The 13th AWID International Forum in Brazil got underway today, with almost 2,000 women gathering to pursue ‘Feminist Futures’. This morning we were welcomed by AWID at the Opening Plenary which called for participants to collectively ‘celebrate our victories and acknowledge our wounds’. Entering the arena for the Opening Plenary participants were absorbed by the exciting atmosphere. The Forum is a melting pot of feminists and activists, ready to explore feminist solutions to our similar goals, but from a myriad of different contexts.  It is also a platform for activists to renew their energy and share skills with each other.

AWID Board President Myrna Cunningham, at the Opening Plenary

The Plenary began with an opening speech from AWID indigenous leader, Myrna Cunningham, who began by discussing “Our Current Realities”. She called for a new world, for justice and for solidarity across organisations. Her inspiring words urged participants to “share responsibility, share power structures, and work beyond single issues”. Myrna, who is the AWID board president, also introduced the new AWID Directors. In January 2017, Lydia Alpízar Durán will be stepping down as AWID’s Executive Director and AWID will celebrate a new model of feminist leadership by welcoming both Cindy Clark and Hakima Abbas to co-chair the Executive Director position.

AWID Executive Director, Lydia Alpízar Durán.

Following the initial speeches, panelists from diverse social movements and sectors discussed the current realities that they faced in their own movements. The plenary was facilitated by Sonia Correa, Co-Chair of Sexuality Policy Watch, she was joined by Azra Causevic from Okvir, Miriam Miranda from Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras, Noelene Nabulivou from DIVA for equality, Yaya Sallam from Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, Joe Wong from the Asia Pacific Transgender Network and Dr Awina Okech from The Centre for Gender Studies, SOAS, Kenya. The panel reflected on the need to form better alliances and connections across their own movements and beyond. If we are to mobilise together and create strategies that will tackle the increasingly polarized world that we live in. The Plenary left participants with a renewed determination of creating better feminist futures, and has reminded participants that any hope of change begins with us and how we treat each other. WILPF will be hosting and taking part in a number of events throughout the forum. Details can be found on our upcoming events page.