Flavia from GenderIT.org based her feminist talk on Maria Suárez Toro’s notes for the session “Harnessing the Power-Politics of Communications: A New Edge for Feminist Transformative Activism” that took place during the 12th AWID International Forum on Women’s Rights in Development. The session was organized by APC WNSP and took place on 12 April 2012 in Istanbul. María Suárez Toro, from the initiative ESCRIBANA described the initiative’s work developing feminist autonomous capacity to communicate feminist perspectives and women’s voices under the motto: “In the midst of destruction, open way for creativity”.
“Developing feminist autonomous capacity to communicate feminist perspectives and women’s voices!”
“Generating autonomous funds and the use of resources to live and remain independent activists!”
“Strengthening commitment to feminist social change!”
These are the main purposes of ESCRIBANA, a pool of feminists combining professional skills (as a communications consultancy), philanthropy (using a percentage of their monies to fund activism) and social media production (blogs and independent journalism).
ESCRIBANA is generating its own financial resources to contribute to developing women’s capacities to communicate creatively and to build the women’s and feminist movement for social change.
“We want to counteract the too-widely held belief that the only thing left in this world – at this point in history – is to find our own little niches to survive as best we can in patriarchal corporate market economies and their power structures and dynamics that are so entrenched today, that there is very little we can do to change these trends”, states María Suárez Toro from ESCRIBANA.
Their main motto is taken from the French writer, Anais Nin, who said: “In the midst of destruction, open way for creativity”. This is so inspirational!
ESCRIBANA is an initiative created in 2011 and they define themselves not as an NGO, not as a movement organization, not as an institution… but as a feminist social consultancy agency experimenting with a new approach to the autonomous sustainability of its work and its member’s livelihoods as middle class, professional feminists committed to social change.
This initiative does consultancies in social communication and by this they contribute their expertise, while they raise funds. Interestingly, a percentage of it goes to a common fund so that they can undertake or fund activities that few would fund free of strings attached. A part of their earnings goes for their own salaries, social security and pensions for their personal and family livelihoods. So far they have carried out our consultancies with individual women who want to write their memoirs, with UN Women, UNESCO, UNFPA, universities in the USA, Dominican Republic and Costa Rica, and with big well funded NGOs that do services for International Cooperation Agencies, and women’s funds in the feminist and women’s movement.
ESCRIBANA has developed a and journalist production strategy with a multimedia and multi-use format for independent feminist journalists who want to connect with collective activist strategies through creative communications.
They have already covered important feminist struggles such as the Petateras’ transformative feminist activism in Mesoamerica, the context of the AWID Forum by highlighting the history the Turkish feminist movement, the vast difference in government approaches to 9-11 and to Norway’s terrorist attack on youth last year, Haitian feminist struggles against impunity of crimes against humanity and against gender based violence and their challenge to the failure of humanitarian policies and the Honduran campesina women in Bajo Aguan and its struggles for land rights and life free of violence.
Nowadays the media and communications coverage is undermining women’s abilities to shape the public agenda and take action in their own terms, voices and parameters. As a result of this, alternative perspectives and strategies that emerge from women’s experiences are often marginalized, disempowering them in their efforts to contribute to social change.
In addition, one of the most damaging effects of the current hegemonic patriarchal, neoliberal paradigm is that we have been led to believe that this is the only way to be and act in the world. One result is that the alternatives – and particularly those proposed by women – go unnoticed, or are co-opted, then are devalued, and women end up being disempowered.
ESCRIBANA, in collaborative efforts with others, has funded interesting ways of activism such as the campaigns about Duvalier; the threats to close the Women’s Ministery; intercultural exchanges between Haitian and Costa Rican women; and many strategic events coverage in Honduras. In the future, they will be in Arizona in May 2012 exploring the impact of inhumane deportation procedures and immigrant rights activism along the US-Mexican border; covering the regional Latin American and Caribbean photography contest to fight violence against women at Costa Rica’s Caribbean Coast; and documenting Panamá’s struggles by the Ngäbe Buglé peoples.
And what comes next…
According to the notes shared by María Suárez Toro, ESCRIBANA will continue struggling for social change by undertaking social media productions and independent journalism that highlight feminist and women’s strategic contributions to social change for equality, peace and justice for all. They will also help feminists and other women write creatively so that their message about alternatives can have a voice, a choice and a place in everyone’s ears. To reinvent ways to finance their work (collective self reliance), while generating salaries and social security is another interesting goal. They are also developing their own feminist philanthropy for strategic actions that are linked to social change.