|Consultation:||CDN General Assembly 2021|
|Proposer:||CDN (decided on: 03/25/2021)|
B2: Safe Space Policy
List of abbreviations (by order of appearance)
CDN - Cooperation and Development Network Eastern Europe
EC - Executive Committee (of CDN)
EE - Eastern Europe
SSP - Safe Space Person
PT - Preparatory Team/Prep Team
WG - Working Group
HEG - Home Evaluation Group
MO - Member Organization (of CDN)
PGP - Preferred Gender Pronoun
Cooperation and Development Network Eastern Europe is a capacity-building
network comprised of different youth and green-minded organisations from Eastern
and Central Europe. Fighting for a Green movement is our common goal but at the
same time we acknowledge that we differ a lot based on the diverse cultural
environments we come from. In addition, patriarchy/sexism/ nationalistic
discourses are highly embedded in our societies, therefore the creation of a
safe space is a crucial component for CDN activities in helping to dismantle
existing power structures and challenge oppressive mechanisms. This way we
ensure the creation of a welcoming environment where participation is equalised
for all despite the ethnicity /religion/ sexual orientation/gender identity/
class background and different abilities of all (participants, Executive
Committee, Prep Teams and Office).
In general, Safe space policies are the rules by which a community agrees to
behave. They help in guaranteeing that everyone feels free to express
themselves, and help prevent some of the problems common in our societies (such
as racism, sexism, transphobia, etc.) from becoming part of the community.
This document provides an overview of what safe spaces are, definition of
inappropriate behaviour, and what key principles/mechanisms should be followed
when establishing such spaces in CDN’s activities and structures (CDN Executive
Committee and Office, Prep Teams and Working Groups). This document is developed
by a Working team comprised of some of the members of CDN Executive Committee/
Secretariat/ Gender Working Group, and adopted by General Assembly as an
internal document of CDN in 2021. CDN aims to create a respectful, understanding
and open space, and we encourage everyone, from organisers to participants, to
be pro-active in creating an atmosphere where the safety of everyone is
This document is a result of consecutive meetings of the Working team throughout
the period between November 2020 - February 2021. The document refers to
experiences documented by previous CDN EC members and Secretariat, who have
recorded cases where safe space was breached at CDN activities. Guidance has
also been taken from other similar youth-oriented organisations, which have
documents in establishing safe spaces, and we are grateful towards all the
organisations who shared with us their resources (see more on page 12).
This document is just a set of mechanism/ techniques for constructing a safe
space environment, but is not a definitive document. We welcome you all to give
us feedback and further suggestions for ensuring safe space on the following
email address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Types of unacceptable behavior
In this chapter we will explain the types of behaviors that violate the safe
space as a whole and which we aim to prevent. In case of recognizing some of
these behaviors, please report to Safe Space Persons (SSP). We are aware safe
space is an individual perception, and this list contains general behaviors,
whilst other violations are not excluded. Any other situations that are not
mentioned here but would lead to someone feeling uncomfortable, unsafe or
excluded will be assesed as a violation of safe space and that people are
welcomed to voice them out.
Disclaimer: This chapter contains examples of unacceptable types of behavior
which some readers might find triggering. Examples are listed for the purpose of
better understanding of these types of behavior. The following behaviours can
vary from moderate to severe violations of safe space, and the measures are
taken accordingly(elaborated further on the last chapter).
Breaking personal boundaries
Indicating personal boundaries, whether physical or emotional should be a basis
prior to interaction and should be respected at all times. The boundaries are
often defined internally and presented with body language and verbal statements.
These need to be observed, recognized (or verbalized) and respected.
Example: Person X has said they do not want to be touched, and person Y teases
them and “jokingly” touches the person X, and gets within their personal space
without their consent.
Inflicting physical harm or unwanted physical contact upon someone. Any kind of
physical violence or touching without consent is completely unacceptable. Any
kind of touching between people has to be consensual and thoroughly
communicated. Physical assault can also be sexual harassment and is a severe
violation of safe space and personal boundaries. In the physical form of sexual
harassment, assault can be anything from inappropriate touching and teasing to
severe sexual assault and rape (further explained in point Sexual harassment).
Example: Person X punches person Y because of a disagreement of their opinions
during an intense informal discussion about some topic .
Usage of hate/disrespectful symbols
Carrying (jewelry, clothing, accessories) or physically presenting (writing,
drawing, mimicking) disrespect and/or hate symbols connected to religious,
national and extreme ideological beliefs. List of international recognized hate
symbols (link: https://www.adl.org/hate-symbols).
Example A: During an art session on a CDN activity, participant draws a swastika
on a piece of paper and shows it to others.
Example B: participant comes to an activity wearing a T-shirt with disrespectful
writings about muslims.
Stereotyping and discrimination
Stereotyping is acting based on assumed ideas or beliefs regarding someone based
on their gender, sexual orientation, national, religious identity, physical
appearance. Includes assuming facts about someone based on their identities. For
example: assuming that a feminine man is gay. Discrimination is the act of
making unjustified distinctions between individuals on basis of race, gender,
age, ethnicity, language, sexual orientation, disability or other
characteristics. It involves restricting members of one group or an individual
from opportunities that are available to others. Extreme discriminatory
behaviors like racism, chauvinism, nationalism, linguicism, homophobia,
transphobia and similar will not be tolerated in CDN activities.
Example: A group of participants in a session refuse to involve a participant
with hearing difficulties because this person speaks in a manner the group finds
This behavior conveys the idea of treating a person as a commodity or an object.
Another form, sexual objectification is the act of treating a person as a mere
object of sexual desire. Everyone’s individuality and autonomy are their own and
objectifying behavior is destructive of these characteristics.
Example: participant X is told by another participant “hey girl! You would be
prettier if you smiled”.
Even though sexual harassment can be physical, it’s verbal form is explained in
this chapter. Along with objectifying and bullying, it is the root of other
unacceptable behaviors that can lead to physical assault. Sexual harassment
involves the use of explicit or implicit sexual overtones, non-verbal cues and
signals, unwanted and non-consensual touch and sexual assault.
Sexual harassment includes a wide range of behaviors and interpretations,
examples of which can be found here
The explanation of something in a patronizing manner, usually by someone who is
privileged because of their gender. This behavior is often present in group
discussions, when the privileged person or a group of people are not allowing
others to present, speak and behave in authentic way. Mansplaining severely
disturbs dynamics and create a sense of hierarchy and domination of a privileged
person or group.
Example: A cis-gender white man dominates discussion about gender equality and
argues with the points of wage gap and denies the existence of inequality.
Invisibilising / belittling
The act of not giving chance to speak, speaking over someone, ignoring opinions
Excluding someone from the conversation on purpose by either not giving them a
chance to speak, speaking over them or ignoring what they are saying. To
marginalize someone and to erase or ignore their presence or contribution.
Example: During an event, participants are divided into small groups and working
on some presentation. Within one group, one participant is missing because has
gone to the bathroom, Meanwhile the rest continue with the work and take some
important decision without the presence of this participant.
Shaming and blaming
Shaming is the act of bringing negative attention to an individual or a group
because of their opinions; actions; physical, racial, ethnic, religious or
cultural characteristic or activities. Blaming an individual or a group is a way
of shaming them based on actions and development of a situation. Unexpected or
undesirable results are not a responsibility of the action doer, and no one
should be blamed or feel guilty.
For example: participant X is approached by another participant and asked: “What
is wrong with you? Why do you behave like this?” or “The situation that happened
is your fault and you should face consequences”
Using dismissive language or behavior towards someone. Especially problematic
when done based on someone’s gender identity, sexual orientation, language,
national or religious identity. Bullying can be verbal, but also physical and
then is seen as physical assault.
Example: Participant X calls participant Y offensive names and laughs at them.
Criticism without constructive feedback
Criticism, if presented in a constructive way, is a tool for growth and
development, however it is often misunderstood. If offered without constructive
feedback, criticism can be connected to insulting, ridiculing and similar
behaviors. However, everyone must be aware of different levels of knowledge,
language, experience, and different opinions, and give feedback accordingly.
(maybe to add: and be more understanding that not everyone has the same command
of English, therefore it takes time to make their points clear).
For example: While discussing over a topic participant X responds to participant
Y in the following way: “This is stupid, you should stop talking".
Threatening and blackmailing
Threatening behavior includes physical or verbal actions that don’t involve
actual contact/injury (moving closer aggressively), general verbal or written
threats to people. Blackmailing is a manipulative behavior that includes the act
of demanding personal and material belongings, or degrading and non-consensual
activities with threat of revealing personal information or compromising
Example: Person X found out person Y is queer, and forces person Y to give them
money or they will “out” them on social media.
(Extremist) Ideological claims are strict beliefs about a certain groups,
geographical locations, religious beliefs, cultures and similar identifications
that lead to conflict or violent thoughts and actions.
For example: As it is stated in CDN Political Platform, we should strive to
acknowledge and reject the politics of division and politics that seek to use
nationalistic or any other exclusionary rhetoric at the expense of minorities
and vulnerable groups.
This chapter enlists some practical tools and practices that can help making and
obtaining a safe space environment. These tips are mostly associated with
activity planning and executing, but most of them are suitable for an
organizational level as well.
Before an activity
One of the first steps in creation of an inclusive environment is enabling
participation of people of different backgrounds. When selecting participants,
CDN Secretariat, EC member(s) and Prep Teams (PT) are paying special attention
to underrepresented groups and ensuring their participation. Depending on the
topic of the activity, CDN will spread its calls for participants to various
channels, putting efforts into reaching out to these marginalized groups even
outside of the Green family. Both regional and gender balance (a minimum of 50%
of participants are young people that self-identify as woman, trans or
genderqueer) are taken into consideration.
Addressing needs of everyone prior to the activity with a simple questionnaire
(e.g. question box within an application form) will help organizers (CDN) to be
aware of everyone’s needs and assist accordingly, if needed.Local PT (hosting
the activity) will secure that the venue/hotel is accessible for all
When checking potential venues for the activity, Local PT should take into
account a provisional number of participants and search for working areas that
can host this number of people comfortably (and in different arrangements - e.g.
sitting in circle). It is recommended to choose well-lit venues and ensure
accessibility to all different venues/toilets/rooms of use to participants/Prep
Teams/EC Office members, as toilet rooms.
Prior to activity, Local PT should assemble an Infosheet with all the essential
information (local transport & hotel), including a brief cultural and political
background, as to make participants more comfortable with their traveling. CDN
will provide all the other key information about the event itself, along with
the schedule (agenda) and this policy, to familiarize new participants with the
During an activity
At the beginning of each activity, CDN organizes an introduction session, going
through agenda, background of the project and CDN. During the Introduction
session PT will go through moderation rules and introduce diverse communication
tools that will be used throughout the activity. During an introduction session
or shortly after, CDN will propose a round where participants will express their
needs on obtaining a safe space throughout the activity.
How CDN arranges participants and chairs in the room depends on a session itself
- whether there’s a movement involved, small groups division, etc. However, it
is recommended arranging participants in a circle/horizontal arrangement, rather
then having a classroom arrangement, for having a more inclusive environment.
Moreover, working room/venue should be noise sensitive.
Facilitators (CDN) will take steps to equalize participation, ensuring all
participants are heard and diverse gender identities are respected - at the
beginning of an activity, all participants will be asked to share their pronouns
and have them along with their name attached visibly.
Facilitators will make sure to speak slowly, clearly, avoiding jargon and
excessive academic language. Acknowledging that the activity is held in English,
participants will be encouraged to use use the language sign ‘L’ when a
word/phrase is unclear. Moreover, participants should be encouraged to speak in
English also outside of sessions, not to exclude participants - when someone is
using their native language, anyone can raise it with ‘Bora Bora’ rule. This
will be a gentle reminder for everyone to speak in English. Nonetheless, if
someone does not speak English well, this should not be a basis for excluding
person from activity and that CDN will strive to have at least one more person
speaking some other language that person understands and help with translation.
HEGs and Morning circles
HEGs are designated groups of smaller number of participants, organised almost
every day of the activity after a full-day programme and moderated by one of the
PT members. This is a space where participants can reflect and share how they
felt throughout the day in a more intimate environment.
Morning circles are organized every day, before the actual programme begins and
are moderated by one of the PT members. During this circle with all of the
participants, PT will go through any changes/announcements/technical reminders
for the day in question. This is also a space for PT to remind everyone of safe
space and raise a point if anything had happened against safe space guidelines.
Safe Space Persons
Elaborated in the fourth chapter.
During the event there shall be a box where participants can leave written notes
to facilitators and the PT members with feedback and questions. Some people
might prefer this way of flagging something up, asking a specific question, or
asking for support or a need to be met. The question/feedback box should be
placed in a visible place where everyone can access it, and its purpose should
be explained at the beginning of the activity.
After an activity
Participants share how they felt during the event and tell if there were any
situations that made them feel uncomfortable. Safe space persons can also be
contacted online after the activity for the purpose of improving CDN safe space
No pictures shall be posted on public sites or social networks without the
explicit consent of the individuals who can be identified in them. In the
participants list, every participant will sign a separated column regarding the
consent to be photographed and the consent to disseminate these pictures.
CDN stores personal data (collected through application forms) of the
participants/Prep-team members and ensures the safety of data. Data erasure can
be done on demand of the participant.
Finally, the best and most basic preventive measure is to educate ourselves,
acknowledge privileges we have and build understanding and solidarity for one
Reporting and measures
The aim of this chapter is to create a sustainable system to prevent, identify
and react to different types of unacceptable behavior (outlined at chapter 2),
which is not in compliance with the rules for the provision of safe space
environment in CDN activities (online and offline). These guidelines are written
from the perspective of an international umbrella youth organization.
Disclaimer: This chapter contains hypothetical cases of unacceptable behavior
which some readers might find triggering. Examples are listed for the purpose of
better understanding of these types of measures taken against these behaviors.
The following cases can vary from moderate to severe violations of safe space,
and the measures are taken accordingly.
Definition of SSPs
The central pillar of the Safe Space preventive measures and reporting mechanism
evolve around the concept of Safe Space Persons (SSP). The SSPs are elected by
the organizers prior to the event, and are usually members of CDN EC /
Secretariat/ Prep-teams that aim to prevent, identify and react to cases of
unacceptable behavior not only during activity sessions but applicable to breaks
and informal parts of events. An SSP should be a person who is internalized with
the Safe Space document and preferably has participated in previous CDN events.
Depending on the capacities, it is recommended to elect two SSPs.
Safe space persons are beforehand provided with Safe space Toolkit, a document
created by CDN along with Safe Space policy document, which provides knowledge
and detailed procedures of creating safe space and dealing with its potential
SSPs are present at events to help raise awareness about the topic, intervene in
questionable situations where Safe space principles are breached, and provide a
listening ear to participants who have felt harassed.Nonetheless, we highly
encourage everyone to be proactive in creating an atmosphere where the safety of
others is validated. In case of a safe space breach, there are three stages that
a SSP goes through: 1- Prevention; 2- Identifying; 3- Reporting.
The main aim is always to prevent unacceptable behavior from happening and safe
persons should guarantee this. Before the start of an offline/online event, they
can briefly present the Safe Space document and measures/mechanism entailed in
the document. Prevention methods are elaborated in chapter 3.
Since the document will be sent to participants in advance, the safe space
person should open the floor for questions from the participants, in case that
there is something unclear from the document. After the presentation, the safe
space person should let participants know that he/she/they are the right person
to approach, in case that somebody faces unacceptable behavior, and this
behavior goes unnoticed from the safe space person.
Along with the preventive measures from chapter 3, participants and SSP should
conduct regular emotional screening and be observant.
Safe Space persons are trained to identify unacceptable behaviors in CDN
activities, and observe participants in a non-intrusive way for the sake of
timely reactions. Unacceptable behaviors are not necessarily obvious and visible
for bystanders and (if not verbalize) can be recognized through body-language.
SSPs are trained to recognize subtle signs and react if someone feels
uncomfortable. This of course depends on the specific context.
Key action in creating safe space, along with prevention, is identifying the
breaches of safe space and boundaries in groups and on personal level. There are
different ways of recognizing and identifying safe space violations:
Direct report to SSP;
These are usually subtle cases, when the SSPs are notified or approached by
participants/ or active bystanders who have noticed some kind of violation or
strange situation. This can be a person directly seeking action to prevent
further harassment, a complaint against other participant, seeking advice etc.
If someone from bystanders notices someone else is feeling uncomfortable, they
can inform SSP who will take further measures.
SSPs observation ;
As mentioned previously, SSPs are observant and notice disturbed power dynamics,
uncomfortable situations etc. by observing body language of participants
(Example: Person A repeatedly sits next to person B on a break, each time person
A moves away and appears uncomfortable. This keeps on happening and person B is
retreating to their room). SSPs in these cases approach these participants and
make sure to understand if there is some underlying issue that needs to be
Feedback from the box
The box represents an opportunity specifically for reporting of safe space
violations. The tips can be reported anonymously, and will be researched further
by SSP and PT members. Messages in feedback box don’t necessarily have to be
reports, but also suggestions, for example to rearrange groups or be aware of
some situations happening outside the venue (for example accommodation). Box is
checked daily for feedback along with other preventive measures, but should not
stop participants of contacting SSP or other PT members on anything relevant.
The SSP serves as a first line of contact and provides a type of first aid.
Depending on the context, there are different ways of reporting the incident:
immediate reaction from the SSPs
In this scenario the SSP are reacting immediately on spot to address the issue
that have disrupted the safe space. This is sometimes done in a very intrusive
Techniques:educating participants, collective emotion check, body awareness
Examples: For instance, an SSP notices that only some participants are speaking
in a discussion, therefore the SSP suggest to leave space for others who have
not engaged much with the discussion.
communication with victim/perpetrator
In case when there is a breach of Safe Space, SSPs try to identify the victim
and perpetrator and have a moderated conversation separately with each of the
sides involved in the dispute. Through this conversation, the SSP can understand
the reasoning behind the perpetrator’s behavior and provide emotional support to
communicating with the PT;
After consulting with both sides involved in the incident, SSPs sum up the case
to the PT. This way, the PT can adjust the sessions accordingly in order to
avoid similar cases for the rest of the programme, and make sure that everyone
feels included and comfortable.
Based on the scale of the misbehavior (mild-severe-extreme) there are different
measures to be taken by the SSPs and PT of the activity. We will exemplify this
by showing one hypothetical incident and different escalation of it from mild to
an extreme incident. Let’s imagine that we are facing a case where a transgender
participant is being misgendered by another participant.
Mild case: After the SSPs approach the “harasser”, it turns out that this
is done unintentionally due to the lack of information on the topic/
misuse of the PGP.
Measures: moderated communication/ SSPs remind participants again to read the
Safe space document and ask if something is unclear.
Severe: After the SSPs approach the “harasser”, it turns out that this is
done intentionally due to the discrimination based belief. For instance,
person believes, that only ciswoman are categorized as women and
transwomen are men.
Measures: Emotional support to the victim, explanation to the harasser why their
behavior is unacceptable and they are asked to apologize to the harassed person.
We can communicate with the problematic participant that if the behavior will be
repeated, then further measures will be taken. This will be taken into
consideration for their future participation at CDN events, follow-up from the
EC. If the participant is part of CDN MO, CDN EC will proceed with contacting
the MO contact person.
Extreme: when it involves instances of physical harassing/unwanted touch
Measures: They can bring people to a safe place, away from whomever they felt
harassed by. Furthermore, decisions and actions regarding what happens to people
and an event remain with the organizers and/or CDN EC.
Group discussion can also be made during the event, where people
collectively discuss the situation, and then participants can propose
In case if there`s an extreme situation (ex. if there is a fight, if the
safety of participants is risked), then next measure will be:
2.1 contact the authorities;
2.2 expel the participant involved in the physical incident.
Hereby we would like to thank the following organisations for providing
materials and resources with us in the process of creating the Safe Space
Col·lectiu Eco-Actiu/ The Ulex project “Anti-oppression toolkit: A
Association des États Généraux des Étudiants de l’Europe (AEGEE)“Smash
guidelines: Structural measures against sexual harassment”
Federation of Young Europen Greens (FYEG) “Smash Glass ceiling: Handbook
for brave feminist leaders”
Federation of Young European Greens (FYEG) “Internal Rules of Procedure”
European Network of Equality Bodies (Equinet ) “Safe Space Policy for