A RADICAL CHANGE IN THE WAY WE COLLABORATE
To set up a collective reflection that brings about a change in our collectives/organisations, we have to start the work with ourselves, our group, and more specifically the way we relate to each other, our communication and our learning strategies. All these are different manifestations of internal hierarchies, invisible oppressive dynamics and unequal structures of participation. Of course, we cannot eliminate them, but we can reduce and continuously work on them by creating a collective consciousness. The best way to do so is by introducing a couple of radical changes. We can all take up the role of boosting a transformation in our organisations, it might not be easy to do so, but if we find our allies, we can be the agents of change.
Emotions and mutual care
We often wrongly separate our emotional and mental wellbeing from work and activism, as it was an individual responsibility. From a feminist and intersectional point of view, the personal is political, and it includes our feelings and the way we take care of each other. It is the reason why we dedicate time to activities which help us to express how we do feel and to create empathy within the group. Without knowing and devoting attention to each others’ fragilities, we cannot learn and make good work together.
Collective learning: breaking the hierarchical structures
Groups can learn on their own, and we can all learn from each other. What we need are adequate resources, curiosity and dedication. We do not necessarily need to invite experts; however, facilitators can take care of the processes. We also need to change our idea of knowledge. It must be made accessible and constructed collectively. Also, we learn better through teaching and explaining to others what we have discovered. We understand and apply better those concepts that we can connect to our own experiences. Connecting personal experiences and understanding the underlying mechanisms that produce them is a crucial step to make a change, think beyond our limits and see ourselves as a part of a common struggle. We also need to learn to listen to each other, but also to be respectful with others’ attention and time.
Body and movement
We believe that our emotions, our body and its necessities impact our learning and working processes. It is challenging to accommodate everyone’s needs as they might be as diverse as many persons participate. Still, we need to make sure to activate and care about our body, our movements and also dedicate time to relax and elaborate on what we have learnt.
LEARNING ABOUT CONCEPTS
Our words, our world
Learning about concepts means learning to name what we see and what happens to us. The words we use influence how we see the world and the ideas we have access to, give space to our analysis and critics of multiple and interconnected inequalities and oppressions. Therefore, teaching ourselves to name the oppressions and the underlying mechanisms that supports them will provide us with enormous potential to change power dynamics. Also, we need to appropriate academic language and make it work to our everyday life and our organisations. Therefore, we need to read original texts, in a language that everyone speaks if possible or we have to provide translations. However, given the burden we already have, it is understandable if we don’t read entire books. Still, it is essential to go back to the original authors, read their thoughts in their original version and make sense of them for ourselves. There is no better way to connect with their legacy.
Conceptual insights from the fringes of pop culture
It is important to understand that the concepts we learn are part of our everyday life, and there are several representations and critics of those phenomenons even if they don’t name them in the same way. They can be tracked in poems, songs, series, movies, comedies and many other art pieces of pop culture. Using these kinds of examples give us a precious opportunity to understand what certain concepts mean.
COLLECTIVE DEMANDS AND PROPOSALS:
Engage with official documents and other sources
When we would like to introduce a change in our organisations, we have to make sure that we know the way it works. Often we do not have access to specific resources, but we have to demand them. Often, procedures are not clear, we don’t know who is in the position to decide about a specific issue, yet we have to demand the information. Of course, often there is no answer; still, we have to make an effort to get access to information and to thoroughly revise them, to make sure we understand our rights, channels of communication and the existing spaces of participation.
Working through creativity
Expressing what we feel and stand for is key in achieving our demands. It is a crucial step to formulate our principles and goals together. It should be a way to transgress the boundaries and break the binarisms: the separation of personal from the political, the reasonable from the emotional. We need to use our imagination and creativity to imagine a change collectively. We have to write and create our demands together, and our words, illustrations and other forms of expression are the most authentic way to stand for ourselves.
To learn more about activities and strategies that can guide you through your journey into gender and intersectionality and how to improve your collective/organisation’s practices, please read this document. The proposed activities in significant part are based on the activities developed and lessons learned by Dresda Emma Méndez de la Brena and Kitti Baracsi as trainers together with the participants during the Gender Equality and Intersectionality Training Lab. The training course took place from 20th – 24th of February 2020, at the European Youth Center in Budapest, Hungary, and was supported by the Erasmus Mundus Association and Erasmus+ Student and Alumni Association.