Our work is framed by our living anti-oppression framework which is grounded in 4 key values of humility, shifting power, solidarity and co-ownership.
HUMILITY: Ways of working that show self-restraint, but also ask you to reflect on your positionality, the power dynamics involved, and the value of / need for your contribution in an activity or setting.
SHIFTING POWER: Ways of working that not only seek to halt exploitative practices, but also address the cumulative disadvantages that exploitation has left behind by redistributing power.
SOLIDARITY: Ways of working that ask you to take as many opportunities as possible to ‘spend’ your social capital or use your position / resources to challenge stigmas and the continued demonisation of certain people / groups.
CO-OWNERSHIP: Ways of working that don’t presume the superiority of your approach and instead create opportunities to benefit from missing insights and skills by engaging in collective work.
At STOPAIDS we seek to better understand our global history and how power, funding, concepts and systems have been constructed, and how they currently drive our individual and societal realities and the world in which we seek to have influence.
We sought to ask and answer many questions in the thought papers that we wrote in September 2020 and it was here that we first explored the possibility of developing a framework to guide our new strategy, that would draw together many of the analytical lenses, tools and approaches required to understand and fight inequality and oppression.
Working with a Social impact design specialist (Jarryn Katia), we developed a draft Anti-oppression Framework document in 2020, which set out the values and principles we felt were needed to counter the oppressive logics we identified as dominance, demonisation, exploitation and paternalism. Then in early 2022, we worked with another strategist, analyst and facilitator (Terri Beswick) on a wider consultation process to understand the challenge of implementing the framework and finding ways forward. This involved:
- informal discussions with advocates and practitioners in different civic spaces and contexts to identify the discriminations, exclusions and invisibilities that shape their work
- surveying advocates and practitioners to get their feedback on the draft AOF, and staff feedback on factors that support and hinder implementation.
What followed was a series of joint analysis and design sessions with a Key Stakeholder Advisory Group (made up of advocates and practitioners working on national and local policy) and STOPAIDS staff. Together we analysed STOPAIDS’ 10 different operational areas and team working life. The operational areas included: advocacy, monitoring and evaluation, human resources, convening, communications, fundraising, hosting organisations, membership, governance, recruitment.
The aim was to identify the kinds of practices within each area which would reproduce oppressive logics (mentioned above) and then to think through what practices would counter these, based on our updated set of anti-oppressive values: humility, shifting power, solidarity and co-ownership.
This process fed into another set of workshops where we developed ‘experiments’ in each operational area to explore how to turn these ideas into practices, helping to embed the framework’s values into our everyday work. Here are just a few examples of the kinds of experiments we’re currently trying out:
- (Advocacy) Ensuring more meaningful inclusion of organisations based in low- and middle-income countries in UK working groups we chair e.g., through regular guest speaker slots and establishing a co-chairing model in the global advocacy groups where we play a convening role.
- (Communications) Ensuring, at a minimum, a balance of sources from low- and middle-income countries and/or affected communities alongside traditional sources used as evidence in stories/press releases/ op-eds/speeches
- (Recruitment) Evaluating the data gathered from equal opportunity forms so we can critically analyse how effective our efforts to encourage a more diverse pool of applicants to see and apply for our roles are.
Learning and accountability
These experiments are reviewed 3 times a year where we take stock of progress and challenges and adjust them where necessary. We also report on the ways in which we’re working towards our anti-oppressive goals to our Board and will share our learnings and reflections on our website twice a year. We hope by sharing our learnings and being visible about where things have gone to plan and where they haven’t we can encourage a continued and evolving dialogue on how we live up to our anti-oppressive goals within our sector. You can access the Anti-Oppression Framework here. You can also read fictionalised quotes based on the interviews with advocates in different civic spaces, countries and contexts, speaking to the discriminations, exclusions and invisibilities that shape their work. This piece is called Letters North.
If you would like to be involved in the development of our anti-oppression framework please email firstname.lastname@example.org. We would also appreciate any feedback from our partners or members, please complete our anonymous feedback form here.