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Move to End Violence grew out of the bold vision of the NoVo Foundation. Rather than accept a world fueled by competition, domination, and exploitation, NoVo decided to resource strategies that would lead to social transformation –- bringing us closer to a world thriving on partnership and collaboration. A key strategy is to improve the status and well-being of girls and women worldwide, who often experience violence, poverty, and discrimination simply because they are born female. This is a consequence –- but also a cause –- of a world greatly out of balance. The NoVo Foundation believes that those same girls and women, once free from violence and empowered as agents of change, can lead the way to a better world.
Violence against girls and women has a devastating impact on virtually every community and country in the world, including in the United States. Thanks to the tireless work of countless activists, we have made progress. With great effort, attitudes have shifted, resources have been allocated, and systems have been changed to help address the problem and alleviate its effects. And yet, staggering rates of violence against girls and women remain. Powerful, systemic forces stubbornly persist and perpetuate this oppression. Only a bold response will truly transform society.
Here, NoVo saw an opportunity to make a significant impact. The Foundation sought to invest in the capacity of this movement to make lasting change. NoVo engaged social change advocates with deep experience working for girls and women to advance this initiative. They began by seeking the counsel of over 130 stakeholders in order to understand what the movement would require to achieve this enduring social change. The resonance among those interviewed was striking.
All of the stakeholders honored the accomplishments of the past and present and acknowledged a deep desire and heavy sense of responsibility to go further and do more to truly end violence. They were confident in their ability to envision and lead us toward a world in which girls and women live free from violence, but identified fundamental challenges to doing so.
What We Found
Stakeholders cited the lack of time, energy, and resources necessary to step back from the pressing needs of those impacted by violence and to focus on root causes. The taxing nature and immense scale of this work was also widely accepted as a source of significant burn-out in the field and as a drain on the personal resources needed to cultivate visionary ideas, strategy, and leadership. Stakeholders called for genuine support for prioritizing such work, including the dedicated time, space, and opportunity to do so. They also recommended general support to free up staff resources to take advantage of such opportunities. To address the burn-out issue, stakeholders expressed a desire for opportunities to strengthen leadership and develop self-care practices at the individual and organizational levels.
Stakeholders also pointed to the absolute dearth of funding for social change advocacy in this field. They called for a significant investment in advocacy for social change, including support for strategy development and skills strengthening, capacity grants for critical organizational development, and broader funder engagement to support social change campaigns.
Throughout these interviews, stakeholders highlighted the innovation occurring in the movement. They lifted up the work being done within marginalized communities and by leaders whose analysis reflects an understanding of the complex ways that power and inequity operate. They noted that much of this work is being done in isolation and has not yet garnered the attention or support it deserves. Stakeholders reported the need for a learning community of like-minded individuals committed to leveraging each other’s ideas and aligning around a common vision for moving forward as a movement.
Designing Move to End Violence
In response to what we heard from the stakeholders and with deep respect for all those working in this field, we set out to design a program that would invest in the movement. We aimed to uplift the innovation occurring within the field; create the space and opportunity for leaders to align around a collective vision; and strengthen the capacity of individuals, organizations, and the movement to affect lasting social change and end violence against girls and women in the United States.
An extraordinary team of individuals with expertise in strategy, social change, movement building, and evaluation made up the core group responsible for designing this initiative. They now serve as core members of Move to End Violence’s faculty.
To help ensure that the design reflected the wisdom of the stakeholders and stayed true to the needs of the movement, 11 stakeholders were routinely consulted throughout the design process. This Advisory Committee included individuals with a vast range of experience. Collectively, they work to end sexual violence, domestic violence, sex trafficking, child sexual abuse, and gender violence in conflict zones. Their work occurs at the local, state, national, and international levels, and via a diverse set of social change strategies.
With the partnership of these extraordinary individuals, we have created a program that will serve the movement and move us forward towards our shared goal of ending violence against girls and women.