New Feminist Network for \’Glocal\’ Activism

Apr 20 2009

By Jiyoung LeeAn

SEOUL, Apr 20 (IPS) – Feminist activists have adopted ‘glocal’, a relatively new geolexical construct, to bridge activism from across Asia, Latin America and Africa.

About 30 participants from three continents came together for a two-day intensive workshop in Seoul that was followed by a public forum on Apr. 18 to announce the establishment of the Network of GloCal Activism (NGA) and School of Feminism (SF).

The network will start with 5 glocal points (GPs) in China, South Korea, Mexico and South Africa.

“To deal with global economic crisis, we need to explore new attempts and forces. Mutual interaction between local and global will bring about new energy for feminist activism. It should be based on green (ecology)-red (Marxism)-Purple (Feminism),” says Patricia Martha from Mexico.

Glocal is a combination of ‘global’ and ‘local.’ The organisers say this is created to refer to mutual responses and relationships between ‘local and local’, and ‘local and global’; different from the existing concept of the South, the third world or transnational, for instance.

The idea was first floated in South Korea several years ago.

According to Gaphee Ko from the South Korea GP, “we are living in an era of ‘global patriarchal system’ which has reinforced discrimination based on gender, race, species, class and race. Our movement will be based on the ideological paradigm of feminism through which Green-Red-Purple can be brought together.”

For feminist activists, the global patriarchal system is enhanced by militarism, capitalism, imperialism and fundamentalism.

To challenge this, the NGA plans to establish a Theory Research Center, School of Feminism and GP Network.

The Theory Research Center will generate agendas and theories to support glocal activism. It will primarily theorise the gendered and sexualized nature of female labour. Domestic work, sex work, care work, and irregular works mainly carried out by female workers will be some of the main agendas.

The School of Feminism will provide space for experimentation where diverse theories formulated in the Theory Center and movements will be combined. Participants will be feminist activists working in areas like domestic work, care work and sex work. They will have opportunities to connect their activism and theories through following the curriculum of the school.

SF participants will further become members of the GP network which aims to plan and implement glocal forums and campaigns based on connectivity and integration of movements among GPs. After participating in the school, they go back to their own GPs and also take part in organising different forums and workshops with their own issues in their GPs.

As a starting point, the first School of Feminism will open this October in the Korea GP. Members of the ‘Establishment Committee for NGA/SF’ from the 5 GPs are due to come together to map out a common curriculum in July.

The process of establishing the NGA was very challenging, and required a lot of patience, according to the organisers. Language, which could have been a hurdle, was dealt with by providing interpretation and translation services during the whole process.

Says Johanna Kehler from South Africa: “It is a very new way of debating and discussing. It demands enormous amount of patience. You may feel very emotional about something but you have to wait until all translations are done. So you may lose your moment of emotional response but nonetheless it is a very new experience for us. So the keyword is Patience!”

To deal with the language challenge, several interactive language programmes will be included in the First School of Feminism to facilitate communications of local activists from different GPs.

In the public forum on Apr. 18, diverse issues such as sex workers’ rights, sexual equality, domestic workers’ rights, AIDS were discussed and debated as agendas to be dealt within the NGA/School of Feminists.

XiaoPei He from China expressed a strong desire to establish concrete collaboration through NGA for LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans-gender).

“In China, even though many networks were formed after the Fourth UN World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995, networks for LGBT was not focused upon enough compared to other issues such as labour and migration,” she points out. “We need to collaborate together and establish feminist theories to develop our activism.”

Just what the NGA/School of Feminism proposes to do. (END/2009)

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