2020 has been a very difficult year for most. The COVID-19 pandemic has monopolised our lives and has had terrible impacts on our health, wellbeing, livelihoods, environment, and political and social behaviours.
Amid this challenging year, Young Feminist Europe (YFE) has also had and overcome its own crisis. As it turns out, over the past months, and unknowingly, we had enabled a complex and toxic environment. Longevity had been confused with power. Opposing ideas on feminism and intersectionality met. Behaviours of white fragility sparked. Members were silenced and bullied. Miscommunication. Frustration. As a result, there was a confrontation to ensure feminist, intersectional, and participatory values prevailed in the organisation.
We believe accountability is crucial to uphold the intersectional feminist values, principles and practices we advocate for. In consequence, members who engaged in such behaviour are no longer part of YFE nor able to engage with us. Unfortunately, because of this environment, we also lost other valuable members who we truly miss and who will always have a place and a mic at YFE. We stand in solidarity with activists, members and non-members, who got hurt by abuse of power, harassment, internalised racism, and unrecognized white privilege – and for that reason a public apology will be issued.
This internal restructuring work was tough and uncomfortable, but we are also proud that we had the courage to lean in, and to do the work that was necessary, so we can become the intersectional feminist organisation that we are striving to be, acknowledging that this is constant and continuous work.
As we keep growing and improving, it is essential that we learn from our mistakes and progresses from 2020 to ensure next year is a great year for feminist leadership, collaborative action, and systemic change in ourselves, our communities, our institutions, and the world.
Current members of Young Feminist Europe have spent the past months assessing our old structures, practices, and the distribution of power within the organisation through a feminist and intersectional lens. We have established new principles, guidelines, and accountability mechanisms to ensure that Young Feminist Europe is an organisation that creates trust and solidarity, and that allows for co-ownership and shared leadership. In addition, we have recruited a number of incredibly talented and passionate young, diverse feminists that will take our advocacy, movement building, and awareness-raising work to a whole new level.
As we keep growing and improving, it is essential that we learn from our mistakes and progresses from 2020 to ensure next year is a great year for feminist leadership, collaborative action, and systemic change in ourselves, our communities, our institutions, and the world. We hope that we can encourage other organisations to challenge their own power structures as well, and hold themselves and individuals accountable when causing harm, standing in solidarity with those who have been harmed. After all, we can’t transform the world, if we do not commit to doing the transformative work within.
Some of the documents mentioned will soon be published on our website.