Illustration by Pilar Emitxin
This question was at the heart of the first in a series of HIC co-learning spaces, which over six months brought together a team from the HIC GS and regional offices, the KNOW programme, and most importantly, a dedicated and experienced group of six facilitators from the Africa, MENA and Latin America regions: Marina Khamal (Social Democratic Forum, Yemen), Mara Nazar (CISCSA, Argentina), Andrea Casabuono (Habitar Argentina), Diana Wachira (Pamoja Trust, Kenya), Eliane Silvie Mfomou (CONGEH, Cameroon) and Hazem Abdallah (Dibeen Association for Environmental Development, Jordan).
Co-learning happened through a curated process of designing, planning and implementing a one-month virtual course on feminist approaches to habitat together; a challenging and rewarding process where everyone has been a learner, where everyone has contributed valuable skills, knowledges and experiences, and where weaving relationships between the supporting team, facilitators and participants has been core to the pedagogy and content of the developed course.
Over the month of February, 81 HIC Members, friends and allies engaged in 4 sessions in which we learnt together about the local, regional and global histories of feminist struggles, violences and inequalities, care and other works, and feminist advocacy strategies. The sessions were stimulated by 14 input presentations from seven countries, bringing key concepts and diverse experiences to the virtual space; they were supported by interpreters in Arabic, French, English and Spanish as well as an illustrator; and, at the core, were brought alive through the virtual discussions and contributions by participants and facilitators on zoom and in Google Classroom. Deeper reflections are emerging from this co-learning space as we consolidate its resources into podcasts and a website. For now, let us share two initial highlights.
- Co-learning has been a motor for collectivising feminist struggles as well as strategies to address them in different ways. On the one hand, 10 planning meetings, four capacity-building workshops and many e-mail exchanges were a hands-on way to build and nurture cross-regional relations amongst facilitators. On the other hand, emerging from the co-learning space is a cross-regional HIC working group on gender justice, which seeks to mobilise Members to advocate around issues discussed in the co-learning space.
- While HIC has several regional working groups on feminist issues, as well as a rich history of faciltating knowledge exchanges, co-learning in a virtual space has brought distinct qualities: its widened reach gave visibility to contributions from members and experiences who might have had little opportunity to share and connect their knowledges and reflections in previous spaces; the collective facilitation and multiplicity of voices in the sessions also helped to generate a diverse and horizontal learning environment which gave space to make (unexpected) connections.
To close with the feedback shared by one of the contributors, Luz Amparo Sánchez (Corporación Región)
I believe that the voices in dialogue from continents and territories that have been marginalised by Western academia, and the respectful and supportive role of professionals from HIC, is a political and epistemological contribution… It is as if the epistemology of the South that we have dreamed of, and even theorised about, were becoming a reality.
It is striking that a woman from Africa, dealing with such complex issues as discrimination against women and land dispossession in her country, asks about disability in Colombia, or that the trans activist perceives and stops at one point in her intervention to refer to language as a very strong issue that demands significant social efforts from both collectivities (people with disabilities and trans people).