Kate is a Program Manager at White Ribbon
Why does fostering an organization that is committed to learning and knowledge sharing matter in the field of gender-based violence? At White Ribbon we are continuously engaging diverse stakeholders, from 6th graders to community leaders, so that they can adopt healthy masculinities and ultimately inspire learning and change. We frequently ask our stakeholders to learn how to unpack gender norms/expectations, but how do we engage in learning at White Ribbon? As a lucky recipient of the Canadian Women’s Foundation scholarship, I was fortunate to attend a course on Learning Organizations and Change at the Coady Institute in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. I was able to connect, challenge and find synergies with my peers from across the globe on what makes for a learning organization.
I’ve asked myself what is the value of fostering a learning organization, particularly in this urgent field of addressing root causes to gender-based violence.
Looking “outside” a learning organization can…
Do you have ideas for fostering organizational learning in small non-profits? We want to hear from you!
Aine is White Ribbon's Senior Fundraising Manager
#MeToo - like an avalanche or a tidal wave, they keep cascading down your social media feeds. One after the other - revelations of sexual assault and harassment from your friends, their friends, your sisters, your cousins, their friends, women you don’t know, women you’ve seen in movies, women you work with. And for every #MeToo you read, you’re sure that there are a dozen more who guard their story carefully.
So what do you do online? How should you react in real life? What should you not do?
On Social Media
Believe. This issue is real. Believe survivors’ experiences. A simple of act of showing support and solidarity like posting “I believe survivors” makes a difference.
Spend some time addressing people who are blaming survivors. Support survivors by doing the hard emotional labour of blocking, reporting or engaging with hateful, misogynistic comments.
Take and share the White Ribbon pledge. Encourage other male id’d folks in your life to do the same.
Acknowledge your role in promoting and supporting rape culture (a culture in which male sexual violence is normalized or trivialized and survivors are blamed for their own abuse). It’s okay to do this. It doesn't make you a monster. Rape culture is everywhere - it is part of the fabric of our society. Name it, admit it and promise to do better.
Promote consent culture: a culture in which asking for consent and respecting the answer is normalized. Promote it even though you may have just learned about it.
Don’t be surprised. Though you may in fact be surprised; you shouldn’t be. Assault and harassment have been a part of a woman’s experience of the world for a very very long time. If you are surprised, you haven’t been paying attention. Keep your surprise to yourself, or better yet talk about it with other men in your life. Acknowledge your accountability. Unpack your power and privilege together.
Don’t stay silent. Really and truly, this is a great moment to take action and show solidarity. Don’t let it pass you by. Even if you haven’t always been a great ally, it’s okay to admit that and commit to do better.
In Real Life -
Offer support and respect a survivor’s path to healing. There are no “right” or “wrong” ways of dealing with the aftermath of sexual violence.
Tell the people you see “it’s not your fault”’. No one asks for or deserves to be sexually assaulted or harassed.
Listen with respect and empathy if survivors want to talk about the details of what happened.
Follow up with the commitments you made when you signed the pledge. We’ll support you to make sure your realize these promises.
Talk to the other men in your life. Have that hard conversation about power, privilege and masculinity. They’ve probably been thinking about it too.
Don’t avoid survivors. Although it may be tempting to avoid eye contact, hurry away, and pretend that you didn’t see their statement, putting your head in the sand is not helpful.
Don’t Ask why they didn’t report it. First of all, they may have. Second of all, many survivors don’t report because they aren’t safe doing so. Reporting is a complex issue that you should inform yourself about rather than assuming that it’s always possible, or the correct course of action.
Don’t try to solve a survivor’s “issue”. It’s a great instinct to want to help, but first, try asking if there’s anything that you can do. Follow their lead on this.
Don’t keep abusers in your life. Doing so makes public and private spaces unsafe for women and vulnerable people. Instead, build relationships that are not based on violence, coercion and dominance.
This list isn’t definitive, but for many of you it may be a place to start. For others, it may be a well-worn guide of strategies that you’ve read in many places before. We hope that it inspires action in you, not just today as the #MeToo chorus bravely sustains its pitch, but on every other day as well.
Aine is White Ribbon's Senior Fundraising Manager
“I appreciate the way I’ve behaved with colleagues in the past has caused a lot of pain, and I sincerely apologize for it. Though I’m trying to do better, I know I have a long way to go.” - Harvey Weinstein. October 2017
“Again, what I did was wrong. It wasn’t and isn’t acceptable. I’m working on behaving differently in the future. If you have suggestions or feedback or criticism, I’m open to hearing it” - Dave McClure, July 2017
“I apologized to this woman,” he said. “But my apology was, ‘My God, I’m in trouble with these people because this is an old man and their young daughter and the mother sees this’.” Bill Cosby, June 2017
It’s been a busy few months for any of us trying to keep up with the “bombshell” reports of sexual harassment and abuse committed by powerful men. The mea culpas issued by these men range from the heartfelt, to the “sorry (not sorry)”. It can be hard to stomach these public statements, especially if you’re a survivor, or are supporting people you love who are recovering from trauma. The apology feels about as solid as a big fluffy stick of cotton candy.
And yet, those flimsy words, that substanceless act of saying sorry is the only place from where healing can begin. It begins here, but for true healing to go forward perpetrators need to listen to those impacted by their violence, and hear about how the violence impacted people; they then need to ask what if anything the person needs. This is reconciliation.
I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of reading these articles. I’m tired of rolling the apologies around in my mind and deciding who, where and when forgiveness can be given. Instead, I’d like to read more stories that point not just to the Weinsteins, McClures and O'Reillys, but to all the people around them, especially those with privilege and power too, who didn’t say anything. I keep reminding myself, and you, that none of these are cases of bad apples rotting away by themselves on the branch while the rest of the orchard thrives.These are cases of willful blindness, complicity, and fear.
I’m guilty too. I’ve kept quiet when I should have spoken up. I’ve bitten my tongue because it was easier than going to war. I’ve weighed the two sides of some stories so carefully that the only response was no response. But on days like these when the accusations against one of the most powerful men in the film industry knock on the door, I can only think of Seamus Heaney’s poem “Weighing In”:
“Two sides to every question, yes, yes, yes . . .
But every now and then, just weighing in
Is what it must come down to.”
So what is to be done? How can we actively participate in making our communities safe for all of us. How can we be active allies to the women that we work with? How do we be brave enough to weigh in?
I look to my colleagues for their insight and strength-based approaches. Here’s what my colleague Chi advised yesterday in a blog post about “having the talk”.
“So, you have a colleague, close friend or a co-worker who occasionally uses offensive, sexist, racist or inappropriate language. How do you break it to this person that perhaps they should reconsider the impact of their words or actions? Is it possible to do this without putting them on the defensive?”
Click here to read more..
Aine is White Ribbon's Senior Fundraising Manager
What is design-thinking and how can it be applied to grant writing and international development work? These are questions that we’re answering this month at White Ribbon as we partner with Dignitas International on a unique grant application from open IDEO.
IDEO’s CEO Tim Brown has long been a pioneer in design-thinking, noting in his 2009 book Change by Design that “design thinking taps into capacities we all have but that are overlooked by more conventional problem-solving practices. It is not only human-centered; it is deeply human in and of itself. Design thinking relies on our ability to be intuitive, to recognize patterns, to construct ideas that have emotional resonance as well as functionality, to express ourselves in media other than words or symbols… The emphasis on fundamental human needs – as distinct from fleeting or artificially manipulated desires (think marketing) – is what drives design thinking to depart from the status quo”.
The design thinking approach of IDEO’s Challenge Grants asked first for ideas to be submitted to the following challenge: How might we provide comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services to girls and women affected by conflict or disaster? Dignitas has amazing Teen Clubs throughout Malawi that support teens in their healthcare needs and their social development at well. White Ribbon has a unique gender-transformative approach to working with young men and boys. So we put our heads together and came up with this idea: Building Healthy Relationships: Supporting HIV+ Adolescents in Malawi. Together Dignitas and White Ribbon think that HIV+ teens should be supported in fostering healthy, safe and nourishing relationships.
And turns out that IDEO likes the idea!
We’re delighted to have been selected to move on to the next phase of the challenge - the Feedback phase. Here, we’ll be asking the Teen Club participants and Club facilitators for some initial feedback on our idea. If we do well in this phase, we’ll be invited to refine our idea based on the feedback we heard from our intended users. It’s exciting to participate in a grant-process that not only builds our organizational capacity to use design-thinking for our beneficiaries, but that also embodies design-thinking as a way to incrementalize the grant-writing process. Too often grant-writing is a secretive, cloak and dagger affair. Kudos to IDEO for open sourcing the exercise, and encouraging transparency and collaboration throughout the process.
As an organization that has always relied on an academic evidence-base to inform program design, this process represents a complementary approach for White Ribbon. It allows us to combine the rigorous work of academics and social scientists, whose research fuels our approach, with user feedback into program design so that we can always iterate more engaging, more impactful approaches to engaging men and boys in violence prevention work.
Have you seen some great examples of design-thinking applied to the gender-based-violence prevention sector? We’d love to hear about them! You can check out our IDEO idea here and leave feedback if you’re inspired!