Caribbean CommsLabs Researcher ToR

Astraea is seeking a consultant(s) to support with research for our Caribbean CommsLabs Landscape Mapping project with the Equality Fund.

Astraea Foundation
The Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice is the only philanthropic organization working exclusively to advance LGBTQI human rights around the globe. We support brilliant and brave grantee partners in the U.S. and internationally who challenge oppression and seed change. We work for racial, economic, social and gender justice because we all deserve to live our lives freely, without fear, and with dignity.

The first grantmaker to hundreds of organizations, Astraea plays a catalytic role for LGBTQI groups around the world – particularly those led by lesbian, bisexual and queer women, trans and gender nonconforming folks, intersex people, and people of color. Our grantmaking, capacity building, media and communications, and philanthropic advocacy programs support their work to build powerful movements for justice. A proud public foundation and one of the first women’s funds in the world, Astraea has granted over $46 million to LGBTQI activists and artists in our 43-year history.

Women’s Voice and Leadership – Caribbean
In September 2018, the Equality Fund (formerly The MATCH International Women’s Fund) and the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice (Astraea) began a partnership to co-implement Women’s Voice and Leadership – Caribbean program (WVL-Caribbean)—a five-year, $4.8 million initiative supported by the Government of Canada to advance women’s and LBTQI rights and gender equality in the Caribbean region. WVL-Caribbean supports the capacity, leadership, and agendas of grassroots women’s rights organizations and LBTQI groups in Jamaica, Belize, Guyana, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Saint Lucia, and Suriname*. The focus is on supporting organizations to advance their own solutions to improve women’s and LBTQI rights and gender equality in their own contexts, especially at the intersections of economic justice; sexual and reproductive health and rights; feminist leadership and movement-building; lesbian, bisexual and trans rights; and climate change.

Caribbean CommsLabs 
Led by Astraea, the ‘Media, Communications, and Technology’ (CommsLabs) program has a vision of a network of linked activists, healers, and technologists from the Global South and East working independently and together to strengthen the next generation of women’s rights and LBTQI human rights advocacy through the use of communications and technology tools. 

The content and production of CommsLabs in the Caribbean will be intentionally grounded in the work, vision, needs, and expertise of those engaged in the Caribbean women’s rights and LBTQI movement. This value is reflected in the proposed shared leadership structures for CommsLabs planning and production, which center a participatory and transparent design and implementation process.

To date, Astraea has held CommsLabs in Colombia, the Dominican RepublicKenya and South Africa. More information can be found in the hyperlinked reports above and here

Summary of Caribbean CommsLabs Research Project
The Caribbean CommsLabs Landscape Mapping is the first of two components of research that will provide a comprehensive overview of the systems of oppression and counter mechanisms for the LGBTQI community within the digital ecosystem of the Caribbean ahead of and in preparation for the Caribbean CommsLab. It will entail an analysis of the factors that shape the socio-technological realities for LBTQI and women’s rights organizing in the Caribbean. It will also serve as a framework for the second component – the Perspectives, Sustainability and Visibility research – to explore and analyze the effects these realities have on values, experiences, needs, and expertise of those engaged in the Caribbean LBTQI and women’s rights movements.

As the initial component of a dynamic and participatory process, the Caribbean CommsLabs Landscape Mapping research and research consultant will be crucial resources in the latter stages of CommsLab design, which will rely on the research insights to direct programming and potential amendments to activity implementation, as to best address the needs of LBTQI and women’s rights organizers in the Caribbean. It is crucial, therefore, that research findings and outputs employ a sound methodological framework and be substantiated with reliable and transparent data.

Taken together, the Caribbean CommsLabs Landscape Mapping and subsequently the Perspectives, Sustainability and Visibility research will provide research-based data to 1) inform the design and thematic scope of a future Caribbean CommsLab convening and 2) be translated into strategic advocacy tools to contribute to the knowledge and work of movement actors, potential strategies and initiatives to address the specific gaps or issues they face, and shift harmful narratives and enhance the position of women’s and LBTQI lives in society.

Scope of the Research
The below proposed themes for the landscape mapping are, by no means, exhaustive, but have been identified as a baseline for lines of inquiry into and understanding of the socio-technological realities in the context of the Caribbean’s digital ecosystem and women rights and LBTQI organizing in the region. At minimum, the research should address: 

  • Framework: The broader digital human rights legislative horizon, jurisprudence and institutional mechanisms at the international, regional and national levels, specifically related to freedom of expression, access to digital infrastructure, data protection and protection of privacy and freedom of assembly and association, and intersectional discrimination in the digital context;
  • Repository of initiatives: Advocacy and policy initiatives, and mechanisms for digital rights, safety, participation, representation and activism by international organizations, government, civil society organizations, women’s rights organizations, and members of the LBTQI community, in particular related to online activism and networking;
  • Conceptual analysis: An analysis of local, regional and sub-regional influences that affect social justice movement organizing, with a particular focus on the rights, safety and participation, representation and activism of women’s rights and LBTQI activists ;
  • Strategic opportunities: around technologies and/or communications tools that advocates could use to further their work;  change opportunities/tipping points, where alliances across movements/sectors should be forged to advance shared agendas. 

The research project aims to use mixed methods, based on human rights  and intersectional approaches, and relying on document analysis and semi-structured interviews. The human rights based approach puts people at the center of inquiry, ensuring that the analysis questions how the holistic digital ecosystem shapes the reality of lived experiences while contextualizing diverse techno-societal and political factors. An intersectional approach is crucial to address the interconnection of race, class and gender and the ways these social categorizations reproduce oppression.

Role Responsibilities 

  • Conduct desk research, data analysis and interviews to provide a landscape map of the digital ecosystem in the Caribbean and implications on the rights, safety, participation, representation and activism of women’s rights and LBTQI organizing;
  • In coordination with the WVL-Caribbean team, identify and prepare interview guidelines and questions for and conduct interviews with key figures and organizations, including State actors, related to advocacy and policy on the rights, safety, participation, representation and activism of women’s rights and LBTQI organizing;
  • Draft recommendations based on landscape mapping research for the design and curriculum of the Caribbean CommsLab;
  • Draft thematic and structural proposals for a survey instrument for women’s rights and LBTQI organizations in the Caribbean related to their experiences, needs, values and expertise in the context of the digital ecosystem;
  • Present research findings and recommendations to WVL-Caribbean coordination team during CommsLab design meetings;
  • Provide data and expertise in the process of translating landscape mapping research findings into sustainable programme design and content;
  • Coordinate with and provide expertise to the WVL-Caribbean coordination team, and Perspectives, Sustainability and Visibility researcher (second component research) following the conclusion of the Caribbean CommsLab, when necessary, to ensure consistency and sustainability of research findings.

Applicant profile
The candidate should have the following skills and qualifications:

  • Minimum 5-7 years of experience in knowledge development with track record of written research, particularly in the fields of human rights and technology;
  • Strong analytical skills and ability to clearly synthesize both normative frameworks and empirical data, using participatory action research and an intersectional perspective;
  • Exceptional written and communication skills in English (Spanishand/ or French are also a plus), including experience presenting research methods and findings to non-technical audiences;
  • Ability to work both independently and as part of a team, and flexibility to work remotely, and across time-zones if necessary;
  • Attention to detail, particularly related to the secure processing of sensitive and personal data;
  • Deep knowledge of women’s rights and LBTQI organizing in the Caribbean;
  • Deep knowledge of trauma-informed, harm reduction-focused, and human rights-based research methods and practices;
  • Project management and/or advocacy experience, particularly the translation of research data into inclusive and transformational change initiatives, would be an advantage.

Application requirements
In addition to a cover letter and CV, please submit a brief proposal outlining a work plan for the research process to or using the form below. The proposal should include:

  • Brief technical framework including methodology and research process;
  • Three references with name, title and organization, and contact information;
  • A portfolio of projects and previous publications;
  • A financial and timeline proposal.

Proposals received by Feb. 26, 2021 will be prioritized, and reviewed on a rolling basis until the position is filled. Astraea will contact selected candidates for an interview before making a final decision and offer.

* – Even though WVL-Caribbean is being implemented in these eight CARICOM countries, when possible, and in the spirit of regional movement building, other Caribbean countries may also benefit from project components such as capacity-building and networking and alliance building, including the Caribbean CommsLabs.

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