A psychosocial exploration of activists’ work against violence against women and girls.
The leader of our strategic initiative in support of organisations working with or going through overwhelming experiences, Dr Milena Stateva, presented at the 2013 British Sociological Association Annual Conference.
A Round Table was dedicated to the joint discussion paper she is developing together with the prominent Canadian educator and consultant and Women Human Rights Defender Dr Barbara Williams.
This paper outlines a psychosocial perspective on violence against women and girls. This perspective suggests ways to further enable women’s rights defenders to challenge and redress violence. We started from a view of ‘action’ as a task or activity that is symbolic, relational, and communicative form of being together, which occurs in the public sphere only. We formulated the action of women’s rights defenders as a labour of care that is framed by this view of what constitutes action. We argue however, that this ‘action’, can be informed not only by historical and sociological perspectives but also by psychosocial and psychoanalytic theorising of gender. These later approaches reveal that contemporary discourses in women’s organisations which support defenders need to account for beneath-the- surface complex determinants of gender. To do so, organisations need to be able to explore and work with their own role in these processes. We argue that a way forward is that women’s rights defenders enact their important discursive function through organisations that are themselves performative and symbolic loci of love and deepened intersubjectivity. We finish by outlining steps through which this can be made possible.