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 The Big Issues: Reports by commitment

Is Another World Possible?

Virginia Vargas

Not everything went smoothly at the World Social Forum (WSF). Some feminists were present at some of the sessions, in part because Southern Cone feminists put pressure on the organisers, but this participation was not at all equal. This is why a feminist manifesto, read at one of the morning plenary meetings, pointed out the clearly sexist language and relatively small presence of feminists in debates on very important topics.

The internal political confrontation in Brazil was not to be taken lightly either: on the day of the WSF inauguration, President Cardoso spoke publicly against it (wasting a unique opportunity to break with the one-track thinking and complacent democracy in his country), accusing it of being an “exhibitionist festival of the left.”

The live conference between the Social Forum and the Davos meeting also led to complications. It should have been a space for political discussion, but some WSF participants hurled simplistic accusations instead of expressing the much more human and complex dynamics that inspired the Forum.

There was also the significant presence of political parties (mainly from Brazil), which, although it did not occur, risked disfiguring what was necessarily a forum for global civil society. Underneath all these dynamics, feeding them, was the constant tension between old and new, between new themes and new subjectivities and the old avant-guard vision and rhetoric. It is one-track thinking caught in the dynamics of change.

For the organisation of the next Forum, it is proposed that the international organising committee be further opened up—hopefully, this will contribute to a better planning. Regarding feminism, the decision to widen the discussions, and add other actors and movements to the debate, and the recognition of new trends that are interlaced with and enrich feminist proposals for the new millennium are challenges we must face at the next Forum. We also raise the challenge that is contained in the question asked by REPEM: “Isn’t it time to remember that the world is for everyone (men and women), or isn’t it at all?”

Latin American feminist militant, founder of the Flora Tristán organisation and professor at the Institute for Social Studies, The Hague.



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