Impact Blog

A Brief on The 3-Day Social & Economic Justice Programme’s Residential Training

From September 16-18, 2016, WE-Change engaged 20 lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LBT) women and allies as part of our Social and Economic Justice Training Programme being co-funded by Fi Wi Jamaica and J-FLAG. Here is a brief overview of what took place over the three-day period.

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Participants and facilitators in We-Change’s Social and Economic Justice Training Programme

Day 1

On day one of the training WE focused on economic empowerment and civic responsibility; sessions were led by:

  • Nadeen Spence – Political Analyst, Development Practitioner, and Student Services Development Manager at Mary Seacole Hall
  • Professor Rosalea Hamilton – Fi Wi Jamaica Director, Social and Economic Development Specialist and Vice President at the University of Technology.

Participants explored the concept of economic justice and discussed the diverse ways in which women can create and sustain wealth including, but not limited to entrepreneurship, saving and investment. There was a robust discussion on income inequality between men and women in Jamaica and suggestions for how women can work collectively to address this inequality including, inter alia talking about their salaries, researching the remuneration practices of businesses, NGOs, and government, and creating awareness raising social media campaigns demanding equality at the workplace.

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Participants explore the concept of economic justice with Nadeen Spence
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Participants engage in a very interactive discussion with Nadeen Spence about financial independence and economic justice

A very comprehensive and interactive presentation on civic responsibility and budgeting was made by Professor Hamilton with the support of Fi Wi Jamaica Project Manager – Tahirah Johnson. This session zeroed in on the concepts of civic duty and civic responsibility and how, as vulnerabilised women we can, through actioning civic responsibility and duty, effect change in our society. She spoke about key activities being implemented by Fi Wi Jamaica across the island, which has reached over 1,300 beneficiaries to date. Participants were informed about how the budgeting process works in Jamaica and how citizens can actively participate in that process.

 

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Professor Hamilton presents on civic responsibility and budgeting
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Professor Hamilton invited participants to consider the state of Jamaica’s democracy

Between the hours of 10:00 pm and midnight WE had an Open Mic Nite event where participants shared poetry they have written and the singers among us also performed. WE called these two hours #Equality360 #AfterDark. It was a time for participants to bond in a very laid back environment and share their performing arts talent with each other. It was much appreciated and well received.

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#Equality360 #AfterDark on the beach with Cohort 1 Social and Economic Justice Programme participants


Day 2

On day two of the training WE focused on social justice advocacy and social empowerment for LBT women; the sessions were led by

  • Rochelle McFee – Associate Director at WE-Change
  • Jherane Patmore – Programme Development Manager at WE-Change
  • Christina Clarke – the most outstanding participant in cohort one of the J-FLAG youth advocacy programme

A recap game – definitions relay – was created by one of our facilitators to test how much they learned from day one’s activities. In two groups participants were asked to match terms and definitions and after 20 minutes of playing music, all responses were reviewed and the group with the most accurate responses won. Following that, the sessions for day two commenced.

Participants explored the concept of Intersectional Feminism and the role it plays in achieving social justice. There was a very robust discussion on gender and sexual diversity and how as gender and sexual minorities, they are sometimes disproportionately affected by social injustices.

There was a session that examined the current realities of LBT women in Jamaica with regard to our legislative framework, which discriminates against LBT women. Participants were challenged to simulate the 3rd cycle of the Universal Periodic Review for Jamaica and prepare statements to be presented at the session. They worked in groups to prepare their statements, each of which was two minutes in length.

In an effort to give participants practical examples of how to action advocacy, four civil society organisations that do advocacy work were examined as examples for how participants could advocate in their own spaces utilising their own resources or access to resources. The organisations which were examined were J-FLAG, TransWave, Conflict Women (based in Trinidad and Tobago), and Womantra (based in Trinidad and Tobago).

Once again between the hours of 10:00pm and midnight WE had another #Eqality360 #AfterDark lyme with participants. On this occasion, participants shared personal stories about growing up and challenges they had to overcome. This is where they spoke about their experience with body shaming, their reproductive health, self-care, and family. It was after watching a series of performances by D’bi Young (via Youtube) that participants began to share very intimate experiences about their lives and how they overcame and continue to overcome challenges. The sisterhood among the group was heart-warming. A few broke down in tears, but were quickly comforted by others.

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Participants at the second #Equality360 #AfterDark lyme
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Participant Shelly-Ann Weeks discusses reproductive health during the #Equality360 #AfterDark session
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Participants share their personal stories and experiences growing up as young lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LBT) women in Jamaica 

Day 3

On day 3 of the training WE focused on advocacy, the value of social media in advocacy, and creating advocacy initiatives; the sessions were led by

  • Christina Clarke – the most outstanding participant in cohort one of the J-FLAG youth advocacy programme
  • Latoya Nugent – Executive Director at WE-Change

Day 3 of the training was designed primarily for participants to apply what they learned over the previous two days and utilise their skillset and interest to create their own advocacy initiatives. Before doing so they were challenged to a game of scavenger hunt to recap what they would have learned on day two of the training. They were placed in two groups, and received clues from the facilitator, and each time they got the answer, another clue was issued until the final instruction, which was to explain a few key terms and expand several acronyms.

A session focusing on social media advocacy then followed, which examined how participants could utilise social media for advocacy. They received tips on how to maximise social media for advocacy, and strategies for how to effectively engage their unique and diverse audiences.

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Christina Clarke leads a presentation on social media advocacy 

They were then placed in groups based on their skill set and interest. Each group was given a different activity.

The activities were as follows.

  • Plan a storytelling event featuring music, poetry and short stories about body love, intimate relationships, Feminism as sisterhood and Feminism as love. A short (30 minutes) version of the event should be simulated towards the end of the training session.
  • Write 3 UPR statements; each statement should focus on one issue, the issues to be covered were: income inequality between men and women, women’s economic empowerment, and institutionalised discrimination against LBT women.
  • Write four short (no more than 400 words) blogs; each blog entry should focus on one issue, and the issues to be covered were: women’s economic empowerment, parenting in LBT families, Feminism as intersectionality, and Feminism as development.
  • Create at least two videos for a social media video campaign focused on: income inequality between men and women, body love, women’s economic empowerment, and Feminism as development.

Closing

The participants exceeded our expectations and delivered excellent outputs. The videos were very well done and had much emotional appeal. The UPR statements were strong and well researched. The blogging group actually created a blog (The Purple Ribbon) where they posted the pieces they wrote.

And the event – which was called #MidnightMenses was very well executed and closed activities for the day. The periscope feed of the event is available on WE-Change’s Twitter profile here: goo.gl/mzpgUa.

The WE-Change team wants to use this opportunity to express our deepest gratitude to the Fi Wi team for believing in us and supporting the work that WE do. The women who participated in the training continue to talk about how much they already appreciate this programme and are very excited about the next steps.

You can check out #Equality360 #iDeserve #MidnightMenses on Twitter for some of our live updates as well as live updates from participants.

 

 

30 Days of Advocacy with #Equality360

Through partnership with Jamaica AIDS Support for Life and J-FLAG in 2015, WE-Change implemented a training programme for lesbians, bisexual women and transgender persons. The programme was very successful and a number of our constituents have indicated an interest in participating in a similar programme in 2016. The programme focused on the intersectionality of health and gender-based violence, and how beneficiaries could effectively advocate for change within their networks, communities, online, and at the policy level. It is out of this programme that TransWave was formed, which focuses on transgender health and related issues. It was also following this programme that a Respect Jamaica Ambassador and President of UWI Model United Nations hosted a very successful #KickOutGBV forum, which received an award from Respect Jamaica for most impactful project for 2015. WE-Change has since committed to undertaking a similar activity in 2016.

Further to this and following our very successful and insightful #OxfamChat via Twitter, we recognised that there was also a need for more advocacy around economic justice as part of efforts to achieve social justice for vulnerabilised women and transgender persons. We therefore decided to include a module on economic justice as part of our 2016 intensive advocacy training series.

From September 16-18, 2016, participants attended a rigorous, multifaceted 3-day social and economic justice advocacy residential training in St. Ann called #Equality360. They learned about the importance of evidence-based approaches to advocacy, women and economic justice, legislative frameworks, civic responsibility, intersectionality and feminism, and how to develop advocacy plans, among other skills. Following this training, participants were tasked with getting into groups to develop 30-day advocacy plans devoted to causes they cared about and wanted to champion.

Here is a snapshot of the activities undertaken by participants to date in the WE-Change #Equality360 Advocacy Training Programme for women.

Conversation Series

Our participants have been hosting a series of conversations with students based at UWI, Mona. To date they have reached just over 60 students and have explored ideas around body love and feminism.

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Mental Health JA Chat

During Mental Health Week, our participants hosted a Twitter Chat to raise awareness about Mental Health issues. During and following the chat, #MentalHealthJA tweets were delivered over 400,000 times to Twitter streams!

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JA WE Can Chat

This chat focused on challenging many societal standards of beauty for men and women, & promoting the practice of self love and body love. Over 12,000 Twitter users saw at least one #jaWEcan tweet!

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Mental Health Support Group

A Mental Wellness support group has been established by our participants. They have since hosted a poetry reading event featuring music, poetry and short stories. A total of 40 persons attended & live tweeted from the event.

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Period Is Natural Chat

A #PeriodIsNatural chat was hosted by participants aimed at removing the societal shame associated with the menstrual cycle #PeriodIsNatural tweets were delivered over 750,000 times to Twitter streams!

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Period Awareness Day

Participants established a Period Awareness Day on October 24th aimed at de-stigmatizing how Jamaicans treat with the menstrual cycle. They hosted a number of activities on the day, which were widely promoted on television, radio, and social media.

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Check out our participants’ work on Twitter:

@SafeSpaceJA

@EmbraceHerFlow

@we_UBUNTU

@Empower_MENTJA