Episode 13: South-South learning and influencing the global feminist discourse. Piyumi Samaraweera (CREA World) interviewed.

About this episode:

In this week’s episode, we speak to CREA’s Piyumi Samaraweera about CREA’s position as one of few organisations led in and by the Global South. Piyumi describes how CREA approaches its intersectional feminist values to generate South-South learning through its Institutes across India, South Asia and East Africa.

This conversation allows us to move away from the conventional centering of the Global North, and understand discourses about development and decolonisation from a Global South-led organisation. Piyumi also highlights CREA’s approach to working where their work will be valued, as well as learning from the work of others. 

Finally, Piyumi ends with a call to de-centre hierarchies of knowledge which value knowledge from the Global North, and instead to place vernacular languages at the centre of development and decolonisation learning.

CREA’s Global Institutes:

People and organisations referenced:

Episode 13: Full Transcript

The Power Shift: Decolonising Development

Episode 13

South-South learning and influencing the global feminist discourse. Piyumi Samaraweera (CREA World) interviewed.

Piyumi: [00:00:00] I really think good feminist work is messy by definition. It can’t be siloed because we see so much overlap between these themes that we’ve identified and we sort of separated them in order for us to be able to focus in depth and actually manage and maybe build core pieces of work around. But we know that the magic happens when we see how these themes really lie on top of each other. 

Kate: Hello. I’d like to introduce today’s podcast episode where I speak to Piyumi Samaraweera, who is from CREA World, a feminist organisation headquartered in India, working globally.

She talks to us about how working for an organisation led in and by the Global South makes a difference both to her and the work that they do and the way that they do their work. She talks about CREA’s Institutes in India, South Asia and East Africa that focus on feminist leadership, disability, [00:01:00] sexuality and rights, sports, arts and leadership skills for adolescents.

And these institutes are like boot camps for a range of individuals from around the region. She talks about South-South learning and South-North learning, and how their form of learning seeks to influence global feminist discourse and agenda setting. She talks about intersectionality and how CREA takes intersectionality seriously and seeks to address it in thinking about hierarchies of color, race, class, ableism, and sexuality and how all of these intersections, if not addressed, can weaken the feminist movement. She talks about Pan-Africanism and African feminisms and how an organisation headquartered in India works on South-South learning without replicating racial hierarchies.

And she talks at the end of her podcast [00:02:00] episode about throwing out hierarchies of knowledge through translating work from vernacular languages into English, Spanish, and French, rather than simply making the translation the other way around. So listen for more. Thank you.

Charmaine: Hi everyone. Hi Kate, hi Piyumi I am Charmaine McCauley, a Body psychotherapist, director of Kokoro and lead facilitator of the groundbreaking training called Racism in Real Time, and my co-host is Professor Kate Bird, director of the Development Hub.

As a Black psychotherapist and a White development professional, we are using our lived experience and professional skills to frame the way we approach the topic of decolonisation. Over to you lovely Kate. 

Kate: Thanks Charmaine. So today we’re talking to Piyumi Samaraweera who is the co-chair of [00:03:00] GADN, the Gender and Development Network, and Programs Director for Feminist Leadership and Movements at CREA World.

CREA is a feminist, international human rights organisation based in the Global South and led by women from the Global South. Piyumi joined CREA from Womankind Worldwide, who we spoke to in our previous episode, where she was Program Manager for Innovation and Partnerships working to build and maintain strong partnerships with feminist organisations in Africa and Asia.

For more on Piyumi and the work of CREA, please click on the show notes below this episode. Now, one of the reasons we were very interested to talk to Piyumi from CREA today is because of, well, they kind of flip the picture that we had from Womankind Worldwide in that they are a Southern-hubbed organisation, whereas Womankind Worldwide is a Northern -hubbed organisation and also the issues of South-South learning. But with that introduction, I’ll pass back to Charmaine for our first question.

Charmaine: Thank you. [00:04:00] Piyumi, I hope I pronounced your name right. You are a feminist , which is cool, and work with an organisation headquartered in the Global South. I think that’s really interesting. Could you describe to our listeners and viewers why these are both important to you?

Particularly what Kate had just said, where it’s flipping the script of its South to South. That would be wonderful if you could comment on that. 

Piyumi: Of course. Well firstly thank you to you both for having me on the show. And I think it is actually quite a serendipitous and perhaps not an accidental move that it’s going from Womankind, to now CREA in terms of the trajectory of the conversation.

I was with Womankind for about five and a half years and loved my time there. It was quite a difficult decision actually, to move, but as many women’s rights organisations are, it’s quite a small organisation and very explicit about the fact that,[00:05:00] Womankind actually has a HR tagline, which is “give, get, grow, go”. Because there isn’t a huge amount of space for people to stay. And so, you know, very explicit about, in a sense, feeding the feminist sorority that’s around. And as a feminist, but very much a kind of South Asian feminist in my identity, I’ve lived in the UK now for about 17 years. I came here to do my Masters, my husband, who’s also Sri Lankan, also came around the same time, we just sort of fell into staying back in the UK as many Global South based professionals do. You want a little bit of global exposure and experience. So we stayed back. And I won’t go into all the gory details as to why, but life has turned out to be here now. This is our home, London, and we have two children whose identities are very much British.

So it was clear that I had [00:06:00] to continue to live in London to work. But I really wanted to continue to work in an organisation in a way that actually had direct impact on the Global South and preferably, the global South which was inclusive of, if not centered exclusively in, South Asia because that’s home, I’m Sri Lankan. And when I left Womankind, which I think is such a principled feminist organisation, which is very conscious of being located in the Global North and all the power dynamics that come with that and try to really ensure that Womankind’s role is a value add to whatever is being centered and led from the Global South.

So, really conscious of what is it that Womankind should really be bringing to the table? When I left Womankind I, or when I was thinking about it, I was really in a bit of a bind thinking, where do I go from here? [00:07:00] Because quite honestly, in my view, there aren’t a tonne of organisations which are located in the UK, located in London, perhaps now with hybrid working, things are opening up much more, um, which are women’s rights organisations, are feminist explicitly, as well as work in an impactful, direct way in the Global South. There aren’t tonnes of us out there and I really felt like, oh my God, I’m going to have to compromise.

And it couldn’t be a compromise on geography. So it had to be, I’m going to have to compromise in terms of the kinds of organisation that I ended up working in. And with no disrespect to my colleagues who work in INGOs, I had this creeping dread that that’s where I might have to kind of look for my next job. If I still wanted to center working or making a difference in the Global South, did it have to be through an INGO? Which very honestly does not, I think it, it doesn’t [00:08:00] have the luxury perhaps of being feminist in their approach. I know a number of them might call themselves that, but very honestly, I don’t think they can follow feminist principles and work in those large structures.

So to get a job with CREA was a dream come true. And I think what is really pivotal about CREA and what’s different about being at CREA versus Womankind is that it is an organisation that is absolutely anchored, located historically, with the kind of herstory of the organisation, very much clear about being Southern- based, Southern- led organisation. 23 years since the organisation’s come about and the organisation has so much credibility , to your point, Kate, in not only being Southern- led, but being able to then inform global processes and dialogue and conversations about [00:09:00] how we really push the agenda, what the feminist fault lines are, really not just influencing the agenda, but very frequently really kind of forming the agenda, influencing what the next thing will be rather than what is ongoing right now. And that is, I think, a position that organisations like Womankind – they are few and far between – they can’t take it because they’re not anchored in the Global South. And that’s why Womankind in a way, will not try to do some of the things that CREA do.

 And I think that’s the amazing benefit that I now have as a woman who is of South Asian origin, very much still identifies as at best, Sri Lankan British, who then has the amazing ability to continue to live in London because perhaps of the few things that Covid have given us, and work in a [00:10:00] hybrid way with an organisation that very much is anchored and led in and by the Global South, but continues to be able to be a big influencer and has a very distinct seat at the table, which is CREA.

And I don’t think, I mean there’s JASS as another organisation, of course, AWID and a number of other organisations that have a global presence. So many women’s rights organisations and feminist organisations which are globally led, don’t necessarily have the ability to translate what happens at a local and national level into global influence. I think that’s the difference that organisations like CREA have. I don’t know if I’ve answered the question. 

Charmaine: Yeah, you have and it kind of leads into my next question actually. It’s quite serendipitous. So I wanted to ask -India and East Africa to hold boot camps to share ideas. Participants then go back to their organisations or social movements and [00:11:00] communicate their ideas further.

Can you describe this process in greater detail and give us some of the themes and topics that you work on? 

Piyumi: Sure. So you cut out a little bit, Charmaine, when you were asking the question, but I understand you were talking about CREA bringing people together from India and East Africa. 

So I think, firstly, we call them CREA Institutes and, in my view, CREA institutes have been one of the most compelling unique selling points of the organisation. Before I even joined CREA, I actually heard about the organisation through this amazing dynamic institute, alum, kind of, sorority that exists out there from all over. They’re spread out globally though primarily South Asian and East African, CREA also have had a number of global Institutes. And of course while they may be South Asian and East African in terms of origin and identity, they may be spread out globally as well, including in the Global North.

[00:12:00] So I really think CREA’s Institutes are sort of an Institute of their own right. And currently at CREA we work on four strategic objectives that are sort of thematically linked. So feminist leadership and movements, sexual and reproductive rights, gender-based violence and wellbeing and collective resilience, which is probably the newest, thematic area of work, and it really speaks to the fact that there is, globally, closing civic space that we really need to build resilience to kind of resist. And the process for these Institutes that we currently offer at CREA is really about the organisation conceptualising key, complex, nuanced subject areas.

I really think good feminist work is messy by definition. It can’t be siloed because we see so much [00:13:00] overlap between these themes that we’ve identified and we sort of separated them in order for us to be able to focus in depth and actually manage and maybe build core pieces of work around.

But we know that the magic happens when we see how these themes really lie on top of each other. And that’s what CREA Institutes have done, you know, they’ve developed over a long period of time, so I think the earliest one was in 2002, and that was SGRI, the Sexuality Gender Rights Institute.

And so a number of these institutes have been really sort of honed, and they’ve got these cracking curricula which really bring these topics alive. And I think a key component is they ensure that the participants who turn up for these institutes are really hungry for it. So you make sure, of course it’s not [00:14:00] about just speaking to the converted, but it is important to make sure that people’s politics align before they come into the room. That people have a certain degree of knowledge upon which you can build. So I think that’s another really important part of the process. 

So the other thing about these Institutes, and let me just give you a flavor of what the various Institutes are. So, SGRI, as I mentioned, the Sexuality, Gender and Rights Institute, has been going on since 2002, focuses on conceptual study of sexuality, but then also critically examines the links between sexuality, rights, gender and health, and really how they interface with sociocultural and legal issues. The other one is called FLMBaRI, and that’s Feminist Leadership Movement Building and Rights Institute.

[00:15:00] And that’s been running since 2004 in South Asia and since 2008 in East Asia. And in fact, we’ve translated that into Hindi and it’s been running in India for Hindi speaking community since 2014. There’s another longstanding institute called the Disability, Sexuality and Rights Online Institute, DSROI, which has intentionally been online in order to manage accessibility needs, and that started in 2010 . So it’s not that there’s been an annual Institute since 2010. There may have been a few years where we’ve missed it out. But DSROI, again, we’ve started to regionalise, there’s one in Hindi, we’ve had a DSROI for the first time in East Africa, as well as a number of others, there’s another Institute focused on abortion, gender and rights, as well as an Institute focused on younger girls called SELF that really looks at sports and arts as a way of really building [00:16:00] confidence and leadership skills amongst adolescents. So a whole host of these Institutes.

But really what is unique and common to them is that, a) as I said, it’s been a long kind of process of honing a really cutting edge curriculum; b) that these are called boot camps because it’s not sort of a flash in the pan four-hour session. Those are useful. We have those, we all need to sometimes get a little bit of knowledge and skills under our belt, and we’ll go for a half a day training session, but these are at the very least five days long.

And it’s hard work. You come in, you’ve done some pre-reading, you get a whole curriculum, like a whole bibliography of reading to do ahead of time, and you need to do it if you want to stay on top. At the end of each day, you will probably have some group work to do, which means at the end of a long session of absorbing, [00:17:00] you still have to go away and do a little bit more work.

People play hard as well. You work hard, but you play hard during the Institutes, you know, people party. You really have an intense experience with maybe up to 25 to 30 other participants from whom you learn as well. And there’s a lot of peer sharing, peer learning, and almost peer mentorship that goes on.

So, again, I come back to this kind of cracking curriculum that’s developed and honed over years, but then also it stays really agile. So every year there’ll be visiting faculty who bring in something new that’s relevant to what’s happening in the world. So for example, our most recent FLMBaRI that happened at the end of 2022, had visiting faculty from Sri Lanka because of what had happened in Sri Lanka in terms of the absolute meltdown of the political structures and the people’s protest and [00:18:00] political economy.

And really taking a feminist lens on that. So the curricular and visiting faculty really keep it fresh. And I think the other very important thing about CREA institutes, but CREA work in general, is the way it really honors what happens in our bodies, the reality of our bodies being sites of tension and violence and sites of power so that the Institutes and the work is not just about what’s going on in our heads, but in our bodies and our hearts as well as really integrating and centering arts as a way of learning and sharing and therapy.

So when it comes to the exchange , as much as possible, the Institutes have been kind of contained regionally. So we’ll have South Asia, India, East Africa, because again, it helps to have a common context. [00:19:00] But we also do have global institutes so that people from all over the world can come together and actually be part of a shared conversation.

And I think what’s amazing about these Institutes are these kind of cohorts of alum that come together. So, when you leave an Institute you’ve actually built a fairly strong relationship, not necessarily with everyone in that cohort, but a number of them. And I’ve heard of stories of how, these feminists have actually held on to their relationships and gone on perhaps to strengthen or build movements that may be national, may be regional.

Yeah, so it comes with a lot of power. 

Kate: This is really fascinating, Piyumi, because it sounds to me as though you as CREA have built, a mechanism and a structure and a process by which you can create the cross-fertilisation of ideas between individuals in the [00:20:00] same space, but then taking those ideas out of that space and generalising them through your alumni, your cohort of activists to create embedded social movements.

 Is that the goal? Is that what you are seeking to do as CREA to kind of fertilise and activate feminist social movements across the globe? 

Piyumi: Absolutely, and I think one of the things that CREA does and does really well is trying to identify spaces which are underexplored perhaps by others.

So one of the things that I really respect the organisation for not doing is trying to boil the ocean. We do a lot already, but we don’t really, I mean, and we are intentionally intersectional in our approach and actually CREA talk about [00:21:00] minoritised groups as structurally excluded persons in order to draw attention to the fact that a lot of people who, and you know, constituencies who stay at the margins of, basically, access to resources, are excluded because of the way structures are set up rather than because of some sort of deficiency in and of themselves and really drawing attention to that.

So our approaches are very intentionally, very consciously intersectional. So for example, these institutes, going back to that, just this past year we had, uh, the first FLMBaRI in East Africa after a three year hiatus because of Covid. And in September we sent out the call for applications.

We had 400 plus applicants, for 30 seats at the table. And that selection process, it’s a hard graft because [00:22:00] this is not something you want to get wrong in terms of getting that kind of conversation in the room. But you’re also cognisant of the fact that this is a huge, not to over egg it, but it can be life changing for some people and people have said it; that coming into that space and sometimes being given permission to talk about certain things that you never have been given permission for in your life before, it can be life changing. And so actually, when we are selecting participants for something like that, we will be very mindful of ensuring that there is space created for intersectional conversations. So we want to make sure that there’s some representation of various constituencies, and if it’s in East Africa, are we making sure that there are sex workers in the room, and or people who work for sex worker rights. Are we making sure that it is a disability friendly space with at least some people who have declared disabilities? Are we [00:23:00] making sure that it’s LBT inclusive? Those kind of realities are really factored in.

 But what we won’t be doing anytime soon is to then go and really work on caste-based issues in India because there are plenty of organisations who are doing brilliant work on that front. And if we find that something that we are doing in a particular geography is being done by someone else, as well or better, we will pull out because one of the things we’re trying to do is to make sure that the infrastructure around movement strengthening has the right tools.

And that particularly as an organisation that does have a well-established seat at the table in terms of being able to at least be in the same spaces with some of those global actors and particularly donors, to make sure that we [00:24:00] raise noise about the areas that are not yet acknowledged as needing funding and attention rather than the areas that are. So yes, I think the intention is definitely to capacitate groups and particularly groups of people who are structurally excluded to play an active role in dynamic movement building and strengthening, but at the same time to make sure that we keep our eye on what are those areas that are currently invisibilised and how do we visualise them? 

Kate: That’s really fascinating and sounds like high energy work and very mindfully implemented. And I think that Charmaine will be fascinated to hear that you are consciously integrating the head in terms of learning, but also the body and the heart. And you talk very consciously about therapy, art and [00:25:00] learning, and the integration of those. And I think you’re talking Charmaine’s language there because she is a body psychotherapist.

So she’ll be fascinated to hear that. And I’ll pass back to Charmaine now for her next question. 

Charmaine: Thank you guys. The other question that I wanted to ask, and thank you Kate for that, the model of the South-South working and driving development from the Global South. It is really interesting to me because, particularly because I’m a Black woman and also because you’re also a Brown woman, and you know, Kate and I kind of struggled as to whether we wanted to ask this question because we really like the work you’re doing and we really want to promote the work.

At the same time I thought, well, I don’t think I could really sit and listen and not really talk about some of the divides that perhaps you, maybe you and I personally wouldn’t get to, but there are divides between Black and Asians. And so I’m just wondering, what does that mean in, in terms of racial and ethnic identifiers and identities when you’re doing the work? Because I think that this would [00:26:00] be a major part of it. And how do you resolve or how do you work with those kinds of identities? And I’m sure that they do come up. Yeah, thank you. 

Piyumi: No, I’m really glad you asked the question and I think we need to be more bold and courageous about having these conversations, and I think, if not us, who will? The reality is that racial and ethnic identities, layered by all the intercepting identity markers, obviously , that they exist within a hierarchy. And even before we go, Charmaine, to the kind of Black-Brown hierarchy, there is the many shades of Brown.

Charmaine: Yes. 

Piyumi: And many castes of Brown hierarchy, particularly for an organisation that has this historic root in India. So, I think obviously we cannot be feminist and not talk about power dynamics. And we would just be invisibilising it if we pretended like “because we’re feminists, [00:27:00] this is not a thing”.

It is a thing. And I think one of the important ways in which I’ve observed, and I can’t say for a fact that, you know, I haven’t been at CREA long enough to say rolling up my sleeves and gotten into the meat of it. But what I’ve observed, how we tackle it and let me say explicitly address it in two different ways in terms of how we address and how we tackle it within India.

Not just expanding it to South Asia, but within India, is by intentionally working with community-based, grassroots-based organisations, activists, movements, and making sure that within CREA’s staff as well, and we’ve had these conversations recently about trying to make sure that we’re mindful that we have a good balance of professionals who come from different routes of entry into [00:28:00] women’s rights, not-for-profit, CSO, NGO, whatever you want to call it, world. And that there is a good balance. I mean, it’s not to say it’s at the exclusion of one group or another, but that we are very mindful of the fact that, as my dad used to say, it takes all types to make the world go round.

The value of having diverse life experiences and knowledge coming into who works at CREA and how we do that work. But one of the other important ways in which some of that power dynamic has been equalised is when you actually work through the various types of movements that there’s a presumption that knowledge transfer happens from the more educated, the more sociopolitically progressive groups to the grassroots and community-based activists and organisations and some knowledge does get transferred that way, but we have to honor and I [00:29:00] think be very active and remember, and document the fact that knowledge transfer happens the other way around as well.

And I think that’s one way in which CREA has done that, is by firstly working together and really living the reality of that. And I want to flag this story that Srilatha, who needs no introduction, is kind of a stalwart of feminist leadership. She talks about one of her early experiences where she worked with pavement dwelling communities and really supported building a movement of those women and saying, one thing she learned from them was how to channel joy.

 Let’s not shy away from the fact that we are class-based societies from a middle, upper-middle, upper, whatever you want to call yourself, from that kind of a background where you don’t have to worry about what you eat or whether you eat.

And then you hang out [00:30:00] with these women and they’re laughing much more than I certainly probably do on a regular basis and to learn from the fact that there’s just so much power in us in being able to really not let patriarchy steal our joy, and her being able to keep that story alive in terms of her relaying it, but also documenting it. So that’s, I think, one way. The second is what you talked about really surfacing and acknowledging that there are hierarchies, which let’s accept again, a Global North Western lens has really put this. That has been established by colonisers.

Charmaine: Yes, absolutely. 

Piyumi: That hierarchy. But we feed into it. We live in a way where we reify and we reiterate those hierarchies and so a Black African woman scholar or academic might be not given as much credibility [00:31:00] as an Indian. And in fact, a bold feminist sister of mine who happens to live in Kenya, she’s not Kenyan, but she’s the one who said, this is the thing people think, and we have to live with, that’s a little bit of a chip, and so we’re always looking over our shoulder as a Black African feminist and saying, I’m as good. And having to sort of validate ourselves. And actually what you’re doing is you are weakening the strength of the movement by doing that. So the way in which I’ve seen us try to really address that through CREA’s work, as I said before, is trying to identify what is happening, and CREA’s work in East Africa on the continent is primarily and, not exclusively, but primarily focused on Kenya and Uganda historically, and what we’ve tried to do is to say what is not already happening, led by Kenyan, Ugandan or continental [00:32:00] organisations who are doing good work. We will not come and replicate that. Because that is already happening and having explicit conversations with those organisations who are doing that work, really having explicit conversations with Akina Mama and Akili Dada, you know, before we even had the first FLMBaRI, the Feminist Leadership and Movements and Rights Institute in East Africa and in understanding whether there is an appetite for CREA to come in and do that. And secondly, in being very mindful of ensuring that it is South-South. And if it is South-South, it’s not that there’ll be faculty Zooming in from South Asia, but that it’s a collaboration. And that sisters from the continent, from East Africa in particular, are there to really contextualise the story and talk about decolonisation and talk about feminism from African feminist lenses, from a Pan African viewpoint.[00:33:00] 

And I think having difficult conversations without getting into the weeds or breaking confidentiality. We had that kind of a conversation recently in February when we had our most recent East African FLMBaRI amongst the team that actually put it together, to really talk about what felt like divisions in the team based along, “where are you from?”

Based along those lines and really saying, listen, if we don’t explicitly have a conversation about it, then the entire premise of the work that we are doing is lost. So yeah, I think it’s not something that I’d say we’ve cracked 100%. It’s a conversation we still have to, and it’s not something that will go away. 

You know where you don’t talk about it because it’s gone away. I think it goes away because you keep talking about it and you keep keeping that loop alive so that we make sure that we don’t lose courage [00:34:00] to have those conversations. 

Charmaine: Yeah, thank you. I really like where you start, it’s from the base, you start from the bottom. You start from where it grows, and I really like the fact that you are really actively trying to figure out the root causes and then implementing changes. And I like the fact that you ended on the word courage because I do know as a Black woman when I am in spaces where the majority are Black and Brown, with very few White, it does inevitably come up.

But then there’s this thing of what we were talking about. Oh, don’t talk about that. That’s not important. Why are you making it worse? Why are you hanging out your dirty laundry, so to speak? But yet, like you said, it does inform the space. It does inform the topic, and it does inform the way that we want to be successful in our project.

So yeah, I really appreciate your comments on that. Yeah, sounds cool.

Kate: Yeah, thanks, Piyumi. I’ve really enjoyed hearing the way that you talk about these issues because you confront them in a very [00:35:00] straightforward way. You don’t try and duck them. And I appreciate that because outside of this space, I have conversations with people who tie themselves in complete knots to avoid confronting these tricky issues.

So, I appreciate the fact that you don’t, and that you’ve actually gone away and thought about them. So it’s not that you’re stumbling over your words with a new idea. This is part and parcel of what you do. So, it’s very much close to the end of our conversation now, and I really enjoyed hearing about CREA’s work, the way you work, the way that you are building a shared understanding and social movements and creating opportunities for feminist dialogue and change. We like to give our listeners and viewers at the end of each podcast episode a sense that progressive change is possible and that they can be part of that change.

Could you suggest to our listeners and viewers one thing that [00:36:00] they can do, one practical thing that they can do to move forwards the process of decolonisation, localisation, and anti-racism in their work or in their daily lives. 

Piyumi: Absolutely. I think part of decoloniality is about really throwing out these hierarchies about whose knowledge and whose kind of knowledge-building approaches are better, more valid, more valuable.

And I think one practical way to do it, and I will cite GADN here as well, because this came out of one of GADN’s think pieces that, I’ll say we, because I consider myself part of GADN, have done, is really about honoring and valuing knowledge that is South-led. And a practical way to do that is to really find valued content that is produced in a vernacular language, it’s local to [00:37:00] the Global South, and translating that into English, Spanish, French. So you are not saying, here’s something I’ve done. I think it’s really cool. Let me translate it for you in Swahili, or Hindi or Bengali. Let me actually take what you’ve done because there’s value and let me learn from it. So let me translate it for the Global North.

Kate: Yeah, I really appreciate that. I like that. That issue of language has come up over and over again in the podcast and this issue about primacy of knowledge, whose knowledge counts. It’s an age old question, but it’s something that is absolutely at the heart of all of this, isn’t it? And that idea of hierarchies of knowledge and hierarchies of specialism, and it fits in with the idea of privilege, particularly White privilege.

And where are we centering the discussion? Where’s it coming from? And where is it going to? So thank you very much for your contribution today. I’ve really enjoyed talking [00:38:00] to you. And I think we’ve given our listeners and viewers something really to chew over about how South-South learning and taking ideas from the South and bringing them into the global space is flipping the script on decolonisation.

So thank you very much. 

Charmaine: Yes. Thank you, Piyumi. Lovely, lovely, love to hear you and I hope you would like to come back again sometime in the future because I just think that there’s such a wealth and beauty in what you’re trying to say, and I think we’ve only just touched a little bit of the top of the candle, I’d like to eat the whole cake next time. 

Piyumi: Wonderful. Yeah, that sounds good. Yeah, it’s tough, isn’t it? To condense these things into half an hour. But yeah, thank you for the opportunity. It’s been wonderful to ruminate on some of this. Okay. Thank you. 

Kate: Thanks again.

This weeks guest:

Piyumi Samaraweera is Programmes Director, Feminist Leadership and Movements at CREA World (CREA).

CREA is a feminist international human rights organisation based in the Global South and led by women from the Global South. CREA’s work draws upon the inherent value of a rights-based approach to sexuality and gender equality. Based in London, Piyumi’s role supports CREA as it promotes, protects, and advances human rights and the sexual rights of all people by building leadership capacities of activists and allies; strengthening organisations and social movements; creating and increasing access to new information, knowledge, and resources; and enabling supportive social and policy environments.

As a Sri Lankan-British feminist, and as someone who has lived, studied, and worked across Asia, the US, and the UK, Piyumi enjoys work that has a global outlook and is connected to women’s rights. The proud granddaughter of Sri Lanka’s first woman Mayor, Piyumi has a love for the arts and has starred as a lead in “Aksharaya”, a feature-length film that premiered at the San Sebastian film festival in 2005.

Recommended links/reading

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