As part of JASS' global movement-building initiative, twenty-seven women leaders from Central America and Mexico gathered in Panama in September 2006 to reflect on their political contexts, personal histories, and the state of their movements. They saw gains in women's rights and freedoms being devastated. As a triumvirate of military, political and drug traffickers negotiate and vie for power, conditions worsen – evident in ever-rawer forms of violence against women in the region (femicide, trafficking), a pervasive culture of fear and widespread government breakdown and corruption. This gathering of diverse women – movement leaders, young activists, academics, popular educators, journalists, and community and labor organizers – used their feminist analysis and wisdom acquired through decades of social and revolutionary struggles to find common ground and hope. Their sobering analysis of current realities and challenges facing women produced a creative and dynamic strategy that continues to gain momentum and inspire activists in other regions involved in the global initiative. The group united around a common commitment to overcome the fragmentation within feminist and other social movements and to build the collective power of women across differences of race, class, age, and location so that a more equitable social fabric and a more just world can be created.
The Petatera Strategy for Movement Building that is facilitated and supported by JASS is based on the symbol of the petate. This symbol - a strong and flexible weave – represents the shared vision and strategies of this growing group of activists who call themselves ‘petateras', Their dynamic and creative petatera strategy for action and analysis, involves three interconnected threads
• Sea Change: Education and Learning
• Observatorios: Action and Solidarity
• Petatera Communications
Some priority areas for 2009 within the movement are: negotiation, conflict management, and fundamentalisms.