Right Livelihood’s Education workshops: “We wanted to encourage people, but also to equip them with useful tools”
A successful series of Gender Equality workshops featuring Right Livelihood Laureates has come to an end. As the rich learnings and expressions of gratitude shared by participants are still fresh in our minds, we interviewed the workshop’s main organiser, Right Livelihood Education Officer Samah Saeed.
With dozens of activists connecting from all around the world, Right Livelihood organised this educational initiative to showcase Laureates’ work to share strategies and strengthen local communities working to prevent gender-based violence and protect girls and women.
Laureates Mozn Hassan, Kvinna till Kvinna, and Ilwad Elman – three globally-recognised activists on gender equality – were the main speakers at the workshops. They helped build a common understanding of gender issues and feminism among participants, shared strategies to tackle gender-based violence and proposed measures and educational initiatives to change societies.
“To separate women and gender issues from politics is fundamentally wrong because they are political, they should be political and the solutions must also be political,” said Konul de Moor, from 2002 Laureate organisation Kvinna till Kvinna, during the workshop.
We asked Saeed to tell us more about the workshops:
How did you decide to offer a workshop series on gender equality?
Samah Saeed: The idea first came to mind knowing that we have access to people who are working on the ground. Right Livelihood Laureates are recognised and celebrated by us because of their knowledge and wealth of experience. We know what they have done. But I also wanted to get deeper knowledge into how they did it and benefit communities and activist students also interested and working on that. [I wanted] not only to inspire them – because we have already focused a lot on the aspect of inspiring people – with this workshop series, we wanted to encourage people, but also to equip them. To tell them these are strategies that people have adapted and worked.
Gender equality can be a general challenge, however, specific problems and working on possible solutions need localised approaches.
SS: When we came up with the idea of a workshop series, we knew that gender inequality is here. To achieve the dream of having gender equality in each community, you have to sort different challenges and obstacles out. As we didn’t know which obstacle to start with, or which inequality to tackle first, we decided to focus on creating a common understanding about what gender equality is and its challenges in different contexts. We know that both the Laureates involved and the participants come from different countries, cultures, backgrounds, communities and challenges. So we wanted this learning process to be interactive, with people saying, “Okay, this tactic is awesome, but it doesn’t work in my culture, because of XYZ.” And then open up the space for exchange and to give feedback on how to strengthen different tactics, to offer some more confidence to attendants when sharing with feminist and gender equality activists working with this for years.
What’s been the most significant outcome of this initiative?
SS: We made it a public event and invited people from different backgrounds. Each and every time we went to breakout rooms, we had people from different countries and continents. The knowledge and the grace of the participants exchanging experiences, resources and knowledge have been mind-blowing. That has been the core of the learning where people are highlighting what resonates with them, why it works and where it doesn’t work. Recently, I got an email from one of the participants. She was not only sending a thank you email, but she was also telling me, “I am a filmmaker, so please, if you feel any of the participants is in need of these resources, connect me with them.” So, we were part of encouraging people to offer their resources to benefit each other’s interests.
What was the most impactful moment for you during the workshops?
SS: I recall when a participant told us about their tactics in Mexico, where they’re using WhatsApp to inform each other in the neighbourhoods about any violence that’s going around, just to secure women while they’re walking on the street. Another participant said her motivation was wanting to help her young students, especially females. It’s a privilege for me to be connected with people that are trying to create such a positive change in their community, not to protect themselves, but also to protect the community and also empower others to stand up for that. I was actually overwhelmed. It is a great learning.
*The three Right Livelihood workshops on Gender Equality are available online.