WOMEN NOT SAFE *

womantra founder: Stephanie Leitch

Womantra will be moving to utilise an independent, neutral third party who will mediate and investigate claims of abusive behaviour of its head.

In a release Womantra stated it has enlisted the guidance of its networks to identify this mediator to investigate claims in order to reach resolution.

It added that in light of this evolving situation and in order to establish independence, Womantra directors Elysse Marcellin and Stephanie Leitch will have no decision-making power or exercise oversight around any aspect of this process, which will be managed by the contracted third-party, who will communicate with the other officers of the organisation.

Womantra stated it published a statement last week to address public allegations and to offer a complaints process that was not well received. It stated that it appreciates and acknowledges the feedback, which was very helpful as it took important decisions on next steps.

“It is not uncommon for organisations to have formal processes for receiving complaints, however we recognise that in certain circumstances formal approaches may be perceived as too bureaucratic and insensitive,” it stated.

“This was not our intention, and we do not wish to make the process of seeking justice more difficult for anyone wanting resolution,” it added. “In light of the claims of abusive behaviour of our organisational head, we were challenged to find a balance addressing these allegations and maintaining a position that was also fair to all parties concerned,” stated Womantra.

“We want to clarify that any claims previously brought to the organisation have been addressed in a formal capacity. It has always been within the character of the organisation to treat any claims with the utmost seriousness, and since these have resurfaced, we are invoking our feminist principles to act responsibly and address the allegations directly, through a proactive approach,” stated Womantra. It stated that as a feminist organisation that is deeply invested in uplifting women, “we must actively create” spaces where all women can feel comfortable to share their truth. “Further, the organisation takes all allegations seriously,and has introduced further steps to guarantee equitable and accountable outcomes,” it stated.

“We hope that this provides further insights and dispels any mistrust that may have informed previous responses to Womantra’s mission and the integrity of the organisation. We remain open to critique and feedback and to continuing our important work in gender justice, legal provision of services, advocacy and lobbying, while managing this difficult situation,” stated Womantra.

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