Participation and inclusion of survivors in any project and programme is essential because it ensures that it works for both of them. It creates avenues for the improvement of both by ensuring that survivors’ needs are served, whether long-term or short-term, which allows for the projects and programmes to be shaped in such a way that non-survivors may not be able to. It creates a sense of ownership and responsibility to those it is meant to serve. Lack of survivor inclusion in developing and implementing projects and programmes that are for them have often led to them being treated as beneficiaries by including them actively in the implementation process; it will enable the creation of projects that work for them and not vice versa. A major benefit to inclusion of survivors is that it helps build on the underutilised and essential knowledge that they have, the initiative to include survivors can therefore be initiated and encouraged through four main aspects:
It is essential to create avenues where survivors and upcoming survivor leaders can be trained and mentored on essential aspects of the work that goes on around projects and programmes and those with expertise in the same to share their opinion and knowledge with them. It is therefore essential to recognise the barriers that may hinder survivors from achieving this and providing clear paths in the code of conduct by including zero tolerance policies that enforce the same. Accessibility to information around the policies and procedures that have been put in place to survivors may also give them the ability to learn more and understand better.
Eradicating structural and procedural barriers that may hinder the inclusion and participation of survivors is important. This can be achieved through engaging stakeholders and allies to ensure that they are aware of the importance of inclusive sustainability and its impact on survivors. It is also important to encourage survivors to apply for leadership and technical roles and encourage organisations to target survivors or explore projects that are survivor friendly, train and promote survivors within the same projects, and offer meaningful mentorship to them, therefore, allowing them to grow.
It is also important to build safe spaces that are accommodative to the needs of survivors and create clear channels for reporting abuse at all levels within the hierarchy and safeguard them from re-exploitation by reviewing and updating their compensation, therefore ensuring that they are being empowered and not exploited.
Valuing diversity and inclusion
Different survivors have different capabilities. It is therefore important to conduct training and educate those that work with them on the importance of tolerance and understanding the said differences in capabilities and that both are essential assets. This creates a space where survivors can not only build a strong sense of identity and wellbeing but also have better outcomes as they will be understood and supported effectively where necessary. This will also help create a safe space for learning and also create a platform that fosters equitable participation.
Revising work ethics
Success metrics have always been designed through people's abilities to get work done. This can however be changed and organisations encouraged to use outcome indicators which can focus on for instance a survivor’s level of engagement and leadership within projects. This will play an important role in encouraging them after achieving milestones and responsibilities given thereby boosting their morale. Qualitative approaches like survivor-focused group discussions led by survivors should also be encouraged as this will make them more comfortable to learn from and educate each other.