LLL Today #4 – Inclusivity and Outreach

The LLLI Inclusion and Outreach (I & O) Committee was created to advise the LLLI Board of Directors and make recommendations aimed at increasing inclusivity and outreach throughout La Leche League. The committee is committed to increasing accessibility so all families receive compassionate support to nurture and respond to their families’ needs.

To create more accessibility, it is important to explore the systems of oppression, discrimination and barriers that currently exist which make it challenging for families to access our services. One of the first steps in exploring those barriers is providing additional opportunities for learning and self exploration on Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Restorative Justice (EDI & RJ). To that end, the I & O Committee collaborates to create unique learning sessions for attendees from the LLLI Board, LAD Council, as well as administrators from the LLL Direct Connect Entities.

For our most recent Learning Session, we were grateful to partner with Communication Skills Instructors to offer smaller group opportunities to discuss “Getting Called Out, Defensiveness, and Ways to Respond.” 

The confidential, small group break out rooms were facilitated by dedicated Leaders to explore specific questions which promote self-evaluation and problem-solving strategies. Education was provided to deepen understanding of getting called out and managing defensiveness. Tools were provided to help effectively respond when being called out. Some role-play was presented to give concrete examples of potential scenarios. 

Two concepts were highlighted: tone policing and implicit bias. Tone policing occurs when someone criticizes the way an argument or situation about oppression is presented due to personal discomfort, instead of engaging the issue directly. Implicit bias can cause someone to expect marginalized people to always communicate in a “nice” way to ease one’s discomfort about harm they may have done. It’s important to embrace the discomfort and work to listen and problem-solve when our actions/words hurt others, even when done unintentionally. 

Practical suggestions for being accountable were provided, as well as ways to move forward. Some strategies for overcoming mistakes include actively listening to the party affected by it, expressing gratitude for their willingness to share, acknowledging what happened, and taking personal responsibility to learn more about the topic of concern. Keep in mind that it is never the responsibility of marginalized people to educate others, and putting them in that position often contributes to additional harm.  

During the 2022-2023 I & O Committee term, we also offered “Working Together to Implement Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Restorative Justice” in October of 2022. The session was facilitated by committee member Mercedes Pridgen (LLL Alliance), who was joined by committee members Petrichor Kneeland-Campbell (LLL USA) & Benaifer Bhandari (LLLGB), as well as Leaders Lorraine Taylor (LLLNZ) & Lydia de Raad (EAN). 

Here are some highlights from that learning session included:

·        Petrichor Kneeland-Campbell shared their vast experience in forming committees to better address inclusivity and outreach. They highlighted the importance of the utmost respectful support for those with lived experience of being marginalised, as well as the need to protect against burnout while doing this work. 

·        Lorraine Taylor shared a brief history of New Zealand’s colonisation, the impact of that on breastfeeding and, therefore, LLL NZ’s response and obligations in that context. She discussed LLL NZ’s committed efforts to work in a more just way through extensive research, listening to those with lived experience and applying principles of good governance to the organisation. 

·        Benaifer Bhandari shared how inspiring LLLGB’s fearless fight against the patriarchy was in its protection for women, mothers and parents, and where we are now, using that same passion to address other human rights issues in the world of breastfeeding/chestfeeding/human milk feeding. 

·        Lydia de Raad drew upon her vast publication experience. She shared strategies to create publications that focus on accessibility. She emphasized the importance of writing to the audience you want to reach. Nowadays parents are used to short tidbits of information with lots of pictures. You have to ‘catch’ their attention. It is important to look at socioeconomics, literacy, disabilities, gender identity, neurodiversity, etc. to be able to create materials that are welcoming to all families. There are huge groups of people who do not easily access our materials. Having them in mind and focus helps to create accessibility.

We are welcoming new members for the 2023-2024 fiscal year. If you have a passion for Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Restorative Justice (EDI & RJ) and want to be part of an amazing group of Leaders from around the world, please email iandocmte@llli.org to learn more about this committee.

Inclusivity and Outreach Committee