The aim of an integrated security workshop is to create a safe, respectful and structured space for women human rights defenders to share and explore their security challenges and to discuss current and potential strategies for staying safe and well.
It is grounded in the premise that women human rights defenders understand their security challenges best, and use creative strategies regularly to protect themselves, their organisations and their families. However, they rarely, if ever, have an opportunity to reflect on their security situation and to share and develop appropriate response strategies.
An integrated security workshop is designed, therefore, around four core elements that are key to supporting women human rights defenders develop sustainable security strategies:
Safe spaces – spaces that are truly safe, physically and psychologically. That are filled with trust, support and respect.
Time – time to reflect, discuss and assess all aspects of their lives, work, safety and well-being. Time to regain energy, strength and perspective, to rest and recharge. Time ‘away’ from daily work, which must be respected, valued and supported. It is during this time of reflection that so many instinctive security strategies can be uncovered, recognised and developed.
Each other – solidarity, in the most honest sense: support that is without judgement, agendas or strings. Support that is flexible, adaptable and responsive to how women see, and define, their own security.
A deeply held belief in our own value – self-worth and a commitment to caring for, and protecting, our own bodies and hearts. This is one of the greatest challenges to establishing a culture of safety and self-care – instilling and sustaining the idea that it is worth taking the time and effort to care for ourselves; devoting equal effort, love and patience to ourselves as we do to others. And a recognition that this is an integral part of human rights defence – that human rights defenders have the right to live and work securely, in the broadest sense of the word.
To enable this type of space, the workshop design and approach is extremely flexible and sensitive to culture and context.
Both the workshop style and focal themes are specifically adapted to participants’ priorities and their specific context.1
The workshop’s flexibility and adaptability make it more challenging to design.
Tracing the origins of Integrated Security – from Belgrade to Bogotá2
Integrated security is grounded in the realities and insights of women human rights defenders from all over the world. During an interview for Resiste, Stasa Zajovic of Women in Black-Belgrade described the organisation’s vision of a collective approach to redefining security and peace:
“Women, especially Women in Black Network activists, are interested in developing a completely different concept of security from a feminist and anti-militarist standpoint. This approach translates into a definition of security that encompasses:
freedom from constant threats – the absence of war, living without fear and violence, freedom of movement, stability, security, smiling children, homes, going for a walk at night unimpeded, etc.;
economic security – employment, food, social justice, the absence of oppression, etc.;
political security – democracy, freedom of thought, freedom of choice, legitimacy, the rule of law, solidarity, the United Nations, etc.;
environmental security – eco-friendliness, environmentalism, unpolluted air and water, etc.;
health security – health protection, accessible medical treatment, etc.“
Across the world in Colombia, women working with Organización Femenina Popular echoed these words, and offered a name for this concept: ‘integrated security’. They explained that: “For us, security has to be integrated, which means employment, social well-being, development and national sovereignty in terms of natural resources. Security is not only for the individual, but also for the community.”
However, it is this fact, and the recognition that insecurity is experienced and managed differently by different genders, in different contexts, and at different times, that make this approach so specific, targeted and effective.