Citizen Jane SF Book Launch Talk

June 18th, 2014 by Jane Sloane.

Citizen Jane Book launch in San Francisco Public Library

Thanks so much to everyone who came to my book launch at the San Francisco library and made it so special. Thanks to my colleagues at Global Fund for Women who made it all possible. A shout out to Annie Wright who was so magical as moderator. And thanks to my dear friends, Ariel and Sam from Bowerbird Photography, for the photos and audio and to my other dear friends, Jools and Thatch for pre and post support in every way. And to Josh, always.

Jane
San Francisco

 

 

Annie Wright & Jane Sloane - © 2014 Bowerbird Photography
Elaine:

Good afternoon, hello, welcome. I’m from Global Fund for Women and I’m so excited to see so many familiar faces and friends from the Global Fund and our dear Jane Sloane as vice president for programs here tonight.  This is a really special evening in launching this book that you’re going to hear about.  It is really an illustration of what I think the Global Fund stands for so strongly and I think travelling with Jane last year in Australia I had a chance to read some of the chapters of the book.

I won’t give anything away because I want you to all have the experience yourself but I think it reinforced for us strategy that Global Fund pursued for the past 25 years which is both citizen action, grass roots philanthropy, really believing that the solutions of women in the field are the ones that can best determine the right solutions in their own communities. We are really proud of Jane and this book is a labour of love and we are so excited for her. At Global Fund, as you may know we have given over $115 million away to grassroots organisations in 175 countries and we have 5,000 partners all over the world.  We also have 60,000 donors who are partnered with us to help bring about this change, so we are all really excited to have you all here taking action being part of this community and sharing with us this night.  And so now so I’d like to invite Annie from the Women’s Funding Network to the stage, together with Jane.

Jane Book Launch Participants © Bowerbird PhotographyAnnie:

Thank you Elaine, hi everyone, I’m Annie Wright and as Elaine mentioned I’m from Women’s Funding Network, I’m the Director of Network Engagement and it is my great privilege to be here with a dear friend and an inspiration, Jane Sloane. I’m going to tell you a little about Jane and her book. So Jane’s first book, ‘Citizen Jane: transformative citizenship in a globalised world’ presents a truly unique and deeply important new voice in the world of global development.  The book is in part a biography of Jane, who is in her own right a remarkably accomplished global development professional.  It’s also part social justice, focused on the human rights of women and girls and it’s also in part a soulful, spiritual reflection of a life lived in service to social change. Throughout the book, Jane weaves together a narrative that traces her own dynamic professional path, concurrent with world events, social activism insights, and humanitarian calls to action.  Her writing is very poetic, her personal story inspiring and her voice and perspective on the global women’s movement fresh, unique and important. In ‘Citizen Jane”, Jane Sloane inspires and encourages each of us to be an agent of change and to join the global movement of active, engaged and empowered citizens from each corner of the globe, rising up to meet the complexity of the world’s most multi-faceted challenges through the concept of transformative citizenship. Tonight I’m delighted we have Jane here with us to speak about her book, her personal career path and her experience and expertise in the women’s rights movement. Jane it is so lovely to be here with you.

Jane Sloane:

It’s great to be up on stage with you, Annie, and it’s so great to see so many faces in the audience; colleagues, supporters of Global Fund and new faces as well, I really appreciate you coming here tonight.

Annie:

So just to frame the evening, I’m going to be asking questions and Jane will dialoguing with me and then at the end we will open it up for questions for the audience. So Jane to start off, can you tell us what inspired you to write the book?

Jane Sloane:

I think I’ve always, ever since I was 5 years old, been writing journals, so it goes back a long way. When I arrived in the US about 3 years ago, it really accelerated my writing and that was when I really started thinking in my mind about creating this book.  There felt like a new urgency in terms of the work that I had been doing with women’s rights organisations and also just the context of arriving in the US and working for a global women’s rights organisation.  It was that, together with a lot of young women who were coming and asking me about what advice I had for them and for their own journey.  It really started me thinking about what I would put into a book that would be of relevance for me if I were starting my journey now.  I really wanted to ensure that the book wasn’t just about a professional journey and human rights activism but it was also one that really honored poetry and spirit life. It’s really a weaving of passion and poetry and action and spirit life and work life. I really tried to recognise the complexity of that experience in my own life.

© Bowerbird Photography 2014-8Annie:

I think the metaphoric tapestry is absolutely perfect for the book. It is definitely weaving — and to go further with that, you’ve really woven your path across sectors and industries and issues and so I’m curious: as a young woman starting out in university, could you have imagined that your path was going to take you all over the world?

Jane Sloane:

No, I think I hoped for it –I think when you’re young you can really be bold in your thinking and your dreams and I really wanted to hold on to that. I didn’t want to have a life that was confined. I wanted to be able to open up as many options in my life as possible and I think starting with an arts degree and doing honours in history really gave me the opportunity to explore and imagine. I feel like you can make as many mistakes as you like when you’re young, you can try different fields, you can try different contexts, working in an NGO space, working for a corporation, working for a university to determine where you do your best work and also where your greatest passions are. So I felt it was a time of great exploration, I felt like I needed to find my own path and find my own tribe. I think that that takes time; you’ve just got to be in risk taking mode quite often to be able to find that.

Annie:

I love hearing that and, speaking of members of your tribe, in the book you describe meeting Nelson Mandela and the very pivotal moment that was for you in your career path.  You also speak in the book of the advice he gave you and how that set you on course of transformed citizenship. Can you tell us a little bit more about that moment?

Jane Sloane:

Yes, at the time I was working as a general manager at the Sydney Olympic Media Centre and I lived a fairly kamikaze existence in terms of my work life. I spun from working in the NGO sector to having my own company to working in the media field, and so you can kind of guess that when I was saying I wanted to experiment that it was very much a lived reality for me. So Mr. Mandela was coming to the media center to speak at an event called ‘What Makes a Champion’ and I was asked to look after him for the day. A really tough gig as you can imagine! He asked me about my own hopes for my future and I told him that I really wasn’t sure what I wanted to do after the Olympics and he said to me “Jane, if you really want to make a difference in the world, you should focus on conflict resolution and citizen led change.” It was quite a profound moment when we sat down and had that conversation and course it was a fulfilment of a dream to actually have time with someone like Mr. Mandela.  It also happened to be — quite dramatically — the day when my grandmother died unexpectedly and so it ended up being the best and the worst in one day. And I think when you have the juxtaposition of an extremely inspirational event with one of the most terrible things you can imagine happening; it really throws everything up in the air and make you question everything. So, after the Olympics I just booked a ticket overseas and I found myself in Candidasa, Baliin a community where I met a woman called Ibu Gedong Bagoes Oka. Ibu Gedong was member of Indonesia’s Parliament and she had created a Gandhi ashram, a center that was a training ground for the theory and practice of conflict resolution. She gave me a place to grieve and she also taught me a lot about how to approach conflict resolution – of course starting with my own life and thinking about how I embraced conflict and how I dealt with conflict.  When I returned to Australia I was introduced to another woman in her 80s, Stella Cornelius, who really became a mentor for me for the next 10 years.

© Bowerbird Photography 2014-10Annie:

So in your kamikaze existence, here you are now on a path now of transformative citizenship with conflict and negotiations at the heart of that. Can you tell us a bit of how you view that kamikaze existence, that vast experience across sectors and industries? Can you tell us how you think that prepared you to be a leader at a global agency? Did it prepare you and would you recommend something simular in terms of experimenting to young social justice leaders just starting out?

Jane Sloane:

Absolutely, I think it’s really important to expose yourself to different sectors and to different ways of working, because it allows you to then to see a situation from different perspectives and it gives you a broader context.  And of course that’s one of the great practices in terms of dealing with conflict, how you do open up options and Stella used to say to me ‘replace every ‘but’ with an ‘and’”. And “replace all ‘shoulds’ in your vocabulary as well’. And I think that when you have exposed yourself to very different industries and ways of working it does give you cause for pause in terms of thinking about a particular approach. I think it makes you less one-sided, or blindsided, in terms of a particular view and so that practice has really stayed with me through everything I’ve done in life.

Annie:

Speaking of other things that have remained with you, Stella – we have brought her into the space now. I know that Stella was a dear friend and mentor to you. Can you tell us a bit more of your relationship with Stella and about the power of mentorship and how the advice she gave you has informed your work to this day?

Jane Sloane:

Yes, well when I came back from overseas, I came back to take up a job with a woman, Jane Tewson, who’d started Comic Relief in the UK. Jane was an extraordinary woman and she was leading a new organization called Pilotlight, now Igniting Change, in Australia. I was in a soup kitchen on the weekend and I was telling the man I was working with, Don Palmer, about Ibu Gedong and about my extraordinary time with her and he said “there is a woman that I have to introduce you to, her name is Stella Cornelius. Don organised a lunch with Stella and I was really struck by her active listening, she was a woman of extraordinary grace and accomplishment and she was really a doyen of the peace movement in Australia.  Stella started the conflict resolution network, not just as a network in Australia but really as a global network that many, many communities and people around the world could use and access.  Stella invited me to live in an apartment below their house so that we could have these morning sessions and every morning before I went to work she would have a session with me about aspect about conflict resolution. And we’d do role plays in terms of how that would play out in terms of dealing with a situation, whether it was dealing with a local community or with a national government or an international situation.  She was also someone who wove art into her own life and what was really great was every day she would place a scarf or a textile work on a seat and she would meditate on a person or a situation, just reflecting on that texture and that colour throughout the day.  So she really taught me to see situations differently and how much creativity you can bring in to how you address conflict in your own life. I should also just say that in terms of mentoring, she was incredibly generous and she also wasn’t afraid to scold me or tell me when I need to do things very differently and when I was just plain wrong and she was someone who really thought very much about the responsibility of being a mentor.  I think that that’s what I have taken into my life in terms of how I mentor other young women or older women and how they might mentor me as well. And also young men – it’s not just women that I mentor it’s also men as well. I feel like there’s a real opportunity to do more in that mentoring field and in fact I’ve discussed this with Musimbi Kanyoro, our wonderful president and CEO.  I know she wanted to be here tonight but she’s travelling. I’ve shared with her that it would be really great, since we have so many amazing supporters, if we could connect a staff person to a woman or man supporting our work who would be a great mentor.  There are so many ways we can open up our own professional and personal lives by that great mentoring and by really caring for each other in that way.

Annie:

I know mentoring is extremely important to you and in fact Jane has an incredible blog called: ‘Jane In The World’, you can google it right now. One of the most popular blog posts on her entire blog was an article called ’50 tips for young women in the world’ and Jane I’m wondering if you can just share with the audience a little bit more about those tips about the concept of mentorship and how holistic that can look. Is it just about career path or what else can it be?

Jane Sloane:

I think mentoring really embraces every aspect of life and I think that is what young in particularly have asked of me. ‘How can I live a life that is meaningful, that embraces all the aspects that I want to have in my life and still do the kind of work that you do?’ So I wrote the 50 tips in response to that kind of question and in fact some young women who have read that and said to me ‘can you just translate those 50 tips to a hip pocket guide?’ So that we can just have it in our jeans when we are just walking along and we can refer to that as well. So it’s probably what I’ll do next, 50 tips for girls in the world.

Annie:

I’d like to have that in my back pocket. I know we don’t have that much more time left so I’m hoping as we wrap up, perhaps you could actually read us some of those 50 tips- that contain so much wisdom and I know they have certainly been critical for me as another young woman on this path. Would you share some of your favourites with us?

Jane Sloane:

I would love to. So I’ll just read you ten. Stay close to what you love and find ways to integrate rather than separate. Keep around you a circle of friends who are on your metaphorical boat for the journey. Heart to sky, walk tall and keep good posture, it’s great for your body and for your self-esteem. Don’t be afraid to fail, cracks allow more of a light to shine through. Embrace music in your life; play, sing, dance and honour your musical self in timbre, tone, melody and rhythm. Be authentic, don’t try and imagine how people want you to be or how you think you need to be. Pay attention to your self-esteem and to your own potential and others will too. Practice the art of storytelling, another life skill and a form of narrative therapy, it’s like a blues-harp, you can use it anywhere. Dress to express, your artistry is in how you communicate visually as well as how you communicate verbally. Retain your own power, this to me is important advice, in my life whenever I’ve overlooked it I’ve always regretted it, pay attention to your intuitive self and your magic within. Stay close to your spontaneous inner-child and that sense of play. And commit to sustaining your inner life, being lit from within is precious fuel for the journey.

Annie:

Beautiful, I’m so aware of it and the questions that we’ve asked as brief as this time has been, I feel that what I’m really understanding now is your world view, the lens that you see the world through. We could talk for hours about the content of the book, there is so much more, I know we’re going to open up to questions in the audience but it feels so important to know a little but more about you, Jane, and your lens and the way that you see the world. So Jane, let’s talk about things that are actually the content of the book, which is so fascinating because you do cover so much of history and you also cover so many issues in the book. Reading it, I was particularly struck by the depth and breadth of the grassroots field experience you’ve had working with women in the pacific. You have the opportunity to conduct research via fellowships, interview women on the ground via agencies you were working for and so much more. It’s all in the book. Across your time and roles in the Pacific, what are some of your key lessons that you’ve learned how to best empower and support women personally and professionally.

 

Jane Sloane:

Well, I think for me, having lived in the Pacific, it really is still a forgotten corner of the earth and I think it’s the same for many island communities. I have so much respect for Pacific women in particular. I think about women in Bougainville who helped to end the civil war there and who brokered a peace deal that really focused on justice. I think about women in the Pacific who led their communities from the Carteret Islands to Bougainville because of rising sea levels as a result of climate change and I think about women in Papua New Guinea who, time and time when their meeting spaces were burnt down because of violence, they rebuilt those spaces.  Again that reminds me of the importance of safe spaces for women. I have this desire to create this project, I have got it in my mind, it’s something called a ‘room of one’s own’ which would be mobilising a global community to help create physical and virtual safe spaces with and for women, because it’s so important for women to have those spaces to organise and particularly in a Pacific context. What I also learnt from women in the Pacific is their way of seeing and being in the world is very much informed by this storytelling and by their oral traditions.  In Australia I led an event called ‘Asia Pacific Breakthrough’ a women, faith and development initiative.  When I proposed this idea to staff and board members at International Women’s Development Agency which I was heading up in Australia, a lot of staff members said “but why would we do that, we’re a secular agency? We don’t want to embrace religious and faith based leaders and deal with religious and faith based issues as a secular agency.” And I asked them to go and ask women leaders we were supporting in the Pacific and in Asia what they felt and their response was; “please organise this initiative, this is our lived reality, this is what we face in our daily lives.” The oratory and attitudes of religious and faith based leaders have a profound impact on our human rights and on our lives and, as a result, we brought many Pacific women to speak at these events which we deliberately organised on the eve of the Parliament of the Worlds’ Religions in Melbourne.  It was a fantastic organising opportunity for us and an important influencing opportunity. We ended up raising over 1.2 billion dollars to support women, faith and development initiatives in Asia and Pacific. And just as importantly, a lot of donors in the audience were so moved by the testimony from women from the Pacific, that they paid for a number of them to go New York, to speak at the United Nations; so that their voices could be heard in addition to the many voices of Asian women. Because quite often when it’s an event focused on Asia and the Pacific, it’s predominantly Asian women’s voices that are heard. So it provided a very powerful opportunity for women to really speak for themselves and, as Elaine said in the beginning; that’s really what Global Fund is about. It’s really providing opportunities for women to be able to speak for themselves and act for themselves as a result of the core funding that we provide.

Annie:

And I know that’s only the tip of the iceberg in terms of your experience in the Pacific! But it’s so wonderful to hear more about it. There is something important I want to talk about. It’s the role of men in the women’s movement. Throughout the book, you talk about the beautiful concept of called: “I see me” which I love and I’ve talked about multiple times. Can you tell us what that concept of “I see me” means to you and can you also tell me what you believe is the role of compassion and empathy in engaging men in the women’s movement?

 

Jane Sloane:

Well I read a lot, as you can tell from the book section in both my blog as well as my book and one of the books that has really moved me for over the years is Martin Buber’s book, “I and thou”, and that whole concept of the whole interconnectedness of our realities and lives and also just the practice of conflict resolution. It reinforces that as well and I really wanted to talk about how to involve men in ways so that they can imagine what women are experiencing on a daily basis.  I document a number of examples in the book of what it’s like when men actually sit down and listen to women speaking about the violence that they’ve experienced and the dramatic events that have shaped their lives and what women hope for as a very different kind of reality in their lives. Also what it’s like when men support women in making those changes and when men change their own behaviour to make that possible.  I also talk about what it’s like when men deal with some of those issues, particularly their own violence. I speak about a situation in Cambodia in some remote villages where men undergo their own training in how to deal with anger and rage. As a result of what they’ve experienced through the Khmer Rouge and Pol Pot regime and how they transform their own attitudes and behaviour at the same time a lot of women in villages are working on issues like safe spaces and legal reform and livelihood options and so I think that there’s a real opportunity to encourage men to think about what women in their lives are experiencing, not just in developing countries but also here to think about their roles as fathers, as brothers, as sons, as uncles, as grandfathers. And to imagine what they would like for the women in their lives and then to encourage them to act, to think about what that would mean if their wife, their daughter, their sister was experiencing the kind of abuse or trauma or hoping for the kind of opportunity in terms of education, employment that women in other countries are experiencing. And to really commit them to recognising that it is personal. To embrace the phrase ‘the personal is political’ and to recognize that it’s time to act.

Annie:

Beautiful, I love the emphasis on healing and relational contact that that implies and suggests. Something else that felt really important in the book. You write about how the women’s movement includes a specific focus on shifting power and transforming relations that then builds on women’s own strategies and capacities and evolves women members at every stage of the process. Can you say more about what you believe shifting power and transforming relations looks like, I think you’ve touched on it a little bit but I’d love to hear a little bit more

Jane:

Yes, I think it’s really important that we recognise the greater forces that have such a deep and dramatic impact on women in the movement. If we just stay within the women’s movement and if we just support actions, which are focused within the women’s movement, we’re not going to see the depth and breadth of change that we need. If we think about, just as one example, 19 billion dollars in Papua New Guinea, the impact of extractive industries on the lives of women and girls and if I take my own experience in Papua New Guinea, a lot of those industries are just engaging men in the decision making and, as a result of that, it’s often just men who are receiving payments for services, for advice and so a lot of men are using that for things like buying drugs, buying drinks, buying child brides. Using money to pay for a girl’s education but then expecting to them to marry them in return. So we’ve got to change that situation and to influence companies, influence governments, influence those that have the money and the power at the moment to really embrace gender inclusion and ensure women are involved in the decision making and in the design and delivery of programs and policies that have such a profound difference on their lives. So, I think that shift in power needs to happen on every level. It needs to happen both in terms of ensuring that there is a gender inclusive approach, that we are getting more women onto boards, more women into parliaments.  If we have more women in parliament then they can also influence the regulatory environments in which companies operate in most countries. It also means getting more mobile phones into the hands of women, which also gives them their own power with their own bank accounts, it gives girls and women power in conflict situations where they can actually quickly use their own networks to get help and be safe. It means having and supporting a very connected women’s movement so that there’s an opportunity to ramp up and accelerate the actions and amplify the impact by the connectivity that women’s rights groups have with each other.  Again, that’s the really powerful role at the Global Fund plays in really ensuring and sustaining a strong women’s movement in that work to be able to advocate and act in solidarity.

Annie:

One of the other themes I really picked up from the book was how important it can be in the development context to have a model that looks like not westerners coming in and imposing western generated solutions and western cultivated money on top of communities and then saying this is the solution, now go do it. But instead create the context and solutions where people closest to the problems can generate their own solutions. Can you say a little bit more about that and do you have any examples?

Jane:

Yes, core funding is absolutely critical to women’s rights groups in terms of their own work because we are increasingly seeing that women’s groups on the ground are receiving project funding, they’re receiving piecemeal funding, which allows them to work on particular projects but then they lose their base in terms of staff, in terms of deep knowledge, in terms of ability for sustained action and the ability to influence and change attitudes which is so much a part of the work. The Association of Women in Development, in 2011 undertook a study of some 1,100 women’s rights groups in 140 plus countries and they heard that only 28% of those women’s groups were receiving core funding. Global Fund for Women is one of the few global organisations that does ensure that we get money into the hands of women’s groups and we do that through very imaginative and creative means, particularly in regions like the Middle East, where it’s very difficult sometimes to support those groups through bank accounts. So that work of getting funding into the hands of women’s rights groups that can determine the solutions themselves and mobilize is critical. If we think about Leymah Gbowee and the grant that Global Fund provided to her group. She was one of the three 2010 Nobel Peace Prize winners whose work was all supported earlier in their genesis by Global Fund for Women.  Leymah used some of the funds to bus women into Accra, Ghana where a lot of the male delegates were meeting in relation to the protracted Liberian Civil War. A lot of the money Leymah was able to access was deployed using her knowledge and wisdom about what she felt would be best for women to act collectively. So the women ended up surrounding the compound where the men were meeting and said that they wouldn’t leave until the men agreed to end the civil war. The women ended up threatening the men that they bare their chests, something the men are very superstitious about there. Ultimately the civil war was ended and the women then turned their minds to successfully getting the first female president of Liberia elected, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. And that really shows the power of putting money into the hands of women and trusting in their wisdom and power to act.

Annie:

I’m just imagining there’s probably no way in the moment they could have decided the best possible way to use the funds could have been, but instead with that unrestricted funding that you gave them, that the Global Fund gave them they were able to turn on a dime and meet the evolving needs at least in that situation.

Jane:

I think the thing that we were responsive to, and need to be responsive to, is just how quickly a situation can change. I think again one of the new partnerships we are exploring is a group called; Digital Democracy and they helped a lot of women in Haiti when they were experiencing great violence in that country during the whole crisis there. To be able to create a 24hour hotline meant that women and girls there could quickly text to see how they could get support and, as a result of that early response, there is a sustained 24hour hotline, now supported by other donors as well including support from the United Nations. So that responsiveness to quickly changing needs in women’s environments and situations is really important.

Annie:

Responsiveness and the other word that keeps coming up for me is creativity, creativity and the way that they’re are using the funds and the reason I bring creativity up is throughout this book, this beautiful tapestry that you’ve woven, art really seems to be a major theme both in terms of what you’ve been inspired by, that you’ve practiced to keep yourself nourished. Can you tell us a little bit more about how you think art provides an excellent complement to social change and how it’s really played a major part for you in your life?

Jane:

Yes, I think that when you think about empowerment, it has to start with how women see themselves in terms of their own bodies and minds and it really does start with your body and your mind. I am reminded just having come back from Nepal, where we were convening a number of women’s rights groups that were working to address aspects of human trafficking and migration. Some of us had the opportunity to meet with local women’s groups there before the convening started and we heard from one group that had engaged a woman who hadn’t spoken in eight years she’d suffered terrible domestic violence over this time and they brought her into a circle.  She came into this circle that these women created and she just started dancing, she stood up and she just started dancing and it was the first step she took to express herself. After she finished dancing, she started reciting a poem and it gave her a safe way to be able to break that silence and to see herself in a different way because she was in a safe space and also because art was a safe way to express herself.  I think that that’s true for many women and girls, that art can often be a means to a greater form of empowerment. It can often be an outlet for many women and men: whatever form it takes, whether it’s poetry, whether it’s writing, whether it’s painting as well. For me art has always been a close companion in the journey and even in terms of my cover of my book, Kay Singleton-Keller an Australian artist, created this image. I love this image because I love nature and sea and dogs and trees. It really spoke to me and it’s called ‘woman drinking from the river of life’. In the book I have a couple of other images from an aboriginal artist Tracey Moffatt, who created an amazing image from a series called ‘Invocations’ and in this particular image the woman is looking up to the sky and looking up to ravens who are a great symbol of transformation. Another aboriginal artist, Emily Kame Kngwarreye, a women who really wasn’t discovered in her art until was in her 80s, created the most extraordinary landscapes of her own dreaming, of her own dreaming country and then on the back of my book is an image of Sybil Shearer, an amazing American dancer who was so bold in her creativity and her originality and in her explanation of body. I thought this idea of this leaping spirit; it really spoke to me because I often feel like a leaping spirit. I often feel like even if I’m in this really challenging situation or board meeting or whatever there’s a sense of me that’s always playing in my mind and even in expressing myself I really love the opportunity. Even if you’re having a challenging time with a challenging issue, you’ve always got a choice in terms of how you can respond and in terms of what you can tap into and that also speaks to what you were saying earlier, Annie, about having a rich spirit life and ensuring that it’s replenished because it will stand you in good stead, whatever you happen to do in your working life.

Annie:

It’s so refreshing to hear all of this. One of the reason why I find your book so unique is because you actually do bring spirit and art and joy and nourishment and really weave it into your development path and it provides a contrast to what you might typically view as sort of cut and dry and a very linear, western development path to be on and ways of being on that path. In your book what’s so clear is that the role of nourishment and retreat and soulful, spiritual engagement just plays such a critical role for you. Can you tell us a little bit more about exactly what you were talking about, how you don’t see the two things as separate but how you see them weaving together and how maybe they have to be?

Jane:

I think it’s true for a lot of people I know as well, I think as a field we haven’t really paid enough attention to self-care.  We need to more, particularly as women, and this is one of my great dreams, and you know this Annie, to create women’s place of rest, which isn’t about women going and having to write reports and presentations and research but it truly is an opportunity for women to go and restore themselves, re-energise, have massages, have reflective time, do whatever they would like to do. Be nourished in soul and spirit and I think that, that’s really important. It’s important for me at the end of the day, I think that’s why I chose Sausalito as a place to live here because it gives me a connection with an extraordinary community of artists and I feel that whatever I’m dealing with during the day, I’ve always got water to come home to, I’ve always got yoga, to go and do an art class to go and hang out with the houseboat community and I think whatever your passion is, I think it’s really important in life I to recognise the role that creativity and artistry and poetics play.

 Annie:

You know your work centers around women’s empowerment, and the way you live your life is an empowering message as well. When I hear you speak and when I hear you share this I feel like I have permission to craft my life in whatever way works for me and whichever way feels nourishing and so I just want to name that and on so many different levels your work is so empowering and this book is so empowering.

Jane:

I think that, and thank you so much for saying that, I think what really inspires me in my time here is the more time you go and spend with women’s rights groups on the ground the more extraordinary you realise their own wisdom and lives are. That is why it was really important for me to write this book and what I’m really hopeful for in the time ahead is that Global Fund and others can manifest platforms like a global women’s press where we actually lift up the wisdom, the incredible wisdom, extraordinary wisdom, strength and power and courage of women the world over.  That we actually reflect back to donors and to a wider world of corporations and governments, the wisdom of women’s groups, of women’s movements and of women’s learning because I think that’s a great opportunity for us now. It’s to go from the individual to the collective and lift up that collective wisdom and that collective dreaming of women and women’s groups globally.  That’s why I’m just so excited to be doing that work that I’m doing and I feel so embraced — even in this room tonight — by the support that I can feel and the energy that I can feel in the room.

Annie:

Thank you Jane – and speaking of the energy in the room, now we’re at the other official time of the night, I’m going to shift it over to the audience. We do want to make time for questions from the audience about anything that Jane talked about tonight, anything that you haven’t heard, anything that you’ve read in the book that you want to ask her about. We are going to open up for questions now.

Susan:

Thank you, my name is Susan, I have been a believer in and supporter of Global Fund for a long time now and I will continue to be, but I say to you that economic conditions in this country continue to produce, and cause, very damaging privation, especially for children. It is very troubling, very saddening and very aggravating that we have so failed to keep this a high priority, the welfare development of children and their families. I know Global Fund’s work and your work has been focused on communities outside of the United States but I would welcome some comment, some wisdom or guidance about this concern about what we need to do?

Jane:

Thank you, I think it’s a critical question to be asking and I think for me coming to the US a few years ago I feel like I see this country with fresh eyes. Before we came on stage,  Annie and I were talking very much about the issues that you’ve just raised. Of course I’m with my colleague from the Woman’s Funding Network, which does have a focus and support for women’s groups across the US. And we at the Global Fund have also been talking very much about how we make the link more deeply between the work that we support in other countries and the reality of being an organisation that is located in the US.  And also how we address the reality of the policies of the US and the impact it has on communities in this country as well as communities overseas. I think that it will be a conversation we have with greater urgency in time ahead for the reasons that we’ve just stated. I think that it’s really important for us and I know that from working with Women’s World Banking previously in New York it’s important to make the connection between what’s happening here and what’s happening globally. I would love to see Global Fund support one project in the US as a demonstration of our commitment to addressing issues here and our commitment to addressing issues globally. I would hope that we might get there, it’s going to take more conversations and I think that it would make for a more of a powerful movement for the time ahead by showing that the interplay between programs on the ground and influencing policy and shifting power is critical.  That’s why I think we could play a unique role in terms of that policy influence and shifting of power and asking the question ‘what’s really going down here? What’s really causing this issue to be perpetuated?’  While there’s many issues to be addressed, we can draw on the wisdom and expertise of our investment over 25 years in many countries and the learning of other communities as well and bring it back here. This way we demonstrate the flow between the US and other communities globally. I would love to have a conversation about this with you; I think it’s a really critical issue.

 Susan:

The prospect of bringing the value of Global Fund’s approach — that the best solutions are the solutions in the community, that would be a splendid demonstration and a course of action, if you will, because while people in the United States who experienced privation, so much that purports to meet their needs comes from above in a hierarchical pre-programmed way.

Jane:

I totally agree with you and I think in terms of lives of women and girls, thinking about trafficking for instance, I spoke about what we were addressing in Nepal in bringing together a lot of women’s rights groups across Asia have and of course there are also many trafficking issues in the US.  Sexual violence is a critical issue for girls on college campuses, domestic violence everywhere, there’s so many issues that we could support here that we have been supporting for many years in other communities.

Michelle:   

So Jane, I think of you as such a calm, even person and, personally, it’s hard not to get angry about what affects a lot of women and girls particular if you’re on the ground talking to them face to face. And, so, I’m just wondering do you get angry and if so what do you do with it?

Jane:

Yes, I get angry and I think my partner Josh would be the best person in the room to answer that question if he were here!  I think it’s often with your family and your closest friends that you’re able to vent and Annie’s also of course experienced this.  I get angry and yet I think I’m constructive with my anger. I think there’s a place for you to just vent and speak your mind in whatever way and I think I’ve also really learnt to use anger constructively and to ensure that I’m directing that emotion in ways that are really going to serve the ends that I’m looking for. I think that sometimes the calmest voice is the most deadly voice when you’re addressing issues in a conflict zone, which is where I’ve found myself a number of times.  When you’re dealing with people in authority and you’re dealing with death threats, the calmer you are the more reassuring it is for the people around you, but it can also be a warning voice to the person that you are addressing at the time. So I’ve learnt to use my anger in ways that serve me well in the situation.

Betsy:

So Jane, I so much admire the work that you do and also just your way of being in the world and I love that you said that art inspires you and that fact of your jumping spirit. I would love to hear a little bit more about sort of the personal views of what brought you to this work and what gives you the passion for what you do and what brought you into this in the first place that drives and inspires your passion?

Jane:

Thank you, that’s such a great question. You know my grandmother who died, who was so dear and precious to me, she used to say to me “I’ve got no idea where you’ve come from, you are just someone out of the box, I can’t trace you, you’re really different.” I didn’t really take that as criticism because I knew how much she loved me.  I think from a very young age — and I speak about this in the book as well — I had the voice of these crones, these wise women in my head and I always felt really comforted by them. They felt really true to me and I often had conversations with them and I think that sense of that compassion and that desire to really make a difference was always there for me. I think my parents talk about that too. It manifested for me in many different ways and in my writing, even when I read my journals when I was very young, in my trying to find a path and it took me a really long time. I think when you’re in Australia in a working class environment, you really want to find ways to break out of what you see as your restrictions but it takes time to do that and I just kept my eyes on a bigger world and stayed very close to my passions. So in my early work life, I worked with The Freedom From Hunger Campaign which was a really valuable experience for me, thinking about how you encourage other to tap into their own compassion, particularly at a time when no one wanted to be giving overseas, they just wanted to give in their own country.  And so I think part of it was just in my spirit, in my atoms even, the person I’ve really connected with. I also loved time alone and I loved time with nature and time with books and with animals. So the more- than-human world has been really important for me in the way that I perceive and conceive life.  I think when you’re not afraid — because I think that’s the other thing, I haven’t been afraid in a very long time. There’s been certain things in my life which I haven’t shared in the book, that have given me a boldness and a sense of “what’s the worst that can happen?”, and I think when you have that sense of yourself, then you can really just venture into many territories that are unchartered and not look back.  Some of my friends have been quite horrified by the situations I’ve thrown myself into and yet I think that combination of compassion, commitment, conviction, desire to act, a sense of urgency and a deep curiosity have probably fuelled me on my own journey and led me to where I am today.

© Bowerbird Photography 2014-20Annie:

We have time for I think maybe one or two more questions. We’ll see if we can get through two. I did see your hands raised, just there in the middle. Thank you Elaine for running the microphone.

Member of the audience:

Thank you for these insights, I think many of us are hopeful that the 21st century is ‘women’s century’. The commission understands that women just call for a stand-alone goal on gender for the next millennium development goals. We know that every time women come to their power, there seems to be a reaction back, a push back from those in power wherever we are and I just wonder if that is our hope for this century. What would your thoughts be on dealing with that push back that comes every time with progress?

Jane:

Thank you, that’s again a really important question, I think that in terms of the time ahead, we need both stand-alone gender goals as well as ensuring that gender is embedded and addressed in all of the sustainable development goals in a way that didn’t happen with the millennium development goals. I think it’s absolutely crucial. I also think that it’s really important for every UN agency as well as governments to be accountable for the gender outcomes of every program that they’re undertaking and not just stating that accountability but ensuring that we have a framework where there can be spot gender checks in terms of how organisations and governments are tracking when it comes to gender. We need that regulatory framework at every level, including with corporations and NGOs. I think we all know there has been another push back at the idea of another global women’s conference because of the fear that religious, fundamentalism will really drive women’s gains back and will really push back those gains that we have already sort of secured. I think it’s important for us to find a way to have another Global Women’s Conference and to design it in a way where we can move the agenda forward for women, rather than allow it to be pushed back. I think that there is that opportunity. There’s some really great work happening in that arena at the moment, and I know it was one of the panels that was held during the last UN Commission on the Status of Women. We have an opportunity to be able to tap into our collective power, there’s a new opportunity now with new technologies as well to be able to drive something that isn’t just about physical conference that it is about our virtual and physical connectivity.  With Global Fund having now merged with International Museum of Women we as an organisation have a much more powerful digital and technological platform for our own advocacy as well as supporting many women’s rights groups globally.  If we play that out in terms of a much broader context of women’s rights and you see what’s happened with movements like the One Million Rising movement, there’s a great opportunity to imagine what a global women’s conference might gain if we were thinking both virtually and physically and harnessing the incredible power and might that women could collectively gain. The other thing I would say with the new goals that are being set is that the millennium development goals didn’t account for the inequity within countries, such as the inequity between Indigenous peoples and non-Indigenous peoples in countries like Canada and Australia and New Zealand. These countries didn’t have to have to account for the deep inequity between the Indigenous and non-Indigenous population. We need to do a lot more in the time ahead to support Indigenous women’s human rights and I think the UN World Conference on Indigenous Peoples’ that will be happen in September in New York this year is a great opportunity to organise and hopefully support Indigenous women to realize their human rights.

Member of the audience:

So you mentioned in the interview need for more participation of women public decisions; being members of boards and elected. In the years that you have been working in women’s rights, do you have any examples of projects or movements that really made a difference in that area and what was unique about it, something that you can remember that you can share with us?

Jane:

Yes, absolutely, I should say that in terms of talking about women in leadership it’s also really important that we not just focus on local governments and national parliaments that we also think about women in every aspect of civil rights, giving them a voice wherever they happen to be. As I said before, women recognising the power of their own voice and building confidence is really important. For me a personal example, one of the things I did earlier in my life is I applied for a lot of fellowships, a lot of scholarships, anything to get into a broader space. One of the fellowships that I received allowed me to go and live in Fiji and I got to work with a number of Pacific women, who were really concerned with the lack of representation of Pacific women in national parliaments – 1% – and only about 19% in local governments across the entire Pacific.  So we worked on a program at both levels, local and national, to really look at what the barriers were for women in nominating for local council election as well as for national parliaments.  Of course many women talked about the fact that it’s much easier for women to try and get into local government than be part of national parliament in the first instance.  Many women said that local government often gives them a step up and an opportunity to influence their husbands and men in their local community in terms of nominating for national parliament once they’re in local government. What was really important for us in doing this work was looking at the amount of research that had been undertaken. These issues included the pros and cons of quota systems for women and yet so many of those research projects didn’t go the next step to address the practical barriers to women. These barriers included the need to offset childcare, to support women in their transport needs in getting to different communities to talk about what they do as a local member, to support women to access money for campaign material and marketing and how to learn to use their voice effectively. And I saw how important it was to create a fund, an actual election fund for women that would be discretionary and that would allow them to be able to tap into small amounts of money in able to offset that real cost for them of engaging and nominating for election. Imagine what it would be like if we could do that for women in communities globally. Imagine if we could achieve the kind of result that has been achieved in Rwanda with the extraordinary number of women, the majority of women that are in national parliament there. And, I think quite often it is those very practical barriers that stop women from stepping up at a local level and a national level and I would love us to create a global election fund for women to be able to support that work.

© Bowerbird Photography 2014-26Member of the audience:

Hi Jane, there is no chance you’re not working on the next thing. So what is your next book going to be about?

Jane:

Well, I love about my work at Global Fund and I think the great thing about working for Global Fund is that you do have the ability to support great initiatives by women being put it into action. I think the combination of extraordinary experience, intellect and skills of the women I work with and the women supported by Global Fund energizes me every day. And my colleagues who have deep fundraising and development experience to help raise funds for work that has been deeply informed by women’s rights groups on the ground and girls on the ground, and is being led by them. We have such a visionary President and CEO in Musimbi Kanyoro – she’s also someone who is both connected to the work by women’s groups on the ground and very open to new ideas and new opportunities. That combination is rare.  Of course being located in San Francisco with the innovation, the technology the creativity that’s here is also special. I’m really hoping in the time ahead that we can forge an even greater partnership between communities and enterprises in San Francisco and what we are doing at Global Fund.  I’m so excited about the Bay Area Alliance for Women and Girls, and Annie is on the Steering Group together with a number of my colleagues in the audience.  Global Fund is a formal partner because it is designed as a partnership between local and global organisations focused on women’s and girls’ empowerment. It includes those based here that are working locally and those based here that are working globally in order to lift up women’s and girl’s leadership and networks for change. So I would really hope some of the ideas I have already shared tonight might happen.   The idea of creating a powerful mentoring platform, a global speakers’ bureau, the idea of creating a new election fund, the idea of a safe spaces for women and girls initiative (rooms of one’s own) in developing countries, the idea of women’s places of rest to really pay attention to self care in the time ahead and for me, personally, a commitment to mentoring young women and young men.  I really want to spend time with them in the journey they’re on and support them in whatever ways are useful.

Annie:

Couldn’t you just listen to her all day? I’m going to put a plug in because I really loved your question. Do have another book in you? What’s next? First of all I think everybody should read this book, it’s extraordinary. Also, I really want to recommend going to Jane’s blog: ‘janeintheworld.com’, because she has letters from San Francisco and letters from Hawaii and letters from New York. They’re beautiful, I’m not even going to call them micro-essays because they’re fairy hefty, beautiful essays that take everything we have been talking about tonight and they go further and they’re new and they are fresh related to world events that come up or pieces of art or pieces of history. Beautiful writings from Jane, so please be sure to check out her blog too, to stay abreast of her writing and her thoughts because it’s clear that you are a rich source of inspiration, certainly to me.

© Bowerbird Photography 2014-19Jane:

Thank you so much, I’ve really appreciated this conversation. It’s really affirming for me to have you all here tonight and to have Annie as my interviewer of choice and to have so many of my colleagues here tonight who have invested so much into this evening, I am inspired daily in my work and I want to thank Siri, my wonderful partner at work, and a great supporter in every way.  I would also like to call out Renee and Jenna, who did so much to make tonight a reality and Elaine my wonderful colleague on the leadership team, for whom I have so much respect for and I can see so many others who are sitting here: Sangeeta, Atema, Caroline, Mary — so thank you for all of you for being here,  I gain so much energy from  interactions with each of you and I think that search for love and truth and beauty is one that we can reflect on every day — how we choose to act and how we choose to be.  I feel like it’s such a privilege to be working for the Global Fund and to be here in San Francisco, to be up on stage now and I’m really looking forward to the journey ahead.  Thank you.

 

All photo’s courtesy of the wonderful Ariel and Sam of Bowerbird Photography
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ranscript by Caitlin Harris