PartnersGlobal Honors Artists & Human Rights Activists 

2nd Annual PartnersGlobal Arts4Resilience Awards recognizes vital role artists and activists play to strengthen resiliency in the face of conflict

Washington DC, — PartnersGlobal presented eight awards to outstanding artists and art activists from six countries for their achievements fostering resiliency during its Arts4Resilience (A4R) Honors event on December 7, 2023, held at Studio Theatre. Arts4Resilience is an annual event series hosted by PartnersGlobal that celebrates the importance of artists’ contributions to building resilience and spotlighting critical issues related to social, political, environmental and health justice, and inclusivity.  

Now in its second year, the 2023 A4R day began with a screening of the award-winning documentary, Four Winters, followed by a Director’s Talk with celebrated activist and playwright, Julia Mintz, as a part of an international tour of the film. This screening, featuring the story of Jewish partisans in WWII, was followed by an evening of honors and performances celebrating activist art representing a variety of mediums — from photography to graphic arts to music and theater. Honors were presented in areas ranging from art that calls attention to indigenous voices, human rights, identity and inclusivity, and the climate crisis.  

The A4R Honors also included live performances by internationally acclaimed cellist and composer, Tanya Anisimova; ASL artist and choreographer, Brandon Kazen-Maddox; and singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, Rachael Sage. Arts4Resilience was generously underwritten by Eva Haller; Anne Labovitz Studio, LLC; My Petite Gallery; and the International Human Rights Arts Movement

“These artists and their work represent the transformative power of the arts to build resiliency in the face of tragedy, division, and conflict,” said PartnersGlobal Co-Executive Director, Roselie Vasquez-Yetter.  

The 2023 PartnersGlobal Arts4Resilience honorees are:  

  • Lifetime Achievement Award, presented to Eva Haller 

Eva Haller is a Hungarian-American philanthropist, activist, executive and Holocaust survivor. Born in 1930 in Budapest, Hungary, in 1942, she joined her older brother underground in the Hungarian resistance where she created anti-Hitler leaflets. Later, Eva convinced a Nazi officer that she was too young and too beautiful to die and to let her escape; she remained in hiding throughout World War II. Eva eventually reached New York, where she cleaned houses and concurrently earned a master’s degree in social work from Hunter College. In 1965, she joined Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the Selma march. Along with her late husband, Murray Roman, Eva co-founded the Campaign Communications Institute of America. With help from the proceeds of their successful business, they continued the pursuit of their philanthropy supporting a variety of social justice issues. After Murray died, Eva married Yoel Haller and has pursued her philanthropic career, widely revered, and honored with numerous awards. 

  • Capturing Resilience Award, presented to Julia Mintz 

Julia Mintz is a filmmaker and activist whose diverse body of work focuses on narratives of bravery and resistance against unimaginable odds. She has been on the producing team for films that have been shortlisted for the Academy Awards, have premiered at Cannes, Sundance and TriBeCa, won Emmy and Peabody awards, and can be seen on HBO, PBS, American Masters, Netflix and Amazon. Her most recent film, the award-winning documentary, Four Winters, dispels the myth of Jewish passivity during World War II by sharing the stories of surviving partisans and illuminating the many ways in which the Jewish people resisted the Nazis. This award was presented to Julia for her two decades of work as an activist and filmmaker. She has used her craft and her skillful storytelling to reach audiences with messages encouraging tolerance, freedom and dignity across topics such as: HIV-AIDS; women’s rights; LGBTQI and civil rights, among others. 

  • The Csekö János Art of Resistance Award, presented to Kateryna Sukhomlynova and Journalists of Gaza 

Kateryna Sukhomlynova is a volunteer, public activist, and a trainer in medical rescue. Before the hostilities started in Ukraine in 2014, she worked as an engineer and commercial director. However, following the shelling of Mariupol, Kateryna’s hometown, she made a complete shift in her occupation to focus on training people in first aid, volunteering, and engaging in political and civic activism.  

The journalists of Gaza have dedicated not only their time, career, and energy, but also their lives to be the voice of Palestinians living under terror and siege. The collective dedication, commitment, and passion for fair and just media, as well as and their responsibility to educate people and shed light on what’s happening on the ground represents their ultimate sacrifice for freedom and dignity. 

The Teatro del Embuste (“Theater of the Lie”) Collective is a Colombian stage creation was formed by actors, playwrights, directors, producers, musicians and visual artists from diverse backgrounds, who come together in their desire to explore new forms of expression and perception of the theater. The group seeks to involve the audience and take them out of their routine role of passive spectator. 

  • Art of Indigenous Voices, presented to Enea Lebrun and Andrea Lino Machi 

Lebrun and Lino Machi collaborated on Jenené, a photo and video series about the relationship between the Chagres River and its inhabitants. The collaboration explores the issues of this complex Panamanian territory and offers a reflection on the consequences of development and alternatives to the hegemonic management of the use of natural resources. 

The Arts & Climate Initiative uses storytelling and live performance to foster dialogue about our global climate crisis, create an empowering vision of the future, and inspire people to take action. Through its work over the last 15 years, the Initiative has created a model that has inspired radical life changes among citizens, demonstrating that we can address pressing social and environmental issues in novel ways, using art as a catalyst.    

Mbizo Chirasa is a Zimbabwean internationally published spoken word poet. His illustrious poetry, hybrid writings, political commentary, short fiction, book reviews, and arts features have been published in more than 400 spaces. He has curated and edited the Zimbabwe We Want Poetry, which offered a platform for artists to speak on the numerous issues affecting the country during the Mugabe regime. 

  • Art for Marginalized Communities Inclusivity, presented to Brandon Kazen-Maddox 

Brandon Kazen-Maddox is a choreographer, dancer, director, actor, acrobat, activist, Voiceover, and ASL Artist. Brandon creates work with and for the Deaf and Disability communities, and highlights and empowers BIPOC and LGBTQAI+ artists, building bridges of collaboration and community among people of all backgrounds and abilities. 

As the humanitarian crisis unfolds in Ukraine, now is the time to have a conversation about global peace and peacebuilding. The FrameWorks Institute, Alliance for Peacebuilding, and PartnersGlobal joined forces to deliver evidence-based recommendations for more effective narrative strategies that build public understanding and support for peacebuilding. The new brief includes:

  • Existing mindsets around peacebuilding
  • Research-based framing recommendations
  • Ideas for applying these frames in discourse & debate

The ongoing work of building bridges across divides must continue if we hope to create a world where conflicts are addressed without resorting to violence. Shifting the narrative of peacebuilding won’t happen overnight. But aligning messaging and consistency within the peacebuilding field will help the public and policymakers better understand what peacebuilding looks like in practice and why it is a productive mindset and policy option. | For access to the full report, please click HERE or read below:

FWI-31-peacebuilding-project-brief-v2b

  September 25, 2021

Over the past year, we’ve compiled and shared resources, tools, articles, research, and case studies from all sectors and partners on different aspects of organizational resiliency. This month, we looked back at everything and pulled out some of our favorites. Learn more more about our work on Resiliency HERE.  

Factor: Resiliency Ethos

Learn more about the Resiliency Ethos factor in the Resiliency+ Framework here.

Patterns for Change recently released this interactive guide for nonprofits looking for behavioral guidance during times of change and uncertainty.  

How does the mind work during and after a crisis? And what we can learn from this information to create positive sustainable change? Read about it in The Disrupted Mind, a blog piece from Mindworks Lab. And dive deeper into their 6 Mindset Factors.

This is a great diagnostic tool from Innovation For Change geared toward civil society organizations working on policy and advocacy. It helps to identify their strengths and weaknesses in the policy and advocacy areas while sharing resources to address your organization’s specific needs.

In his new book Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know, Adam Grant draws on research and storytelling to “help us build the intellectual and emotional muscle we need to stay curious enough about the world to actually change it.” Tune in to this conversation with Adam and Brene Brown for more insights.

Factor: Adaptive Capacity

Learn more about the Adaptive Capacity factor in the Resiliency+ Framework here.

Download this GUIDE from the International Civil Society Centre about how to scan the horizon and make strategic decisions in an uncertain world.


Leadership coach Stephen Kotev explores the concept of polarities and how to manage them when trying to resolve seemingly entrenched conflicts on his blog post HERE.

How do you build up adaptive capacity? Going International works to support organizations to create a better world. They have assembled an expansive list of toolkits and manuals on everything from a diversity and inclusion organizational assessment to tools for social innovation.

The ability to adapt to change is at the core of organizational resiliency. In The Future of Team Leadership is Multimodal, Robert Hoojiberg and Michael Watkins discuss the post-pandemic future of teamwork and foresee a hybrid model of virtual coordination and in-person collaboration.

The FrameWorks Institute report, Mindset Shifts: What Are They? Why Do They Matter? How Do They Happen? explores the best practices and most effective strategies for moving mindsets.

Factor: Connectedness

Learn more about the Connectedness factor in the Resiliency+ Framework here.

The podcast, Partos Future Exploration – Shifting Civic Space discusses civil society connectedness amidst civic space challenges with CIVICUS Secretary-General Lysa John and Barbara Oosters, Civic Space lead at Oxfam Novib.

Tectonica’s new model evaluates how social movement organizing works to build power and impact political change. It draws on examples of success from movements like BLM and others to demonstrate the importance of measuring organizing and the process of learning through experimentation and failure.

Strengthening connections with our constituencies and our peer organizations is an important piece of resiliency. In her Ted Talk, How to have constructive conversations, speaker Julia Dhar discusses how to have “productive disagreements grounded in curiosity and purpose.” She says that this type of disagreement can actually help to strengthen relationships.

Check out this Platform Design Toolkit designed to support organizations in collaborating, co-creating and engaging in enriching conversations with others. 

Factor: Business Acumen

Learn more about the Business Acumen factor in the Resiliency+ Framework here.

Organizational resiliency requires a commitment to ongoing innovation. States of Change released a new playbook for innovation learning, targeting practitioners looking for new ways to spread innovation skills, methods, and tools.

Collaboration Superpowers compiled a super-list of tools and apps to help us all work better while working remotely. Check out the list here and perhaps submit a tool of your own!

And find a curated list of donors supporting activists, civil society organizations, and small, informal civil society groups at DONOR FINDER from CIVICUS.

Change is hard for everyone and navigating it intentionally can be especially important for organizations. Check out The Social Age Guidebook Series: Free Action Focused Resources from Julian Stodd for resources and carefully guided reflections around the implementation of learning, leadership, and cultural and organizational change.

Factor: Legitimacy

Learn more about the Legitimacy factor in the Resiliency+ Framework here.

Hear from Tosca Bruno-van Vijfeijken and Srilatha Batliwala on this NGO Soul+ Strategy Podcast talking about Politics, Power and Feminist leadership in organizational dynamics.

Don’t know where to begin in terms of increasing your organization’s legitimacy with your constituencies? Check out this interview featuring Stanford professor Patricia Bromley for insights on how nonprofits can and should balance professionalization and formalization with trust and community building.

Solidarity Action Network has compiled a repository of case studies that showcase best practices, challenges, and lessons learned from resilience practices of international civil society organizations.

According to the 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer, “the global pandemic, the economic crisis, and our national racial reckoning of 2020 have deeply impacted the trust individuals have in all of our institutions and sectors.” Read more as Kristina Gawrgy Campbell shares four important takeaways for nonprofit and philanthropic leaders looking to build back trust.

Factor: Narrative Competency

Learn more about the Engaging Narratives factor in the Resiliency+ Framework here.

Narratives matter. They help us to make meaning of the world while also holding the power to drive and shape culture and policy change. Engaging with relevant meta-narratives in society requires capacity and infrastructure. Explore this article from Pop Culture Collaborative for five ways to strengthen narrative rapid response.

Understanding and practicing narrative competency is key to organizational resiliency, but where do you start? Take a look at this mini masterclass series convened by Future Advocacy and FrameWorks Institute UK on how to reframe the issues we care about to affect change.

Read the Center for Media and Social Impact’s Storytelling and Social Justice in Action: Leveraging Documentary Films to Strengthen Local Movement Building report for insights around the role nonprofits play on a local level as “civic network builders” and the art of storytelling and film as vehicles for empowering communities and strengthening social justice movements.

Genevieve Sauberli and Christina MacGillivray weigh in on the issue of ‘othering’ in the context of migration and migrant communities and offer a seven-step toolbox that shifts us away from zero-sum ‘us’ vs ‘them’ thinking to help us achieve lasting and impactful change. 

In 10 Website Design Best Practices for Nonprofits, Heather Mansfield postulates that websites are the foundation upon which digital communication and fundraising campaigns are built and are essential tools in narrative change.

Factor: Situation Awareness

Learn more about Situational Awareness in the Resiliency+ Framework here.

What is systems change, and why does it matter for your organization? Experts from Systems Innovation answer these questions and others in this visual and interactive presentation

The first draft of the Systems Innovation Ecosystem Template was recently released.  This template is designed to help you think through and define the different aspects of developing a systems innovation ecosystem. 

Navigating Civic Space in a Time of Covid from Action for Empowerment and Accountability (A4EA) – an international research program that explores how social and political action can contribute to empowerment and accountability in fragile, conflict, and violent settings, with a particular focus on Egypt, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nigeria, and Pakistan.

For more on systems thinking you can watch this video presentation from the University of Hull’s Centre for Systems Studies on “An Introduction to Systems Thinking for Tackling Wicked Problems.”

  August 27, 2021

We continue to be grateful for all the wonderful and inspirational resources being produced by such thoughtful colleagues around the world that can support civil society’s resiliency efforts. Here are some of our recent favorites, from systems design frameworks to insights on behavioral change during times of uncertainty in the nonprofit sector. We hope these resources we’ve curated for our July Resiliency+ Roundup help you reflect on and reshape your personal and organizational resiliency journeys.

Check out the resources, organized by the seven reinforcing factors of organizational resiliency in the PartnersGlobal Resiliency+ Framework. 

We have also pulled the top resiliency tweets this month for a quick way to plug into the resiliency conversation. See below!

Top Resiliency Tweets

Resiliency Resources by Factor

Business Acumen

The US-based company Donorbox disseminates a regular blog that highlights some best practices and tools for non-profit fundraising that can be useful as you contemplate different business models and fundraising tactics for your organization.

Find a curated list of donors supporting activists, civil society organizations, and small, informal civil society groups at DONOR FINDER from CIVICUS.

Situational Awareness

Hot off the presses: Navigating Civic Space in a Time of Covid from Action for Empowerment and Accountability (A4EA) – an international research program that explores how social and political action can contribute to empowerment and accountability in fragile, conflict, and violent settings, with a particular focus on Egypt, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nigeria, and Pakistan.

Engaging the Narrative

In Building Lasting Growth in the Digital Era, Shanelle Matthews from the Movement for Black Lives explains narrative power and how to leverage it in movement building.

Resiliency Ethos

How does the mind work during and after a crisis? And what we can learn from this information to create positive sustainable change? Read about it in The Disrupted Mind, a blog piece from Mindworks Lab. And dive deeper into their 6 Mindset Factors.

Learn about the impact of backlash and burnout on communities of color in the nonprofit sector in Backlash, Burnout, and POC Leaders by Mistinguette Smith. She offers,

“Both backlash and burnout thrive without language to expose and examine them; but once they are called out into the open, leaders can strengthen themselves and each other.”

Legitimacy

Stuck in a “Catch-22”: Why Donors Fail to Include Grassroots Perspectives on CSO Legitimacy examines the case of an East African CSO that continues to attract donors despite being considered illegitimate by the grassroots. The research identifies six legitimacy sources: professionalism, agenda, strategy, track record, membership, and governance. It finds that donors and grassroots interpret the first three sources (professionalism, agenda and strategy) in an opposing manner. Thus, the exact same characteristics that provide donor legitimacy simultaneously bring grassroots illegitimacy. The article subsequently identifies three mechanisms that explain why a lack of grassroots legitimacy is not a problem for donors: (1) donor priorities and capacities; (2) the CSO’s monopoly position; and (3) perception management by the CSO. 

The Feminist Action Lab created an open online course to help you brush up on your knowledge on feminist advocacy and intergenerational activism!

Adaptive Capacity

“For many organizations, it may feel like the most momentous things have already happened. But actually what comes next and the types of strategic decisions organizations make now will be critical to whether they can remain resilient and effective agents of equity in a complex, interconnected and uncertain world. There is clearly no way of getting strategy-making in uncertain times ‘right’, but this Guide does strongly suggest many ways in which organizations could get it very wrong. Lessons from the ‘whirliness’ of the past year suggest five key strategic pointers.”

Download the FULL GUIDE from the International Civil Society Centre.

Leadership coach Stephen Kotev posits, “Polarities are constants. They remain immutable. We cannot avoid them or deny their influence on our lives. What we can do, is embrace a both/and mindset.” Explore the concept of polarities and how to manage them when trying to resolve seemingly entrenched conflicts on his blog post HERE.

Connectedness  

In What Do Emotions, Personal Needs and Influence have to do with Community? Marianna Gose Martinelli explores the utility of the Sense of Community Index to help demonstrate community value, shape strategy, and foster collective understanding. Developed in the 1980s, this social science tool measures the levels of connectedness and satisfaction within communities.

And don’t forget to check out the podcast, Partos Future Exploration – Shifting Civic Space to discuss civil society connectedness amidst civic space challenges with CIVICUS Secretary-General Lysa John and Barbara Oosters, Civic Space lead at Oxfam Novib.

  July 23, 2021

We continue to be grateful for all the wonderful and inspirational resources being produced by such thoughtful colleagues around the world that can support civil society’s resiliency efforts. Here are some of our recent favorites, from systems design frameworks to insights on behavioral change during times of uncertainty in the nonprofit sector. We hope these resources we’ve curated for our July Resiliency+ Roundup help you reflect on and reshape your personal and organizational resiliency journeys.

Check out the resources, organized by the seven reinforcing factors of organizational resiliency in the PartnersGlobal Resiliency+ Framework. 

We have also pulled the top resiliency tweets this month for a quick way to plug into the resiliency conversation. See below!

Top Resiliency Tweets

1. Annie Neimand asks about the use of #storytelling in movements:

2. The Franklin Project is leveraging Twitter to solicit music and create a playlist that inspires individual citizens to rise up for democracy. What inspires you to engage in civic participation?

3. What are the necessary ingredients to sustain a sense of community?   

Resiliency Resources by Factor

Business Acumen

Does it always make sense to set up a nonprofit organization, as opposed to social impact business or other organizational models? Joan Garry asks this question in her recent podcast episode, Choosing the Right Nonprofit Business Model (with Rinku Sen). Garry is the former Executive Director of GLAAD and currently the Principal at Joan Garry Consulting where she provides coaching and strategic guidance to nonprofits to help them better pursue their missions.

Google’s Chief Innovation Evangelist, Frederik Pferdt, and IDEO CEO Tim Brown recently came together for a Creative Confidence series to discuss how they foster creativity within their organizations. They touched on themes from Tim’s Leading for Creativity course, which Frederik recently completed, and the importance of inclusion, psychological safety on teams, and empowering people with confidence in their creativity and the courage to act on their ideas. Listen to their conversation here.

Situational Awareness

Check out this new Scenario Canvas from Systems Innovation. “This canvas will help you get started with developing future scenarios. Scenario planning is a structured way for organizations to think about the future by creating a set of scenarios that are based upon current trends. Scenarios present alternative futures that together capture the most relevant uncertainties and driving factors.”

And in Stories, Scenarios, Exploratory Talk, and Futures Thinking, we are asked to consider the idea of engaging in “exploratory talk” to help generate new ideas and innovation about the future instead of “presentational talk” which focuses narrowly on problem-solving in the present.

Engaging the Narrative

In Systems Language for Narrative Power, Executive Director for the Narrative Initiative Rinku Sen reflects on the common use of the term “systems” and how our narratives around the term should empower people’s ability to drive change, not the other way around. She posits,

How we communicate about systems influences people’s ability to hold and use system-changing narratives. To change systems we need many people to hold and use shared stories about their ability, intention and vision to change systems.

Better understanding and measuring progress is an important part of strengthening narrative change strategies. The Measuring Narrative Change: Understanding Progress and Navigating Complexity brief offers insights into some of the questions facing practitioners, funders, and others interested in measuring this kind of work.

Systems Innovation also recently published a new guide called, Narrative Making for Systems Changers. The guide explores the role of narrative in systems change initiatives and offers insight into the different components of systems stories.

Resiliency Ethos

The psychological safety of an organization’s people is critical to its ability to function in the midst of changing and fluid environments. But how often do we stop to ensure that as an organization, we are creating the conditions to support the psychological safety of our staff? Leveraging resources from the health sector can help. A practical guide to the art of psychological safety in the real world of health and care offers insights and guidance that can be adapted to the nonprofit space. It offers an explanation of what psychological safety means, key elements to building psychological safety, and how to consider inclusion and diversity when creating conditions to protect the psychological safety of staff.

Legitimacy

News flash – listening to your constituents and receiving feedback openly matters, and not just for your organization’s reputation to its beneficiaries or populations that it serves. It matters also more and more to funders. “Leading foundations increasingly value nonprofits that have strong feedback practices. They want to support organizations that actively solicit—and act on—feedback.” Read more about how your organization can improve its listening and feedback practices in this recent blog post from Charity Navigator.

Adaptive Capacity

“As we witness the breakdown of our systems and structures, the question of how to move forward is more pressing than ever. We are being squeezed into rapid change that demands a response. There’s no more waiting until “someday” or continuing with business as usual,” reflects Bernadette Wesley in this piece titled, Crossing the Chasm without Burning Out: Leadership in the New World. She explores the idea of “power-with” structures to drive a more flexible and inclusive leadership approach in the future. Power-with structures include the following elements:

Leading Futurist Lea Zaidi shares her knowledge on how to best prepare for all possible futures, today – so that you can start building your futures-thinking skills to navigate the uncertainty ahead:

Connectedness  

In this podcast episode with Ezra Klein of the New York Times, Sarah Schulman ponders how social movements can become more effective by embracing dissensus rather than striving for consensus.

Learn how to play the Powerplay Game in What can a game teach you about power? Turns out, quite a lot. The Powerplay Game helps players understand their collective responsibility and the possibilities to shift power balances. In the game, each player gets a set of 10 power cards (which acts as assets in their “power inventory”) that are prominent in Western societies. These include things like:

Then you navigate different scenarios based on the cards you have. Read about the author’s experience and what they uncovered about explicit and implicit power dynamics, cultural and geographic factors!

by Hala Noman   March 9, 2021

Al-Anood is a young Yemeni woman (age 19) who was forced into an early marriage to a man who had originally wanted to marry her sister, but she refused. Once they were wed, the man regularly beat and insulted Al-Anood. After they divorced, the abuse continued, and he threatened to end Al-Anood’s life and her sister’s. Last October, he marched into her house and assaulted her acid, causing burns to her eyes, face, and across her body.

While this horrible crime happened in October 2020, it wasn’t published in the media until February 2021. For more than two months, no one knew about Al-Anood’s story. After the case was published in local news and social media, many people showed great empathy for Al-Anood and advocated for justice on her behalf.

This story came on the heels of other reported incidents of gender-based violence in Al-Mukalla, which many referenced in comments about the case on Facebook. Commenters stated that there are hundreds of  unknown “Al-Anoods” out there who are treated just as poorly if not worse.

However, not all commenters showed empathy or advocated for justice. Some posted excuses for the perpetrator or pointed the finger at Al-Anood.

“Some women deserve to burn. They have loud voices and want to work in NGOs. They lack minds and their proper place is in the kitchen.” said one of the commenters

A fear of reporting gender-based violence

In a country like Yemen, where the majority of the demographic structure is tribal, acts of violence against women are often not discussed and are rarely covered in media.

Affected by strict masculinity traditions, a lack of information about possible protection laws, and fear of stigma, many women stay silent when they are violated or subjected to violence.  Harassment or sexual abuse are extremely sensitive issues that women too often do not report due to fear of further stigma, family rejection, and other negative social implications.

Even female journalists often avoid covering issues related to gender, gender-based violence, sexual abuse, or other topics that may provoke the authorities or place a target on them or their families.

According to a 2010 Country Assessment on Violence Against Women:

“Violence Against Women (VAW) is rarely addressed in media policies, strategies, and programs. The media often avoids addressing such issues, considering them sensitive…Also, the media does not help overcome the discriminating circumstances; rather it deepens the stereotyped pattern of women. Furthermore, the media is not conveying repeated message of deep resolve to curb VAW. In fact, the media only covers occasional events on women’s issues, such as International Women Day on 8 March or events implemented by women organizations sporadically. Apart from that, programs on combating VAW are not an integral part of media strategies and programs”.

More than ten years later, these words sadly still ring true.

Attacks against women on social media

Facebook became the most used social media platform in Yemen in February 2019 at which point there were more than 2 million Facebook users in the country, 86 percent of whom were men. The majority of female Facebook users use fake names and profile pictures as women are regularly targeted on the platform and may face danger offline as a result.

Yemeni Facebook users write vicious comments that attack women and girls. This past Valentine’s Day, for instance, some couples in Taiz shared pictures on Facebook of them carrying red roses. Afterward, a bullying campaign attacked these couples, targeting the women in particular.

Changing roles of women, same narratives

After more than six years of ongoing conflict, the roles of Yemeni women have changed dramatically. With many male family members leaving their homes to fight or seek work, women became heads of households and took on new tasks outside the home.

Women suffer greatly when male members of the household die, are injured, detained, or disappeared. Yet the media rarely convey this suffering or present it to the public, not only because media channels, broadcasts, and newspapers are geared to serve the interests of a specific conflicting party, but also due to a lack of media professionals who understand and are willing to openly discuss the perspectives and challenges of women.

When a women’s case is published in media outlets, the empathy of the audience will depend on the way the case is presented. Lack of objectivity in presenting women’s experiences during the conflict or using women’s tragedies to drive donations make the audience less interested in following these issues.

To better protect women, to raise awareness of gender-based violence, and to better represent women’s experiences and perspectives, we need to change the way media engage with and cover “women’s issues.” Here are three recommendations:

  • Media professionals should receive intensive training on how to report objectively, especially around sensitive topics and incidents of violence against women;
  • Media outlets need to dispatch more positive stories of women, not just women as victims, and women’s suffering shouldn’t be misused or misreported;
  • We need to increase legal protections for journalists, so they have the freedom to report openly and objectively.

These changes won’t solve our problems overnight and won’t end violence against women or harmful depictions of women in the media. But they are one way to start building a media culture, and a greater Yemeni culture, that support equality.

Hala Noman is a Program Manager for PartnersYemen

by Julia Roigj and Liz Hume   November 10, 2020

2020 has been a historic and tumultuous year in the United States. The pandemic, mass mobilizations for social justice, and a bitter and polarizing Presidential election finally culminated in the highest voter turnout in our country’s history. While 74 million Americans are celebrating Biden and Harris’s election, 70 million Americans are not, and many are filled with existential dread.

Reflecting on President-elect Biden’s message of healing and unity, what will it take for us to come together? It feels impossible after the last four years of vitriolic divisiveness. However, the deepening divisions in the US have been building long before the 2016 election. According to a report from Brown University this year, the US is polarizing faster than other democracies. If we are indeed at an inflection point, as Biden declared in his acceptance speech, then we must decide how not to cause harm and also contribute meaningfully to depolarization. Building a peaceful society will require addressing the structural inequalities and grievances that drive conflict and polarization AND prioritize restoring relationships and rebuilding trust.

Here are four ways Americans can start building peace today:

1. None of us are immune to the dynamics of polarization. A progressive celebrating the Biden win called on his Twitter followers to reach out to at least one Trump supporter to offer empathy and to find an issue of common ground. He received thousands of outraged responses declaring “the other side” irredeemable. Polarization experts believe in-group and out-group dynamics in a polarized society cause all of us to become the most extreme versions of ourselves, assigning increasingly sinister motives to all those we consider as “other.” Outrage makes us feel closer to our in-group. But each of us can interrogate the effects of polarization on our perceptions. We should now seek our connections as parents, as music fans, or as sports aficionados irrespective of our political leanings.

2. Bridge-building can make polarization worse. Bridge builders can fan the flames of polarization by giving a platform that fuels polarized viewpoints. Researchers caution against efforts to build bridges in deeply polarized environments but rather advise highlighting stories of everyday people who do not necessarily reflect either extreme. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) also tweeted after the election: “So many Trump voters are also working families and believed that he would improve their lives. We must see that they are hurting and fight attempts to divide us as we work to rebuild our beloved nation.” She did not receive the same vitriol, most likely because she highlighted the commonalities of working families trying to improve their lives and called out the people seeking to divide.

3. Time to complexify the narrativeWe all draw on deeply entrenched narratives that our unconscious mind often manifests as common senseWhat is a narrative? They are “a foundational framework for understanding both history and current events, and inform our basic concepts of identity, community, and belonging.” Many live by deep narratives of freedom, faith, and patriotism, while others bring to the foreground narratives of historical oppression, systemic racism, and runaway capitalism that drive inequality and injustice. The divided mainstream and social media also fuel misinformation and can exacerbate seemingly black and white narratives. For example, a viral video of a young man in a MAGA hat in front of the Lincoln Memorial in a perceived confrontation with a Native American man received intense public outrage before a fuller picture of the incident emerged. A peacebuilding approach to social justice must include a commitment to interrogating our own biases, acknowledging different ways of making sense of the world, and promoting more complex narratives that are factual and inclusive of diverse lived experiences.

4. Instead of calling out, calling in: Some activists are already questioning our new President-elect’s focus on national healing as a moderate’s suspicious call for “civility” — or code for not making too many waves in the fight for systemic change. Human rights activists will and should continue to work tirelessly to confront insidious racism, misogyny, xenophobia, anti-gay and transgender discrimination, and inequality in our society. And yet, during this time of such polarization, we must seek to uncover healing tactics for the change we want to see that brings more supporters to our cause(s).

There is a need for human rights activists and peacebuilders to reflect together on how to “call in” those who could join our coalitions and refrain from “calling out” potential allies who may make mistakes or don’t hold the same world views on all issues. For example, a mistake in calling someone by the wrong pronoun is an opportunity for education and dialogue. No one responds well to being criticized or belittled without the follow-up of how they can better understand and participate in societal change on which we agree. Peacebuilders stand up for what is right, but we do so in a way that recognizes the power of restorative justice, what is redeemable in all of us, and the inherent worth and dignity of all human beings.

PartnersGlobalthe Alliance for Peacebuilding, and Humanity United are launching a new initiative to unite Social Justice Activism with Peacebuilding through applied research on polarization, narrative engagement, and taking lessons from effective depolarization initiatives in other deeply divided countries. This inflection point will require all of us to self-reflect on the role we are playing and will continue to play in healing our nation.

Julia Roig is the CEO of PartnersGlobal and the Chair of the Board of the Alliance for Peacebuilding. @Jroig_Partners

Elizabeth (Liz) Hume is the Vice President of the Alliance for Peacebuilding@Lizhume4peace

  November 10, 2020

We are pleased to share with you an opportunity for local civil society organizations interested in participating in a capacity building process to strengthen their resiliency in the face of potential impacts of growing restrictions on civic space. The Resiliency+ Process, developed out of the need for a new organizational model to combat the rise of changing civic spaces around the world, will take selected organizations through a structured process to increase their organizational resilience over a period of 12 months. This opportunity is part of a larger initiative under the USAID-funded Enabling and Protecting Civic Spaces (EPCS) – Illuminating New Solutions and Programmatic Innovations for Resilient Spaces or INSPIRES activity.

Organizations based in Ecuador, Georgia, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, and Serbia will be eligible to apply. At a minimum, organizations must be a locally registered civil society organization, have at least four years of experience, and be committed to the 12-month process. Please see the attached documents for more details.

If you’re interested in participating in this opportunity, please fill out this Google Form Application by 11:59 pm EST on the following dates:

  • Kenya: November 6th
  • Nigeria, Serbia, and Senegal: November 16th
  • Ecuador: November 27th
  • Georgia: December 1st

Please feel free to contact us at [email protected] with any questions or concerns.

Check the documents below for more details:

  February 3, 2020

PartnersGlobal President & CEO Julia Roig discusses the organization’s Engaging Narratives for Peace research and approach. She explains that social change agents must acknowledge their own cognitive biases and mental models in order to avoid further polarization and isolate potential allies. The right narrative framing, however, can help build connections and create change.

She also explores how narrative engagement can contribute to Restorative Advocacy when our goal isn’t to change others’ narrative understanding or identity, but rather to “complexify” narratives, especially in the public sphere. Read more about their work here: https://www.partnersglobal.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Engaging-Narratives-for-Peace-1.pdf

Julia delivered this talk at a Nov. 2018 event convened by Oxfam at the Ford Foundation in New York City.The event brought together a creative, diverse and wide-ranging group of organizations, networks and movements experimenting with the idea of using narratives to open civic space. Watch the full panel here: https://youtu.be/38vKpCvpzBo