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Feminist Organising, Feminist Organisations

A session with Susanna George, API Fellow 2011-12, Malaysia 18 November 2011

Images of Organisations
Self Reflection- (5 mins) Come up with a metaphor that can best describe an organisation as you understand it. Group discussion (10 mins) Choose one metaphor per group. Notice your process.

Imagine feminist organisations

Self Reflection- (5 mins) Come up with a metaphor that can best describe an organisation as you understand it. Group discussion (10 mins) Choose one metaphor per group. Notice your process.

Metaphors of Organisations
Weighing Scale Constellation A bowl of Soup A tree A suitcase Sticky Rice Moon and a Star Ship Vaccines Feminist Organisations Panty/underwear Soldier Broken Chain Jeepney The Rays of the Sun Iceberg Buffet Box of Crayons Toilet Bowl

Implicit Assumptions/Values behind Our Metaphors

Balance of Equal Rights Every individual matters in an org Diverse people working together Nourishment and each part has a role Similar purpose brings people together Working together through our challenges Has a specific goal; Protecting people Gives a sense of control to society

Feminist Organisations
Supports and protects women, but not exclusively Symbol of strength Public service Self-sacrifice Different organisations; one goal; equality and equity Too much feminist intent no good Undergo lots of challenges to promote goals Diverse choices Different kinds of people with equal rights Tackle sensitive; comfort for oppressed people

Deconstructing our process

Metaphors can powerfully be used to understand one element of experience in terms of another (Men are all pigs) Metaphors always produces a distinct, but partial insight (Men may also be lions) Metaphor uses evocative images to create constructive falsehoods They can usefully point us to our own ways of seeing and ways of thinking about the world/organisation They can also be used as analytical devices to better read and understand organisations.

Feminist Practices in Organising

The personal is political Organising within the womens movement is a conscious political act not only what? but how? The organisational is political The way in which social relationships are structured is the fundamental element which distinguishes between organising forms

The struggle for Feminist Ethics in Movement Organisations

creating less vertical and more horizontal, participatory and democratic power and decision making structures; greater transparency and openness strong accountability to constituents & movement internal practices that are congruent with core values self reflexivity & organisational reflexivity.....

Non-hierarchythe notion of Collectives as Feminist Praxis

The use of a negative termcaptures accurately the stance of the womens movements which is simultaneously oppositional to conventional forms and evocative of something else. There is widespread agreement on such organisational processes and structure as an expression of a [feminist] value system Helen Brown,
Women Organising (1992)

and yet other feminist processes.

Since organizing is
Since organizing is relational done in relation with other people the more you can learn to mindfully distinguish between your actions, the actions of others and how they interact, the easier it will become to learn from the data of your own experience Marshall Ganz

Be in touch with your assumptions

Practice is never theory free

Know yourself, Know your organisation...

www.barefootguide.org (All images were from this link) Helen Brown, Women Organising (1992) Gareth Morgan, Images of Organization (1997) Myra Marx Ferree & Patricia Yancey Martin, Feminist Organizations: Harvest of the New Womens Movement (1995) Srilata Batliwala, Changing their World: Concepts and Practices of Womens Movement (AWID, 2007)

Thank you!
Email: anishasusanna@gmail.com