DEFNE’s addition :
“We are all facing an increasingly complex and polarized world filled with violence and inequality. But thanks to the efforts of our movement, it’s also a moment of key openings and opportunities.
The next four days provide a space to regroup, not only as feminists and women’s rights advocates, but also with allies from other social movements that will be joining us here. Together we can build on our collective experience and figure out new ways to work together to co-create feminist futures.”
These opening statements, printed on the 13th AWID International Forum Program, were already resonating with my heart and telling me, I was in the right place with the right beings. It reminded me of the very first time I entered the Beyond Borders group in Yerevan. The moment I entered the house, I was welcomed simply and with such deep and sincere acceptance.
“Let’s make it safe and welcoming space together”, Concepts of Diversity, Autonomy, Cooperation, Responsibility, Human Rights as aspirations and guides forming the ground and frame for the coming days to be shared by all of us, more than 3000 beings, together. Across nations, across borders of culture, across movements, orientations… A cross over!
Emphasis on the Arts – visual and performative – during the forum was another strong imprint of welcome. Many Hubs, Wellbeing Area that I was also one of the curators representing Beyond Borders Initiative, other self organized spaces and many of the Participant-Led Sessions… Finally! Fully! We were welcome to the Forum – Feminist Futures: Building Collective Power for Rights and Justice. And we welcomed an inspiring group of women, trying our best to create a frame that could host a lived and embodied experience of the “how” of what we do as Beyond Borders Initiative when we come together, live together and work together. Our focus was to create a sharing space where each and every member could feel welcomed. As we always do, we focused on playfulness, openness and acceptance. We focused on how collective collaborative functioning takes time to establish but once established how it takes us further and it does that in joy. We have worked towards bringing awareness to our patterned ways of thinking and judging each other and tried to set examples of transforming the potential guilt feeling into productive and non-defensive and open communications. And we did all that via movement and embodiment practices, utilising writing and drawing scores that accompanied our cognitive meaning making elaborations. There was a place for verbal and non-verbal sharings…
The feedbacks we received from the participants especially from the members of the Wellbeing Hub, and the interviews we have realized with the AWID team made me realize that as Beyond Borders we are really working and proposing very significant tools, approaches and foci for the feminist activist realm. We are proposing an alternative way of being activists, that do know how to take care of themselves and each other, that do prioritise well being over any political view as the meta political statement. And I realised, having attended so many forums, sessions, groups and panels that our work is so well embedded in life and brings the importance of politics of everyday life into the foreground. I felt so celebrated with our work in this Forum and I felt so lucky to have had the chance to grow in and with Beyond Borders Initiative’s members — women full of insight and courage!