Celebrating feminist ancestors with a living archive of hope
| By Laila Malik
“No thank you. I am refusing the presidential award for my mother's work. I'm sure she would have refused it if she was alive today...How can I accept an award for her work at this time? It would be an insult to her whole life's struggle for justice and equality.
Writers and journalists are being kidnapped, tortured, even murdered. Harassers being awarded."
- Veerta Ali Ujaan, daughter of the late Pakistani feminist poet Fehmida Riaz
They organized everywhere
In neighbourhoods, in factories, on farms, in forests and at dams and mines. From Mauritania to Guyana, from Kenya to the Philippines, from Honduras to Pakistan, fighting for the right to inhabit and protect their own lands, communities and identities, resisting and building alternatives to militias, corporations, their own governments and other forces. They found others like themselves and organized for justice, for change, in order to survive, resist and flourish. They used words and law and art and sometimes, when necessary, they used their own bodies.
Andaiye Bessy Fahmida Sainimili Dilma Paula Andrea Yelena Navleen Sylvia Molara
They were given different names. Sometimes they were called defenders, protectors, activists, organizers. Sometimes they were called feminists. For those whose many faces of power they challenged, they were trouble-makers, dissenters, irritants, threats.
Doris Hevrin Carol Magaly Nadyn Cynthia Yamile Mereani Naisua Janet
For us, those they leave behind, they are our pole stars, the ones whose life work and stories light our way through tempestuous waters. When we are buffeted by forces that would divide us from one another and from our own selves, from our roots and from our potential, when we are adrift, they are the ones whose memory reminds us that we were never alone. That we have agency. That we can and must reach out and connect, with one another, with ourselves, with imagination and joy and humour.
Binta Sylvia Juli Mena Diana Isabel Laurie Maritza Sarah Lina Jaitun
On every corner of this planet, we who refuse to have our bodies, our minds, our communities bound and suppressed, have always had heroes, we are surrounded by them, they are with us, they are us.
Fadila Roxana María Digna Gloria Rosa Candida Isabel Dorothy Nilcéa Aïssata Lorena
And so we pause together to remember them, our pole stars, with this feminist archive of hope. To marvel at their courage and creativity. To laugh with delight and awe at their ingeniousness and impact. To learn and to take heart.