15 years of Fondo de Mujeres del Sur: coming together, celebrating and recharging the collective energy

The highlight of the year at Fondo de Mujeres del Sur (FMS) was our anniversary. We celebrated a decade and a half of work reinforcing feminisms in Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay.

It was an excuse to organise special events to celebrate what has been achieved so far and what is yet to come. It was the opportunity to organise refreshing and liberating get-togethers, after years during which feminist networks faced more wear and tear than ever.

On September 2 we started with the celebrations. One cold windy afternoon in Montevideo (Uruguay), in the Delmira Agustini room of the Solís Theatre, more than two hundred people gathered around to be warmed by feminist power. Carmen Beramendi and Beatriz Ramírez (both FMS Board Members) spoke about power and counter-power. We also heard testimonies from Nicolle Casaravilla (Colectivo Riversidad - ATRU), Leticia Marroquim (Colectiva Durazno), and Tania Ramírez (Mizangas), all from grantee organisations in Uruguay.

Virginia Bolatti (Institutional Coordinator) and Gabriela Romanutti (FMS Coordinator in Uruguay) reviewed some of the highlights of FMS’ experience in the country: the number of grantee organisations and our reach across the country achieved over all these years, as well as the diversity of causes supported. Later, we danced with the rap group “Se armó kokoa” and sang along with and got emotional with Ana Prada.

Three weeks later, on September 23, we gathered in Asunción (Paraguay). Mabel Busaniche (Founder and President of the Board) and Carmen Colazo (Board Member) shared their stories starting with how they first heard about "a feminist fund" to then building the foundations of what our organisation is today. “At FMS we have to have the ability to listen, the ability to know where the situation is going, to know what our grantees’ needs are, to allow this fund to continue to be welcoming of everyone that knocks on the door, so they know that someone will answer their call with care. That's Fondo de Mujeres del Sur!", Mabel summed up.

We also launched Stories from Mujeres del Sur. 15 Years Reinforcing Feminisms, a publication produced by Fábrica Memética and the activists who are featured in it. In an illustrated fanzine format, it brings together the stories of activists across different struggles that FMS supports. That day, Jessica Arias (Rebeldes del Sur) and Venancia Cáceres (Yvopey Renda Women's Group) were present.

Raquel Aveiro (FMS Paraguay National Coordinator), Virginia Bolatti and Laura Leonelli (International Resource Mobilisation Manager) hosted the event, which also featured speeches from Clyde Soto and Claudia Korol, supporting political friendship and the importance of supporting grassroots movements as protagonists of social change.

Kuña Afro, the first group of percussionists made up of Afro women in Paraguay, brought their drums and dance to the room and María Ríos sang her classics about activism, which excited the diverse and large audience. We later attempted to stamp out the pandemic by dancing until the early hours of the morning!

Last of all, we celebrated in Argentina, in Córdoba where our head office is located. The event was held at the Cultural Centre España Córdoba (CCEC) in their beautiful building, which we decorated with bandanas and slogans such as "Feminisms for living", "Together, stronger and alive" and "Reinforcing feminisms” printed on fabric, t-shirts and paper by Territorio Colaborativo. Our altar, which by now is a 15-year-old classic, featured a photo of Lohana Berkins, to honour her activism and demonstrate how proud we are to have had her on our Board.

Luz Aquilante (Executive Director) opened the event, coming back from her maternity leave for this celebration. Later, Maristella Svampa and Beatriz Ramírez spoke with the journalist and trans activist Casandra Sand about their experiences in the ecofeminist and anti-racist movements, outstanding agenda items, and the challenges faced by those who go on from the movements to fulfil public administration positions.

FMS Founders and Board Members followed, powerful activists who highlighted the transgenerational vitality of feminisms: Marta Alanís, Estela Díaz and Mariela Puga (also former Executive Director). To close, Jeka González (Mujeres Activando) and Cecilia Quinteros (Alerta Torta) shared the impact that the support from FMS had on the work of their organisations. We then danced with Sol Pereyra until we were told “It’s time to go to bed!”

We believe in the value and political need to celebrate. Just as we resist together and support each other when there is pain and anger, affection and joy are also a powerful source to fuel collective energy to be able to continue the struggle.

We are celebrating 15 years of existence and persistence, of work, of activism, of our daily commitment to being a tool for feminist movements, which we are part of and to which we owe everything.

With a lot of effort, we managed to grow and become the Fondo de Mujeres del Sur that we are today. A thriving fund, that is present and current, that in the face of increasingly adverse contexts, seeks to establish networks and reinforce them. Such as how when coming together at these three celebrations, we established connections that have a ripple effect far beyond FMS and which continue to multiply in the feminist tide.

What we have been left with: images and words of appreciation and commitment, which we hold dearly to us and which assure us that we are doing well, that we must continue working to democratise resources, that we have learned so much so that resources reach more and more grassroots organisations, more feminist networks, more diverse women, identities and sexualities, who on a daily basis put into action the shared dream of gender, ethnic-racial and social justice.