A community space for open conversations about the practice of resourcing girls and young feminist in crises.
For as long as humanity has existed, community spaces - where people have open dialogue, share ideas, stories, their needs and dreams- have been an essential part of life and continuously spark social change. We can take a look at social movements across the world and decades, from the Zapatistas to India’s farmers’ mobilizations and climate justice efforts of today, and clearly identify the critical role of community conversations.
Listening, sharing, building trust, and being present in and with the community allows us to have a deeper understanding of ourselves, create intentional connections to each other, and engage in collective problem solving. The philanthropic sector tends to avoid community spaces due to its siloed nature and unwillingness to immerse in the type of vulnerability that can reshape systems, missing an important opportunity to connect with those closest to the solutions and support systemic change. With an ongoing pandemic, climate change, and the critical issues that we are facing, we understand that logic models and hyper-intellectualization will not bring real solutions - undoubtedly, honest and open community conversations that add power to social movements will.
Understanding the transformative role that girls and young feminist activists continue to lead across social movements and their vital frontline efforts in emergencies (including the ongoing pandemic), the Global Resilience Fund and With and For Girls Collective collaborated to curate the Pro-Action Cafe: a community space for open conversations about the practice of resourcing girls and young feminists in crises. With a blend of “world cafe” and “open space” technologies, the Cafe provided a virtual space for creative and action oriented conversations where funders and activists brought challenges or questions they were seeking support to manifest in the world.
By creating small, intimate spaces for these conversations, a mix of activists and funders had the rare opportunity to be in deep dialogue about issues posed by six (6) specific people willing to be vulnerable and ask some of the difficult questions we all face in this work; including questions focused on collective care, accompaniment, trust, and outreach. Several ideas, critical analyses, and lessons emerged and allowed for reflections on approaches and practices and to re-image current and future possibilities. As Aissata Sall from the Global Fund for Women shared, the space curated by Pro-Action Cafe “allows to really deep dive into a topic and get so many brilliant perspectives and ideas.”
[Image Description: 6 people on a purple, pink, and blue background. A “Co-Creating our feminist futures” title is on the center of the image.] Click here to read the text-only content and here to view the high resolution version.
For instance, one of the proposed questions was: “how can we shift the philanthropic landscape and build a culture of trust so girls and young feminists set their own parameters with funders?” Which led to a follow-up inquiry: “can funders provide more than just monetary assistance?” This reframing sprung an idea to create a guide, such as a passbook, of the actual requirements that NGOs need to fulfil legally rather than arbitrary additional requirements set by each individual funder, so young activist groups could feel empowered to push back on donor requirements. All iterations of the questions, continuous inquiry, and ideas created a collage that, through each conversation, allowed us to identify how we can do better to trust, support, and co-create our feminist futures. We invite you to follow this link to view the full size graphic illustrations of the Pro-Action Cafe conversations.
[Image Description: 2 arms holding their pinky fingers on a purple and blue background. On the center there is a large title that says: “how can we do better” and on one of the hands there is a text that says: “Co-Creating our feminist futures.”] Click here to read the text-only content and here to view the high resolution version.
“it’s important that people are in touch and motivate each other to re-examine existing practices and look for ways to move things further.’- Marija Jakovljeviv, GRF Activists Panelists
As we continue to build the world that we envision, “it’s important that people are in touch and motivate each other to re-examine existing practices and look for ways to move things further."- Marija Jakovljeviv, GRF Activists Panelists, shared. This means making space for continuous conversations that allow us to better understand how we can support each other, and pollinating those conversations across spaces to continue to spark change.
Rooted in the power of intentional community and inspired by the ideas and lessons that emerged from the first Pro-Action cafe, we will continue to host community learning spaces in 2022 to deepen the open conversations about the practice of resourcing girls and young feminist in crises and beyond. We will also co-curate a collaborative blog series to amplify the lessons, reflections and dialogue spurred and that continue to emerge from the Pro-Action Cafe spaces. Click here to sign up to receive updates about the GRF and the Pro-Action Cafe blog series!
Community: Pro-Action Cafe brought together eighteen (18) youth activists, two (2) artists, and twenty-two (22) funders (and many working at the intersections of multiple spaces). The intimate community space provided by the Cafe allowed for vulnerable and honest dialogue which we believe was key for its success. We will continue to experiment with how we curate the space, including its size and tools, while ensuring it continues to keep its core essence.
Gratitude: We honor every person that made this space a reality, from activists, funders, and each member of our team. We also want to express a special gratitude to: Aissata, Bethan, Gabrielle, Juliana, Marija, and Purity for proposing the challenges/questions for the community discussion; Elsa Saadde, Lebanese activist, political artist, Program Officer at Urgent Action Fund for Women's Human Rights, for opening up the space with the revival of Audre Lorde's immortal poetry through her powerful voice; Kruthika NS, lawyer and social justice artist @theworkplaceDoodler, for recording the conversations with beautiful illustrations; and Jasmine Anouna, Founder of The Bloom, for amplifying the conversations and lessons from Pro-Action Cafe.
With the goal of resourcing the vital and urgent emergency response to the pandemic of girls and youth, the Global Resilience Fund (GRF) was launched in May of 2020 as a participatory rapid-response funding mechanism to move flexible resources to girls and young feminists responding to the pandemic. Housed and facilitated by Purposeful, the Fund is powered by the resources and intellectual energy of 25 funders from a diverse range of institutions, including women’s funds, private foundations, INGOs, multi-laterals, and bi-lateral agencies.
The Collective is a group of justice funders committed to resourcing girls activism for the long term. Together, the collective resources the With and For Girls Fund, using these insights to influence and advocate across philanthropic and development spaces for more and better resources and programmatic practices with and for girls. Made up of Womens Funds, International NGOs, Public and Private Foundations, the WFG Collective is the only collaborative of its kind, drawing from different points in the girls funding ecosystem.