A secure environment with a democratic certainty on #MeToo issues

A responsive democratic dialogue depends on everyone feeling involved and secure. Fair and equal treatment are natural cornerstones of ICLD’s fundamental value-related work.
Addressing the #MeToo issues demands strength and courage, something that Anna Hedlund, Programme Officer at ICLD’s International Training Programme (ITP) has noted as being present within ICLD’s walls.
“We’ve shown that we have the courage to talk about these issues, and I love that the men here at ICLD have taken these issues on board, now that the debate is flourishing – that feels great. But above all, I’m impressed by all the women who, despite a lack of security, are fighting for a better world. Women who have the courage to tell their stories. And especially those women who have previously highlighted sexual assault issues and not had the same reception as in the wake of #MeToo,” says Anna.

After discussions, lectures, and meetings, the ICLD personnel and management have taken decisions that will result in a more deliberate programme of work with issues in connection with harassment and bullying. These include clear guidelines on drawing boundaries in interactions between people in the workplace, on how to act as a good role model, and on how the organisation can convey this message in all interactions in conjunction with training courses and partnerships around the world.
Equality and freedom issues – indeed, all human rights – are at the heart of ICLD’s operations, every aspect of which is dedicated to promoting local democracy. Any infringement of people’s security prevents democratic development.
“No one should feel harassed. We’re talking about how no one should have to experience sexual harassment and how everyone should be participatory in the democratic values with which we work. Everyone should feel secure in our environments,” says Olov Berggren. “And we’re not going to shy away from talking about this and about the fact that we need to address this field in detail.”

The male members of staff from ICLD’s Visby office got together over lunch in November, during which they used a pre-prepared template to discuss such issues as stereotypes, macho culture, and the way ahead.
“This is an issue that needs to be discussed in every workplace. We work with equality issues every day, but I felt that it was important that we didn’t just look at women’s stories, but that we progress from words to deeds,” says Erik Nilsson, Programme Coordinator at the Knowledge Centre department, and the man behind the lunchtime discussion.

Looks, touches, controlling techniques are all sensitive subjects and ones that are already included in ITP’s courses – courses designed to develop capacity and democracy at local level worldwide. One of the most important points, as Anna Hedlund sees it, is to create an open dialogue by means of an internal programme of work environment activities, and to ensure that the international training environments are secure places for everyone.
“Those of us who work with training courses can work together with the delegates to draw up the boundaries that must apply,” says Anna, “both inside the classroom and outside it. We sometimes spend quite some time together, so it’s particularly important that we talk about issues from a #MeToo perspective,” says Anna.