A gender-just social movement is one that creates a positive environment to support internal reflection, learning and action on equality and inclusion, as well as providing support for participation and leadership among under represented groups.

The resources below provide an insight into how this could be done. There are also resources highlighting the work going on within organisations, structures and movements to promote change on women's rights and gender justice.

24 resources - Page 2 of 3
  • Strategies of feminist bureaucrats: United Nations experiences

    J Sandler, A Rao
    Institute of Development Studies UK, 2012
    Contributing to research on the nature and challenges of gender mainstreaming in international development organisations, this paper focuses on the challenges and opportunities for feminists working as women’s rights and gender equality specialists in the United Nations (UN). From her prior experience as a policy practitioner and a bureaucrat in large international organisations, Rosalind Eyben knows how feminist bureaucrats have difficulties communicating their experiences. Given this, she organised a participatory action research project to provide a safe space for feminists from head offices of multilateral organisations, government aid agencies and international non-governmental organisations (INGOs) to reflect upon and improve their practice. This paper presents the accounts of two participants, both from a UN perspective.

    The first part is by Joanne Sandler, who analyses the experience of feminists struggling with institutional sexism in the UN, and discusses hopeful pathways to achieve gender equality. She tells the story of the, “unusual confluence of events” that enabled the creation of the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), She calls its establishment a victory for women’s rights advocates and a step forward for UN reform; however, she observes the new organisation to be embedded in an unchanged patriarchal and elitist structure. According to her, “That is part of the work that must be taken up by UN Women, with close vigilance from women’s networks worldwide,” which played a fundamental role in calling for its creation.

    In the second part, Aruna Rao describes how cross-agency UN Gender Theme Groups (GTGs) worked together through a process of reflexive inquiry to strengthen the gender equality programming of three UN Country Teams – Morocco, Albania and Nepal. Explaining the particular circumstances of each country, she examines: a large Spanish MDG-funded programme in Morocco involving multiple stakeholders; actualising gender equality in Nepal as an outcome in the UN development framework; and working in Albania in a One UN context. She highlights the environment of institutional discrimination, and importance of inter-organisational co-operation between gender equality staff in UN agencies. She recommends an enabling environment for GTGs to organise and develop joint solidarity strategies with government and the women’s movement.

    Additional information:

    Another paper from this participatory action research project, focusing on international non-governmental organisations (INGOs) can be accessed at: http://www.ids.ac.uk/files/dmfile/Wp396.pdf
    Authors: Ines Smyth and Laura Turquet with preface by Rosalind Eyben
    Date: July 2012
    Title: ‘Strategies of feminist bureaucrats: perspective from International NGOs’
    Publisher: Institute of Development Studies
    Series: IDS Working Paper 396
  • Strategies of feminist bureaucrats: perspective from international NGOs

    I Smyth, L Turquet
    Institute of Development Studies UK, 2012

    This Institute of Development Studies working paper focuses on the strategies of feminist bureaucrats, from the perspective of international non-governmental organisations (INGOs). The question of feminists' potential to influence social change through bureaucracy was the foundation for a collaborative project organised by Rosalind Eyben, in which feminists from head offices of multilateral organisations, government aid agencies and INGOs came together to recount experiences in an informal and safe space. This paper presents two such accounts, each focused on the INGO perspective.
    Firstly, the paper briefly describes the available literature, noting a paucity of recent 'insider' data on the status of feminists within INGOs. Such data is necessary to understand the micro-political strategies of every-day life; most scholars, looking from the outside-in, have been unable to adequately analyse such dynamics.
    Laura Turquet then draws on her experiences of lobbying DFID on its gender equality policy, and of her own marginalisation within Action Aid, to analyse the opportunities and challenges she encountered (using specific stories as illustration). One story regards the organisation of an Action Aid public event, in which Turquet shows how cooperation based on mutual benefits, sharing of skills and recognition of common goals led to successful outcomes. Another describes how, immediately following this high-profile event, gender was left out of Action Aids' list of priorities for lobbying at the G8 without her knowledge. This led to protests from groups such as GADN, which failed in turn to recognise the difficult positions in which gender advisors in large INGOs find themselves.

    The second account comes from Ines Smyth, who narrates and compares her time at Oxfam and the Asian Development Bank (ADB), exploring how the ethos and priorities of each organisation shape their respective approaches to promoting gender equality in their programmes. She examines and compares three elements that influence these approaches: openness to external influences, the fit between activity and mandate, and the presence and capacity of internal women's advocates. In contrasting the two organisations, Smyth notes the differences between the underlying philosophies of NGOs and IFIs (apparent in the more hierarchical nature of the ADB), concluding that robust systems, strong values, and open-channels of communication are all essential to effectively work on gender issues.

  • Bridging the gaps: citizens, organisations and dissociation. Civil Society Index summary report: 2008-2011

    CIVICUS - World Alliance for Citizen Participation, 2011

    This report, published by CIVICUS World Alliance for Citizen Participation, draws upon their Civil Society Index (CSI) 2008-2011 project to investigate, in a comprehensive but introspective manner, the changing landscape of civil society organisations (CSOs) around the world. It heavily quotes respondents in their own language, highlighting voices, concerns and hopes from numerous countries with a particular focus on CSOs relationship to the state, their financial and legal status, and the challenges they face. The authors also draw general conclusions that present a volatile and vulnerable sector that finds itself at a transitional moment, one that could signal either rejuvenation or stagnation, depending on how events unfold.

    The CSI is a participatory project, which aims to assess and improve the state of civil societies around the world. It includes thousands of people from the public and civil society stakeholders in a reflective analysis, creating a knowledge base and momentum for civil society strengthening. This report primarily uses the individual country reports (mostly qualitative) produced by the CSI; a more quantitative analysis can be found in the companion paper, Cutting the Diamonds.

    The report summarises each section with a series of conclusions:

    - Volatile civil space and relations with the state – The environment for CSOs is volatile, often limited, and presents challenges for managing civil societies role, status and integrity. Attacks on civil society are highlighted; one in three CSOs surveyed in Nicaragua reported being victims of some form of abuse by local or national governments. In many countries, legal requirements are restrictive or cumbersome, with perceived favouritism in civil society-state relationships and limits on what is permissible to challenge.

    - Resource challenges for CSOs – There is a sense amongst CSOs that they are particularly vulnerable to the financial shifts of the global economic crisis, and that they severely lack adequate human resources leading to a reliance on volunteerism.

    - Do CSOs model the values they espouse? - CSOs often fail to apply key labour rights, including recognition of gender equality, implementation of internal democracy and concern for the environment. In doing so, CSOs risk appearing inconsistent and losing credibility. A tendency to centralise power, particularly towards long-serving leaders, is still prevalent.
    - How important are networks? - Whilst important, networks are recognised by CSOs as hard to maintain, particularly internationally where connections are weaker. This suggests there is still much work to be done to reduce isolationism and increase sharing of practice. The Liberia CSI highlighted the lack of funding opportunities for international travel to meetings, leaving only a few donor-supported groups able to travel. Such issues mean CSOs are at risk of appearing to be urban, elitist institutions, out-of-ouch with their constituencies.

    - Is civil society making an impact? - The paper concludes that CSOs are having less impact on policy than social changes, indicating an area requiring support.

    The paper concludes by looking at how CSOs and citizens are connecting, looking at trends in volunteering and unorganised action, before discussing new pathways for participation. It suggests that donors, governments, the private sector, and CSOs themselves all need to stop viewing CSOs as proxy for civil society. Rather than disenfranchising people that the CSI shows to be already engaging on their own terms, these actors should instead find ways to utilise new technologies to integrate the new forms of activism seen to be emerging.

  • A holistic approach to gender equality and social justice

    M Friedman, R Gordezky
    Gender at Work, 2011
    The authors of this paper describe the key elements of Gender at Work’s Organisation Strengthening Program: the Integral Framework, Action Learning and Capacitar practices. These represent ideas woven together from a variety of fields (concerned with the individuals’ psychology and consciousness, access to resources, and the social structures in which they live and work) to address the lack of progress toward gender equality. This paper builds on over 15 years of Gender at Work’s engagement with civil society organisations on women’s rights, gender equality and social justice issues in Bangladesh, South Africa, India, Ethiopia, Sudan, Somalia, Kenya, Uganda and Zanzibar, as well as previous papers written for the organisation (especially by Friedman and Kelleher, 2009). It concludes with a case study of work in Ethiopia, and poses questions for those undertaking social innovation and societal change initiatives regarding scaling up impact.
  • Feminist leadership for social transformation: clearing the conceptual cloud

    S. Batliwala
    CREA, 2011
    How can feminist leadership development equip women and men to lead differently, and transform the architecture of power both within their own organisations and movements, and the wider world? CREA commissioned this paper as part of its broader work on leadership development strategies, with the aim of generating new thinking and action on transformative feminist leadership, advancing social justice in ways that other forms of leadership cannot, and building feminist leadership capacity in a much wider group of women and men than those who would identify themselves as feminists. The paper begins by setting out some existing definitions and concepts of leadership, looking at them through a feminist lens. It then looks in greater depth at concepts around feminist leadership, and ‘unpacks’ them into four areas: power, principles and values, politics and purpose, and practices. The paper considers the sites of feminist leadership (for example the family, the state, the market and civil society), and asks ‘what does it look like?’ with some practical examples to ground the discussion. The authors conclude this paper with a crucial reminder: that feminist leadership’s fundamental attribute should be, as the Admira toolkit insists, to “make waves.” In other words, there is little point in leadership development programs if they do not equip women to deal with the messy, frightening, dangerous but exhilarating business of feminist social transformation.
  • Power: a practical guide for facilitating social change

    R Hunjan, J Pettit
    Joseph Rowntree Foundation, 2011

    This handbook is for facilitators, development workers and people within organisations, networks or community groups who want to build capacity to explore power relationships and achieve social change. It is a practical guide that is largely based on two-years of action-oriented work (2008-2010) on power, participation and social change. The tools, methods and workshop outlines presented in this handbook come from this project’s experience of using power analysis to support organisations in the UK. The project involved twenty organisations focusing on various social issues, exploring ways in which the analysis of power could support them to achieve their social change objectives.

    This resource was designed for collaborative use - to combine a range of different strategies and ways of analysing the issue. Although it was designed primarily for those wishing to explore power issues over a sustained period of time (through workshops, one-to-one mentoring, and self reflection), it can also be used for stand-alone workshops introducing power analysis.

    Part One gives background information, including the current UK context, definitions are provided for terms such as ‘power’ and ‘power analysis’, etc. It sets out a number of ways in which power analysis has helped organisations and could help others. The remaining contents of Part One address the project’s particular approach to power analysis, the role of the facilitator in using this handbook, and power and power frameworks.

    Part Two of the handbook is divided into the following four sections: ‘How to introduce power’, ‘Problem analysis’, ‘From analysis to strategy’, and ‘Reflection on action’. Each section contains workshop outlines, and instructions for facilitating specific activities and exercises.

    Additional information:

    This handbook supplements the report, ‘Power and making change happen’, written by Raji Hunjan and Soumountha Keophilavong, which can be accessed at: http://www.carnegieuktrust.org.uk/getattachment/b8104d70-3547-4c99-8774-22b8c20e233d/Power-and-Making-Change-Happen.aspx

  • Writing from the inside: stories of hope and change

    Gender at Work, 2010
    In May 2010, Gender at Work’s Civil Society Organisation (CSO) Strengthening Program hosted a writing workshop with eight organisations in South Africa. These grassroots organisations had participated in an action-learning programme during the previous 18 to 24 months. At the three-day long workshop, participants wrote about their experiences of change during the action-learning programme, the stories from which feature in this book. Gender at Work believes that the place of writing in social change is its creation of a space for participants to find their voices after years of exclusion, as well as its encouragement of activists and change agents to value their roles in advancing human rights and women's equality. Most of these stories are written in English, with English translations for the two written in Zulu and the one in Afrikaans. The CSO Strengthening Program was initiated in 2004 to advance women's rights, gender equality and social justice.
  • A synthesis of the learning from the stop violence against women campaign 2004-10

    T Wallace, H Banos Smith
    Amnesty International , 2010

    The Stop Violence Against Women (SVAW) campaign was Amnesty International’s (AI’s) first long-term global campaign. AI perceived a need for such an ambitious campaign, seeing itself as ‘late to the table’ in taking up women’s rights as core human rights. The SVAW campaign required substantial shifts in AI’s ways of working.

    This campaign review synthesis report contains many of the key issues learned through its evaluation, as well as recommendations for AI’s future global campaigns and women’s rights work. It was found that women’s rights as human rights and work on economic, social and cultural rights are more integrated into AI thinking and work than before the SVAW campaign; good partnerships have been built in many countries with women’s and other human rights organisations concerned with SVAW, but their future is uncertain.

    Due to a variety of issues, including little/no systematic staff training on gender, women’s rights are not yet part of AI’s DNA as the SVAW campaign intended. Recommendations to redress this situation centre on the creation and execution of a plan to mainstream gender equality and women’s rights in AI’s work. A number of critical issues and recommendations for global campaigning are also included – encompassing capacity-building to increase the campaign’s efficacy in the Global South, monitoring and evaluation enhancement, etc. At the time this synthesis report was published, feedback from the main report had contributed to AI making gender a core component of its new Integrated Strategic Plan and the Global Priority Statement, as well as the establishment of a Diversity and Gender Mainstreaming Task Force.

  • Out of the spiritual closet: organisers transforming the practice of social justice

    K Zimmerman et al
    Movement Strategy Centre, 2010

    Produced by the Movement Strategy Center, this study examines the changing landscape of the social justice movement in the United States through the integration of transformative and spiritual practices. Emphasis is placed on individual leaders who have been part of grassroots efforts, and their experiences in discovering new modes of action and perspective.

    Interviews were conducted over a two-year period in the Bay Area with community organisations working for racial and economic justice, including both social justice organisers, and teachers, trainers and consultants.The paper begins by highlighting barriers blocking progress, e.g. activists own susceptibility to the dominant cultural norms they advocate against, the recycling of trauma, and attachment to anger and struggle. Next is a selection of narratives outlining individuals own journey toward personal, and ultimately group, transformation. A 'new way' is then presented, advocating such practices as reclaiming values, centralising and investing in relationships and community, and evolving our understanding of power.

    The report concludes that individuals in the social justice movement are coming out of the spiritual closet, seeking transformative practices to become a more integrated whole. These leaders, whilst choosing different paths, are simultaneously reaching similar conclusions about movement building. This is creating a shift in movement culture, as those who take up transformative practice become “way-showers”, helping the broader movement to ground their work in core values; generate a new model of proactive leadership; cultivate capacity; and develop new, shared movement building practices.

    The report finishes with recommendations for funders, intermediaries and leaders who wish to move this work forward:

    – Document the work of social justice organisations applying transformative practice at the group level would be an ideal next step.
    – Frontline social justice organisations must share and learn from each other's work; peer exchange and network development is critical to deepen transformative practice integration.
    – Frontline organisations that are leading the way in transformative practice should be the focus of greater investment, to the benefit of the group as a whole.
    – Networks, alliances and intermediaries supporting individuals and organisations in integrating transformative practice must themselves be supported to ensure a stronger, more sustainable movement.

  • Amnesty International - working with others: an independent review

    M Sawhney, R Daniel
    Amnesty International , 2010
    The issue of how Amnesty International (AI) works with others, particularly how it gives voice to victims without appearing to embrace their views, has recently come to the fore. AI commissioned this independent, high-level review in order to help the organisation identify and engage with learning arising from allegations made by Gita Sahgal, formerly Head of the AI Gender Unit, regarding the organisation’s relationship with Moazzam Begg, who was among the earliest Guantánamo detainees to be released. Begg was a victim of gross violations of human rights who provided valuable information to AI and other organisations campaigning against the abuses taking place in the Guantánamo Bay detention camp. Allegations against him include possible associations and/or views on known ‘Islamist’ militants/extremists.

    This provoked a review of two main areas: AI’s criteria and considerations for joint activities with others, and the related internal communication and decision-making systems. Five inter-related issues emerged from the findings; the following are excerpts of the issues described in the report:

    1) An insufficiently structured approach to working with others – partnership strategies are not sufficiently specified at the level of individual campaigns, Sections and regional/country programmes.

    2) The reliance on individual professional judgement – AI has made little formal corporate investment in actively developing the quality of the professional judgements made in the area of partnerships, or in the development of systems to ensure the judgements of individual staff are AI-congruent.

    3) Ambiguity in cross-functional working – In the course of delivering a high volume, varied programme of work at pace, there is often considerable ambiguity and contestation about both the subject and object of consultation, approval and accountabilities.

    4) Overuse of successful work methods – Ways of working that have historically enabled AI to be successful in its campaigning may be being applied to other areas of organisational life where they may be ineffective.

    5) An insufficiently well-developed ‘systems’ view – AI has instigated at least five critical developments which, taken together, add up to an imperative for significant change in the organisations ‘DNA’: a shift from mandate to mission; the expansion of the scope for sections to work on their own countries; the commitment to working in partnership; the desire to move from ‘speaking for’ victims to creating the spaces for rightsholders to speak for themselves; and a high-level commitment to mainstream gender. These key elements demand further development of a comprehensive ‘organisation systems’ view.