FF 2007 relied heavily on volunteers who helped organise and run the event. We prioritised an inclusive and egalitarian organising structure, paying special attention to issues of accessibility, including the need to overcome language barriers.
Fiesta Feminista’s organising structure comprised three levels of decision-making: an organising committee, working groups, and a secretariat. The various groups were formed and began work in late 2006, about six months before the event.
The organising committee was in charge of deliberating on broader organising issues and overseeing the working groups to ensure that decisions made were in line with the guiding principles. Members were drawn from the participating JAG organisations and the host, University Malaya. A concerted effort was made to ensure that membership of the organising committee was cross-generational.
The working groups focused on planning and preparations for the event itself. There were 5 working groups in total. The group in charge of logistics and volunteers coordinated the activities of more than 100 volunteers, the majority of whom were newer advocates. The mobilisation group was tasked with reaching out to and building linkages with community groups outside of the urban, middle-class constituencies most able to access such programmes. Media and advertising was handled by the publicity and promotional materials group, which worked to ensure that word got around about FF 2007 as well as to raise public awareness on the issues with which Fiesta Feminista is concerned. This group was also in charge of promotional materials, merchandise, and the website. The contents working group was responsible for coming up with the programme for the two and a half days. The group organised workshops, expert discussions, open space activities, and the like while also ensuring that there was a variety of events at all levels of interest and experience and an even spread of sections in English and Malay. The finance working group kept our accounts in order.
Finally, the secretariat was responsible for the smooth running of the event itself. The job required, among other things, attending to issues like language and disability access to ensure that all attendees were able to participate fully and comfortably. The secretariat was hosted by former JAG member (now defunct) Women’s Development Collective (WDC).
A coordinator and project officer were nominated to ensure information flow between the different decision-making levels, to facilitate with the implementation of decisions, and to serve as contact points between the organising team and external parties. In addition, two experienced women’s rights activists served as advisors to the organising team.
The event planning was carried out in accordance with Fiesta Feminista’s guiding principles. To help volunteers and participants understand and internalise these principles, the organising team ran a two-day workshop on the “Political ABCs” of Fiesta Feminista.