Awareness and knowledge of current societal issues and trends are essential to question established norms and promote diversity. Lack of awareness perpetuates practices that benefit some groups (e.g. cis-gendered men) and oppress and exclude others, such as women and other gender minorities. Thus, the first step to tackle gender inequality, discrimination and underrpresentation is to recognise that these are important societal problems that require us, both as individuals and organisations, to take action.
Moreover, knowledge beyond awareness enables organisations the creation of safe(r) spaces and the development of strategies and actions to be more inclusive and diverse in their structure as well as their projects and programmes.
WHY IS KNOWLEDGE IMPORTANT?
Knowledge and awareness enables critical thinking and empower people to speak up and take action.
Knowledge enables, structures and orients transformation processes.
Knowledge and information can be easily communicated and shared – one single organisational and societal changes! knowledgeable individual could incite
Without knowledge, projects and programmes will not be safe(r) spaces for underrepresented groups.
On the contrary, knowledge fosters equality and respect.
Knowledge enables the privileged to use their privilege for good by listening and amplifying the voices of those who are marginalised.
Reflect on your own privileges and how they have shaped your life and the way you experience the world.
Although this could be an uncomfortable exercise, it will help you recognise and confront biases that might be influencing your work and personal life.
Raise awareness on the need for knowledge on inclusion and diversity related topics in your organisation.
Marginalised groups should not be responsible for educating others, especially more privileged groups.
Invest in diversity and inclusion training and create a database of useful resources.
Identify key people.
Find people who are interested in gender equality and are motivated to promote and support change within the organisation. These people could share resources, information, organise activities to discuss, challenge stereotypes and flag any concerning issues.
Recognise the value of different types and sources of knowledge.
Although relying on people with formal education about a specific topic may be particularly useful for some objectives, practical and experiential knowledge that key players (e.g. beneficiaries, participants’ caregivers, members of the community, etc.) can offer is extremely valuable. Remember: expertise is not only found in people with degrees!
Know your target group: their experiences and realities as well as their struggles and capacities.
This knowledge allows projects and programmes to be more accessible and tailored according to the groups’ needs. Do youth workers, organisers, workshop facilitators and teachers have enough knowledge to be able to provide a safe space for norm-breaking and marginalized youth? Does the staff have knowledge on non-western music and arts?