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(en) Italy, FDCA, Cantier #24: Subjectivity and self-determination: - the LISA Women's Centre (ca, de, it, pt, tr)[machine translation]

Date Thu, 4 Apr 2024 08:17:38 +0300

The Women in Gender Association was born in 1995 from a group of women committed since 1993 to the defense of law 194 and of free and responsible motherhood, questioned by the centre-left government of the time. ---- On the territory and from below ---- One of the first objectives that we set ourselves as a collective of women was to find in the area where we live, the IV Municipality of Rome, today III, a place that would give visibility to the our history and our subjectivities. The ambition has been and remains to be able to intertwine class contradiction and gender conflict.

Our activities were characterized by the choice of self-determination, contrast and denunciation of patriarchal power, which we then practiced with an action of "civil disobedience" by occupying a long-abandoned space in the working-class neighborhood of Vigne Nuove in November 1997, in the north-eastern suburbs of Rome. The occupation was fully successful thanks to the commitment and solidarity of many women, both individuals and associations, willing to support us and share with us the nights on the ground, the lack of water and electricity, the visits from the police, the enthusiasm and desire to succeed while respecting mutual differences, maintaining and building common initiatives together with the feminist movement.

Escape violence together

Therefore, moving from a feminist collective to an Anti-violence Center - the LISA Women's Centre, which stands for Freedom, Internationalism, Subjectivity, Self-determination - required a notable effort and commitment: fortunately many of us already had training in welcoming women who have suffered violence that they have been able to pass on to others.

To date we have been trainers in our courses of dozens and dozens of women who have approached us with the desire to share and do something concrete together, in many cases becoming volunteer operators/activists. The work done in schools with educational seminars and combating gender violence is very important for us.

Male violence against women takes many forms and modalities, although physical violence is the easiest to recognize. There is no profile of the typical woman who suffers violence. We provide free telephone listening, personal interviews, legal advice and information on their rights (e.g. termination of pregnancy, access to social services, etc.) to all women who need help. Confidentiality, secrecy and anonymity are always guaranteed to all women. All activities are carried out by women who combine their personal/professional knowledge and skills with specific training on gender violence.

Self-financing and not self-referentiality

However, there were many questions we asked ourselves. How can we manage to remain autonomous and independent without risking a metamorphosis and becoming one of the many non-profit "enterprises", thus distorting the original purposes and principles? How can we not distort ourselves in a "service" activity by practicing and maintaining an idea of support and solidarity for women in difficulty and promoting gender awareness? How to be a place that is not self-referential but open to contribution and discussion with other women driven by the same objectives?

And one last but no less important question. How can we pay the costs of this beautiful place of ours while keeping our activities free?

The answer was the choice of self-financing, a decision shared by all which provides for a monthly subscription fee for each person based on their income. Again by shared decision, no comrade will be able to support themselves through work deriving from projects presented to local, national or European institutions. Furthermore, any project presented for public funding must always meet the aim of preventing and combating violence against women.

Walk listening and asking

For twenty years we have been committed to respecting the equal dignity of thought of each one, deciding together on what to do without majority or minority criteria but with the practice of discussion and mediation.

The danger of self-referentiality is far from us: our guarantee is the diversified composition of the group that interweaves personal, therefore political, stories, which walk by listening and asking, feeling part of a common history, that of the women's movement. In the time of the most unbridled individualism we resist sexism, fascism and racism.

Our last word shouted in the streets around the world is and will remain the same: if they touch one they touch all.

We thank comrade Gianna Urizio, activist of the LISA Women's Center and our reader.

To find out about the Centre's activities: https://centrodonnalisa.it.

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