Reenergizing Young Women’s Movements
“What was this inner drive or feeling that made you do what you did?” – Generation Alive member
“We did what we did because what we had was more than just passion; we felt this thing in our stomachs that made us so angry and we just wanted to see things change. The inception of Katswe sisterhood was characterized by mad boldness.” – Rudo Chigudu at the GAL-Katswe Exchange
For most members of Generation Alive, these were the words that resonated most during the first ever Katswe-GAL exchange in April this year. “Mad boldness,” can be a difficult concept to embody in our activist work, no matter what context we come from. But opportunities like the exchange, that allow for feminist women to come together to share strategies, develop critical analyses of the struggles faced by young women in the southern African region, ground our feminist thinking and understanding of power, inspire sisterhood and unleash our creativity are invaluable.
The exchange was an inspiring and rejuvenating process for Generation Alive and their sister-organisation in Zimbabwe, Katswe Sistahood.
As part of its commitment to creating opportunities for connections and shared-learning across borders, JASS Southern Africa supported an exchange process between Generation Alive (GAL) in Zambia and Katswe Sistahood. The exchange formed part of GAL’s Organizational Development Retreat, bringing Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights Coordinator, Rudo Chigudu, to Lusaka to share and learn alongside fifteen GAL members.
During their journey Rudo shared her story with her Zambian sisters within a safe, intimate circle that allowed for open sharing, honesty and deep reflection.
Rudo’s story about the Katswe journey did not only inspire but brought to light the magic that lies in building on what women know from their own lives and are already doing, and creating safe spaces that allow for a process where women engage with difficult and taboo subjects like the sexual reproductive health challenges of sex workers and LBT (Lesbian, Bisexual and Transsexual people).
“Women kept on coming for these meetings because it was a space where they could discuss their challenges with other women. They felt that they owned the space, they were identifying and defining their own problems and discussing how best to deal with them.” – Rudo Chigudu
Prioritizing reflection, dialogue and sharing, the exchange tapped into and catalyzed energy—the kind of energy that can happen when a diverse group of women come together to talk and think about the injustices they face in everyday life. Within the safe space, GAL members could openly reflect about the kind of strategies that work well in the Zambian context and think through what that means for the collective going forward.
Some members of Generation Alive shared their thoughts and feelings about the process:
“I was motivated by the deeply rooted passion within Katswe Sisterhood that got them to even utilize their own personal resources to run activities and their ability to share responsibilities and foster collective action, unity and sisterhood.”- Lindsay – Generation Alive member.
“I was particularly motivated by the boldness and courage to stand by what they believe in and the principles they work with……” Namakando- Generation Alive member.
“The process got us to think through ways of how to be united despite our diversities as a feminist collective while keeping an agenda that acknowledges diversity and power dynamics “ - Nana Zulu
“I was particularly excited to learn ideas of how GAL can shift its ways of organizing, and to gain hope from the similarities between us and Katswe like the way personal resources of individuals were used to conduct Katswe activities, just as Generation Alive is doing, and just like Katswe, the way Generation Alive, was eventually registered due to challenges in securing resources and in holding meetings freely- due the enactment of the public order act.” – Wala Nalungwe-
Generation Alive members were also excited to share their journey with Katswe which also allowed them to check in on where GAL is. Likening their journey to a small flame that is slowly turning into a fire, the Generation Alive team shared the journey of GAL with deep felt passion.
“In the start Generation Alive was particularly passionate about getting young women into decision making spaces, but eventually after several series of spaces where young women met, talked openly, cried and laughed together, Generation Alive shifted its focus from penetrating into decision making spaces to sexual reproductive health and rights for young women. This shift was based on personal and political experiences of womanhood, where most experiences told the story of a woman who lacked bodily autonomy and integrity.” -Generation Alive member.
“We are still burning with passion, we are still determined to light up the lives of many young African women who are in the darkness of oppression”- Generation Alive member.