Feminist Participator Action Research

 

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As an African ecofeminist movement building alliance, WoMin is deeply committed to constructing ‘knowledge from below’, creating space for grassroots women to build and advance bold perspectives on extractives and on development more generally.

One political tool WoMin uses to foster ‘knowledge construction from below’ is feminist participatory action research (FPAR). As in all WoMin’s work, FPAR places affected women and their experiences in the very centre, ensuring that campaigns and their leadership, research and other interventions are driven by and benefit grassroots women and not NGO women staffers.

Background

WoMin’s first effort to support FPAR in 2014 and 2015 supported organisations in nine countries with a short two-day training, and distance accompaniment during design and implementation. This first phase of FPAR generated a series of analytical reports, which bolstered WoMin’s movement building agenda and contextual understanding of extractives more broadly.

In order to build on this initial experience, WoMin then initiated an in-depth and participatory review of Phase One to inform the next round of efforts to build FOAR as a key tool for women’s organising and movement building. Many critical issues emerged from this review, namely that (i) the two-day inception training was very useful in introducing the approach, but was far too short;  (ii) the slides and tools that were shared through the training were very useful in supporting implementing partners develop a deeper understanding of FPAR, and sharing this knowledge on to local partners; and (iii) WoMin provided distance support to prioritised countries, which was greatly appreciated, but limited by capacity constraints in WoMin, which was in its first cycle of organisation-building and had only one permanent staffer and a consultant working on retainer for a few days a month.

The impact review was complemented by a sideways assessment of the FPAR experience of other organisations across the world. This part of the review did not identify any organisations or movements in Africa employing the FPAR methodology in support of women’s struggles for environmental, climate and development justice. WoMin’s FPAR approach has been inspired and informed by the experience of our sister ally, Asia Pacific Women Law and Development (APWLD), which has been facilitating FPAR with women workers, fishers and farmers in countries across South and South-East Asia for some years now.

feminist participatory action research in 2018 & beyond

In January 2018, WoMin undertook the first module of a regional FPAR training in Harare, Zimbabwe. Over six days, with three activists from eight countries: Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya, South Africa, DR Congo, Madagascar, Burkina Faso and Senegal. A follow-up training was held in May 2018 to build and strengthen the learning from module 1, sharing practical tools to support activists to carry out FPAR in their communities from simple mapping tools, storytelling to power analysis and communications. The FPAR process has been planned as a phased approach, unfolding throughout the year, with WoMin supporting each community through national and community-level partnerships to build their research.

“Every human being has knowledge and therefore every human being has power. There are different forms of knowledge, from fisherwoman to farmer, and these forms of knowledge complement each other and it has nothing to do with intelligence, it’s how the knowledge is applied. And patriarchy has a role in defining whose knowledge is important.” Blandine Bonianga, Feso, DRC at January 2018 FPAR Training in Harare, Zimbabwe

The themes and issues each community will map out and deepen span a broad range of topics, including grappling with landure tenure systems, women’s land rights and inheritance practices, women’s contributions to livelihoods and well-being of family and community, traditional and other community decision-making processes and women’s participation/exclusion, and women’s development interests and aspirations.

 

Read about the January and May FPAR modules below.