Even in the year 2017(!) the challenge of changing the patriarchal mindset – predominant in most societies – is still not solved. Time to think about it in a different way. Time to dolaborate!
All over the world women do not benefit from the same conditions as their male counterparts and “no country in the world has achieved gender equality”, as the WEF Global Gender Gap Report 2015 shows. Especially India as a country has its’ specific challenges to overcome in this regard. The country is number 108 in the global ranking of the World Economic Forum and if you look at the daily horror stories about rape, domestic violence and unnatural birth rates in the newspapers, there seems to be a major issue here.
In this environment, the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) in India and their partner organizations are looking for new narratives regarding the situation of women. Even though many great organizations are working towards a just world of equal opportunities, it is still a very long way to go. The challenges on that way are manyfold. A study by Dr Vibhuti Patel and Radhika Khajuria on Political Feminism in India recently published by FES points them out.
One specific insight from that study prompted FES to rethink their approach and ask dolaborate GmbH for help. Apparently there “[…] is a disconnect between theory and practice: study groups and human rights activists seem to work in silos“. In order to break up these silos, to collaborate more and to establish innovative new narratives, the FES decided to look for new methods for creative collaboration. In other words: they wanted to dolaborate!
Since the partner organizations of FES are doing a lot of work in the field, they all have a great deal of empathy for their respective audiences. They help women to succeed in urban slums or in rural areas. They tackle the issues of women in politics or in the work place. They work through enabling education, they focus on providing a news source and they bridge the digital divide. They also work with men, in order to help them find their new role in a changing society.
But still one big black box remains for many of these organizations: they rarely work directly with the withholders of their efforts. Based on this insight we started a process powered by design thinking in which we help the organizations to systematically think about the people who are standing in the way of positive change: the men who benefit from the current system, the women who are stuck in their traditional mindset and thus perpetuate it towards their daughters or colleagues, the police men who would like to do the right thing, but are trapped in inefficient processes etc.
The process we designed for FES and the partner organizations consists of a kick-off workshop held in Mumbai in February 2017.
— Patrick (@pat_ruether) February 23, 2017
In this workshop the participants could familiarize themselves with the concept of design thinking and empathy and practice some methods for their future work. Over the next months field work based on the methods that have been applied in the kick-off workshop will be conducted. Finally, a second workshop will be conducted in August to discuss and iterate the findings from the field work and to come up with project concepts for tackling certain aspects of the overarching challenge.
In order to identify the withholders we asked the representatives of each partner organization to visualize their stakeholders on a visual map. Based on these maps they had to choose personas and to describe them in more detail. A mood board helped them to visualize their persona and present it to the other groups.
All of this work was entirely based on the creativity and imagination of the participants. No actual research was conducted to come up with the personas. So they were all stereotypes. Nevertheless, thinking about goals, wishes and emotions of the stereotypical opponents created powerful discussions about the reasons behind their respective opposition. The first step towards deconstructing the stereotypes had been done.
Over the course of day one we identified some initi
al ideas on how to approach the opposing stakeholders.
Since the personas were based on stereotypes only, the ideas were also quite stereotypical. But this outcome was discussed amongst the teams and the participants agreed that the structured approach helped them to come up with ideas. The ideas that were created on that afternoon only served as starters in order to learn more about the people behind the stereotypes. Everything was possible. Even crazy or lame ideas were valid for the time being.
On day two of the gathering we discussed and practiced methods for gaining more empathy and we ended the day with a research plan for the next months. How can interviewing as a technique be used in a context, where the interviewee is not willing to speak about his views? How can we find a way to learn more about emotions and feelings of people who believe that they should not show their emotions and feelings? How can we document our insights in order to find meaningful entry points for innovation?
In August there will be the next gathering where all participants collect their insights, present some new ideas and hopefully will be able to tell even deeper stories about their opponents.