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Women's History Month Syllabus

Feminist Solidarity in Times of Crisis: Exploring Mutual Aid, Gender, and Social Justice 

This course delves into the relationship between mutual aid, gender, and culture, exploring some of the ways that solidarity can move beyond the abstract to become a tangible mechanism of connection and support. The curriculum examines how moments of crises reveal and exacerbate inequalities, with a specific lens on how gender and power dynamics manifest in cultural responses and representations.

Learners will engage with a variety of cultural artifacts to understand how feminist perspectives on equality and shared goals can inform and inspire collective action and mutual support. The aim is to equip learners with a nuanced understanding of how gender and mutual aid intersect within cultural contexts, fostering critical reflections on how to cultivate equitable and supportive communities. We invite you to work through the syllabus with a friend or two, and ask that you report back on your experience! 

Unit 1 | Mutual Aid as Global Solidarity

Six animated women


In Gloria Anzaldúa’s letter “Speaking In Tongues: A Letter To 3rd World Women Writers,” Anzaldúa discusses the realities of navigating multiple identities, languages, and cultural contexts, specifically as a “Third World woman, who has, at best, one foot in the feminist literacy world.” This piece calls for solidarity among women writers across borders and cultures, advocating for the recognition and celebration of diverse voices in literature. 

What are some particular challenges that Anzaldúa discusses Third World Women face? Why does she specifically call for solidarity among women writers across nations? 

Anzaldúa Speaking in Tongues.pdf 


INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence is a network of radical feminists of color organizing to end state violence and violence in our homes and communities. Look through their resources for “Community Accountability” and have a conversation about how you might begin to develop some

Unit 2 | Mutual Aid and the Carceral State

Purple Tent outside a night with snow on the ground, with the words " Chicago Community Jail Support" on the side


“Activist Mariame Kaba calls mutual aid key to ending prison industrial complex at BARS event,” Sarah Alkhafaji

“Kaba said mutual aid, transformative justice, and universal accountability in activist movements are crucial to her goal of replacing imprisonment and policing with lasting alternatives. She added that it is important to maintain reciprocal relationships for activists and abolitionists — which includes sustaining relationships with people who are incarcerated, their families, and their communities through mutual aid”


Review the list Kaba shared of nine solidarity commitments that support people who are incarcerated. Incorporate as many commitments as you are able, to sustain a balanced mutual aid practice.


There are many ways for us to show up for people who are incarcerated. The Chicago Community Jail Support is a great local way to show up for folks being released from prison. Check out their website and their Instagram for ways to get involved with mutual aid.

Unit 3 | Mutual Aid and Trans Health Care

Brave Space Alliance


Brave Space Alliance, the first black-led, trans-led lgbtq+ center located on the South Side of Chicago, and designed to create and provide affirming and culturally competent services for the entire lgbtq+ community of Chicago.


There are many resources that Brave Space Alliance provides for the community. Check out or share one of their programs with a friend or colleague. Another great idea is to see how you might be able to model one of their mutual aid programs. Try to create a dignity suite among your friends by doing a clothing swap this month.

Unit 4 | Mutual Aid and Food Sovereignty


There’s no universal definition for food sovereignty, but it can be described as the ability of communities to determine the quantity and quality of the food that they consume by controlling how their food is produced and distributed. Food sovereignty is central to mutual aid because it centers community members’ power to define the food they procure and the ways in which food is procured in accordance with the needs of their community.

Indigenous philosopher and environmental justice scholar Kyle Powys Whyte’s article “Indigenous Food Systems, Environmental Justice, and Settler-Industrial States” will help you think through mutual aid as a means of practicing and realizing transformative environmental justice that allows activists to build environmentally resilient and just communities beyond the state.

Kyle Powys Whyte, “Indigenous Food Systems, Environmental Justice, and Settler-Industrial States”.pdf


Consider getting involved in local food sovereignty movements. There are many places and ways to engage in the area, but here are a few suggestions:

Chicagoland Food Sovereignty Coalition

Greater Chicago Food Depository

Chicago Food Policy Action Council

Unit 5 | Art as an Expression of Mutual Care


The A.I.R. Gallery in Brooklyn (AIR standing for Artist in Residence) has been in continuous operation since 1972. Its mandate is to show and support work by self-identified women and nonbinary artists, and has always been run as a cooperative.

One of the current exhibitions is ACRYLICS: Hidden Sculptural Art, curated by ICECOLD. It includes nail art by Stephanie Aoko, Lesly Arrañaga, Alexis Auer, Jalen Dominique, Parvee Perry, Melissa Samuel, Sky Somalia, Momoka Takahashi, Marbles Valdez, and Aja Walton. You can view more images from the exhibition here:


Nail art is a kind of vernacular or folk art that is usually neglected by mainstream art institutions, like many other forms of art that are mostly made by women, especially women of color. Get together with a group of friends and give each other manicures. Think about hands. Think about labor. Think about who does the labor of giving manicures. Think about immigration, about femininity, about art made by women and queer folx for each other.

Consider what it means to make something beautiful that is intentionally ephemeral, that will get marred though the work of everyday life, and that you will have to make anew. In giving your friends or yourself a manicure, set the intention of making this art as an act of care.