DAWN Ontario: DisAbled Women's Network Ontario

  Feminist Principles
  A segment from the publication: Feminism: Our Basis of Unity



Feminist principles guide the work that we do within equality-seeking organizations, as well as the way that we do it. Taking the time to examine or revisit our feminist principles can assist in deepening our understanding of feminist practices and processes, and reconnecting with our feminist basis of unity.

On the following pages you will find a discussion of thirteen feminist principles, practices and processes that have been identified and informed by a diversity of women’s backgrounds and experiences in feminist organizing that can help us build active, healthy, participatory equality seeking organization. You will find a scenario exercise for each of the feminist principles, as well as a set of workshop questions. These may be used separately during shorter meetings, or together during a longer workshop. (A sample workshop on feminist principles, practices and processes is included in section three.)

These are the feminist principles of:

This may be the first time you have considered these principles. You may also be very familiar with them, or have others of your own. Whether we are emerging organizations or new members of an established group, reflecting on our principles, practices and processes can assist in connecting the meaning of feminism to our equality-seeking mandate.

The following discussion of each principle begins with a working definition and a feminist quote, and concludes with a scenario exercise and a set of workshop questions. These may be helpful in sparking discussions, facilitating workshops, and talking with other women and groups about the meaning of feminism to equality-seeking work.


The feminist principle of accountability means we hold ourselves responsible to the women we work for and with in our pursuit of equality and inclusion. We are accountable through our practice of feminist principles and our commitment to feminism as our basis of unity.

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The feminist principle of advocacy means supporting or recommending a position or course of action that has been informed by women’s experiences in our efforts to bring about equality and inclusion. Advocacy may take place through a variety of actions and strategies, ranging from demonstrations and protests to meetings and dialogue.

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Challenge and Conflict

The feminist principle of challenge and conflict means that we accept conflict as inevitable while embracing challenge as the practice of calling into account, questioning, provoking thought, and reflecting. When we are committed to respectful ways of challenging and healthy conflict resolution processes, we deepen our individual and collective understanding.

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The principle of choice means that we respect, support and advocate for women’s individual and collective right to make our own decisions about our bodies, our families, our jobs and our lives. The right to choose is integral to the feminist pursuit of social, legal, political, economic and cultural equality for women.

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The feminist principle of consultation means working collaboratively, seeking guidance and sharing information to develop strategies and actions to advance women’s equality.

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The feminist principle of diversity means that we respect, accept and celebrate our individual and collective differences as women, including those based on age, race, culture, ability, sexuality, geography, religion, politics, class, education and image, among others.

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Education and Mentoring

The feminist principle of education and mentoring means creating opportunities to guide, counsel, coach, tutor and teach each other. Constantly sharing our skills, knowledge, history and understanding makes our organizations healthier and more effective in our pursuit of equality and inclusion.

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Equality and Inclusion

The feminist principle of equality and inclusion means, as feminist organizations, we apply a feminist analysis to policies, programs, practices, services and legislation to ensure they are inclusive of women and other marginalized groups. We advocate for equity practices to eliminate the barriers to inclusion, recognizing that inclusion leads to equality.

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The feminist principle of evaluation means taking the time to reflect upon whether we are achieving what we set out to do as well as how we are going about it. Evaluation presents an opportunity to examine the work that we do and the feminist principles, practices and processes that guide and inform this work.

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Joy and Celebration

The feminist principle of joy and celebration means that we honour each other and our work through sharing joy and celebrating our commitment to woman-centred, feminist principles, practices and processes.

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The feminist principle of leadership means embracing and sharing the skills and knowledge of individual women, and providing opportunities for all women to develop their leadership potential. As feminist organizations, we invest power and trust in our leaders with the expectation they will draw upon feminist practices and processes in our efforts toward equality and inclusion.

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Power Sharing

The feminist principle of power sharing means we are committed to creating balanced power relationships through democratic practices of shared leadership, decision-making, authority, and responsibility.

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The feminist principle of safety means we are committed, as women and organizations, to creating environments where all women feel comfortable and safe to participate in our work toward equality. We build safety through healthy practices of inclusion, respect, self-care and confidentiality.

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PACSW Publication - Feminism: Our Basis of Unity
(PDF document requires Adobe Acrobat Reader)

The writing of the guidebook was completed by the Provincial Advisory Council on the Status of Women of Newfoundland and Labrador in partnership with the Masters in Women’s Studies program of Memorial University of Newfoundland.



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Page last updated July 20, 2003