Women's movements and disruption by Lisa Venklasen of Just Associates (JASS)


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Justice movements organize and mobilize collective action to disrupt the status quo and demand social change. This was one of the presentations at the Global Gender Program panel discussion, co-sponsored by the Gender and Development Journal, Gender at Work and Oxfam. The seminar aimed to retrace the feminist vision that drove gender mainstreaming; discuss stories of transforming gender relations in organizations and communities as well as stories of resistance to change; and explore ruptural ideas and actions that move us beyond gender mainstreaming to influence and transform development and change. It took place on September 20, 2013 at The Elliott School of International Affairs, Washington, DC.

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Women's movements and disruption by Lisa Venklasen of Just Associates (JASS)

  1. 1. FROM INTEGRATION TO DISRUPTION – HOW TO  TRANSFORM GENDER RELATIONS? Women’s movements and disruption  LISA VENEKLASEN, JASS (Just Associates)  September 20, 2013
  2. 2. Movements=Disruption
  3. 3. Justice  movements  organize +  mobilize   collective action  to disrupt the  status quo to  demand social  change Outside strategies to push inside agendas Formal + informal linkages  Broad constituency – most effected #1  Big vision of alternative, clear values  
  4. 4. Interrupt + Make noise “Withdrawing  cooperation” (Piven) • RESIST/PROTEST – boycotts, demos,  occupations block  routines • CREATE NOISE,  PRESSURE to surface  + expose problems • USE SYMBOLISM to  re‐interpret reality +  give new meaning Getting on the Agenda
  5. 5. Disruptive new tools + spaces Globalizing symbols,  uniting, multiplying scale  of disparate demands
  6. 6. Disrupting Private ‐‐ Public  “Our political revolutions  will not succeed unless  they are accompanied by  revolutions of thought – social, sexual, and cultural  revolutions that topple  the Mubareks of our  minds as well as our  bedrooms.”  Mona Eltahawy,  2012 “Why do they hate us?” 
  7. 7. Disrupting  norms, roles,  “morals”   ‐ bodies, sex,  sexuality 
  8. 8. Disrupting Taboos, Mobilizing Sex 
  9. 9. All about power • Relational, dynamic • Socialized, internalized, institutionalized  • Good v bad? depends on purpose  • Think “physics”  • Power over vs. to, with, within, for  • 3 faces of power over: visible‐shadow‐invisible
  10. 10. Power over & transformative power   Power Over wealth, exploitation;  dominance + control  via violence or threat  of violence;  accumulate MORE  power with systemic  exclusion,  discrimination Seen as win‐lose,  zero sum game Power Within hope + belief in what’s  possible; self‐esteem; respect  for difference/ dignity; hope;  passion for change; empathy Power With Common ground across  differences; unity + collective  strength; shared struggle;   mutual support, solidarity &  collaboration  Power To unique potential of every; agency person to shape her life + world; to question, resist, make a difference
  11. 11. Individual: realms of power  • Public (roles + relationships in public life, social  structures)  • Private (roles + relationships in family,  friends,  marriage) • Intimate (relationship to self, self‐esteem + sense  of one’s own body) Often contradictory + confusing – women’s  movement‐building must work at all levels 
  12. 12. Power over  &   Change strategies Visible – formal  structures of  decision‐making  Hidden  (shadow)  behind the  scenes Invisible – beliefs norms,  desires,  ideologies “Inside” strategies:  Lobbying, advocacy +  reforming political institutions  Mass‐based mobilization, campaigns +  “outside” strategies using media to  disrupt + shift discourse, name & shame,  reveal truths,  alternative agendas  Hearts + minds:  critical consciousness,   education to question power, dominant  ideas + norms, resist + create alternative  forms of power; communicate alternatives  to appeal to human connection; gender‐ race‐ class‐ability‐sexuality
  13. 13. Empowerment  assume conflict
  14. 14. Disrupt internalized beliefs • Power to…  (agency, capacity  to act) • Power  within…(dignity,  self‐esteem)
  15. 15. Disrupt shame = demand respect
  16. 16. Disrupt victimhood – joy as action
  17. 17. Power with…  (collective,  solidarity,  safety) 
  18. 18. Democracy as demand + practice   
  19. 19. Women disrupt the frontlines  
  20. 20. Disrupt fear + silence
  21. 21. Disrupt sexism in movements
  22. 22. Disrupt feminist myths 
  23. 23. Disobedience, in the eyes of anyone who has read history, is woman’s virtue. It is through disobedience that progress has been made, through disobedience and through rebellion. – Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)