50,000 people, 50,000 voices, 50,000 different perspectives. I tried to reflect some of these in the blog, along with what seemed to be positive about the event in terms of women’s participation – different groups finding a common language, uniting against external factors, developing shared agendas, strengthening their collective voice – both as women and as part of the wider social movement.
I actually found blogging every day a big responsibility. But the hardest part was daring to put into words what I had felt for the first time in several years of working in the continent: that there might, just might, be a different future for Africa.
Of course, no one person could ever pretend to give a full picture. There’s always the possibility of imposing one’s own view of reality on the south, as the WEF, G8 and the EU continue to do. So, many thanks to those who had time to contribute or comment on the blog. We had hoped to have more contributions from women in Africa but now the forum is over, they’re busy with the work of disseminating and moving plans forward in their own sphere of influence.
I’d like to thank openDemocracy for the opportunity to blog the WSF from a women’s perspective, I learned a lot from the experience. Now rejoining the real world, I’m going back to Burkina Faso to work with decentralised government officials on gender equality in community planning and strategies to address HIV/AIDS.
If anyone would like to contact me, you can always do so at P (dot) Daniel (at) wlv (dot) ac (dot) uk or check out my personal blog because, given time, I’ll have a lot more to say.
Rosaline Baatuolkuu sends this message about her activities since returning from Nairobi. It provides an excellent example of how the WSF process continues after the event itself – its real value for women participants and those they represent:
Well, I have a number of reports to present to NETRIGHT the organization that funded me to the WSF.
We have scheduled a series of press conferences, radio/ TV programs to share with the Ghanaian populace some of the women’s rights and advocacy issues that were discussed at the WSF. I have already held a three days workshop with 35 women and male leaders in local government in one of the regions as part of the dissemination process.
Anthony Barnett’s article on the WSF and the role of civil society has stimulated a lively debate on wider issues. Cora Weiss suggests that that addressing marginalisation of people (including women) should be one of the four main themes of the WSF in future.
For information about the chance to be involved in piloting a community approach to HIV/AIDS please contact Healthlink Worldwide.
A CD-ROM has been produced as part of the four year International Memory Project (funded by Comic Relief), through which the National Community of Women living with HIV (NACWOLA) in Uganda and Healthlink Worldwide have been working with a group of partners from Ethiopia, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Kenya to introduce and strengthen memory work approaches to communities in sub-Saharan Africa affected by the HIV epidemic.
Healthlink Worldwide has also started to work with a partner organisation to pilot memory work in three states in India.
Reports and videos of the feminist dialogues carried out before and during the WSF can be viewed here
Thanks for this comment from Esther K Obachi, Secretary of the Kenyan Library Association:
I appreciate the efforts you made in coming up with the content of this Blog. The Kenya Library Association also tried to document the Nairobi WSF. The Association had noted with disappointment that the previous WSFs were not systematically documented. Hence we mobilized a few librarians from East Africa to do so using a media Wiki. You are welcome to the site.
Media coverage of the WSF should also be available soon on the WSF website.
Mary Robinson blogs the World Economic Forum on oD Today in the light of her experience at the World Social Forum. In contrast, the gender profile at Davos is terrible, despite the fact that the WEF report on the global gender gap was discussed there.
She feels ‘frustrated at the power of the few to influence agendas, shape language and determine the outcomes of contemporary events.’ And looks forward to how links could be made in the future between the WSF and the WEF especially in relation to justice and human rights.
Mary Robinson is President of Realising Rights The Ethical Globalization Initiative