An alternative future is possible, we just have to keep believing
By Michel’le Donnelly
The Crear | Resister | Transform Feminist Festival in September was such a breath of fresh air in these uncertain, turbulent and painful times.
The space created by this festival has been so necessary. Necessary for the souls of those who are seeking comfort during these bleakest of times. Necessary for those craving community in what feels like an increasingly isolating world and above all, necessary for those fighting against the very systems that have brought many of us to our knees, especially over the past two years.
“Crisis is not new to feminist and social movements, we have a long history of surviving in the face of oppression and building our communities and our own realities.”
Advocating for alternative visions and alternative realities to the one we are currently living in is a fundamental building block of the feminist agenda. So many amazing people are doing the work of exploring different ways for us to exist in this world. These alternatives are people-centred. They are equitable and just. These worlds are filled with love, tenderness and care. The visions outlined are almost too beautiful to imagine, yet we must force ourselves to imagine because this is the only way we can continue.
Over the past 10 months, I have been incredibly fortunate to be working with a feminist collective that is not just imagining an alternative reality but actively living it. We are inspired by the work of so many other feminist movements across the globe who have not let the white supremacist, capitalist patriarchy deter their visions. This collective has held me together when all I wanted to do was fall apart. Much like the story shared by Maria Bonita on Day 4 of the festival, the liberation I have found in feminist movements is far too great to only be experienced by me. This is something we need to share, that we need to shout from the rooftops as we invite others to join.
Day 4 of the festival brought with it a captivating conversation between Felogene Anumo, Dr Dilar Dirik, Nana Akosua Hanson and Vandana Shiva who encouraged festival attendees to believe that not only is an alternative future possible - but that it is indeed urgent. Feminists have been talking about alternative worlds for so many years and hearing about these from the panellists was not just eye-opening but also comforting. Comforting in the sense that it made me feel safe to know that there are indeed strong, global feminist networks working across international and national borders, seeking to decolonise the established frameworks of our current realities.
What does an alternative reality look like?
During the session, Dr Dirik highlighted the fact that belief, sacrifice and patience are most needed to abolish the oppressive systems we currently live in. Collaboration, partnership, creativity, solidarity and autonomy. These are key pillars to building a global feminist society and they should be embraced by all feminist movements around the world.
Practical examples of these realities can be found across the globe, including the Soulaliyate Women's Land-Use Rights Movement. Referring to the tribal women in Morocco who live on collective land, the Soulalyate Women’s Movement is the first grassroots nationwide mobilisation for land rights in Morocco. Whilst initially the movement was quite small, it grew into a nationwide agenda that challenged the gendered nature of laws regulating land in the country. In 2019, the group contributed to overhauling the national framework legislation on the management of community property through the adoption of three sets of laws guaranteeing the equality of women and men.
Another practical example is Zuleymi Trans House in Peru. Operating since 2016, the house is a refuge for migrant trans women, girls and teens who the state has left behind. It has provided safe shelter for 76 migrant trans women from Venezuela, along with 232 from jungle areas, Indigenous communities and the north coast of Peru.
Knowing about these feminist movements who are doing the work to make alternative futures a reality is incredibly inspiring and just what is needed, especially as I struggle to grapple with the neverending stream of bad news that seems to flow uninterrupted.
“Capitalist patriarchy is like a cancer. It doesn’t know when to stop growing” - Dr Vandana Shiva
AWID has always been a movement inspired by the feminist realities that we can live in. Through their festivals, as well as feminist realities magazine and toolkit, we have been shown a different way of doing things. We can imagine a world where care is prioritised, where feminist economies and gender justice are the norm. Creating alternative futures is how we fight back, it’s how we resist the violence that is perpetrated against our bodies every day.
The Crear | Resister | Transform Festival has allowed me to feel so connected to a global community, many of whom I will never meet. Knowing that we are all working towards and claiming another world has lit a fire in my soul and I cannot wait to see what the next festival will have in store.
If you missed it, make sure to watch the: "She is on her way: Alternatives, feminisms and another world" session from Day 4 of the festival below. And remember, as Dr Shiva said so eloquently: “Women’s energies will continue life on earth. We will not be defeated.”