Twelve thousand activists assembled in Atlanta from June 27 to July 1 under the banner “Another World is Possible; Another US Is Necessary” for the first-ever United States Social Forum. The Forum featured over 900 workshops, a film festival, and multiple plenary sessions organized around six core areas including women’s rights. Feminist Majority Foundation and Ms. magazine staff joined activists from over 100 women’s organizations at the Forum to help create a new feminist vision for the United States and the World.
“We have the momentum, the goodwill and the ingenuity to make this much more than a gathering,” said Loretta Ross, National Coordinator of SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Health Collective and a lead organizer of feminist activities at the Forum. “We came together as women across a wide range of experiences and issues and really built something together. We will definitely keep this work moving forward.”
Nearly 80 workshops and panels addressed a broad range of topics related to gender injustice. Feminist issues at the forum culminated in the plenary session called “Liberating Gender and Sexuality: Integrating Gender and Sexual Justice Across Our Movements.” A diverse panel of leading women’s rights activists spoke about the importance of solidarity across all movements for social change.
“We need to use the human rights framework as a connecting tissue,” said Ross, who was one of the panelists. “I think the right can only be successful if the left is divided.”
The Court of Women, a people’s tribunal on human rights violations against women in the US, also played a central role in the forum’s feminist agenda. Judges heard testimony from expert witnesses and victims addressing three areas of injustice: Violence Against Women, The Criminal (In)Justice System, and the Gulf Coast Crisis (Katrina).
The US Social Forum is an offshoot of the World Social Forum, which has been convening yearly since 2001. Activists created the World Social Forum to provide an alternative to the global vision projected by the World Economic Forum, an annual meeting of political and business leaders that shapes the global economic agenda often to the detriment of the poor and marginalized.