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Panel discussion: Putting on your own oxygen mask first? The role of “self-care” in building sustainable social movements.



Valentina Likhoshva, Moscow Community Center, activist from Russia

Lara Özlen, Activist from Turkey

Kapil Gupta, Sigrid Rausing Trust

Moderated by Mina Skouen, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee

Mina Skouen

First of all, I want to say thank you for yesterday, it was very interesting to listen to both keynote and the discussion.


Today, we're shifting a bit the focus into this working group that we started out with. We should discuss something about burnout of activism. And during the first few sessions, when we are discussing, we try to figure out what – when we talk about burnout of activists, and also researchers working in activist sort of contexts, or socially challenging contexts – what are we really talking about? What is actually the consequences of burnout, and what is the solution to prevent burnout? And so we spent quite some time discussing not just what do we want to do, because we have opportunity within this group to carry out some activities, but just trying to pin down when we talk about burnout, what is it that we're talking about? When we talk about wellbeing, these buzzwords, self care, particularly when you go to international conferences, for example, there's always several workshops where we talk about wellbeing, there might be even like yoga classes, silence rooms. So this is obviously an ongoing conversation. And this is the starting point for discussing this topic. What we're hoping for with this panel is that it's not... I mean, for us, it's a little bit of a starting point to what we're going to do further. We wanted to open the conversation about what is it that we're talking about. In what way is burnout to activists affecting our movements? What kind of  rehabilitation programs are people taking part in? What are people doing themselves to prevent burnout? And how does it affect the movement?


We have in mind that first, for now, we're going to have a panel with very interesting input, then we're going to have a breakout session also for you to sort of buzz a little bit around what you guys think, each and every one of you. And then we're going to come back and have more discussion about all the things that we're doing. We're going to make notes and keep it as sort of a little bit of a baseline study for what we're going to do next. Because next we're hoping to make a little bit of mapping of the offers that are made that exist at the moment. What are the needs in the community and what are the offers from the expert community of different kinds of reputations. So this is a little bit of a study we're forseeing. Then also in the process of this, we hope to make some policy recommendations, recommendations to those who fund their projects and their ideas on how they can integrate burnout prevention in their grant making. Policy recommendations also towards other relevant institutions, like organizations like mine [Norwegian Helsinki Committee], for example. There's not a donor organization, but we are a partner organization for many local groups. So this is the backdrop so this panel, we're going to spend some time together now. And then there's going to be a follow up to this in the weeks to come as part of this.

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