Throughout its 20-year tenure, we, as WISG’s feminist collective, have faced various challenges at every step of the organization’s growth and development. One of the constant challenges we have encountered on both organizational and community level is the issues of the creation of safe feminist spaces.
We believe that in order to achieve this common goal, it is crucial for women’s and queer organizations to rethink existing governance models from a feminist perspective so that a horizontal, shared approach, based on mutual care, becomes an integral component of organizational culture.
With the following document, the Women’s Initiatives Supporting Group, as a feminist collective, strive to highlight the significance of collective care as a value, and its recognition and implementation in the organizational lifecycle.
Working on the document was both a therapeutic and transformational experience for our team. Applying the Action Research methodology gave us space to conduct a process infused with horizontal, creative, critical, and intuitive reasoning, where, over the course of a year, members of the organization, in varying compositions, engaged and discussed individual and collective visions and concerns.
At the same time, the document is our modest attempt to critically understand hierarchical terminology in language. While we are aware of the limits of our efforts in this regard, we consider it important that the deconstruction of power in language remain a constant subject of our thinking.
The format of the document on Collective Care Oriented Planning is not standardized. It is rather a manifest declaring WISG’s shared feminist and ecocentric principles, based on organizational experience and tailored to the format of its work. It is our hope, however, that it will be a source of inspiration for both feminist and queer organizations and collectives, as well as for various formal and informal associations, wishing to define and recognize care as a form of labor within their own structures.
Collective Care Oriented Planning
- Needs assessment
We, the Women’s Initiatives Supporting Group (WISG), agree that collective care is a feminist value and important to reflect on it in the organizational lifecycle.
In addition to formal contractual relationships in the organizational lifecycle, this implies mutually supportive relationships within the team. In this sense, personal effort and contribution to the cause are part of collective action. Therefore, each team member’s time, energy and emotions are an equally accessible and balanced resource for a common purpose and for mutual benefit.
Given the above, the Women's Initiative Support Group (WISG), as a trust-based feminist space, acknowledges the need to recognize care as labor on the one hand, and the need for a fair distribution of this labor among team members and stakeholders, on the other.
To clarify, we see care as a multidimensional process of solidarity, mutual support, and learning, enabling collective and face-to-face discussions around common concerns, and making relevant decisions.
Therefore, in order to move from egocentric to ecocentric consciousness, we introduce collective care as a feminist principle to promote personal transformation, security, and well-being.
The Women's Initiative Supporting Group applies the principle of collective care at the individual, organizational and community levels in the following spaces and activities:
- Common physical and virtual spaces: Adherence to the principles of collective care in all spaces of action;
- Project activities: Taking into account the principles of well-being and safety of all components of the organization when planning and implementing projects;
- Stakeholder relationships: Involving the users in the organization's resources in a collective care process;
Environmental impact: Introducing the principles of environmental awareness into the collective care space.
To ensure feminist solidarity and collaboration in achieving the mission of the organization through collective care-oriented planning.
- Acknowledgements for collective care-oriented planning
A. Common physical and virtual spaces:
A.1 Individual level:
§ Taking into account each other's needs, comforts and interests and sharing responsibilities in the physical space;
§ Acknowledgment of personal responsibility for the equal distribution of shared resources among team members and relevant self-regulation;
§ Advising team members of each other’s professional and personal boundaries;
§ Awareness of community members’ and each other’s security, interests, and needs in formal and informal environments, external and digital spaces, as well as sharing of responsibility, harmonized support, and active solidarity.
A.2 Organizational level:
§ Office environment compliant with the needs of the body: furniture, sanitary conditions, possibility for self-care and rest, consideration of individual needs, rational distribution of space;
§ Child-friendly environment: provision of hygienic conditions, consideration of children’s needs when planning activities at and outside of the office;
§ Creating a safe space when planning external and internal activities, taking into account community sensitivities;
§ Providing the team with first aid skills and the office with relevant equipment.
A.3 Community level:
§ Creating a comfortable environment for stakeholders at the office: organizing a friendly space for meetings and consultations; and establishing a welcoming environment for stakeholders;
§ Relying on mutual respect in relations between stakeholders and team members.
B. Project activities:
B.1 Individual level:
§ Pursuing interconnectedness and synergies in project activities as needed and to the best possible extent;
§ Sharing ideas, experiences and knowledge among team members when planning and designing projects;
§ Acknowledging the significance and practical application of information sharing and reporting mechanisms among staff from different segments of the organization;
§ Taking into account capacities, skills, interests, and ambitions of colleagues when planning and implementing projects;
§ Recognizing the limitations of one’s own capacity and conveying this information to the team.
B.2. Organizational level:
§ Understanding and taking into consideration the limits of organizational resources when planning projects;
§ Exchanging information and opinions between team members, as well as external stakeholders (external contractors), and taking into account their interests and capacities during project design;
§ Providing team members with flexible work schedules and the possibility to select work spaces;
§ Preparedness to respond to team members’ special needs, unforeseen circumstances, and changes in activities.
B.3 Community level:
§ Receptiveness towards stakeholders’ initiatives and consideration of their capacities, knowledge, creative potential, and preferences for incorporation into project activities.
C. Stakeholder relations:
C.1 Individual level:
§ Taking into consideration stakeholders’ individuality, adapting resources to their needs, and exhibiting a sensitive attitude;
§ Prioritizing stakeholder needs based on predetermined criteria in order to provide timely and relevant services to the target groups of the organization;
§ Managing stakeholder complaints towards partner organizations through the principle of neutrality;
§ Understanding the limits of one’s power and acting conscientiously and in good faith within these limits;
§ Acknowledging and sharing the risks of indirect trauma;
§ On a par with the acknowledgment of one’s resources, informing and preparing stakeholders for changes ahead of time.
C.2 Organizational level:
§ Establishing project activities based on stakeholders’ best interests and needs;
§ Ensuring the continuity of reporting to the community;
§ Facilitating stakeholder engagement in volunteering opportunities for community empowerment;
§ Planning and managing public relations with stakeholders’ best interests in mind.
C.3 Community level:
§ Developing peer support groups and expanding community care;
§ Supporting the principles of mutual consideration and solidarity among community members;
§ Recognizing stakeholder resources and mobilizing around common needs.
D. Environmental impact:
D. 1 Individual level:
§ Critical analysis of environmental accountability and recognizing relevant efforts made towards that end.
D. 2 Organizational level:
§ Integrating green perspectives and vision into the organizational lifecycle;
§ Ensuring action through ecocentric consciousness;
§ Implementing logistics aimed at resource conservation;
§ Compliance with clean environment principles in and outside of the workspace.
D. 3 Community level:
§ Promoting ecocentric initiatives among stakeholders.