Feminist International Radio Endeavour

June 2007

By FIRE – Feminist International Radio Endeavour
Radio Internacional Feminista

Press Release June 27, 2007

US Social Forum:


By María Suárez  & Margaret Thompson

Observing women’s political participation and influence at the US Social Forum in Atlanta from June 27-July 1 is an objective of the Women’s Transformation Watch (“Women Crossing the Line”), an initiative created by Mesoamerican feminists in 2006 together with U.S. women’s human rights activists from Just Associates.   

In addition, FIRE’s virtual observatory will be interviewing women participating at the Forum about what it means to “cross the line” in engaging in transformational politics to bring women’s perspectives into social change in promoting equality, peace, social and environmental justice.


Past observations by Women's Transformation Watch

The Women’s Transformation Watch (called in Spanish, Observatorio Feminista de la Transgresión) has so far observed the 2006 Nicaraguan elections, “Women in Resistance” in Oaxaca, Mexico in April, 2007, and a fact-finding mission to Costa Rica to hear about women’s resistance to Central American Free Trade Agreements (CAFTA).

For example, in the Watch or “Observatorio” coverage of the Nicaraguan elections in 2006, women from the Movimiento Autonomo de las Mujeres (Autonomous Women’s Movement) crafted a feminist agenda and candidates to bring to one of the political parties because the women realized they needed autonomous organizing in order to ensure that their rights and vision as female citizens be included in political agendas.

In Oaxaca, Mexico in April, 2007, the second Watch or Observatorio recorded women’s resistance to neoliberal policies and the “kidnapping” of the local state by the culture of corruption and impunity among public officials that threatens the fragile democracy of the country.  The Observatorio collected numerous messages of solidarity from around the world for participants at the “Women & Resistance” meeting in Oaxaca.  Women have been at the forefront of the massive street mobilizations and protests, and have even taken over  media venues to be able to express their struggle in the defense of human rights, democracy and social justice.

In Costa Rica, a fact-finding mission by the Observatorio or Watch in March, 2007  comprised of women from all Mesoamerican countries and the US listened to feminists from Costa Rica who are resisting the adoption by the government of the CAFTA agreement.  The feminists highlighted not only how this free trade agreement affects them as citizens but also as women who bring to the struggle their own perspectives regarding a democracy that includes equality for women, peace that also includes an end to violence against women, and social justice that includes policies that deal with the impact of the feminization of poverty, etc.. 

These examples of Women’s Transformation Watch (Observatorio Feminista de la Transgresión)  showcase how Mesoamerican women are “crossing the line” by undertaking transformational politics that go beyond traditional liberal reforms, challenging and reconceptualizing from a feminist perspective the main demands that they share with the rest of the citizenship in their countries.

At the USSF 2007 in Atlanta, FIRE (Feminist International Radio Endeavour) and Just Associates, as members of the Watch will organize this initiative for the purpose of contacting and connecting with women’s groups and organizations to inform them about this initiative and encourage them to join the Observatory in future actions in the USA itself and elsewhere. 

The initiative to create the Watch emerged from an agreement among 25 feminists from Central America and Mexico, who came together in Panama for a meeting on “Imagining and Reinventing the Feminism of the Future” from September 19-22, 2006, organized by the international organization Just Associates with the support of Hivos of the Netherlands.

For more information about the Women’s Transformation Watch, contact María Suárez of FIRE at maria@radiofeminista.net, or Cindy Clark of Just Associates, Inc. at cac@justassociates.org.  Also look at the FIRE webpage at: www.radiofeminista.net (Spanish) or www.radiofeminista.net/indexeng.htm (English).


Women’s Transformation Watch Report:  Pre-USSF

One of the themes at the US Social Forum is incorporating gender & sexuality issues into social movements.  Based on that theme, the preliminary USSF schedule shows a number of activities and initiatives related to women, sexuality, class, nationality, immigrant/refugee status, etc., some of which are organized by the Women’s Working Group, coordinated by SisterSong, as well as other groups. 


A few selections include:

  • The “Red Tent” in the Health, Healing & Environmental Justice Tent will be an information site for gender-specific activities and workshops for navigation at the USSF.  The inauguration of the site consists of a “Red Tent Opening Ceremony” with a women’s celebration to be held on Thursday, June 29 at 10 am..  It will begin with a Cherokee women's ceremony followed by women's organizations presenting a symbol of their work to our Sacred Center. Musicians, singers and dancers will be present.


  • Gender & Sexuality Plenary: The Women’s Working Group, the Transformative Justice Caucus, the Environmental Justice Working Group and the Queer Caucus collaborated to organize the Liberating Gender and Sexuality: Integrating Gender and Sexual Justice Across Our Movements plenary on Saturday, July 30 6:00-7:30 pm at the Atlanta Civic Center. For more info, please visit: www.ussf2007.org/plenaries


  • Social Forum Court of Women: A tribunal on human rights violations against women in the US, Thursday, June 28, 1:00-5:00 pm at St. Luke's Episcopal Church, 435 Peachtree St, NE. Session topics include: Violence Against Women, the Criminal (In)Justice System and the Gulf Coast Crisis. Judges, Expert Witnesses, and Performers will be present. For more information contact Pat Willis: Pwill06@coastalnet.com.


Selected sessions:

Rebuilding Women’s Movements Across All Borders (Thur. June 28), which will explore ways of rebuilding and ere-energizing women’s movements across borders of power and privilege;

Popular Education for Social Transformation: Case Studies from Around the Globe (Fri. June 29), which will explore examples of popular education from different contexts and countries, and discuss common struggles and themes in using popular education for social transformation;


Women Make Media:  Not War (Sat. June 30) ??

While most mainstream media cover war through the eyes of the war makers, many women at all levels of media concentrate efforts in rendering visibility to women´s voices about peace. In this session, feminist grassroots media practitioners will describe their experiences, successes and the obstacles they face.

Other examples of sessions that illustrate women’s participation and actions at the forum including the following topics:

  • State perpetrated violence against indigenous women & girls

  • Change women’s lives, change the world

  • Gender & militarism

  • Black women internationalists speak out

  • Advancing US women’s rights through global feminism

  • Rebuilding women’s movements across all borders

  • Combating military violence

  • Feminist look at age as a social construct

  • Women’s leadership in the labor movement


Other women's events: 

Breakfast: The Ms. Foundation will be hosting a Breakfast on the morning of Thursday, June 28th from 8:30-11:00 am at the Hyatt Regency Hotel during the USSF. RSVP required. Contact Tiffany Robertson: trobertson@ms.foundation.org.

Reception: The National Organization for Women is sponsoring a Women’s Networking Reception on Friday, June 29, 5:30-7:30 pm at the headquarters of CARE International, 151 Ellis Street NE. For more information or to co-sponsor, contact Jan Strout: womenvotenow@yahoo.com.

Hospitality Suite: SisterSong is sponsoring a Women’s Hospitality Suite at the Marriott Hotel, 160 Spring Street, during the USSF that will be open from 10:00 am – 6:00 pm, Wednesday 6/27 to Saturday 6/30. This suite will have fruit, snacks and water for our sisters needing a place to rest and refresh during the USSF.


More to be posted.

For more information, contact María Suárez Toro of FIRE during the WSSF at maria@radiofeminista.net or call 720-333-9315 or Cindy Clark of Just Associates, Inc. at cac@justassociates.org.

To follow FIRE’s coverage of the USSF 2007, go to
www.radiofeminista.org/ (Spanish) or www.radiofeminista.org/indexeng.htm (English).  

For more information about the WSSF go to: www.wssf.org