Systems thinking

Changing the Gender Narrative

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I worked with The Story Kitchen and the Coady Institute in Nepal to co-facilitate with an inspiring leader, Jaya ji Luintel. We connect on the power of the Rao/Kelleher framework to ground our work in analysis of gender and power dynamics. Power analysis is overlaid [and we'll be back with a longer piece on that topic]. 

The work of The Story Kitchen (TSK) demonstrates what is possible in using change in one area to leverage it in others. They are "driven by the passionate belief that upholding the stories of women can unravel systems of gender oppression and patriarchy that continue to exist in Nepal. The domination of stories from men's perspectives leaves women out of the history of Nepal and fails to recognize the extent to which women are currently contributing and have always contributed to the development of the country." Aside from supporting stories of survivors of armed conflict from women of different castes, ages, communities and cultures, they train justice reporters and influence media in changing gender narratives. The survivors have now formed a network that has managed to begin discussions with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the President around transitional justice. Storytelling, in this case, is healing, awareness raising, changing the gender narrative and an advocacy tool. All of these pieces are critical and reinforcing.   

Like SEWA Bank taught me years ago, StoryKitchen reinforces so many of the key lessons in addressing gender and power dynamics. All realms of change and influence are gendered and intersectional. We need healing and connecting not just "agency" because marginalization from the norms and the ensuing violence is so internalized. Formal strategies, particularly organizational, are not enough. Media, social media, artists, elders have a critical role to play in the informal work on gendered social norms and exclusions. Networks and movements have the potential to affect both formal and informal systemic change.

Yours ever in the struggle to understand change and influence,