The Women’s Assembly Camp 2022 and #PatrickMustFall
From the 5th to the 8th of August 2022, members of the women’s assembly were convened in an educational camp held in Simon’s Town, Cape Town to discuss issues of race, class, gender and power.
Day 1: Race and Class
On Day 1 of the camp the women reflected on race and class. They reflected on a poem by Siphokazi Jonas – “My daughter says that we’re the right kind of poor for an application form.” Published on Twitter in February of 2022.
The program also asked them to interrogate some of the biases of race and class that they hold and how it may create challenges for the different ways they organise in their communities. They acknowledged the racial and spatial divisions perpetuated by the system and agreed to address it in their homes, communities and organisations to build better organisations and futures.
Day 2: Gender, Power and Feminist Movements
Day 2 saw the women reflecting on their ideas of feminism – the good and bad – towards building their own definitions of the ideology. They did this by developing a feminist pot with three legs, each leg representing an ideal on which to build their kind of feminism. Ideas such as ubuntu, unity and freedom emerged as important for the women. It was in this moment that the group identified that feminism means the end of “Patrick” – or patriarchy – the structural force preventing them from achieving equality and freedom. They also discussed how their struggles intersect and what this means for their organising. This was done through a reflection on the covid-19 pandemic and the ways in which is specifically meant exclusion from the economy for women.
In the afternoon, the women encountered and reflected on movements such as Sikhala Sonke, The Women’s #TotalShutdown and #RUReferenceList discussing the power and importance of women-led movements opposing violence, patriarchy and inequality. They discussed how feminist movements operate and the victories and shortfalls that emerge for these movements.
Day 3: Peasant Feminism & Building Our Campaigns
On Day 3 the women discussed food sovereignty with members of the peasant movement, La Via Campensina and the Food Sovereignty Campaign. Theresa Falatsa, Jolene Scholtz-Kearney and Charmaine Jacobs joined us throughout the program to discuss peasant feminism, food security, agri-ecology and food growing as they’ve encountered it in their movements. Through their involvement in the program long-lasting relationships were established connecting the women’s assembly to rural women’s movements in rural and peri-urban areas.
The discussions around radical feminist food security as a mechanism to oppose food insecurity motivated the women to want to take action. They spent the afternoon conceptualising a campaign that can capture the essence of what they had learned during their experiences within the women’s assembly: a safe space to reflect on the structural challenges facing them as women in working-class and impoverished communities.
Through a careful process, a press statement was conceptualised by those within the women’s assembly who prioritise food security. The Food Sovereignty Committee – a body developed in the women’s assembly – aspires to start community gardens, bakeries and kitchens that can directly tackle the challenges of hunger and poverty. Drafting the press statement happened alongside learning about messaging and banner-making where the group was challenged and given skills to draft effective messaging through the careful use and consideration of colour, slogans and art-making.
A large part of building demands and slogans included reflecting on the stories which make up the women’s every day experiences. While reflecting on the slogan: “Empty Pots = Empty Promises” a story emerged that defined the struggles faced by the women in food insecure contexts. Xoliswa from the Housing Assembly reflected on her story which highlighted the urgency and importance of action against systemic inequality excluding women from the food system.
The weekend culminated into a picket at the Constantia Circle in Constantia. The protest’s demands reflected on the intersection of struggles between race, class and gender and highlighted the violence of inequality and patriarchy. The women nicknamed patriarchy “patrick” as they did in the program on Day 2.
Here are a list of media interviews and overall coverage of the campaign:
The protest received coverage from GroundUp, IOL and several other local news stations:
The lesson plan for this program can be downloaded here: