Who/What is VAWG?
The VAWGRN was created after the Middlesex University PV-C Director of Knowledge Transfer, Mark Gray approached Miranda Horvath and suggested that she should put together a on VAWG to work together for funding applications. Mark Gray provided guidance and day to day support was given by Tomi Ayodeji from the Research and Knowledge Exchange Office. Miranda reached out to her networks, there was some consultation via email and an initial meeting took place in September 2019 at Middlesex University.
Initially, the idea was to create a standing consortium that would work together to shape projects focussed on VAWG, search for substantial funding to conduct it, and decide on strategies for identifying and securing it, with the aim of building a viable consortium of researchers. From the many discussions at the meeting in September 2019 and subsequently via email it was apparent that given the huge range of areas of focus and the feelings of isolation from many researchers it was too soon to create a standing consortium for funding applications. There was, however, great enthusiasm for the creation of a network through which people can connect and work together to develop the research, policy and practice agenda and bring a future without VAWG closer.
From the initial meeting, a few people stepped up and offered to help with developing the network. An initial meeting was planned for May 2020, however due to the Covid19 pandemic we instead began holding webinars online. The webinars and the team organising them have grown since then. We have also been able to expand creating sub-groups centred on the development of a Research Events Working Group (REWG) an Early Career Researcher (ECR) network and Specialist Interest Groups (SIG). In May 2021 we became proud members of the End Violence Against Women Coalition. We will continue to grow and develop working closely with EVAW, so this narrative is a work in progress.
How we work
The Steering Group
Apart from Tomi Ayodeji and Pesi Belau’s time, which was funded by Middlesex University from 2019-2021, the VAWGRN is led by a team of volunteers all of whom are researchers from a variety of backgrounds with a range of experiences and we are keen to diversify further. The only criteria for being part of the steering group is that someone is actively engaged in researching VAWG and has some time they can put towards developing the network.
VAGWRN steering group meetings are held bi-monthly and last between 1-1.5 hours. Sub-groups have been developed for focused areas of work like the ECR network and SIGs. These groups meet monthly and feed into the leadership team meetings.
The VAWGRN steering group embraces all values and all perspectives. Everyone is encouraged to collaborate within and outside of the group to develop the network and their own skills. We do not always agree but we are committed to working together through whatever tensions may arise. You can find out more about the team (past and present) here.
Members of the network
The network is open to anyone who is engaged in VAWG research (at any stage of their career, working in any organisation). Membership of the network comes with no costs and no commitments. We have over 400 members at present. You can join the network here or email us!
- Bringing people together – Researching VAWG is tough; it can be lonely and overwhelming. The VAWGRN is a space for finding other researchers to support one another, and to develop new (and reignite old) collaborations.
- Knowledge exchange and sharing research – The network is committed to providing safe spaces where researchers can share their knowledge, research findings and work in progress.
- Diversifying VAWG Research – VAWG research has often overlooked the experiences of women and girls from marginalised communities, we include trans and non-binary people, and recognise the tension with the network’s name. The VAWGRN is committed working in ways that challenge ableism, racism, classism, heteronormativity. The network is committed to the Anti-Racism Working Group from the VAWG Sector call and is working to adopt its principles and values. The network accepts that this is a work in progress and always welcomes feedback on how to do better.
- Holding things in tension – This is fundamental to the VAWGRN. We are so invested in this idea that we held a webinar devoted to it in May 2021. As a network we accept that we aren’t always going to agree, conversations won’t always be easy and comfortable but by accepting this the network can provide spaces where researchers can discuss difficult, complicated topics and tasks without fear of recrimination. The network aims to provide its members with the opportunity to come together in spaces where respectful constructive criticism and challenge is the norm.
- Celebrating hard work – The network takes every opportunity to celebrate and raise the profile of its members achievements.