Sunday, December 2, 2007

Day 8- who makes herstory-who does the worK?

Today, I want to acknowledge the unnamed teams of women (and some men) of mid range staff and NGO '"aides" who actually do the work in the VAW projects, who carry out the day to day operations, who are the people who answer the doors, phones, emails, keep our spaces safe & healthy & pick up our stuff, make our tea & cook our meals.

They write the web pages and code for our operations; translate documents, work the night and day shifts, conduct the outreach and interviews for research, crunch endless numbers and statistics, code narratives, pore over and compile newspaper clippings on VAW, type and deliver the grant applications and then keep track of the accounts for the final reports.

These same people count the number of days-nights stayed in shelters, services given, and reconcile the financial accounts, go to courts and deal with police, counsel survivors who may or may not go back to abusive situations, may die and/or escape and thrive. They burn out & grieve.

All these persons do the every day work that keeps the programmes running, but relatively unseen by government officials, elites, programme executive directors, and others in the media, political hearings, and journals, but known by those who utilize these services. These staff members rarely move into or from upper level management positions from NGO to NGO .

Also what of the lowly paid staff, often without benefits and who work according the funding and political vagaries and whims of politicians, government officials, and donors who don't want to fund women's safety and empowerment? So that women can can talk back, have choices that they can make about where and how to live and love with their near and dear ones, walk and/or live & love without fear and/or even to go to school for skills and to make a living w/o having their education funds suddenly withdrawn in change of government or safety net policies.

So let's make herstory by acknowledging women's unpaid, informal, and formal labors, how we have replicated some of these unequal gender-race-class-sexuality relations in our VAW and women's programmes, and how women's work-subsidy keeps our livelihood and capitalism in gear. By funding programmes and women's work that enable women-children-families to make choices and thrive rather than 'better than nothing." Also acknowledge the men who work in these projects as allies, speak up to their male peers when we are not around, and do the right thing, because.

Hence, my enormous gratitude and debt to the supervisors and fieldworkers on my research projects on domestic violence & women workers among others, the staff at Nari Jibon Project, and all the students and respondents who have patiently shared, waited and dreamed for a better day and life.

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