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Request for Proposals: Feminist Republik Healing Justice Research

Aims and Objectives

Urgent Action Fund-Africa (UAF-Africa) underwent an extensive thinking process to arrive at a decision to focus on conducting research on healing justice as one of the central areas of the work of the African Women Human Rights Defenders Platform (the Feminist Republik).  Several brainstorming sessions with women’s human rights defenders (WHRDs), a scoping study, reflecting on grantmaking trends and consultations with feminist activists and practitioners who form the feminist conclave (the Republik’s advisory group) all resulted in an ever-growing realisation that healing justice is a concept and a framework that needs feminist probing. Healing justice is based on an acknowledgement of histories of generational trauma experienced by specific groups of people due to their location at the periphery of societies. Gender, race and class play very specific roles in making black, indigenous, gender non-conforming activists targets of state and non-state actors’ aggression, harms and abuse. Healing justice acknowledges the gender, race and class dynamics associated with generational trauma and centers healing as an approach to social justice organising. The importance of creating time and resources for healing in a global structure that isolates it from political and economic factors is at the heart of healing justice as a radical approach to organising.

A healing justice approach acknowledges the prohibitive costs associated with medicalized responses to trauma, which excludes those without the economic resources or institutional support from timely and effective care. Healing justice as a framework recognises that there’s a loss of faith in the system, but the system is with us. It is a way to provide a coping mechanism whilst operating in an injustice system.

The decision to start the research work of the Republik with healing justice comes from the decision by the conclave to center healing justice as an approach that shapes the work of the platform. This is because it was evident from collective thinking and discussions that healing justice, as a conceptual approach to thinking about collective care and holistic security practices, cannot be separated as a distinct area of work, which would remove it from its political framing. Healing justice was understood as a political framework that will guide the Republik’s work and support of WHRDs in terms of care, healing, protection and the documentation and understanding of the roots of the violence faced by WHRDs and ways of addressing it. The geographical scope of this research is the entire African continent. 

Based on several discussions conducted with WHRDs and conclave members, the following are suggested research questions:

  1. What is healing justice? What is the historical tracking of how the term has evolved? Why are we focusing on this concept and for who? 
  2. How is the work of feminist / indigenous traditional healers, feminist activist groups, and women who might not identify as feminist healers (holistic practitioners, for example) centering healing justice frameworks?

 (3 case studies from 3 different regions on the continent)

  • What practices are used to support healing within the parameters identified from the practices of different groups on the continent?
  • How have healing spaces been set up? What resources are required for them to function? Who is healing and how? Who is doing the healing and how?

(3 case studiesfrom 3 different regions on the continent)

  • What healing spaces exist on the continent? How have they been set up? What do they look like? 
  • What resources already exist (including individuals, knowledge, methods, etc.)?
  • What does this framework offer that other wellbeing, care and trauma healing models do not?
  • Is the term ‘healing justice’ the best fit for an African context? If not, what alternative terms could we use?
  • Recommendations for the work of the Feminist Republik.
  • Recommendations for funders.

The research aims to develop an African feminist understanding of healing justice (including an analysis of the term and whether or not we decide to use it or develop an alternative). The research will provide guidance and frame future work of the Feminist Republik on healing justice. Recognising the varying contexts in which African women’s human rights defenders (WHRDs) operate, the research should draw and build upon a broad range of practices from initiatives taking place in different regions by feminist groups operating at the local and regional levels.

Scope of work 

UAF-Africa seeks a team of researchers to:

  1. Propose a methodology, carry out the study and write up the key findings, conclusions and recommendations. 
  2. We suggest that the following elements and stakeholders should be considered when designing the methodology 
    1. Literature review of research and documented practices on communal, ancestral and feminist forms of healing. The review should also include research on healing practices as they have been applied by feminist activists and groups, in addition to policies implemented by feminist organisations to address healing needs of their team members or the communities they support. 
    1. Research methods which includes interviews and focus groups discussions with feminist activists and groups implementing healing practices; traditional healers; and academics.
    1. Country contexts: 3 regions on the continent, and 2 countries in each region totaling 6 countries. The researchers would need to spend 4-5 days in each country. 3 lead researchers and 3 research assistants would be needed, who have French and Swahili language capacity. 
    1. Size of research team: 3 lead researchers and 3 research assistants. 
    1. Time frame: It is expected that the research is completed by April 30, 2020.  

Deliverables: 

  • Inception report that outlines the scope of work, research methodology which includes proposed data collection and analysis procedures. The report should include a detailed schedule of activities, allocation of days and delivery timeframes;
  • Final draft by April 30, 2020.

Research Team Criteria and Expertise

The research must be led by an African academic institution that is grounded in feminist analysis and methodologies. The institution must have a proven track record of feminist research. The team must have a deep knowledge of women’s human rights, social justice and healing justice issues in Africa. 

The research will be led by a team of 3-4 African feminist researchers and 3 research assistants.

Research team support

The research team will be supported by Urgent Action Fund-Africa and the Feminist Republik Research Working Group members. The research team will take responsibility for ensuring the timely execution of the agreed programme of work and delivery of the agreed upon research products. 

Expression of interest 

Please send a letter of interest, proposed methodology, timeline and budget to Feministrepublik@uaf-africa.org by Monday, August 19, 2019at 5:00 PM East African Time.