LIVE! From South Africa: Blog Entry 5

November 14, 2008: After Russia

For two weeks in November 2008, Women, Power and Politics Curator Masum Momaya blogged from Cape Town, South Africa, where she met with hundreds of women artists, activists and advocates from all over the world. Follow her reflections during the trip and check out videos and audio from the Feminist Technology Exchange and AWID International Forum.
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During the Opening Plenary of the AWID Forum, a young activist from the Middle East gave a humorous and provocative call to AWID participants to go back to the personal. Using a play on the word "cunt," she encouraged the audience to think about and ask each other how they came to be feminists.
Indian Activist Geetanjali Misra opens the 2008 AWID Forum in Cape Town, South Africa View Larger >
2100 Activists from all over the world attended the 2008 AWID Forum. View Larger >
Greetings from the first day of the AWID Forum. Since one of my responsibilities as Curator at I.M.O.W. is to make sure that we feature voices from many different parts of the world, I decided to attend several sessions today that focus on Central & Eastern Europe and Central Asia - two areas of the world that, sadly, I know little about.

The presence of activists from these regions at AWID has historically been strong, especially through the years when George Soros' foundation, the Open Society Institute (OSI), provided travel grants and paid to have Russian translation and interpretation services. OSI funding, though, has recently declined in these countries, leaving it so that we are back to seeing this "1 activist per country" representation from 40+ diverse countries, all from a region that seems to have immense suffering.

The transitions to democracy have not been easy. Petro-wars are placing the citizens of these countries in precarious positions. Fundamentalisms are on the rise. And each of the activist-presenters were all grappling with the question "Is the women's movement in your country dying?" All this while, women's movements in most countries in most parts of the world are growing stronger, becoming more visible and receiving more support.

As there was no Russian translation available, many participants were valiantly giving their first presentations in English, laboring to convey what seem to have become forgotten, basic struggles amidst the high-speed train that is transnational organizing. As I close this blog entry, I am still thinking about how we can go back and pick up these passengers.


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Entry 1: Cape Town Bound

Entry 2: Politics of Border Crossings

Entry 3: Day One

Entry 4: Sounds & Sights

Entry 5: After Russia

Entry 6: Mo(ve)ments that Move Us

Entry 7: The Women of South Africa

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