Always for the animals : findings and recommendations for organizational governance and regenerative practices in the animal advocacy movement as informed by the stories of women vocational animal activists
Hiddema, Krista Valerie
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In response to the severity and tenacious nature of COVID-19, the United Nations (UN) identified the cessation of intensive animal agriculture as one of three foci necessary to prevent another pandemic as well as to bring human society and the planet back on a healthful course. Animal health, human health, and environmental health were deemed to be the three critical factors, and the UN stressed that all three need to be addressed collaboratively as an integrated whole. The Farmed Animal Advocacy Movement (FAAM or Movement), is a social justice movement working on behalf of farmed animals used for food. Currently, the majority of the work undertaken in Canada and the United States to combat intensive animal agriculture is undertaken by women. Numerous measures, however, assert that the FAAM is failing. A core cause is the troubled state of many FAAM organizations, and the impact this is having on the women employed as vocational animal activists. This qualitative approach to research sought to explore the experiences and recommendations of these women through their stories as a means to deepen the understanding of the FAAM’s organizational practices, and suggest tools for sustainability. A reflexive thematic analysis of in-depth interviews with 33 FAAM vocational activists was conducted. Ubiquitously, the interviews revealed a pervasive culture of oppressive ‘isms’, including racism and sexism, as well as significant illegal employment-based activities. Participants were also queried as to their suggested recommendations in regard to employment and organizational practices. One significant result of these recommendations was the creation of a proposed, practical, reasonable, and abundantly actionable checklist of practices, that, if implemented, may be instrumental in assuring a positive, highly engaging, highly ethical and more sustainable work culture able to perform the essential labour of protecting animals, and by extension, supporting the proposal by the UN to protect society from another pandemic.