Natacha Roussel

From 23 to 24 May, femhack organized an international hackathon in the loving memory of Sabeen Mahmud, getting together amongst a large number of feminist hackerspaces locally and around the world.

Sabeen Mahmud was a Pakistani activist fighting for human rights in Pakistan. She was the co-founder and director of the second floor (T2F), a cafe in Karachi. She also had been the president of Karachi’s branch of deTiE (The Indus Entrepreneurs), a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to promoting entrepreneurial spirit. On 24 April 2014, she was shot down by unidentified gunmen while coming back from the seminar she had just hosted at T2F, examining issues and triggering awareness about people who had disappeared in Baluchistan, a province of northern Pakistan.

A year after her death, we had the desire to express our solidarity online and off-line, as a network of feminist spaces for resistance, being transnationals and postcolonialists. Furthermore, this event allowed us to more clearly define our network of solidarity. We do have a shared discourse, and we also work to appropriate technological space to the benefit of our communities. We feel we are engaged in a larger process that fundamentally nurtures our small community-based structures. Most of us consider we are in a sphere of action that overcomes the deconstruction process needed to get out of a proprietary way of life. We put forward alternative ways of life and solidarity networks. Our next concern is to secure our existing structures: this is not an easy process, as fragility is also a definitive asset allowing for sensitivity and understanding. However, while numerous, our structures lack the sufficient visibility that would allow better protection, and consequently it keeps being difficult to identify everyone.

This day was the occasion of an encounter that has enabled us to identify one another better: since then; we continue to exchange messages on a dedicated mailing list that helps us to know each other better. However, it still is very difficult to completely identify each other in the varied materiality of our different commitments. Since that day, the more than 30 structures in which we are participating have developed a series of approaches to the issues, going from Wikipedia editathons to augment feminist content on Wikipedia, to Women in Surveillance meetups, citizen-sensing endeavors, or small exchange and programming groups. However, despite the persistent relations that we are creating and the commonality of our interests and attitudes, it remains a complex challenge to understand and assess the personality of each of us in an always-transient state of being, as people are involved in projects with different levels of risks.

All continents were represented during that event, but the most numerous were situated in Latin America, maybe because of the beauty of a language practice that has invented a written transgender form; for example: “somos guapxs“ is the transgender form of “we are beautiful.”

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