Five Reasons Why Racial Inequities Exist
in GBV Leadership
1. The gender-based violence movement is guided by white cultural norms, promotes white supremacy, and reifies institutional practices that value whiteness.
2. White women will not give up power.
3. Women of color are seen as the “doers,” but not the “thinkers” in the movement.
4. Coalitions engage in practices that create unhealthy work environments for women of color.
5. Coalitions need an ideological shift in mission and approach.
14 Ways to Respond to Racial Inequity
in GBV Leadership
Variable and flexible funding are also recommended to increase leadership and opportunities for women of color. Women of color could choose what type of leadership development programs they wanted to participate in, and funds could take care of upfront costs to attend that program. Another way to support funding is to provide grants for women to carry out grassroots projects in their communities.
Given that women of color are often systematically regulated to “doer” roles within the organization, one recommendation is to integrate more strategic thinking and institutional power into the roles lower in the leadership hierarchy. Another recommendation is for the leadership style of the organization to become more participatory to ensure that all members have equal opportunity to engage in organizational decision making. This would allow women of color to then talk about these experiences when they apply for leadership positions.
10. Develop succession plans for all GBV leaders, but especially white women.
The GBV movement should require that people in leadership positions develop succession plans. The movement should also move towards placing term limits on leadership positions and implementing co-leadership models. The recommendation could extend to all leaders in the movement who have been in their positions for multiple years. However, given that many current leaders in this movement are white women, this predominantly means that white women need to move towards shorter leadership terms as this will provide more opportunities for women of color to take on these roles.
The movement needs to establish formal mentoring networks at the field level for women of color that are led by women of color who invested in building opportunities and increasing options for women. These pathways must be supportive and crucial for women of color’s development.