The Women Interrogating Trade and Corporate Hegemony (WITCH) programme is launching a new WITCH Feminist Participatory Action Research (WITCH-FPAR) for 2019-2021! The 18 month programme aims to develop capacity, tools and resources by women movements and strengthen women’s movements to demand their rights and justice against neoliberal trade and investment regimes that empowers corporations at the expense of the peoples and the planet. 

Feminist Participatory Action Research (FPAR) is rooted in movement building. Through FPAR women collect evidence about what is happening in their communities and collectively take action. FPAR is conducted by and for women. With strong, locally produced research and documented evidence, women challenge rights violation and gendered power imbalances. FPAR is a potent tool for enabling women to take control of development agendas and programmes that are affecting their lives. 

Five grassroots organisations have been selected to take part in this new round of WITCH FPAR. This year, the WITCH FPAR focuses on the theme ‘Strengthening Feminist Movements for Trade & Economic Justice’, and is providing support to build women organisations capacity to document the impact of loss of seeds, domestic market, public commons such as water, health, energy, education, have meaningful engagement in decision making process of trade and other economic policies, able to form strong local feminist movement that work with other movements to demand accountability from state and corporations, and able to push government in tackling systemic barriers to women’s economic and development rights.  

The following organisations were selected to participate in this programme:

  1. Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek (PKMT), Pakistan

Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek (PKMT) is a mass-based alliance of small and landless farmers including women farmers. PKMT has been a strong proponent of food sovereignty and believes that this framework is the most powerful collective response by small producers in rebutting the impacts of free trade and a cohesive alternate to Globalization. PKMT has taken the lead in collecting and re-generating local and traditional seeds. Members of PKMT from 16 districts across three provinces in Pakistan are now maintaining seed banks and ensuring that wheat, rice, corn and vegetables seeds are grown not only for their own seed use but for exchange among farmers in the community and the wider PKMT community. Through FPAR, PKMT plans to explore extensive commercialization of the milk industry in Pakistan, particularly in the Punjab province and its impact on women as livestock care givers, especially for milk collection.

  1. Women Studies and Resource Center (WSRC), Philippines

WSRC started out primarily as a research center in 1982 and focused on organizing women from the academe and other professions. WSRC shifted paradigms from mainly research into organizing and incapacitating women to be directly involved in movements for women’s rights, social change and peace. WSRC envisions a progressive and egalitarian society free from discrimination and exploitation where women’s right to participate and lead meaningfully in all political, socio-cultural, and economic undertakings are upheld; shaping a peaceful, socially just and sustainable future. Through FPAR, WSRC aims to document and research on the situation of women workers suffering from slave-like conditions in both rural and agricultural settings in Mindanao, the hub of foreign transnational corporations’ drive for agri-business expansion and high profit margins. The findings from FPAR will be used for the campaigns of Filipina workers to make corporations accountable to International Labor Standards, and other existing UN agreements and protocols on human rights, economic justice and social justice. 

  1. Solidarity Group and Just Economy and Labour Institute (JELI), Thailand

Just Economy and Labour Institute (JELI) together with Solidarity Group (also known as the Dignity Returns factory) will be carrying out the WITCH FPAR for 2019- 2021. JELI is a non-profit organization working to promote social and labor justice in Southeast Asia, with a focus in Thailand. Its mission is to support workers and labor organizations through capacity and movement building. JELI works closely with civil society organizations (CSOs) and community based organizations (CBOs) that share its vision to conduct collaborative research projects and design joint campaign and advocacy programs aimed at achieving economic and labor justice. Solidarity Group is run by a group of former waged workers at a Bed & Bath factory that in 2002 suddenly closed down and laid off its 800 workers without severance pay and compensation. Since establishment in 2003, the Solidarity Group has increasingly expanded by integrating local home-based workers within its cooperative network. The core members have supported the home-based members by allocating work to them, economically supporting the working communities in a sustainable way. Through FPAR, JELI and Solidarity Group aim to equip the women workers the knowledge to understand the constraints of the existing legal and political system, followed by setting up a solidarity economy network led by groups of former union activities to sustain the long term movement building.

  1. Gabriela Youth, Philippines 

GABRIELA Youth is a mass organization for young women in universities, colleges, schools and communities that seeks to forward women’s rights. Gabriela Youth takes an active stance on the issues of human rights, poverty, globalization, militarism, violence, health, education, labor and trade and other salient issues affecting women. The organization also ensures to bring local awareness campaigns in schools and communities in order to strengthen the linkage between the domestic and national issues. For WITCH FPAR, Gabriela Youth will focus on one of the most neglected urban community in Tondo, the city of Manila, where a port area also exists that has been demanding for decent and affordable housing. With the Build Build Build Program of the Duterte administration, the Tondo urban poor community is facing massive displacement and demolition projects through debt largely from the Chinese government. Gabriela Youth will work with these communities to collect evidence, build their capacity and develop a national movement to demand for decent and affordable housing system.

  1. Sisters Garden (Women Farmers’ Production Cooperative), South Korea

Sisters Garden started in 2009 as a food sovereignty group of the Korea Women Farmers’ Association (KWFA). Sisters Garden together with Korean Women’s Solidarity and the Seoul Federation for Environment has carried out the campaigns and activities to protect local seeds. Their research will focus on understanding, documenting and investigate the impact of currently dominant trade system of neoliberal policies and transnational corporations controlled food distribution system on women, particularly peasant women and alternative solution such as sustainable agroecology, food/seed sovereignty and rural communities.