After the grand beginnings of day 1, everyone was energized and ready to plunge into day 2 fully and completely.
Peace Laureate Shirin Ebadi began the morning with a discussion on tactics and strategies surrounding what it takes to make the impossible possible. How do we overcome the obstacles in front of us?
We need to find common ground. We need to work and study the research, law and materials that pertain to our issue, find the points that illustrate non-enforcement of crucial factors that are relevant, write about them and approach the powers that be with just that information. Always be sure to reason and talk. Don’t attack people and their beliefs. Remember to be an activist on this issue: be around the people you are working for, talk to them and understand the issue from their point of view and their experience.
Next, Laureate Jody Williams framed our strategic thinking, a little course on Campaign Activism 101. As Leymah Gbowee said last night after the screening of Pray the Devil Back to Hell:”It’s not rocket science!” So, here are some thoughts, you decide what you think:
- Form an Ad Hoc Steering Committee.
- Develop a one page call to action: the call has to capture people quickly.
- Have a first meeting with those who want to be a part of the campaign.
- Have succinct documents that back up what you are talking about; include a one sentence phrase: “What do you want?”
- A call to membership is made on 2 levels: “Sign” or “Endorse the Call”
- Don’t dilute the message with other issues.
- Have a representative from each relevant sector on the Ad Hoc Committee.
- Have documents with data from organizations that validate purpose and need.
- Look at what is possible in 6 months to a year.
- At the end of that period, look at what has worked and what hasn’t and re-adjust strategy.
- Don’t demand anything specific from anyone, instead, ask what can you give.
- Don’t tell countries how to deal with those within, they know their own situation better.
- Make the movement about WE and not I. It is about the movement and not just one person.
- Follow through, follow through, follow through. Do what you say you are going to do, respect is gained that way.
- Partner with the government, thank them when they do what is best.
- Refuse to allow people to hide behind a uniform, whatever the type, army to business suit.
- Everyone knows what everyone is doing.
Ok, this is cool stuff, right? And easy. I do think Leymah is right, this is not rocket science. Please note the crucial word in all of this is WE.
We then broke out into participant led table discussions. There were 12 different discussions in the room, a broad range of topics were discussed with the lens of sexual violence in conflict attached to it. I was a leader at the table discussion on sustainable financial strategies to support the movement. From this session, I took away the need to compile of all the research being done, succinct and standardized with flexibility. We need to build a collaboration of organizations, governments, militaries, NGOs, donors, survivors, fieldworkers and more. We must find common ground and build a collective. Then, we must bring visibility, awareness and support to the movement, reframing and re-languaging.
We must develop a mission-driven fundraising based on a co-equal collaborative and partnership that comes from a place of strength centered around the knowledge that if we allocate funds properly there is enough to go around. Okay, yes, we do need to take into account the real needs of those on the ground and the funds required to do so, but to sustain the movement we need to look at new and innovative approaches to funding sustainability. As Mairead Maguire referenced on the opening day of the conference (I’m paraphrasing): we need to be bold and think out of the box, our vision needs to be limitless.
So the thread I am hearing through the discussion so far today is “we” – an overriding, inclusive “we”, not an ego “I”. Yes, we all do have an ego and it surfaces and we need to acknowlege it’s presence but we also need to acknowledge that to truly push forward we need the collective. The collective WE, the inclusion of all skills, talents and peoples. Also, where are those unlikely allies? They are out there, they definitely are. Let’s look for and find them and work with them and add them to the “we.” Let’s build an architecture of collective.
Together we have a deep commitment here. We have seen people do this, accomplish their goals with fortitude, belief, communion and a concerted effort filled with pain and also accomplishment. We have seen this in the film screenings of Pray the Devil Back to Hell and Budrus.
Still, I am left today wondering: does the world hear the cries and do they care? Must we make them cry to be present with us? What will it take? What will it take to join together as us? Are they just still our unlikely allies that aren’t aware of the common ground yet?
We got one step closer to the particulars of a social movement today, and believe me, there are plenty of women in this room who know how to do it and plenty of young women in the room with new ideas and plenty of energy. So, I am resting on the outcomes of tomorrow. I am going to enjoy the brilliant evening, the company, stories and friendship being built but most of all the possibility for increased collaboration that fosters real systemic change.
We shall overcome.