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  The Feminist Principle of Accountability

 

 

The Feminist Principle of Accountability


The feminist principle of accountability is necessary to building and maintaining healthy, active equality-seeking organizations. As feminists and feminist groups, we hold ourselves accountable to each other and to the global women’s movement. This improves and strengthens our collective efforts toward peace, equality and justice.


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.


Feminist equality-seeking organizations are accountable to members, service users, funders, communities and to the women’s movement itself. Whether we are leaders or members we are accountable for the work that we do and our ways of working both internally and externally. We constantly look for ways to examine and improve accountability practices within our organizations through our respectful and inclusive women’s ways of working. This reflects our feminist basis of unity.

“As a feminist working with and for an equality-seeking organization, I recognize that I am accountable. I have a responsibility to my organization, my board, and the women in my province who expect me to share my skills and abilities in our mutual work for gender equality.”

~ Michelle Smith


 


Equality-seeking organizations are accountable to the feminist movement. When we speak publicly in the name of women’s equality, we are representing not solely our own group, but other women and groups who share our common vision. Equalityseeking organizations are responsible for giving voice to the concerns of women in our communities, and for adding our voices to the larger feminist movement. When we participate in feminist events, such as International Women’s Day or December 6th Vigils that are commemorated across provinces, territories and nations, we ensure that our local messages are supportive and consistent with the meanings of those events.

For example, the Take Back the Night March is a women and children-only demonstration to symbolize that women should not need men’s protection to live without fear of male violence. We may feel pressured to involve men by those who oppose the march, or simply want to include the men in our lives who support us. When we examine the meaning of the march itself, it is clear that asking men to join with us would defeat the important political statement of the demonstration: women still live in
fear of violence in our relationships and communities, and we are still afraid to walk alone after dark. As women united in our desire for equality, we continue to add our voices to the collective call for violence-free communities. This demonstrates our commitment to feminism as our basis of unity, and strengthens our ability to improve the status of women.

Feminist equality-seeking organizations are accountable to the women we serve and represent within communities. As advocates, we question how we give voice to women who are not comfortable speaking for themselves, or whose voices have not been heard. As service providers, we examine the ways in which we are accountable to the women for whom we provide counselling, referrals and advocacy. For example, we consider how we create a safe environment through practices of confidentiality, respect and inclusion. Feminist organizations should constantly look for ways to seek
out and act upon feedback from women to improve our accountability for the services and advocacy we provide.

Formal leaders of equality-seeking organizations, such as chairs, coordinators and directors, are held accountable for our administrative practices. Leaders are ultimately responsible for managing funding and ensuring that spending is properly documented. Other responsibilities include writing proposals and quarterly reports, supervising staff and students, and coordinating projects. Feminist leaders must
ultimately ensure that formal structures are put in place to provide accountability in supervising personnel, acquiring projects, managing finances and delivering services.

As members of feminist equality-seeking organizations, we continuously reflect upon how we are accountable to ourselves and to each other in our internal practices. In keeping with our feminist basis of unity, we should expect to spend time examining and evaluating our practice of feminist principles. We seek to improve accountability through sharing our responsibilities, and acknowledging our different roles as leaders, members and volunteers. Every woman is responsible for contributing to the work of our organization, whether we collect donations for a food bank, or politicize the issue of food security as a basic human right. We welcome every woman’s contribution to our work, while also supporting women whose personal circumstances mean they choose to step back from our work at times.

As members of equality-seeking organizations, we continuously consult and network within our organization and community when creating strategies and initiatives for change. Through our practices of accountability, we gain credibility within our organizations, our communities and the women’s movement. This will assist us in building active and ethical organizations, and adding strength to the global movement for peace, equality and justice.

Scenario

The Feminist Principle of Accountability


Debbie is a project worker at a feminist equality-seeking organization. Over the last couple of months, Debbie hasn’t been fulfilling her commitments to her work. Three times now she has missed her deadline for having the project completed. The funders have begun to call the president looking for the evaluation report. Debbie’s board is getting nervous, as they are ultimately accountable for managing the project.

  1. To whom is Debbie accountable?
  2. To whom is the organization accountable?
  3. What might Debbie need from her board to become more accountable to the organization?

 

Workshop Questions

The Feminist Principle of Accountability

  • What does accountability mean to me as a woman?
  • To whom am I accountable as a member of a feminist equality-seeking organization?
  • What is working well in our current practice of accountability?
  • What additional processes and practices could we use to ensure better accountability in the future?

 

source: PACSW pdf document (requires Adobe Acrobat Reader)


 



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Page last updated July 20, 2003