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On the road with inroads: Highlights from global meetings and events

Publicado 29 September 2016 12:00 AM por The inroads Team

From May through December 2016, inroads staff and members took to the road and the air to meet, collaborate, and engage people about stigma in a variety of ways. While it would be a very genuine delight to bring all inroads members to all global events everywhere, we acknowledge the constraints of time and space and funds and schedules. So in place of a constant world tour, we bring you news of what happened, where, who was there, and why it was interesting or useful for dismantling stigma and its concrete manifestations out in our systems and daily lives.

Women Deliver | Copenhagen, Denmark

Inroads was delighted to participate in a panel, Tackling Stigma to Increase Women’s Abortion Access and Rights, at the Women Deliver 4th Global Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark. Kati LeTourneau, one of the inroads co-conveners, and Quetzali Cerezos, inroads member with AME Guatemala, were panelists along with Mme Fatima Toure Sanou (Association des Femmes Juristes du Burkina Faso), Angela Delgado Corrales (Colectiva por el Derecho A Decidir, Costa Rica), and Kiki Kalkstein (Pathfinder International, United States). Kati presented an overview of stigma and how it manifests, and Quetzali facilitated a demonstrated of one of the participatory activities that AME Guatemala uses in trainings to help participants better identify stigma, how it manifests, and how it can be compounded with other stigmatized identities and experiences.

Kati also had an opportunity to present about inroads at the Speakers Corner. She was joined by a small but enthusiastic crowd, including inroads members from the You Act (Eastern Europe) and from SAVE-Ghana. One of the highlights of the conference was wandering the exhibit hall and running into inroads members who were participating in different ways at varied, international conference. Members from Women Help Women, SERAC-Bangladesh, Passion for Women and Children (Malawi), Centre for Girls and Interaction (Malawi), Ipas, IPPF, Planned Parenthood, Marie Stopes, Women on Web, and more were all centering abortion and talking about the role stigma plays throughout this conference.

Stigma Measurement Meeting | San Francisco, CA, US

In May, Kati LeTourneau joined a variety of inroads members and other researchers at a stigma measurement working group meeting convened by the Sea Change Program in California. 17 researchers from around the world came together to share work and develop the field of stigma measurement. As inroads co-convener, Kati participated with an eye towards identifying tools and best practices about stigma measurement with you, the inroads members, as well as to think through how to link stigma measurement and research with practice across a wide range of settings. Inroads members are a diverse group and a lot of you are measuring stigma in different ways, and we are working to make inroads a place where you can access and share tools and findings. Do you have an in-progress tool that you want to share with other inroads members? You can do so on the inroads Collaboration Workspace! Do you have a measurement tool, guide, or paper that is publicly available? Send that to Kati to include in the next update to the stigma compendium! Do you want to write a blog post for Making inroads about your working measuring abortion stigma? Send a note to Katie Gillum to learn more about member posts on the blog!

 Meanwhile, Kati LeTourneau will continue to stay involved in the stigma measurement working group and will share updates and findings with inroads members.

Inroads Intersecting Stigmas Summit | Belfast, Northern Ireland

On June 1, sixteen inroads members from across Europe and the world convened in Belfast, Northern Ireland to attend Abortion and Reproductive Justice: The Unfinished Revolution II. This conference united academics, activists, and more to focus on abortion within a reproductive justice framework and build on inter-disciplinary learning. In preparation for this assembly, inroads members met for a full day in Belfast to deepen our understanding of the manifestations of abortion stigma at all levels of our societies; examine its intersections with other stigmas such as race, class, gender, and disability; and generate and share ideas for dismantling these intersecting stigmas in our contexts. inroads members led participatory sessions on abortion self-induction and community stigma, personal management of individual stigma, and framing abortion denial and restriction in the context of human rights. Katie Gillum convened the Summit with the powerful facilitation and documentation work of Hope Tyson.

Abortion and Reproductive Justice: The Unfinished Revolution II | Belfast, Northern Ireland

From our day together at the Intersecting Stigmas Summit, inroads members brought a powerful stigma lens to Abortion and Reproductive Justice: The Unfinished Revolution II. Connecting with others in our fields of activism, abortion provision, community work, and politics, we centered abortion stigma in the conversation. On the first day of the conference, inroads staff hosted “Connecting the Dots,” a participatory panel highlighting the powerful, intersectional work of many inroads members in the field and that of Oriana Lopez Uribe and Donald Kasongi specifically. “We need to focus on communicating with the community,” Donald explained. “Poverty and religion affect everything we do.” “Reproductive justice is about the whole person,” Oriana added. “Be honest with women. They can handle it.” The discussion amongst participants was vibrant and brought us a number of clear mandates for action from a call to bring this to donors and ensure they see the importance of ending stigma to a measured focus on inclusion, participation, and collaboration to allow us to, say keep your own organizational focus on abortion while working with a trans rights group on how abortion and trans rights intersect. At a conference about the linkages and intersections of work, it was a useful reminder that we need not stop all of our work if it has yet to be inclusive or if we have yet to ask the questions of potential partners and allies, but we can start asking, start inviting, start calling while forging forward with a larger audience and larger set of beneficiaries and a more holistic and intersectional approach to our work.

inroads’ presence grew during the conference, as members formed new connections, graphic recordings by inroads staff member Hope Tyson flew around Twitter, and inroads staff were invited to host an additional panel! We led a participatory discussion, facilitating knowledge sharing between the experts at the conference. We asked participants, “how do you see stigmas related to race and migration, age, gender and sex, disability, or poverty and class show up in your work on abortion?” Audience members stepped up to contribute their observations that stigma doesn’t exist in isolation, exploring the ways that sexuality stigma can contribute to other kinds of stigma and oppression. Storytelling was a central theme. Participants asked one another, “How can we be allies for women whose identities we don’t share?” Exclusion is a manifestation of stigma, we discovered. Inclusion of more perspectives may be a way that we can fight stigma on many fronts.

Liverpool-Ireland Abortion Corridor | Belfast, Northern Ireland

On the Saturday following the Belfast RJ conference, a consortium of four Irish and UK universities held a meeting in their series called the Liverpool-Ireland Abortion Corridor project. Katie Gillum was invited with inroads member and frequent past collaborator, Siobhán Clancy, to present on the connection between censorship, self-censorship, personal narratives, and travel. Siobhán, an independent artist and founding member of both the Abortion Rights Campaign and home|work collective, and Katie placed two of their past efforts around storytelling and censorship pressing into dialogue with each other and then engaged the members of the interesting dialogue and collaboration-filled meeting in an activity that put the ideas they discussed into practice.  

Siobhán shared the concept of her Flatpack Feminism artwork and her intention to challenge Irish censorship laws by bringing the embroidered description of a “how-to” guide for home-abortion across the UK-Irish border. While the border patrols did not understand that what had would be illegal thus undermining the power and importance of the law, a lone anti-woman and anti-choice protestor in Sweden saw the power and sought to silence the information and experiences shared by Siobhán and fellow inroads member, Emma Campbell of Alliance for Choice, at a performance of their work in Sweden. Katie Gillum presented on her past work on supporting people breaking silence and challenging censorship through her film It’s Just One Choice and the design and execution of Screen for Choice and a number of speak-outs across the globe.

The group in attendance, discussed how using creative means, while being keenly aware of the censorship or other laws associated with abortion, can aid in the sharing of stories in a stigmatized world where personal experiences or knowledge can end up landing in trouble with the law. As a conclusion to the discussion and day, Siobhán and Katie invited meeting attendees and organizers to participate in the LIVEline exercise, which Katie developed for inroads meetings based on the underlying travel/journey conceit she used in the It’s Just One Choice short film, connecting their own lived experiences with their understanding of abortion, stigma, and speaking. The exercise is available to members on the inroads Collaboration Workspace, and you can reach out to Katie Gillum with further questions about the event or activity.

End Abortion Stigma and Discrimination Roundtable | London, UK

In late June, inroads staff jointly convened the End Abortion Stigma and Discrimination Roundtable with the Packard foundation and an anonymous donor. The Roundtable brought together members of inroads and the wider donor community to discuss the concrete effects of abortion stigma on care, access, and advocacy. Over the course of one day in London, twenty-one meeting participants 1) shared lessons learned, progress, and priorities of inroads members; 2) engaged in discussion of how abortion stigma impacts systems, organizations, and donor priorities on abortion advocacy and service delivery; and 3) explored lessons learned and best practices from other stigmatized fields. The conveners designed the roundtable with a blend of participatory methods to encourage new discussions and collaborations. Those working on abortion stigma at a local level, people working regionally and internationally, and donors took the opportunity to strategize next steps for moving our understanding of abortion stigma forward and implementing the changes needed to end stigma. A few key takeaways:

  • We are at the cusp of a new era of abortion stigma evidence and practice. There are promising ideas around what works but more investment is needed to create a robust evidence-base.
  • There are important opportunities to integrate a stigma lens into key global processes, such as the sustainable development goals (SDGs) and other UN efforts.
  • The arts are powerful tools for challenging assumptions, promoting understanding, and inspiring positive social change related to the culture around abortion. It is essential that artists be included in the design and planning of efforts to reduce stigma.
  • The funding for abortion and abortion advocacy is marginalized when it is separated from funding and programs for family planning, public health, and sexual and reproductive health. This silo-ing feeds abortion stigma and discrimination.
  • Abortion stigma manifests at the individual and institutional levels, affecting our jobs and organizations.  We are all part of the problem of abortion stigma, and we all have an opportunity and a roll to play to be part of the solution.
  • The field of HIV/AIDs stigma offers many suggestions and warnings from their successes and mistakes.  We need to work collaboratively, at all levels, and keep those who are most affected by stigma involved and centered in the struggle.

Inroads staff are deeply grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with such a unique group to expand the understanding and awareness of abortion stigma and stigma busting work and grateful for the time, engagement, and riveting results and art that was shared by so many members.

And look out for forthcoming sharing from the following engagements:

AWID Conference | Sao Paolo, Brazil

Inroads staff are deeply grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with such a unique group to expand the understanding and awareness of abortion stigma and stigma busting work and grateful for the time, engagement, and riveting results and art that was shared by so many members.

CLACAI Regional Conference| Guatemala City, Guatemala 

After attending the 2014 CLACAI Regional Conference, Kati LeTourneau returned to convene a one day regional summit with local inroads members and to lead a session on the network's practices, personal experience, and abortion stigma. The pragmatic, exciting focus on activists and real care was a much needed boost for our global community and movement!

The Africa Regional Conference on Abortion: From Research to Policy | Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Incoming inroads Steering Committee member, Kristen Shellenberg of Ipas, presented, participated in, and met up with fellow inroads members like Jesse Njuguru of Marie Stopes Kenya at this regional conference at the end of November-beginning of December. 

Inroads staff and members kept themselves very busy between May and December working to end stigma. Did you host or attend any events where you shared about your stigma work or discussed abortion stigma? If so, we’d love to hear about it on the inroads Collaboration Workspace or a post for this blog! Get in touch.




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