A workshop with questions and exercises on self-care, collective care and the rights of rural women was the main moment of dissemination of the Ancestra guide.
Our meeting was on January 30 at the Casa de la cultura Carlos Mauro Hoyos de Palermo, in the district of Támesis. I had two great fears: that very few women attended, but in that case the workshop would be held with equal enthusiasm; that the women who attended, few or many, did not participate and look at me like “this woman, what are she talking about?”.
Ten, fifteen, twenty. The white chairs of the library of this House of Culture that I already mentioned were occupied. Women with white, short, red, blond, long hair; little girls and several old women; many of them married, some widows and many small girls who suddenly burst into the room at the wrong time, laughing and talking loud; Some mothers with young children also arrived because they did not have neighbors or friends to leave them in their care. Because many of the women of the town were there! 57 attended, spoke, wrote and drew.
In the meeting, which lasted about two and a half hours, the first thing we had to do was write our name in a small rectangle of their preferred color and stick it in any visible place with a small hook. Little by little, as we talked, first I, then many of them, we could repeat our names, identify each other.
So the workshop was a collective moment of conversation between women of different ages and levels of schooling around two slogans:
- What is self-care and collective care? Why and how can we do it?
- How can the internet could be useful for the participants: women inhabitants Palermo and surroundings?
But we did not have internet, nor complex technological conversations. The Ancestra guide was in the hands of each woman who approached the workshop as an invitation or provocation to read later together or alone, from the beginning or opening on a random page. The pocket guide was the excuse to meet us for the first time and talk. We did it through three exercises whose inspiration came from a femzine called “Self-care for Ingobernables”, created by the art and transfeminist team Women on the edge. The three-hour workshop would not be enough to completely replicate the methodology of the Women on the edge, but it was an impulse to propose three of the dynamics to these women in Palermo who have other subjectivities and experiences different from those of the women of the peripheries of Bogota. .
Well, the workshop had these three key moments:
Creation of a vital map of dreams, where each woman drew the outline of one of her hands. In the center they wrote their names and in each of the five fingers they wrote a wish related to his self-care, dreams, projects. The challenge was not to write wishes related to other people, which is already the day to day of the rural woman: to serve and to give everything of herself to her family and community. Finally, each woman wrote in the outline of her hand the names of other important women in her history and those with whom she can join efforts to fulfill dreams on a collective scale. In this exercise, it was worth writing or drawing and helping each other in that search and identification of dreams and of the other cooperating women.
After locating all the vital dream maps in a collective wall, we talked about the Ancestra guide. We went through the spirit of the guide and some of its contents: We talked about some basic aspects of women’s rights inside and outside the internet, how much the State guarantees the respect of our rights and with what avenues of attention there is a woman who lives a Colombian rural area. We also paused a bit on what it means to be a digital woman and its possible risks and benefits. Then we talk, of course, about the resources to learn, inform and get help online on topics such as: sexual and reproductive violence, health, education, work, freedom of expression and online security, campaigns, vocabularies and reports with a gender perspective . The task-proposal that remained in the hands of the women of Palermo, also explicit on page 9 of the guide was: Search, read and ask! Reflect among neighbors, family members, classmates, friends and teachers about rights. They were invited to explore these rights collectively to, perhaps, understand them better.
After going through the guide, the workshop continued with a pause to breathe deeply, get rid of the sadness, fears and find the energy to manage what worries us more calmly, also as a call to get together, talk among ourselves and find solutions in collective. After that moment of relaxation we moved on to the construction of a collective blog of ancestral knowledge where writing and drawing were also worthwhile. This moment was propitious to talk about the name of the project: Ancestra, designed for them: rural women of Palermo, full of ancestral knowledge and all with unique intuition; able to experiment, collaborate and integrate with nature and the community. There we talked about some of those same features that are also latent in the philosophy of digital free culture and we insist on the potential of the internet to inform us about our rights, as well as the possibilities of taking care of ourselves and defending these rights together, collectively and collaboratively.
Of 250 primers prints in this first station of the Ancestra Project booklet , 155 are already in the hands of the women of Palermo. 57 of them, the participants of the workshop, left with theirs and a few more for their sisters, aunts, friends, cousins, mothers, neighbors; This was a voluntary multiplication exercise that I had not previously calculated or imagined. Other booklets were left in the House of Culture of Palermo that welcomed us for this activity and the following the last Ancestra guides went to the Educational Institution Santiago Angel Santamaría of this district.