24 Oct 2021

"The Power of Feminist Civil Society" Think Piece and Podcast Series

Jessica Horn, Independent Consultant
Jessica Horn, Independent Consultant
20 mins
Download the Think Piece
Learning from and with feminist organising: Lessons from multi-disciplinary praxis to prevent violence against women and girls
By Jessica Horn, Independent Consultant

This paper describes four areas where feminist movements have led change through expertise, capacity, and influence to anchor and build a field of activist public health that responds to violence against women and girls (VAWG). It looks at how feminist actors have worked to ground the field of prevention in persistent engagement with ecological frameworks, feminist ethics, and power analysis in order to shape and assess intervention models, research questions, and funding principles in ways that centre accountability to women and girls; to inspire a commitment to centering experimentation and innovation; and to press for the recognition of practitioners as knowledge producers and as experts in programme design (including an active commitment to decolonisation by shifting resources and visibility to Global South research institutions and knowledge producers).

Download the Think Piece
Podcast: Episode 1

Podcast Episode 1: Feminist Civil Society in the Field of Preventing Violence Against Women and Girls 

This mini-series explores the power of feminist civil society in driving gender equality in health programmes and health systems. Feminist civil society organisations have played, and are playing, a fundamental and varied role in advancing gender equality in global health. Despite this, there is insufficient understanding and acknowledgement of what meaningful engagement and collaboration looks like between public health actors and feminist civil society organisations. There are examples of what successful partnerships look like and there are transferable lessons that can be taken away from these experiences. For example, the case of violence against women and girls.

Our guest speakers:

  • Jessica Horn, Independent Consultant
  • Avni Amin, Department of Reproductive Health and Research on Violence against Women, World Health Organization
  • Lori Michau, Co-founder and Co-Director, Raising Voices, Uganda

Related links:

Michau, L., Horn, J., Bank, A., Dutt, M., & Zimmerman, C. (2015). Prevention of violence against women and girls: Lessons from practice Lancet, 385(9978), pp.1672–1684. S0140-6736(14)61797-9

Raising Voices and the Sexual Violence Research Initiative. (2020). Learning together: A guide for feminist practice in violence against women and girls research collaborations. Kampala, Uganda and Pretoria, South Africa.

Jewkes, R., Willan, S., Heise, L., Washington, L., Shai, N., Kerr-Wilson, A. and Christofides, N. (2020). Effective design and implementation elements in interventions to prevent violence against women and girls.  What works to prevent VAWG? Global Programme Synthesis Product Series. South African Medical Research Council, Pretoria.

Listen to podcast episode one here

The field of intervention around violence against women and girls (VAWG) provides a rich case study of how multidisciplinary public health praxis that works in active partnership with civil society organisations and social movements can turn the course of a public health problem.

Watch episode 1 recording
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Podcast: Episode 2

Podcast Episode 2:  The Power of Feminist Civil Society: Mexican Case of Gender Equitable Access to COVID-19 vaccines

In this episode, we discuss key lessons for establishing and maintaining successful multistakeholder partnerships with feminist civil society organisations in ensuring equitable access to COVID-19 vaccinations. We explore a very contemporary example from Mexico and hear the perspective of the national government and feminist civil society on how priorities converged in the development of a national strategy which ensured more gender equitable access to COVID-19 vaccinations, in particular for pregnant women.

Our guest speakers:

Related links:

Mexican National Guidelines for the Prevention and Mitigation of COVID-19 during pregnancy, birth, postpartum and newborn care (in Spanish)

Actualización del análisis de priorización de las vacunas para COVID-19 en México y recomendaciones generadas (Updated advice on COVID-19 vaccination prioritisation in Mexico)

Priorización inicial y consecutiva para la vacunación contra SARS-CoV-2 en la población mexicana. Recomendaciones preliminaries

La salud sexual y reproductiva de las mujeres ante la pandemia del COVID-19 (Book chapter Raffaela Schiavon authored related to bioethical aspects of COVID-19)

Listen to podcast episode two here

Watch episode 2 recording
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Podcast: Episode 3

Episode 3: The Power of Feminist Civil Society: Rebuilding connections 

This episode turns back to the field of violence against women and explores the current tensions, need, and pathways to rebuild connections between feminist civil society actors and health researchers. As the needs in the field of violence against women have shifted, so too have the people who hold the power in the movement. The rise in these tensions stem from much of the longstanding work of feminists being sidelined by newer institutions and actors who are much less familiar with the history. The podcast also provides advice of key takeaways or transferable lessons for those working in other health areas to better engage with feminist civil society actors and build more meaningful partnerships.

Our guest speakers:

  • Tina Musuya, Executive Director, Centre for Domestic Violence Prevention (CEDOVIP)
  • Lori Heise, Professor, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Related links:

Heise, L. L. (1996). Violence against women: Global organizing for change. In J. L. Edleson & Z. C. Eisikovits (Eds.), Future interventions with battered women and their families (pp. 7–33). Sage Publications, Inc.

Listen to podcast episode three here

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