Building and bonding over feminist futures: Reflections from AWID Forum

The recently concluded AWID Forum in Bahia, Brazil was a critical space not only for members of the FRIDA community but feminists, human rights defenders and activists alike to gather in the same place and discuss, dialogue and ideate on how we can collectively build a feminist future for our world.

An international forum of such large scale–over 1800 attendees from over 150 countries–the Forum was a key space for feminist activists to share innovation and energy from all corners of the world. And it was also a much needed, safe space to connect, understand the issues affecting young feminists across boundaries, gain exposure for their important work and play an active role in cross-movement building.

forumFRIDA was happy and proud to support as many as 35 young feminist activists from different parts of the world. These included grantee partners, staff members, consultants and board members. We also held our global grantee convening ahead of the Forum to connect with some of our grantee partners and learn more about the work they do, the challenges they face and the different ways in which we can help build their capacities and knowledge.

Both the Forum and the Global Convening served as a key space where young feminists shared organizing actions, deepened their understanding of how change happens in their diverse focus areas, and networked beyond their borders, harnessing their collective power.

We share below some quotes, pictures and experiences of FRIDA attendees. Relive the memorable experience through their words and pictures!

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Practising individual and collective self-care at FRIDA

The following article has been penned by all team members of FRIDA with special guidance and support by María Díaz Ezquerro

Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.

– Audre Lorde

As you know, FRIDA team members (staff, consultants and interns) work from all around the world. And in order to ensure that we support each other in this journey, we value the critical importance of taking time out for ourselves and prioritising personal needs from time to time. FRIDA considers self-care as a feminist political strategy to ensure the feminist movement sustainability and our personal resilience. We recognize the different physical, digital and psychological security challenges that young feminist activists face because of who they are and/or the work they do.

We acknowledge that young feminist activists work in very pressure environments, bear witness to violations and violence, and often face health problems derived from burnout, exhaustion and stress of our work and activism. We recognize the possibility of being exploited by working in pressure environments, especially when, as young feminists, we are both grateful and passionate about our contributions to the young feminist movement. 

Pic credit: http://www.boomeranggmail.com/

Pic credit: http://www.boomeranggmail.com/

Since FRIDA’s community is spread all across the globe, we are usually working 24 hours every day, given that someone or the other is online in their respective time zones. In such a scenario, it becomes very important to ensure that every team member maintains her/her work/life balance, and is strongly supported by every other team member. Since FRIDA staff works remotely, we have also put together some working principles to follow and observe, that can help us maintain the work life balance well. In addition, some of the tools, protocols and practises we follow while working remotely can be viewed here.

What does Individual & Collective Self Care Look Like?

One of the first things to recognize is the importance of “self” in the idea of self care. It cannot work unless we, ourselves, make a conscious effort to work towards it. Individual self care can only lead to collective self care. So, unless we care for ourselves, we will not be able to care for and prioritise the needs of our colleagues and peers. It is also important to remember that it can be a difficult and, often, disappointing act to follow and can take a significant amount of time to incorporate individual self-care and wellbeing practices in our daily routines.

The best way to deal with this difficulty/disappointment is by looking at self-care not as yet another added task on your to-do list, but to look it from a broader perspective. Whether or not we are working, we ought to be prioritising our needs and desires over everything else. Just like our feminism, it is an everyday and living practise that we are constantly learning and unlearning; not just a work ethic to follow.
There are so many ways that one can practise self care in our everyday lives: by paying attention to the way we look, dress, eat, sleep, enjoy, recreate etc.; reconsider our personal practices; relooking the prevailing culture at key spaces: the organizational space, the activist space and how we choose to participate in them; being consistent in our struggles and always learning to pause and reflect on what we have managed to achieve and what remains to be done. These are all acts of self-care processes that bind our life, workplace and the larger movements. It’s also crucial to note that there is no right or correct manner to practice self-care. We all define our own individual ways of doing it.

Infographic by Anna Vital (@annavitals)

Infographic by Anna Vital (@annavitals)

Here are some good tangible examples of individual self care, that FRIDA members have modelled:

  • Limit work hours to 8 per day, and sign out of all chat modes after work hours
  • Dedicate an entire hour for lunch break and avoid rushing with it while still working
  • Put the right amount of tasks on your plate; do not overwhelm or underwhelm yourself
  • Go for a run or walk during the day- get up to move- so that you aren’t sitting in front a screen the entire day
  • Make sure you are hydrated, nourished and well-rested before you start each day
  • Include one self-care goal per week in your weekly goals; update your calendar with it so others can get inspired and replicate in their daily schedules
  • When traveling, budget in time to recover from jet lag and rest after your trip
  • Use allocated holiday leave to take a proper break from work and not check emails during vacation days and holidays (use and practise vacation responder)
  • Practise Reiki, Yoga and other body-mind exercises
  • Play board games–scrabble, chess, ludo–to keep your mind sharp, focussed and engaged when not thinking of work
  • Spend quality time with your loved ones. Remind yourself of their beautiful presence and support in your life.
Pic credit: Move to End Violence

Pic credit: Move to End Violence

Here are some good tangible examples of collective self care, that FRIDA members have modelled:

  • Be aware of any sensitive issues or subjects that may need a trigger warning
  • Be aware of any major issues happening in the personal lives of your colleagues that may require their attention or may impact their lives or work
  • Respect when colleagues tell you they need to be offline
  • Learn to say no and empower others to flag unreasonable expectations and timelines
  • Communicate clearly about any unresolved issues with an individual team member
  • Limit channels of communication for work; do not use FB chats and Whatsapp for ongoing work conversations
  • Spend 10 minutes at the beginning of a call catching up on life and personal updates with the team member you are speaking to
  • Have a team meeting or check ins to chat about non work related issues occasionally
  • Do not work on weekends and ensure no one else does by not emailing other team members during that time. If it is urgent, use Boomerang or save the email as a draft before sending it out on Monday

Taking care of yourself is not selfish. Start today!

  1. Take the ‘21 Days to a More Impactful You‘, a 21-day challenge by Move to End Violence
  2. If you are someone working in the non profit, development sector just like us, we suggest you take a print out of this and paste it on the wall of your working room.
  3. Share your thoughts and suggestions around how you practise individual and collective self care in your working space with us! Tweet your ideas or mail us at info@youngfeministfund.org
  4. Share this post on Facebook and Twitter and spread the knowledge!

FRIDA is FIVE! #FRIDAFlies

At the end of 2010, after several meetings organized and supported by the Association of Women’s Rights in Development, the Central American Women’s Fund, and the Global Fund for Women, Amina Doherty was hired as FRIDA’s founding Coordinator.

It is with this date in mind that we are celebrating our fifth birthday!

“She couldn’t keep her colors inside the lines so she drew new ones”

By the end of 2015, FRIDA will have awarded almost $800,000 to over 70 groups of young feminists in over 60 countries.  We remain the only youth-led fund in the world dedicated exclusively to mobilizing and providing diverse resources for young feminists. It‘s also the only youth-led fund that has a participatory grantmaking model that ensures young feminist activists who apply for grants decide together who will receive funding – the first application of this model in a global context.

In partnership with The Fearless Collective, we travelled the world asking the young feminist community: “What is FRIDA?” Who are we? What do we do? Why do we need to do what we are doing? We share with you some responses, stories and inspiring words. Check out this short video that captures FRIDA’s spirit in all its beauty. We thank The Fearless Collective Team for capturing FRIDA’s essence so beautifully. And we look forward to many more years of supporting and strengthening young feminist activism together! #FRIDAFlies 

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Through every grant cycle and year we spend with our grantee partners, we have the honor of seeing the incredible passion, creativity, and dedication of young feminist activists who are both holding and breaking ground around the most pressing issues of our time. From sexual violence to racial inequality, identity politics to access to safe abortion, young feminist activists are using tried and tested strategies, as well as new technologies, art, and organizing techniques. We’ll be using the theme of “Coloring Outside the Lines” to illustrate the amazing impact of the young feminist movement.

Like our grantmaking model, we want our birthday celebrations to be as participatory as it can be. We’re excited to use this opportunity to appreciate everyone who helped bring FRIDA to where it is today, celebrate with them on what young feminists have been able to achieve, and engage them in taking FRIDA to where it wants to go in the future. Click here to learn more about our FearlesslyFRIDA campaign that seeks to use art and activism to highlight the work and voice of youngfem groups.

Global Day of Action for Safe Abortion

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Around the world, young women are disproportionately affected by a patriarchal system which shames, stigmatizes and in many cases makes illegal access to abortion services.

This lack of access to safe, legal, and secure abortions affects young women’s opportunities in education, employment, family relations and their futures. It reflects a significant and persistent infringement on their fundamental human rights.

In response to this, today for the Global Day of Action for Access to Safe Abortion, we’re sharing the incredible work being done by young feminist activists all over the world. These activists are organizing, taking action and challenging laws, traditions and authority figures who prevent them from accessing their right to safe, legal and secure abortion.

Access to abortion affects everyone. It empowers women to make decisions about their sexual and reproductive rights. It allows people to live with control over their own bodies and futures.

Click here and share with us: why do you support safe access to abortion? 

People’s reasons for supporting access to abortion are all different. For some it’s personal. Others it’s political.

Below are the voices of our community – sharing why they stand in solidarity and are taking action for safe access to abortion services all over the world.

FRIDA’s working style and principles

One question that FRIDA hears often is: where’s your office? We fund and support young feminist organizers all over the world in the Global South, but few know that the FRIDA team is  spread across the world too!

The FRIDA community consists of staff, consultants, interns, volunteers, advisors, grantee partners and board members who connect virtually all around the globe: some from home, some from shared office spaces, some from cafes and some from the airport. Separated by countries, region, languages, cultures and time zones, FRIDA is united by its strong working ethic and passion to drive the young feminist movement forward. Read more about the amazing FRIDA community here.

The FRIDA staff work in a “virtual office.” Though working in a virtual office seems like the way of the future, working remotely can be challenging for those who are more accustomed to a traditional working space. Emoji and video chats do not replace the importance of eating lunch together, high-fives, and comforting hugs. As a feminist organization, we are committed to feminist principles of work, including individual self-care and collective well-being. So we follow certain principles that help us lead a balanced and satisfying work life.

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Here are 9 of our key principles that may be useful for other feminists working remotely, and those in need of guidance and inspiration:

1) We do not let each other work crazy hours. The FRIDA team keeps meetings, chats and emails within the FRIDA bandwidth, which is Monday – Friday 7:00am – 10:00pm in any given timezone. FRIDA uses a flexible working hours policy (which means, you can work any 8 hours in that bandwidth that you like), but encourages staff to turn-off outside of  the bandwidth hours.

2) We always check in on each other’s time zones. We use apps like Synchronize and WorldTimeBuddy so we know when our teammates are working. With staff in 7 countries, we always have someone online. But we want to respect when people are sleeping, having a life and not working. One way we do this is by using Boomerang to schedule emails to arrive when someone is working, so that they don’t accidentally see 15 messages come through while out to drinks with their friends!

3) We use a lot of emojis to express ourselves. It’s exciting to work in a global remote office, but communicating virtually can leave a lot to misinterpretation. Emojis and “xoxo” help us let our teammates know where we’re at. During our weekly team meetings, for example, we use Google Hangout or Zoom and keep an open chat box where team members respond (often with emoji) to what someone is saying. It’s a fun way of being encouraging without disrupting the flow of the conversation. 8-]

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4) We use tracking tools to collectively monitor our work. Working from home requires discipline. We use different technical tools that allow us to track and plan our work. We’ve tried out Wrike, Trello, Smartsheets and google spreadsheets and we’ve found that the simpler the tool, the better the results. It’s also proved important to assign one person to determine who is leading on what projects and to check in on progress, monitor the workplan, and adjust as we go. With lots of competing priorities and many (many!) things happening at once, it’s been critical to be able to map the ‘big picture’ and put someone in charge of managing the flow of work.

5) We chat, a lot. In lieu of a break room, we have needed to find ways to come together and share the minutia of our workday (and to take breaks together!). We have found Slack and google hangouts to be an excellent tool for this. We use different channels to share information related to work and fun (our channels, among many, include: photos, things we read, and collective learning & self care). Because we use a lot of different mechanisms to communicate, we’ve created a tiered system: we use google hangouts to resolve quick issues, Slack for everyday communication, email for conversations with those outside our team, and Whatsapp only when it’s an emergency. We use Facebook groups to maintain communication and dialogue with our FRIDA advisors and grantees.

6) We hold regular team meetings. Sometimes even with all the messages and emails, working remotely can feel isolating. We hold a weekly team meeting which everyone joins and we start with an update (both personal and work-related) from everyone in the team. It builds our dynamic and allows us to connect with different people who we might not work with on a daily basis. While we don’t always have video chats due to connectivity and bandwidth limitations, we try to turn on our cameras and wave hello (even if some of us are still in pajamas).

img_06557) We respect the diversity of languages, expertise and opinions. We operate in English,  but not everyone from the FRIDA community is fluent, so we try to be patient with each other. We honor everyone’s background and skills, and also let ourselves be open to feedback and edits from those who have more experience in a given area.

8) Security is critical. As feminist activists ourselves, we know that our work environments can quickly become hostile. We prioritize safety above everything else, and have changed meeting locations (sometimes at the last minute!) to make sure everyone in the FRIDA community will be safe. Because we work online, we are particularly vulnerable to online harassment, trolling, and other forms of discriminatory behavior. We are working on developing a set of tools for our staff and broader community to help mitigate this. Check back on our website soon for more!

9) We take care of each other. Our feminist values and our politics are a big part of this work, and we think it’s important to take care of each other. If something is happening in our personal lives that impacts our work, we share it.  We ask our teammates how they are doing and what’s going on in their lives. We share our stories. We listen, seek to understand and support our teammates. We prioritise our personal lives and healthy being over everything else.

Of course, we are all human, and we don’t always succeed in keeping to working hours or avoiding late night calls, but as a team, we hold each other accountable to do our best. Check out a few of the great resources which support remote working and self care: