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Reflections on Sustainability from a Feminist Grassroots Collective in Mexico

Written by Jennifer Mejía Calderón, Centro Transdisciplinario de Estudios en Género (CETREG)

These dialogues led me to reflect on the importance of having our voices heard in diverse spaces. Although ONSIDE has always given us the opportunity to express our ideas and share our knowledge in forums or panels, we had never shared a space with funders. I believe this is important because as members of grassroots collectives we were able to be heard directly by the people who make decisions about the resources allocated to the Fund. These dialogues allowed us to express ourselves freely about how we understand sustainability, and I noticed that most of the Fund's grantees share similar visions of this concept. I was happy to hear that none of us translated sustainability into a purely economic concept, on the contrary, we defined it from a political, emotional, and social perspective.

This led us to ask ourselves: how can we continue to sustain our work? The importance of self-care came up as we agreed that there is an emotional aspect to sustainability. The question of sustainability forces us to be very clear about our expectations as a grassroots collective. Sometimes we can take up very large projects, but other times we can't, so we devise strategies that allow us to continue collaborating with our organisations and movements based on our capacities and scope. We also talked about the importance of not overburdening ourselves and instead letting our mission and vision guide us to ensure that the funding we receive is aligned with our desires and concerns. For us, as a collective, it means believing firmly in our political commitment and in the changes that we want to create, which then translates into our programme design and proposal writing. This sustains us because we do what we love and are passionate about. It is also why we value flexible funding, as it allows us to make autonomous decisions and does not exert so much pressure to reach certain numbers.

This becomes even more relevant in the presence of funders because it allows them to reflect on their requirements or the results they expect from the organisations. It is crucial for them to know that behind every figure there are dozens of women trying to sustain a movement and their own organisations and that each of us has a social, historical, and family context that must also be taken into consideration. Companies need to know that it is not always possible to achieve the expected results. Furthermore, they should know that contexts can be difficult and therefore it is necessary to be more flexible when granting funding. I was excited to hear that some of the people in the room understood these points and even showed interest in continuing to promote flexible funding.

Photo by CETREG

I would like to go back to the importance of flexibility in the sustainability of movements. Many times, flexible funding helps and encourages us to sustain our work because we feel that our efforts are valued and acknowledged. This also speaks about trust; it shows that funders trust us and our work and therefore give us the autonomy to make decisions and tackle the difficulties we may encounter in our own way. Flexible funding also pushes us to be creative and free, and this certainly sustains our organisations because we're not constantly under pressure.

The ONSIDE Fund Thought Piece Series - Jennifer Mejía Calderón - ENG
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