Empowerment through planning!
We are delighted to kick off 2021 by launching The Empower Project Strategy 2021-23.
Last year marked an especially challenging and uncertain time for all of us and, as we all relied more heavily on digital communication in our daily lives, highlighted more than ever that women require support to combat new forms of tech-facilitated abuse and practice digital self-care.
With the start of a new year, it’s important to pause, reflect and celebrate. I am proud that during such a challenging time we were able to develop our strategy and shape the future direction of our organisation. I’d like to share our experience and learning from this process.
Developing a strategic plan and attending planning days can often feel overwhelming and daunting. Strategies can sometimes feel intangible and aspirational due to their emphasis on longer term planning. COVID-19 has also demonstrated how quickly things can change. In March last year The Empower Project, like everyone, had to pivot by adapting the way we work and our overall offer to individuals, communities, partners and funders.
However, the pandemic also provided opportunities for reflection. Whilst the way we work changed, the values and overall purpose that underpinned our strategic direction remained more important than ever. Our values acted as a compass which guided us when things felt uncertain and challenging. Put simply, the journey might have looked a bit different, but our final destination remained the same. This understanding gave us the strength to develop our plan even when things were feeling uncertain in the short- to medium-term.
Values based approach
The Empower team is a small, committed, passionate and values-driven group of co-directors and trustees. When considering our strategic plan we were clear that our approach should be underpinned by our commitment to feminist values. We were inspired by the feminist governance model developed by the Feminist Governance Project, which identified the following feminist values: activism, accountability, inclusion, positive power, survivors’ voice (lived experience) and emotional responsibility. These values complemented our own intersectional feminist approach and values, which focus on being bold, proactive and accessible. Throughout the process we used these values to guide and shape our thinking and would check in with them regularly. We also learned that whilst our values guide us we should always be flexible and open to regular review.
At the start of the process, we recognised that for everyone to feel fully present it might be helpful to have an external facilitator to guide us through the process and provide a fresh perspective. We worked with Alex from Korero Studio as part of a one-day virtual workshop.
In addition to planning, the workshop provided us with the opportunity to come together as a team after the successful recruitment of new trustees through the Empower Mentee programme.
During the workshop we undertook a series of activities aimed at helping us to define our purpose, identify our audience, highlight key challenges and develop solutions. Having dedicated time and space resulted in more questions than answers and we decided that we needed to take time to reflect on our discussions.
Our final sessions flowed well and allowed us to focus on identifying key activities, actions and timescales (the real nuts and bolts of our strategy!).
Community, Learn, Influence
These three key strands underpin The Empower Strategy over the next two years. They stand alone but also interconnect. Their interconnectedness demonstrates what we believe are the right conditions for helping to end tech and online abuse.
Our strategy recognises the importance of creating safe spaces for people to express their views and experiences and use this to inform both key decision-makers and the future direction of our work.
All of our work is underpinned by a commitment to inclusion and diversity which we view through the lens of intersectionality. In order to, meaningfully engage and reflect ALL voices we need to work with those who experience multiple barriers to having their voices and experiences heard and acted upon. As a result, working collaboratively with expert organisations will be a key focus going forward and should be reflected throughout our work.
We seek to achieve our vision through our programmes, Empower trustees, people, training, digital presence and our activities to engage and influence government.
The development of our sessions allowed us to create safe spaces where we felt comfortable to express our views and understand each other’s perspectives. The process helped us to feel more confident in who we are as an organisation; what we stand for and what we offer. With our renewed strategy, insight and understanding we are ready to take the next steps to realise our vision and navigate the challenges that lie ahead.
You can read our 2-year strategy here.