This exercise was adapted from content in Mujeres Al Borde’s Manual “Self-Care and Feminist Healing for Unmanageable”
Begin the exercise by introducing the idea of self-care – ask participants if they are familiar with the concept, or know what it is. Define the concept of self-care for the group, and explain that this exercise will be focus on self-care as a feminist practice in the context of WHRDs.
Now, explain how this (very simple) exercise works:
Here are some example questions you can use for this exercise (feel free to also ask any other similar questions focused on self-care that you can think of):
Once everybody has had the chance to answer a question, or otherwise express their thoughts or practices related to self-care, close the discussion by giving a quick summary of what was shared by the group – is this a group of women who are new to self-care as an intentional practice, and perhaps doesn’t practice it very often (or at all)? Perhaps these are women who are already quite familiar with self-care, and practice it regularly? Or maybe it’s a mix of women, some of whom are very familiar and others not so much, who can learn from each other? Highlight any insights or practices shared by the group – and make sure to positively emphasize anything they are already doing well!
Ask the group – are the responsibilities that we have as women human rights defenders different from those of our male counterparts? Discuss the social burdens they are expected to carry, especially the caretaker role - to take care of home and family, and sometimes even work and colleagues – that society often imposes on women.
Analyze how these additional responsibilities can impact their work as WHRDs, and how this compares to the challenges faced by men. Here, you could also raise the issue of the guilt often experienced by WHRDs – they must frequently decide between their activism and their personal lives and families, and feel that regardless of their choice, their choosing of one signifies a profound neglect of the other.
After these discussions, close the exercise by asking participants if they would like to propose any self-care practices for the training process; for example, this could mean beginning the training a bit later each day, taking more frequent and shorter breaks, taking certain meals together, etc.