Why An International Exchange is Essential to Movement Making

Why An International Exchange is Essential to Movement Making

Here at Move to End Violence, a program of the NoVo Foundation, we are making preparations for the program’s second international learning exchange—a ten day trip for Movement Makers to connect with policy advocates, grassroots organizers, politicians, and artists working to end violence against girls and women in India.

As we wade through visa applications, agenda planning, flight booking, and childcare arrangements, we need to remind ourselves why we have asked 17 Movement Makers with organizations, jobs, and families that depend on them to trust us with nearly two weeks of their lives.

We are doing this because we firmly believe in collaboration and co-learning between advocates at home and our allies around the world.

Violence against girls and women may (sometimes) look different in New Delhi, Steubenville, and Damascus. But this universal problem also has some universal causes: patriarchy, political apathy, marginalization and inequality of girls and women, to name only a few. We have a lot to learn from and much to share with advocates all over the world who are trying to dismantle these same entrenched systems, and undoubtedly we are stronger together than we could ever be apart in this work.

Move to End Violence focuses on strengthening the movement to end violence against women and girls in the United States – and one of the key ways to end violence in our own backyards is to join, contribute to, and learn from a global movement to end violence. Unfortunately, it is all too easy for advocacy work in the United States to be carried out in isolation from the broader global movement working for a world free of violence. We believe that isolation results in missed opportunities for learning and collaboration.

During our trip to India, Movement Makers will meet with advocates who mobilized many thousands of women and men around the country to call attention to and demand accountability for the brutal gang rape that occurred in New Delhi on December 16, 2012.  They will learn how such a public outcry came together and how it resulted in the Verma Committee Report – the country’s first holistic policy response to violence against women– and the implementation of its recommendations.

Movement Makers will also spend time with advocates based at Apne Aap, a human rights NGO using a community-organizing model to address commercial sexual exploitation of girls and women. They will have the opportunity to meet with leaders in impacted communities that are demanding better lives and more meaningful opportunities for themselves – for their daughters – and for their communities. Perhaps the particular vulnerabilities these leaders have faced and the strategies they are deploying will resonate with Movement Makers who work with very marginalized girls and women in the United States.

We cannot plan everything we will learn in India, or predict how the connections we make will reverberate and shape our work. But we hope these and other meetings will provide Movement Makers with the opportunity to share their work, prompt imagination and creativity around what is possible at home in the United States, and maybe even lead to transnational collaboration.

Solidarity takes work and is hard to quantify. But Move to End Violence has committed to investing in this movement for the long term, and learning exchanges like this one provide opportunities for U.S.-based advocates to be part of a robust global response to violence against girls and women. By building trust, sharing ideas, visioning, and strategizing together we claim our place in a global struggle to end violence against women and girls. And in building this trust and breaking our isolation, we build collective power — taking us one step closer to a world where girls and women are able to claim their full human rights and live free from violence.

Puja Dhawan
Puja Dhawan
Director for NoVo Foundation's Initiative to End Violence Against Girls and Women
NoVo Foundation

Puja Dhawan is the Director for NoVo Foundation's Initiative to End Violence Against Girls and Women. Puja was previously the Senior Program Officer for the U.S. Human Rights Fund at Public Interest Projects -– a donor collaborative that provides strategic field-building support to social justice organizations engaged in human rights work within the United States. Learn More

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