Talking Gender

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A blog about gender, culture and organizational change


By Gender at Work Media / September 21, 2015 / Loading Disqus...
Institute of Social Studies Trust in association with Heinroch Boll Stiftung, India and Gender at Work cordially invite you to the eighteenth Gender and Economic Policy Discussion Forum ‘Gender Equality in the Workplace in India’. 

Speakers: Harpreet Kaur, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre; Kalyani Menon Sen, Independent Researcher;  Reiko Tsushima, International Labour Organization 

Chaired and Moderated by: Sudarshana Kundu, Gender at Work 

Date: Wednesday, 23rd September 2015 Time: 10 am to 1 pm, followed by lunch 

Venue: Casuarina Hall, India Habitat Centre, Lodhi Road, New Delhi – 110 003


Interested in stories on social justice? You are invited to Gender at Work events at 2015 CSW in New York, on 11 March, 2015. Check out the details below and please share widely.  


By Gender at Work Media / October 16, 2014 / Loading Disqus...

Feminists in Development Organizations: Change from the margins
Edited by Rosalind Eyben and Laura Turquet

The book launch is on 20 October, 2014 | 2 - 3 pm | George Washington University | Marvin Center, Room 403, 800, 21st St NW

Feminist Bureaucrats - Contradiction, Co-optation or Political Strategy?
You are warmly invited to participate in debating this question with a panel of speakers to launch the book. Join us to discuss the hidden lives and strategic dilemmas of feminists working in bureaucracies to effect transformational change. Buy the book here.

Panelists: Editors / Contributors Professor Rosalind Eyben, University of Sussex; Laura Turquet, UN Women; and Aruna Rao, Gender at Work
Lucia Hanmer, World Bank
Mohini Malhotra
Chaired by Dr Mary Ellsberg, Director, Global Women's Institute

RSVP: laura.turquet@unwomen.org

More about the book from the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) website:

Feminists in Development Organizations arises from a collaborative project between 2007 and 2012 in which a group of feminists working inside the head offices of multilateral organizations, government aid agencies and international non-governmental organizations came together to critically reflect on their work.

The personal stories in this book show that these feminists are ‘tempered radicals’ positioned on the border of the development agencies that employ them. It is a place where they are neither fully one thing nor another: neither fully paid-up, pen-pushing bureaucrats, nor full-blown feminist activists on the barricades. Nevertheless, feminist bureaucrats see their work as urgent, essential and a necessary contribution to global efforts to achieve women’s rights.

This book reflects on the progress of gender mainstreaming. It shows how feminists can build effective strategies to influence development organizations to foster greater understanding and forge more effective alliances for social change. This book is aimed at staff of development organizations - who want their organizations to become an instrument in helping transforming the lives of women – and at students and researchers concerned with the politics of gender mainstreaming.


By Gender at Work Media / September 16, 2014 / Loading Disqus...

By Ireen Dubel 

Twelve feminists from all over the world meet in upstate New York, September 2014. They meet to pilot the methodology of The TMI Project for Gender at Work. They have come to dig up stories for knowledge building about their work experiences as gender experts, feminists working in development agencies in various parts of the world. What they know upon arrival is that they are expected to write. They have come to write stories about their role as intermediaries between the agendas of their organizations and their personal drives to contribute to improve the lives of marginalized women through empowerment and tackling of persistent gender inequalities. Each of them only knows a few of the fellow participants. The majority does not know what they are actually in for. 

Day one, the magic happens. Trust and confidentially are guiding principles, without having to be formally agreed upon. Facilitation is of course key. Three women, who have gone through the same TMI Project methodology, share their stories during the opening session of the workshop. They tell deep stories about their personal experiences of discrimination and marginalization, not as victims, no, as women—who and where they are, now and where they want to go to. The three-day meeting turns out to be a most creative, exciting, inspiring, reflective encounter. 

The methodology of the TMI Project is rigid. After the opening session and expectation sharing, writing, pen on paper without lifting it—no laptops or iPads—is driving the process. Stories are shared, told, enriched over the days. The end result is amazing. Twelve authentic, compelling stories about the politics of being feminist change agents and working in a variety of organisations and bureaucracies, are staged, performed. Laughter and tears fill the room. Each participant is empowered in her own personal way. Some achieve major leaps from misery, pain and the sense of being stuck. Others share experiences never told, experience the liberation of shedding and the affirmation of deeply personal experiences of pain, sorrow and loss. Competition and hierarchy are absent. Each story is validated as the personal expression and experience of deep gender inequality issues that are on the agenda, both in the work and personal domains of the participants. The stories are publishable. The methodology can be used to produce stories for gender training modules, for evidence reporting to back donors, for fundraising in the gender & development and business worlds. The methodology enables knowledge development and sharing about the deep individual, organisational and institutional dimensions of change that Gender at Work wishes to generate. This methodology deserves replication, multiplication, through training of trainers, through wider exposure, through in-house donor familiarization and many more ways. It has the potential to recognize, validate and affirm. The revelation of one of my fellow participants: “I am stepping into my power.” 

Ireen Dubel is Senior Advisor on Women's Rights at the Humanist Institute for Co-operation with Developing Countries (Hivos). She was a participant at a recent workshop organized by The TMI Project (an upstate New York-based organization that aims to “change the world, one story at a time”), and Gender at Work. The workshop took place over three days in September and invited feminists who have worked at the front line of confronting gender discrimination.


Aruna Rao, Gender at Work Executive Director, moderated a vibrant panel on Laws, Policies and State Practices at the meeting Beyond 2015: Pathways to a Gender Just World. The meeting was held from 29 to 30 May at the Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, UK. It brought together feminist scholars, activists and media and communications professionals to interrogate learning from the Pathways of Women’s Empowerment Consortium (Pathways) since 2005 and consider how Pathways research could shape the Post-2015 development agenda. 

        

Andrea Cornwall, Director of Pathways and a Gender at Work Board Member, was a leading convenor of the meeting. Opening the meeting, Cornwall reminded participants that the purpose of Pathways was to bring about a radical shift in policy and practice relating to women’s empowerment. The consortium—with regional hubs in Bangladesh, Brazil, Egypt, Ghana and a global hub in the UK—focused on: informal norms and sexuality; media practice and its role in forming critical analysis; laws, policies and state practices; women’s collective organising for change; securing resources and decent livelihoods and understanding the conditions that enable work to be empowering. 

Summarizing some of the major findings of the 7-year research initiative, Cornwall highlighted: 

  • There are many pathways of empowerment. Empowerment is not always progressive or positive. Pathways can be meandering and double back on themselves. Context matters: what can be seen as a potential route of empowerment in one context may be something for granted in other settings. 
  • Women don’t travel the road of empowerment alone. Women may be accompanied and supported on their journey.  
  • The POWER in empowerment is important. Initiatives aimed at empowering individual women may change these women, but do little to change the underlying structures that keep other women disempowered and shift power relations. Efforts to promote women’s empowerment need to tackle deeper-rooted structural constraints that perpetuate inequalities.  
  • Collective action and consciousness are at the heart of empowerment. Changing attitudes and values is as important as changing women’s material circumstances and political opportunities.  
  • Women’s movements are key. Where change happens you often find it is facilitated by women’s organisations holding state and non-state actors to account, fostering leadership, and providing voice. 

The panel that Aruna moderated included Mulki Al-Sharmani (University of Helsinki and American University of Cairo), Rosalind Eyben (Associate Faculty, University of Sussex), Takyiwaa Manuh (UN-ECA), Sohela Nazneen (BRAC University). Panel members presented a diversity of experiences of securing legal change to advance women’s empowerment. Amongst debates about how much emphasis to place on these efforts at national and global levels—particularly in light of the upcoming post-2015 agenda—panellists agreed that we need to find an active way of reconstructing citizenship to become something real and connected to people’s experiences. Citizenship needs to be a concept and idea which is lived, not just what is stated in the constitution.

See: Feminist Activism, Women's Rights, and Legal Reform   

Senior Associate Joanne Sandler also facilitated a panel on Creating Critical Consciousness, which showcased example of creative media produced by Pathways as a key route for building understanding of gender norms and stereotypes. Films on women in politics in Sierra Leone and on sex workers in India, and an overview of the innovative Pathways learning platform were presented and discussed.

Check out the excellent and abundant resources produced by Pathways at: 


We're happy to introduce our new partner! The Women’s Center for Legal Assistance and Counseling (WCLAC) in Palestine is a 20-year-old women’s rights organization which has pioneered the provision of legal aid and counselling to women. We've developed a partnership with them to frame a strategic learning agenda to prevent and end gender-based violence. 

 

Joanne Sandler and Aruna Rao kicked off the first workshop last month at their office in Ramallah. This is the first in a planned series of three. In designing this process along with Tanya Beer, we tested the Gender at Work analytical framework as a ‘lens’ that can strengthen feminist learning and evaluation strategies and used the emergent learning approach to drill down on key learning questions. We located both within a broader contextual analysis of women’s rights in Palestine and the history of the Occupation. 

We got enthusiastic and thoughtful responses from our WCLAC colleagues. They used different ways of learning to shape and re-shape their strategies and interventions and this process added a depth that they valued. WCLAC will continue to work on some of the ideas that emerged during this workshop to strengthen learning. As a next step, we will support WCLAC to do an internal/rapid assessment of its current strategic plan and revise its Theory of Change. We have planned a second workshop but given the current volatile political situation, we may have to remain flexible.

 


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