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Billy King


Nonviolence News


Occasionally we bring you a nonviolence training workshop or material based on the experience of INNATE. These are being added to the Workshops section of the INNATE website. This month we share a useful exercise for getting to grips with what people really think on a topic.

Gender and Violence - "En-gendering violence"

[Click here to view print version]

A one day exploratory workshop

This workshop is intended as an initial exploration of issues concerning gender and violence and would take around a day, about 7 hours, including a break for lunch. It can be done with an existing group, an existing group with other people coming in specially, or a once off group gathering for this event.

It is designed as an event for mixed genders, and the assumption is made in this programme that those present are happy to identify as either 'men' or 'women'. If not then there can be the creation of a third group, e.g. trans-gender persons, for pairing and for the caucus. If a third group is created in the day, or likely to happen, then more time needs to be given for the gender caucus questions as, instead of one group asking another questions, and being asked in return, each of three groups would be asked questions by two other groups, and timing will be tight or extra time needs to be allowed. Some other modifications of the programme and terminology would also be necessary in the event of a third group presence.

It is suggested that facilitation should be by a female and a male facilitator working together. If a third group is created, a member of that group could facilitate the session drawing up questions to ask the others. The facilitators can generally leap-frog each other in terms of what they facilitate, and both can share parts as they feel appropriate.

It is helpful if participants are provided with a shorter, edited version of this programme so they have specific instructions to refer to when necessary; exact timings are not required for participants but the time (hour) of starting, lunch break, restarting after lunch, and finishing are helpful. Participants can also be provided with a resource sheet for further reading, both printed materials and web addresses; this is not included here since every group may need special references. However the one-page resources handout used by INNATE is available on request (to the INNATE e-mail address) and this can be modified according to the needs and geographical location of the training.

The gender caucus is focused on the issue of 'violence', or a specified area in relation to violence; gender caucusing can be used more openly, in other contexts, without presetting a topic area.

Timings are estimates and totally subject to change according to the needs, wishes, talkativeness and size of the group; timings are given from 'door opening' time (00.00) through to the finish - these can be translated into 'actual time on the clock' for the facilitators' and participants' copies of the programme.

Gender and violence is a big topic with many possible area of relevance; inter-personal and 'domestic' violence, intra-society violence (as with sectarian conflict or violence between rival groups), and international violence and war. Where the focus is for a particular group will vary and this is fine; if you want the focus to be wide-ranging the facilitators may need to refer to these three levels of violence, and draw them out, especially if participants come mainly from one of these 'fields'.


There may be participants who have painful experiences of one or more varieties of violence. It is worth stating at the start that the workshop is not intended as a therapeutic group but rather to stimulate thought and action. Facilitators still need to be ready to address strong emotions if they emerge, and, if necessary, support those who express such emotion, and this may need to be done individually and not in group session.

If the group is an ongoing one then 'steps to realise the vision' may be particularly important. These can be followed up in the ongoing life of the group.


Time from start -

00.00 Doors open; teas and coffee available

00.30 Welcome, context, agenda and ground rules including confidentiality

- Confidentiality as in a version of Chat'em House Rules -

1) you can share in general what happened in the workshop but not attribute names,

2) do not share very personal stories which may make the person identifiable, and

3) only share your own story in plenary here, not your partner's in pairs.

- Introduction to agenda including "This is not a therapy group....."

00.40 Introductions; participants share

a) Name and where from

b) Why here

c) Complete statement "As a man I enjoy......." or "As a woman I enjoy......." with a description which can be typical or untypical for your gender, of which you are aware.

[Introductions can be modified according to the nature of the group; however it is still worth doing even for a group which is perceived to know each other - it is likely some people will not know others well]

00.55 First Thoughts exercise in gender-specific pairs. First person to speak takes a) below, second takes b), listener writes down responses and gives them to speaker.

a) "Men and violence" x 10

b) "Women and violence" x 10

[For First Thoughts exercise; see 'Workshop' on INNATE website; it is probably worth writing out more detailed instructions for participants]

01.05 Sharing in pairs including 'What surprised me in this exercise?'

01.15 Plenary; Brief comments on First Thoughts exercise

01.35 Brainstorm (list on chart)

a) Women and the cost of violence [again, you may or may not want to spell out violence as inter-personal, inter-group and international, as in war]

b) Men and the cost of violence

[For brainstorming in general, see 'Workshops' on INNATE website. The topic of the brainstorm can be modified to fit the group.]

01.50 Discussion and grouping of issues from brainstorm

[If desired, issues can be grouped together, links can be made using different coloured markers]

02.20 Small gender-specific groups (number depending on gender balance, possibly 4 - 8 in a group) on topic;

How I feel about being a man/woman in relation to violence?

A scribe to write down main points to take to following session.

02.50 Gender caucus (all men in one group, all women in other); Deciding on questions to ask 'the other' group in the

area of violence. Introduction from facilitators and then divide into groups.

[Female facilitator works to get together women's questions, male facilitator men's - depending on time you might aim to have 3 or 4 questions from each group which would be dealt with in 30 minutes each]

03.20 Lunch break [this can be shorter than an hour by agreement and allow earlier departure]

04.20 Plenary cross-gender session

a) Women ask the men questions

b) Short break if needed

c) Men ask the women questions

05.30 Visioning exercise;

a) Individual; 5 - 10 minutes to list/draw "What future do I want?" in relation to this area of work

05.40 b) Gender-based small groups to share each vision briefly

[Possibly in same gender groups as before]

05.50 c) These groups start to think and list steps to realising the vision

06.10 d) Plenary; Realising the vision - steps

Listing steps and 'who can do them' on flip chart or board

Discuss any possible follow up

06.40 Wrap up and complete evaluation forms and/or do group evaluation [e.g. 'Please share two sentences about today's workshop....']

by 7.00 hours from start

Close and departure

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