Past Event

Building gender-just social movements: stories of success and routes for transformation

9 September 2016 11:30–13:00

Coste do Sauípe Resort

What works in building gender-just social movements? How can movements ensure that both their outward strategies and their internal operations align to feminist and women’s rights principles and agendas? How can we address complex structural challenges, such as those relating to the effects of unpaid care work? These are some of the broad questions shaping this interactive session which seeks to encourage a debate and lesson sharing on ways for fully integrating gender justice within the activism agenda.

While progressive social justice movements are pivotal in envisioning, instigating and sustaining positive change, they are not immune to gender-based discrimination and inequality. Even when women’s rights are ‘on the agenda’ within movements, there can be resistance to changing gendered politics and practice, and shifting the ‘deep structure’ of movements and their goals. At the same time, gender activists have often failed to confront other forms of oppression – based for example on race, age or sexuality – within struggles for women’s rights and gender equality.

The BRIDGE Cutting Edge programme on gender and social movements, which culminated in the production of a series of ‘routes to shaping gender-just movements’, sought to bring to light and address the challenges faced by social movements in integrating gender perspectives. These challenges include behaviours stemming from deeply ingrained ideas on gender roles and visibilising the issue of gender inequality in the private sphere. For this session we ask the audience to come with questions and issues they are grappling with on gender-just social movement building. Through audience participation, these questions will be consolidated into a number of critical issues which the speakers will address within their presentations.

Prior to the discussion, Michel Friedman from Gender at Work will lead us in some simple mind-body practices to support us in connecting to ourselves, to each other and to become fully present.

Our objectives for the session are:

  • To share learning from the BRIDGE programme on gender and social movements
  • To create a learning space where audience members and presenters can share experiences, good practice and challenges in building gender-just social movements

Our session will be useful and interesting for a broad audience, from individual activists, to leaders of social movements, to movement-building funders. It may be of particular interest to those who are advocates of unpaid care work, women’s rights and gender equality within mixed movements, and to women’s rights activists seeking to reach out to other movements.

We look forward to seeing you there!


Jessica Horn: Jessica was lead author of the BRIDGE Gender and Social Movements Cutting Edge Pack, and Director of Programmes at the African Women’s Development Fund. She is a founding member of the African Feminist Forum Working Group and board member of Urgent Action Fund-Africa.

Shereen Essof: Shereen is a respected Zimbabwean feminist, activist, popular educator, and academic. She leads JASS Southern Africa’s programs on women’s rights, empowerment, and movement-building in Malawi, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, and at the regional level. She has published widely on feminism, women’s movements, and social movement organizing.

Michel Friedman: Michel is a Senior Associate with Gender at Work and leads the facilitation team that supports Gender Action Learning in South Africa and East Africa. She has worked with civil society organisations including trade unions, NGOs, CBOs and members of social movements. Michel includes ‘energy-based’ practices in her work, experimenting with how to make them a core feminist practice.

Catherine Mueller: Catherine is a Research Fellow at IDS in the Gender and Sexuality cluster of the Institute of Development Studies. She works on issues of Gender based violence, and is also a core member of the GrOW (Growth of economic opportunities of women) programme at IDS – which examines how women balance paid work with their unpaid care work responsibilities.


For more information see our website: Interactions on the Empowerment of Women and Girls 

Follow us on Twitter: @Bridge_IDS @IDS_UK @GenderatWork @jass4justice

Key contacts

Carol Smithyes

Senior Communications and Marketing Officer

+44 (0)1273 915638


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