Andrea Ackerman and Sam Chivers
This week marks the end of the United Nation's 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence. Gender-based violence (GBV), is pervasive in our society and cuts across our work, social, educational, and familial lives. GBV is rooted in gender inequality, the abuse of power, and the perpetuation of harmful norms. It knows no social, economic, or national boundaries. As UN Women describes:
The 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence is an annual international campaign that kicks off on 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and runs until 10 December, Human Rights Day. It was started by activists at the inaugural Women's Global Leadership Institute in 1991 and continues to be coordinated each year by the Center for Women's Global Leadership. It is used as an organizing strategy by individuals and organizations around the world to call for the prevention and elimination of violence against women and girls.
Panorama believes in supporting those who do the work. We provide fiscal sponsorship services and support to change agents, social entrepreneurs, and funders, collaborating with them as trusted partners to help bring bold ideas to life and accelerate their impact. So this year, we'd like to highlight two incredible pieces of work from our ambitious partners.
Gender-based violence in the workplace is shockingly prevalent in our country: nearly half of employed women in America report experiencing some form of harassment, abuse, discrimination, or retaliation at work. Imagine being sexually harassed at work and being unable to ever talk about it or seek justice because your contract included a non-disclosure agreement (NDA). Imagine facing workplace toxicity and complaining about it - only to be told that your complaint would be arbitrated secretly and would likely result in you being forced to leave your job and your profession. Too many women have experienced these silencing mechanisms firsthand.
Lift Our Voices is a nonprofit initiative founded in 2019 that is dedicated to creating positive, systemic change in the American workplace through the eradication of nondisclosure agreements for toxic work issues and forced arbitration clauses. Panorama is proud to fiscally sponsor Lift Our Voices and support its incredible work.
Lift Our Voices is led by co-founders Gretchen Carlson and Julie Roginsky and recently welcomed its first executive director, Sarvenaz Bakhtiar. As a talented journalist and political commentator, respectively, Gretchen and Julie experienced harassment and retaliation at Fox News and boldly fought for justice for themselves. They have now channeled their experiences into advocating against the barriers they and so many others face in creating a safer, more respectful workplace: nondisclosure agreements and forced arbitration clauses.
Lift Our Voices educates companies about the detrimental impact of silencing employees, works to train the next generation of leaders to ensure that the workforce of the future does not include silencing mechanisms that protect predators at the expense of survivors of workplace toxicity, and are advocates to change laws and policies that mandate workplace silence.
Gretchen Carlson is a familiar face for most Americans. Aside from her work with Lift Our Voices, Gretchen has also worked with a bipartisan coalition of legislators in Congress for the advancement of the Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act of 2021 (S. 2342 and H.R. 4445). Last month, the bill was passed by both the Senate Judiciary Committee and the House Judiciary Committee. This is a crucial step towards final passage of the act and finally ending forced arbitration for sexual harassment and assault survivors nationwide. See press release here.
In communities all over the world, women's rights organizations, networks and alliances, international and multilateral organizations, research institutions and donors are leading the charge to change policy and practice to end gender-based violence, specifically against women and girls. These groups are making extraordinary differences in their own communities and countries. How can these disparate groups unite to change global policy? What should they be advocating for?
In May 2019, more than 50 different experts from 17 countries from across the globe representing NGOs, INGOs, practice, research institutes, funders, women's rights organizations, civil society, and government came together to review the latest evidence in prevention, identify effective strategies for scale, and build consensus around priorities for action and investment. This led to the creation of an advisory group of 14 diverse leaders across the GBV field who have been working for the past two years to understand what's needed and how to create a global advocacy agenda that will increase investments and improve existing programs.
The Shared Agenda Accelerator (or the Accelerator) is a new organization rooted in this global agenda that seeks to serve the GBV prevention field as coordinator and advocacy implementer. The Accelerator aims to center perspectives and leaders from the Global South, include diverse voices, and represent different sectors in violence prevention. The Accelerator is also a platform to advance various parties' (governments, foundations, and civil society organizations) commitments made in the Generation Equality Forum, alongside creating a community of practice for those in the GBV prevention field. The Shared Agenda Accelerator is funded by Wellspring Philanthropic Fund and the Ford Foundation, and is supported by Apolitical Foundation.
After two years of development, the Accelerator is now fiscally hosted at Panorama with plans to formally launch in early 2022. The Accelerator will be led by two incoming Co-Directors who are leaders in the GBV prevention field.
“With the Global Shared Research Agenda we are challenging the old way of doing things, which has for too long seen research agendas set by too few, often the loudest, most senior in the room, who sit far removed from the communities that the research is meant to serve.” - Advisory Group Member
One critical piece of creating a successful global initiative and advocacy agenda is to understand the problem. For the past two years, leaders in the field who are involved in the creation and launch of the Accelerator, including the Sexual Violence Research Initiative and the Equality Institute, drew on the wisdom of experts and activists around the world. In September 2021, the results of this exhaustive research process were launched.
The Global Shared Research Agenda is the first guiding document that sits the voices of practitioners, activists, and survivors alongside academics and other specialists to set research priorities for the next five years for fair, effective and relevant research on violence against women in low and middle-income countries. The Shared Research Agenda found major research gaps in the preventing GBV field and highlighted the different understandings of types of violence and missing populations. This research agenda elevates research focused on not only improving responses to and prevention of GBV, but also redressing inequalities and hierarchies in global research that currently sees most research resources and capacity located in high-income countries. You can find the research agenda here.
The advisory group comprises the following members: