JASS Blog Archives for November 2011

by Alda Facio on November 15, 2011 on 11:35 am

Hace unos pocos días leí en Democracy Now la siguiente noticia:

En otras noticias de “Occupy”, activistas de Nueva York erigieron una carpa sólo para mujeres tras denuncias de agresiones sexuales en su campamento de Lower Manhattan.

Alex Borders, de “Occupy Wall Street”, expresó: "Muchas mujeres sintieron lesionados sus derechos, al punto de que estaban en el campus y había gente que invadía sus espacios en las carpas y cosas como esas, por eso establecieron la carpa sólo para mujeres. Tenemos seguridad las 24 horas que patrulla el campamento".

Nan Terri, de “Occupy Wall Street”, dijo: "En este momento, [la carpa] alberga a veinte personas, pero una vez que la organicemos, van a caber más. Por eso tengo los guantes puestos, porque voy a limpiar. Pero mi idea es conseguir más carpas para las mujeres. Estoy tratando de conseguir una carpa de 80 × 80 o de 60 × 60 para poner del otro lado y preservar la seguridad de las mujeres".

No sé si me enojó más la forma como publicó Democracy Now la noticia o la noticia en sí.  Pareciera que el hostigamiento y hasta violación sexual contra las mujeres es un acto tan normalizado que lo que constituyó un evento digno de noticia no era que de entre un grupo de manifestantes contra la violación de los derechos humanos más esenciales del 99% de la población del mundo, hubiera unos violadores de los cuerpos de las mujeres.  No, esa no era noticia porque violar los cuerpos de las mujeres pareciera que se considera consubstancial con ser hombre, ya sea del 1% de la élite o del 99% de los indignados.  Lo único que era noticia era que unas mujeres establecieron una carpa sólo para mujeres para protegerse del hostigamiento.  Así de simple, como si la necesidad de establecer una carpa sólo para mujeres fuera tan ineludible como establecer una carpas para protegerse de la lluvia o unas rampas para permitir el acceso de las personas que utilizan sillas de rueda o como tener traducción con lenguaje de señas para incluir a personas no oyentes. 

Pero lo que más me entristece y frustra es que las propias mujeres nos quedemos calladas ante estas violaciones a nuestros cuerpos para no desprestigiar a un movimiento que está contra el pillaje y violación de la madre tierra y de los derechos económicos, sociales y culturales de las grandes mayorías.  Lo que más me indigna es que no he visto u oído a ningún hombre solidario hacer un llamado para que no se violen los cuerpos de las mujeres en Occupy Wall Street o en cualquier otro lugar.  Lo que más me desespera es saber que si el movimiento Occupy o cualquier otro movimiento por la justicia social lograran su cometido, los cuerpos de las mujeres seguirían violándose porque estas violaciones no son parte de lo que se pretende transformar. Y más me desespero cuando leo que hay más de un billón de mujeres violadas en el mundo, que siguen las violaciones sexuales en el Congo o Guatemala por nombrar dos de los muchos países donde las violaciones se han vuelto cotidianas, o cuando me dicen que la pornografía es libertad de expresión y la prostitución es un trabajo como cualquier otro.

Estoy cansada de que sólo se denuncien las violaciones a los cuerpos de las mujeres cuando las cometen hombres que son miembros de los grupos armados enemigos o de los grupos contra quienes luchamos pero cuando son cometidos por nuestros hermanos de lucha, entonces sentimos que mejor es callar.  Y nos quedamos calladas ya sea porque pensamos que el movimiento anti-capitalista, imperialista, neoliberal, colonialista, racista, contra la corrupción, impunidad o anti cualquiera de las cosas contra las que luchamos, es más importante que nuestros cuerpos o porque sabemos que denunciar a nuestros hermanos de lucha se considerará una traición, tanto por nuestros hermanos como por las otras mujeres.

Hasta cuándo vamos a comprender que quienes traicionan al movimiento son los que violan los cuerpos de las mujeres, no quienes denunciamos estas atrocidades.  Hasta cuándo vamos a entender todas las personas que luchamos por la justicia social que si no eliminamos de raíz la idea que subyace a las millones de violaciones a los cuerpos de las mujeres, es decir, la idea de que los cuerpos de las mujeres son mercancías u objetos que se pueden comprar o simplemente tomar a la fuerza, no se podrá nunca jamás eliminar la mentalidad que permite y justifica los golpes de estado, las guerras, la corrupción, el pillaje de la madre tierra, sus aguas, ríos y bosques así como el robo por parte del 1% de la población del mundo, del 99% de su riqueza.  Mientras creamos que es natural que algunos hombres tomen por la fuerza a algunas mujeres, ¿por qué vamos a creer que podremos lograr que algunos hombres no tomen por la fuerza todo lo que se les antoje?

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by on November 14, 2011 on 1:43 pm
Within the past five years “theory of change” has been promoted and popularized by some of the world’s largest charitable foundations as a way for social change organizations to describe and evaluate their work. Look around, and you’ll find social service and mission-driven NGOs of all sizes and shapes espousing their “theory of change” in funding proposals and promotional materials. Private foundations such as the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have invested heavily in developing “theory of change” tools for existing and potential grantees, drawing on the services of private sector-oriented management consulting powerhouses such as McKinsey & Company.

The following reflections are based on my experiences over the past five years utilizing “theory of change” as a construct for strategic planning and proposal development for NGOs involved in social change work. It was prompted by a Hivos-sponsored virtual dialogue that posed the question “what is ‘Theory of Change thinking’ and its added value.”
 
For me, “theory of change” (TOC) thinking cannot be separated from the context in which it has been introduced and promoted, that is, as a strategy for philanthropic and development actors to guide and evaluate their grantmaking and aid strategies. Having had multiple opportunities to develop and articulate theories of change, I have come to understand it as a technical term for making visible and explicit the assumptions, motivations, rationale behind what we do and why. This requires self-knowledge, introspection, and reflection to surface and unpack the driving forces behind our thinking, being, and doing.
 
For some, such a process is written into their DNA, as JASS would say. For others, it can be a confusing, even threatening concept to realize and acknowledge that our ways of thinking, being and doing are neither value-neutral nor universal. They are the product of the ideas, context, reflection, relationships, and power that we see and experience in our environment.
 
The value of TOC thinking is in making what’s invisible visible. This means you’re better able to communicate who you are, what you do and why. In turn, this serves as a concrete tool to identify and build common ground as well as cement relationships across difference. By articulating your TOC, you provide others a way to know you—a concrete way to determine whether your interests and values are the same or vastly different; a benchmark against which others can subjectively determine your viability as a partner or, conversely, the threat you pose as an opponent. TOC thinking is what enables cohesion, unity, community, connection, be it within and among individuals, organizations, political parties, or social groups.
 
For a donor, TOC is what makes a grantee unique; it determines their ‘added value,’ whether they will produce a meaningful return on investment. It helps grant seekers answer the questions “why you,” “why now?” For donors that aren’t enmeshed in the day-to-day business of their grantees, it gives them a language/construct to understand and evaluate the organizational viability, validity, and value.
 
In many ways, TOC is simply a way to name and describe a way of being and doing that exists and has always existed. It is about seeing yourself within a broader (ecological) context and understanding that your actions are influenced by and have an impact on that context and all of the elements within it. Activists are inherently TOC thinkers, whether they call it that or not. When faced with issues of survival, for example, activists have to identify the problem and devise a solution that can be achieved with limited resources (financial, political, social, and otherwise). That forces them to be creative and efficient, choosing strategies that get the most bang for the buck. But while this creativity and power exists, it is invisible to those who don’t have to work so hard for mere survival. Then the onus is on the activist to explain and justify why their work is necessary, strategic, and important if they are to gain access to resources (resources being broadly defined).
 
So, while I think TOC thinking is helpful in forming and maintaining relationships, the label “TOC” can be confusing. Some funders’ requirements for articulating your theory of change have, perhaps inadvertently, forced social change organizations to describe their way of thinking and being within a technical, logic-driven framework. It’s analogous to how conventional society does not intrinsically value and support what we might call women’s “way of knowing,” that is, an intuitive, relational, and ecological way of interacting with the world. But give it a new name, one that can hold its own in “business management speak”, and it suddenly becomes “real” and important. Something that can be distilled down to a commodity and that can be produced with a handful of one-size-fits-all processes, by any given group of people, in any given context, at any given time.
 
From an organizational and philanthropic perspective, the need for “TOC thinking” is understandable, and contributes to developing frameworks for evaluation and accountability. However, this style of logic-driven linear thinking privileges upwards accountability, diverting resources and energy away from efforts that could make constituent accountability and ownership truly meaningful. In addition, the very technical nature of being able to communicate in terms of a “valid theory of change” often creates yet another barrier for grassroots women’s groups (formal and informal) to access financing for development. And yet, it’s these very women and women’s groups on whose backs development “innovations” (e.g. home-based care, peer educators, self-help groups, etc…) claim success.
 
This is not an argument against being able to be accountable for describing the beliefs, values, and assumptions behind what social change organizations and movements are doing. However, it’s a call to acknowledge the context in which “theory of change” thinking has been promoted, for what purposes, and for whose benefit. What would donor relationships and giving look like if social change organizations had the platforms and resources to demonstrate their “value added” in their own language, in their own ways, and on their own terms?
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by JASS on November 11, 2011 on 2:27 pm

Alifatul Arifiati at APCRSHRIt was a great opportunity to be part of an Asia Pacific level conference that is so reputable, particularly for my personal development. The experience allowed me to gain new knowledge and was a moment of reflection on myself as a young feminist.Equipped with student organizing experience in boarding schools, especially around reproductive health and sexuality issues, some readings on the theme, and an abstract on "Violence in the Name of Religion", as well as the ability to speak English, I left to Yogyakarta for the conference on October 18.

The big theme of 6th APCRSHR was “Claiming Sexual and Reproductive Rights in Asian and Pacific Societies”. I remember certain parts of the conference in particular in detail.

First, when I joined the Youth Forum on 19 October, I was amazed by a group of teenagers who were concerned about the future of the world youth, particularly in the Asia Pacific region. They organized together and declared their commitment to encouraging the provision of sexual and reproductive health access to adolescents. They invited teens to speak and express their needs and wishes and they also had a hotline for teens who needed sexuality consultation.

Secondly, I was surprised by the research findings from one of presenters on the "Sexuality and Changing Culture" session. Her research is about exotic dancers at the Night Club in Malang. The exotic dancers were able to negotiate with the nightclub management about how much fees they receive, what costumes they will wear, and they can say no to visitors who ask them to have sexual intercourse. The last presenter shared her study about health centers for adolescents and how they lack the confidentiality and comfort needed by youth who rely on them for sexual health services. Not to mention that the health workers have no special training on reproductive health and adolescent sexuality.

The last memorable moment was a great moment that made me aware of my shortcomings. That was when I had to do my presentation at the session "Women's SRHR Empowerment and Autonomy". I highlighted points on male teachers’ domination and misogyny interpretation of Koran that led female students to experience sexual violence or sexual ignorance. My recommendation consisted of the need for more female teachers who recognize and understand about women's sexuality and reproductive rights to increase young women's awareness and confidence in order to help protect them against sexual violence. It is tough task that takes time, which is why my organization, the Fahmina Institute also trains teachers inside Islamic boarding schools to understand gender issues including reproductive health and rights.

There were 4 presenters for this session and I was the last presenter. 3 out of the 5 audience members who asked questions pointed their questions at my topic. I didn't expect that. I was hoping that no one was interested or ask on my presentation. I was very confident to answer those questions and comments but my English didn't help so I had to answer them in Indonesian language. I tried to answer in English but I had to pause and my words were muddled. I was also worried that the audience didn't get the substance of my answer. I was grateful that the moderator is an Indonesian and she was able to translate my answer in English.

There was one question about whether there are lesbian relationships inside the islamic boarding school assisted by the Fahmina Institute whether we had ever written about such cases. There were some cases of lesbian relationship in Islamic boarding schools but they were rarely made public. It is difficult to bring sexuality issues into mainstream curriculum. At the Forum, I gained more awareness of needs around adolescent sexuality and the lack of services provided by the state. It also motivated me to practice my English so I can fully participate in regional and international forums.

By Alifatul Arifiati (Fahmina Institute and JASS Indonesia alumnae)

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