people from living with dignity and respect; a movement that includes all the voices, experiences, gender identities, culture and values of the full demographics of our communities. Crystal clear I imagined a better world with women’s voices, leadership and Influence leading a way to defend the dignity of our bodies, our communities and mother earth.