CESE-supported project reinforces strategies for the Network of Black Women from the Northeast

Black women from the Northeast are better connected and provide stronger political and social action to confront the vulnerabilities that arise from racism, sexism, domestic violence and so forth. This is the commitment of the Network of Black Women from the Northeast, a coalition set up in 2013 for women’s groups and collectives with encouragement from the Odara Institute (Instituto Odara).

The project, Black Women from the Northeast challenging contexts that prevent the consolidation of their base, received support from CESE’s Small Projects Programme. The project helped to consolidate the Network of Black Women from the Northeast as an influential political subject in Brazil, with collectively constructed strategic guidelines and tools that promote its institutional development. The coalition has undergone a process to discuss and systematize its Strategic Plan.

A Communications Plan has been designed to promote the visibility of the network’s agenda, through fundraising, communicating with network organizations and listening to black women’s narratives, as well as presenting ideas about the use of communications tools for digital activism.

Set up to unite agendas common to black women, the network also needs to become stronger as an institution and develop its capacity for action and connection.  One of the motivations for the network’s creation was the series of social vulnerability characteristics that black women in the North-eastern states have in common – as evidenced by racism, high levels of femicide, domestic violence, neglect of sexual and reproductive rights, low access to and guarantee of rights, etc. – and the invisibility of black women’s movements in the North-eastern states and other Brazilian regions.

“The network makes these connections between all the states, to strengthen these organizations, promoting and fostering the creation of other women’s collectives. Not only collectives, but also other women, who join this network and contribute,” declared Haldaci Regina da Silva, the network’s President.

The struggle for good living guides the network’s connected activities in eight of the nine states in the Northeast (it has representation in Bahia, Ceará, Maranhão, Paraíba, Pernambuco, Rio Grande do Norte, Piauí and Sergipe). “We have fought for good living through good education, through culture, health, less violence against women.  It is a recurring agenda for all the black women in the Northeast and is one of our common demands.  We may be in different states, but the territory presents a common agenda.  That’s why the network places such importance on linking up, on encouragement.  Also on exchange, experiences, exchanging our experiences, strengthening and fostering the experiences of other groups,” she added.

Networking – the Network of Black Women from the Northeast works with collectives, organizations and activists in the fight against racism, sexism and lesbophobia.  To achieve this goal, the coalition runs integrated political advocacy and training activities. One highlight in the institution’s history is the annual agenda of Black Women’s July and participation in the 2015 Black Women’s March.

CESE’s support has allowed the network to create a strategic plan, integrated with Communication and Fundraising training, and has enabled communications planning, leading to the development of the network’s website.  “Soon, the network will run a meeting with its new coordination department, elected by the collective, and the plan will be ratified.  A strategic plan is a very important product at this moment, and ours contains the political demands of the entire Northeast, as well as social, economic, coalition and construction requirements”.

One concern that came to light during the planning process refers to the fact that 2022 is a totally atypical and unpredictable election year.  “We are concerned about black women’s participation in the elections, about how we can create campaigns for women to vote for black women, promoting and discussing the agendas these members of parliament are proposing at the election.  Which of these agendas are aimed at black women?” the President asked.  Given the national political situation, the network is paying particular attention to how public policies are constructed and how they affect the lives of black women, as well as focusing on their worsening living conditions.

The strategic plan reaffirmed the importance of Black Women’s July as an arena for political training, networking and discussion. “It’s a moment of great mobilization and organization for black women here in the Northeast.  The agenda we would like to discuss is the issue of representativeness itself, of the importance of women locating themselves within the election context, so that our political agendas also came within the wider agenda,” she concluded.