Feminize Politics Now!

RLS Reading and Organisational Strategy Group

Apr 7th, 2021
RLS London

Do you want to make your organisation more democratic and inclusive? Do you want to improve the culture of decision-making and strategic thinking? Do you want to learn how to share power more equally? Do you struggle to find time to make these changes in your organisation?

The Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung London Office invites you to join a reading and organisational strategy group to help build the power of progressive groups in the UK and Ireland by introducing feminist principles and tools for organising. The group will bring together 8 organisations from across social and trade union movements to share and discuss their experiences relating to issues of leadership, representation, democracy and participation, care, inclusivity and diversity, and non-violence. As well as identifying the main challenges facing organisations, the group will look at concrete tools that can be implemented to make progress in these areas. It will draw on learnings from the European Municipalist movement, shadowing the 2020 pamphlet Feminize Politics Now! co-written by feminist organisations from 6 countries and collated by the RLS Madrid office.

The group is free to attend and will take place over 8 weeks on Tuesday lunchtimes (1- 2:15pm) from 11th May until 29th June 2021 (with a possible follow-up meeting later in the year). After the sessions a coordinator from RLS will support each organisation to implement the changes outlined from the sessions until the end of the year. As part of this each organisation will be given the opportunity to co-write and become the case studies for a new UK and Ireland focused organising pamphlet, using the experiences of the reading and strategy group, and ensuring that our knowledge grows collectively and continuously, in the struggle for a more strategic, inclusive progressive movement.

Three people from each organisation are invited to take part over Zoom. We would ask for organisations to put forward a group which reflects the diversity of their organisation, including a mixture of junior and senior employees or volunteers. We would also ask everyone participating to commit to every session. We recognise that in holding the sessions during the working day not everyone will be able to attend, and where possible we would encourage people to approach their organisations to make space for them to attend. People are welcome to bring their lunch.

Weekly sessions

1. 11th May 1-2:15pm
2. 18th May 1-2:15pm
3. 25th May 1-2:15pm
4. 1st June 1-2:15pm
5. 8th June 1-2:15pm
6. 15th June 1-2:15pm
7. 22nd June 1-2:15pm
8. 29th June 1-2:15pm

Apply Now

To apply, please email london.office@rosalux.org outlining why you think your organisation should take part by no later than 5pm on Monday 26th April, after which there will be a short application process.

What is Feminize Politics Now!?

“The municipalist platforms’ approach to feminising politics is based on the idea that it should be applied across the board, not implemented in a specific domain or merely practised by a certain subset of women who want to see a shift in day-to-day activities. Feminisation is a project affecting all domains and dimensions of an organisation’s work.” - FPN! 2020

Feminize Politics Now! or FPN! is a pamphlet written by six organisations from the European municipalist movement and collated by the RLS Madrid office in 2020. It argues that the municipalist movement’s focus on democratising politics essentially puts feminism centre stage, and that organisations are more inclusive, participatory and strategic precisely because they are more democratised. It draws on case studies from the six organisations involved, working across grassroots and electoral politics, and presents a set of tried-and-tested tools based on their political experience.

In Autumn 2020 a UK and Ireland reading group was piloted with organisers and leaders from six UK and Ireland left activist and union organisations, who shadowed the text and its practical resources for ‘feminising’ or ‘feminist-ising’ their own work and activist spaces. Each organisation then went away to trial implementing some of the tools for action.

Participants in the pilot reading group found not only the resource effective as a tool for creating more democratised, strategic political organisations in the UK and Ireland, but the experience of the reading group itself invaluable. It fomented discussion and the generation of ideas (made more effective by the mix of organisers together in one space), and provided much-needed, dedicated time to 3 reflect on internal processes (something which often gets de-prioritised for lack of time when we’re busy campaigning for change).

It was concluded that another reading group with more participants from progressive UK and Ireland organisations and unions should be organised in Spring-Summer 2021, with a greater number of participants from each organisation and structured space in each session to support organisations to take forward concrete actions.

These organisations, should they wish to, can then become the case studies for a UK and Ireland pamphlet with tools and resources to be published in early 2022, continuing the cycle of learning from the original resource, and enabling UK and Ireland left organisations to go deeper in democratising their workplaces and activism.

Why now?

Many UK and Ireland progressive organisations and unions with an activist membership or volunteer base say they want to improve democracy, participation, diversity and care in their organisations. Many say they don’t share practices or work collaboratively across movements as much as they’d like to, and feel that they are ‘unstrategic’, and many admit they are a long way from embodying the principles they espouse.

There is a strong appetite for change, but a range of barriers - from responding to endless election and political cycles, to a constant lack of time, money and resources - has left organisations feeling ‘besieged’. The much-needed time and space required to improve organisational process and culture is relegated as secondary to ‘the cause’, and therefore deprioritised, further entrenching existing problems and structures.

On a wider level, undemocratic, patriarchal practices inherited from building new organisations and movements upon existing foundations and electoral cycles have engendered and normalised a culture of competition and hyper-masculine leadership that has transcended political processes and permeated organisations. Many organisations recognise this and want to change it, but don’t know how.

This reading and organisational strategy group will provide this structured thinking space for organisations to learn from other movements through this resource, and facilitate crossorganisational reflection and strategising, enabling organisations from the UK and Ireland progressive social and union movement to collaboratively imagine and develop alternative ways of organising for change.

Download the publication: http://rosalux.eu/feminise-politics-now