Proceedings of The 4th Global Conference on Women’s Studies
Context, Conditions, and Catalysts for Change: A Qualitative Investigation Of The Promotion of Gender Equality
Michaela Guthridge, Melita Giummarra, Tania Penovic, Maggie Kirkman
In the twentieth century many strategies were used to advance gender equality. As feminist movements have evolved, our approaches adapt to the milieu. The aims of this research were, first, to understand the perspectives of people currently working in or designing social justice programs on which factors enabled those programs to achieve their aims; and second, to identify the role, if any, of affective empathy in the interventions. We interviewed 16 experts from eight countries about how they worked to bring about gender equality or other social justice outcomes. Experts worked on diverse programs that used various methods, including awareness-raising, social media campaigns, sport, political advocacy, and lobbying through mechanisms of the United Nations. We thematically analysed the transcripts, then applied framework analysis to explore whether and how the programs used intersubjectivity, multisensory engagement and empathic embodiment (all of which are theorised to be elements of affective empathy). We concluded that to advance gender equality programs must first consider the context and the conditions of the program, then build a connection to experiences that can facilitate changes in the gender-based biases or behaviours that drive inequities through embodiment that is supported by dialogue. The findings reveal that long standing feminist theory is crystallising in novel ways resulting in re-imagined forms of praxis towards gender equality.
keywords: Affective empathy, connection, dialogue, embodiment, experience