By Marivir R. Montebon
New York – While summer normally means vacation and cool days by the beach, for young women leaders here, it always meant being engaged seriously for self-advancement too. Now on its seventh year, the Summer School of Women’s Activism is becoming a brand and tradition for the women’s group AF3IRM, which the New York chapter has pioneered for women’s improved personal, political, and social consciousness. The SSOWA is the group’s painstaking effort to organize and improve on the action and schools of thought on women’s activism, particularly that of the narratives of women of color in the Trump presidency.
With the 2018 theme “heal through struggle,” young feminist Filipino leaders bring out the personal, collective, and generational traumas of women and engage in intersectional feminism as an approach to healing. The four-week session covers historical context of women’s struggles, imperialism, militarism, and five continents feminism and translates these into personal reflection and collective healing-action.
AF3IRM looks at the importance of learning the history of women’s struggles since the ancient times in order to begin the healing process. “Before this transition can begin, we must acknowledge the shadows of the self, of systems, of the world,” writes Princess Manuel, AF3IRM’s organizing director.
During the opening weekend, lawyer Olivia Canlas contextualized the women’s movement for human rights as historical as well as contemporary. Women’s exploitation is deeply rooted on their value as child-bearers, agrarian geniuses, and community healers in the ancient times, thus they became the first commodity for exchange and slavery among warring tribes. Today, poverty has a woman’s face in the midst of stereotypes, femicide, rape, and domestic violence.
Each weekend is an eye-opener for participants of SSOWA and its leaders as well who continuously improve on its curriculum. “The SSOWA is important to me, because it is a self-learning process, most of all,” says Leani Auxilio, New York’s co-coordinator.