Skip to content


The workshop overview provides background on the integrated security workshops. It provides a brief description of the workshop agenda and logistics and concludes with ‘brainstorming’ of basic workshop ground rules.


Facilitator presentation

Required materials


Key explanation points

In this space, we are here to talk about you. Your lives, your concerns. We will focus on understanding the threats you face and develop your strategies to stay safe and well—both the ones you already employ, and new ones from around the world.

We will talk in various ways, through group work, exercises, plenary discussions, presentations.

We will introduce some new ideas that are specific to your security—ones that we have developed with Front Line, the Kvinna till Kvinna Foundation and Urgent Action Fund—and published in two books: Insiste, Persiste, Resiste, Existe and What’s the Point of Revolution if We Can’t Dance?.

We have developed and tested these ideas in a series of almost 30 workshops all over the world, with more than 300 women human rights defenders, men human rights defenders and international human rights groups/donors from over 50 countries.

We will incorporate exercises and ideas from several sources, including Front Line’s Protection Manual for Human Rights Defenders, Marina Bernal’s Self-Care and Self-Defense Manual for Feminist Activists manual, and the Capacitar International Inc. toolkits.

Our aim is to create a safe space here, where we can develop and share strategies, and focus on all aspects of your lives, how they are interconnected and very relevant to your security.

Agenda and logistics

Suggested timings:

we will be together for three days, starting at 09.00 and ending at 17.00. Coffee breaks in the morning and afternoon, and lunch at 13:00.

Basic agenda:

explain the general agenda for the workshop; put it on a flipchart for easy reference.

Logistics point person:

single out whoever will handle participant questions on accommodation, transport, finance, medical emergencies, etc.

Creating groundrules

Although the group should engage in brainstorming on a set of agreed ground rules, the following list sets out some of the basics that should be included:

Don’t sit on your needs! Make it clear that participants should feel free to ask for breaks, and that they should sit comfortably—flag the fact there blankets, cushions and water are available.

Anonymity, confidentiality and trust: everything we say in this space is done so under conditions of anonymity. We will be supporting each other in this space and developing a relationship with and trust in each other. There will be times when what we say must be in confidence, and cannot be shared outside of the workshop.

Deep respect: a big part of creating and holding a safe place together is really demonstrating our respect and care for one another. This means taking the time to listen deeply to each other, without interruption (so please keep mobile telephones turned off, do not use your computer to take notes, do not speak when someone else is talking, do not interrupt another participant – whatever is culturally appropriate/specific).

Responsibility: facilitators are charged with helping to create this space. As participants, you are responsible for yourselves, for each other, for holding this space together and keeping it safe—for sharing and learning together. It is critical to emphasise that at the core of the workshop is shared learning—facilitators are not teachers, they are guides—and the success of the workshop depends on the group.

Step Up, Step Back: responsibility also means knowing your particular style—whether you tend to be quiet and hold back, or whether you tend to talk openly and jump into conversations. Be aware of that style and sometimes do the opposite!

Stay positive and open to possibilities: please remain open to possibilities and be particularly respectful of other participants when they are exploring them with you.

A final note on mobile telephones: ground rules on these devices can be the most challenging for participants (particularly for those from activist cultures where they play such a vital role). According to one facilitator, one method of achieving observance of these ground rules is to ‘give each other the gift of their full and intentional presence in this space’. If a reminder is needed, try asking everyone to pretend that they are on an aeroplane, and to switch all telephones off. A more extreme alternative is to collect all mobile telephones during workshop sessions and place them in a nearby room.

Facilitation notes

 The ground rules can be written on a flipchart. Alternately, they can be written on separate pieces of paper and posted around the room, or laid down in the middle circle of the room to serve as reminders of the commitment.