‘Consciousness Raising Groups for Young Women’– Insights from CAT Fellow

This Blog was developed by Ani Gogberashvili for the Centre for Training and Consultancy (CTC).

In 2018 I had the opportunity to participate in Community Action Training (CAT) followed by a two-week job-shadowing visit to Malaga, Spain. There, I gained theoretical knowledge of non-violent action (NVA) and practical experience in working with a feminist organization. It gave me a chance to carry out my project in my field of interest.

My work is connected to gender research and women’s issues in Georgia. Therefore, I focused my project on building solidarity and raising awareness among young women. I chose to base my project in Gori to develop new connections and open ways for future cooperation with girls from a different town. My idea was to organize a conscious raising (CR) group comprising a maximum of fifteen girls and discussing various topics relevant to our lives as women living in Georgia.

The idea behind the group was to create a bonding space for women, whose problems are often regarded as “personal”, when in reality these issues mostly result from systemic forms of oppression in patriarchal societies. This space allows women to communicate more freely, discuss shared challenges, identify problems together and spark collective actions for change. Small group consciousness-raising was a popular form of activism. It was even described as a backbone of the feminist movement in the 1960s, during the second wave of feminism. And, it is still widely used within feminist movements in many countries.

Before this project, I didn’t have experience with CR groups, and I figured that this was a great chance to do it. I organized six meetings with girls from Gori, and we discussed issues like gender-based violence, economic empowerment, feminist activism, gender and popular culture, etc. The sessions were non-hierarchical, in the sense that everyone had an equal opportunity to talk about their personal experiences without interruption. The setting was different from regular training or workshop with a fixed agenda. We also watched short movies and discussed texts.

Overall, I think we succeeded in creating a safe and comfortable space for discussion and laid the groundwork for future collective actions. CAT program with all its aspects was an extremely productive experience for me and contributed a lot to my current work and future plans.