This guide aims to enable activists, trainers and other involved in development and democracy to promote citizen participation and to democratize decision-making. Drawing on experiences of NGOs from numerous countries, the document contains concepts, tools and step-by-step processes aimed at promoting citizen advocacy. It aims to help activists, practitioners and planners to work with civil society in a way that promotes political change, develops solutions to development problems and policies, creates strong and lasting links and transforms power relations, including gender dynamics.
The Afar people of Northern Ethiopia live in what can be considered the very definition of ‘challenging contexts.’ Largely nomadic pastoralists, they navigate a harsh and unforgiving landscape, often having to travel great distances for water. They have been described as living on the frontline of climate change. The Covid-19 pandemic and emerging peace and security issues in Ethiopia have only compounded challenges around poverty, nutrition and sanitation as markets are disrupted and entire communities are displaced.
It can still be incredibly challenging to ensure that the most marginalised members of a community are included and actively engaged in the process . In the case of Afar, this encompasses women, those with little to no formal schooling and those with very low levels of literacy. With this learning paper the authors want to share their experiences of using a methodology designed to include the voices of those most marginalised – in particular, women’s voices – in a nutrition and WASH participatory research project in Northern Ethiopia.
Fostvedt-Mills Consulting (FMC) was contracted by the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ) as part of their Improved Food security through Transitional Aid for Resilience Project (IFTAR), which aimed to improve the nutritional status of vulnerable groups and the nutritional and hygiene behaviours of caregivers. They were asked to investigate the attitudes and practises of target communities in Afar relating to nutrition and water, sanitation, and hygiene and then to design a subsequent intervention that was contextually relevant to the communities.
For the study, FMC sought to answer the questions:
- What are the social and gender-based factors determining the nutrition and WASH practices of the communities?
- How are those factors affecting the nutrition and WASH practices of the communities?
In designing the approach, FMC wanted to ensure that they carried out their research with the communities, rather than on the communities, in a way that would build trust and create a shared understanding of the future intervention and generate interest and a sense of ownership in its potential outcomes.
The full study carried out by FMC included a desk review as well as primary quantitative and qualitative data collection. In this learning paper they share the findings from the qualitative research. Specifically, FMC examine how the use of photovoice and Community Action Planning methods worked to amplify the voices of women and ultimately engage a more diverse group of community members in the research process. They will share our most important findings and discuss some of the advantages and challenges of using these methods in Afar, as well as the potential for application of these research methods in other challenging contexts.
This consultants report provides a framework for ActionAidÆs fundraising and communications activities in Greece, Ireland, Italy and UK. It examines income, expenditure and profitability; resource allocation and investment; number of supporters; communications and public campaigning; organisational infrastructure; and international fundraising for ActionAid in the four countries.
This article explores constraints encountered when using PRA on an ODA-funded natural resources project in a tribal area of Western India. It was particularly evident that women's participation in the PRAs was minimal. The reasons for this were practical (women were not available collectively for long periods of time & there were few women fieldworkers as the project had just begun), social (PRA activities tended to take place in public places where women felt awkward) and methodological (women respond to PRA activities in different ways, sometimes feeling bored and "communicating by singing instead"). The author argues that an organised PRA "gives privilege to certain kinds of knowledge and representation and suppresses others" : the emphasis given to formal knowledge and activities tends to "reinforce the invisibility of women's roles". However, once the formal and public nature of PRA is perceived as a problem, it can become a means by which "women's knowledge and activities.. can be transferred from the informal to the formal arena of project planning", thereby increasing women's profile. Suggestions for encouraging women's participation in PRA include: making non-public contexts (since women are more used to the "private sphere"), using women's knowledge and ways of communicating (songs, sayings, proverbs). There are constraints: the "production of observable outputs (maps, diagrams of PRA) have more status for fieldworkers" than scribbled songs or informal interview notes and women's expressed needs (eg a flour mill) "don't fit easily into established categories of natural resource development".
Official policy documents are outcomes of intensely fought internal struggles. Through an analysis of a series of publicity booklets produced by the British aid programme between 1986 and 1998, this article explores how particular ways of thinking about women and gender were taken up by one donor agency. Based on the author's own experience, the article identifies the underlying processes related to power and knowledge that shaped a protracted and evolving bureaucratic contest over the text and pictures each booklet contained. The article explores how certain gender myths were used by the various contestants either to preserve or transform a policy agenda as represented in these booklets. In that contest, myths or stories were selected to resonate with the wider currents of ideology that were shaping aid policy at the time of each booklet's production. The article considers the external and internal political environment to which each booklet was responding and links the key policy messages of the booklets with the gender myths that each contains.|Author's abstract
This article focuses on gender aspects of participatory projects. It draws on the author's own research as well as secondary sources and states that gender inequalities in resources, time, and power, influence the priorities and framework of participatory projects as much as "top-down" development and market activities. Increasing the numbers of women involved in participatory projects cannot, therefore, be seen as a soft alternative to specific attention to change in gender inequality. Meeting the demands of poor women in the South will require not only local participatory projects, but a linking with wider movements for change in the national and international development agenda.
"Voices of the Poor" is a series of three books that collates the experiences, views and aspirations of over 60,000 poor women and men. This first book of the series gathers the voices of over 40,000 poor women and men in 50 countries from the World Bank's participatory poverty assessments. Using participatory and qualitative research methods, the study presents very directly, through poor people's own voices, the realities of their lives; these voices send powerful messages that point the way toward policy change. The book explores the common patterns that emerged from poor people's experiences in many different places. It starts by presenting the conceptual framework, elaborating on participatory poverty assessments and the study's methodology, including its limitations. It then articulates definitions of poverty from the perspective of the poor, stressing its multi-dimensionality. State institutions and civil society institutions are assessed critically, with their impact on reaching the poor deemed ineffective and limited respectively, forcing the poor to depend primarily on informal networks. Gender relations in the household are then analysed, as is how these affect and are affected by larger institutions of society. The issue of social fragmentation is also explored, including a discussion of social cohesion and social exclusion. The book concludes by proposing the way forward, while elaborating the elements of a strategy for change.
Case study on advocacy, influence and political participation in Egypt: turning a rusty wheel: building coalitions for public influence in Egypt
This case study compares the experiences of two different coalitions in Egypt that were established to advocate the elimination of female genital mutilation (FMG). It provides lessons on what makes alliances work and what pulls them apart, as a critical element of effective advocacy. In addition, it offers both hope and practical advice on dealing with the complex and elusive barrier of culture in promoting womenÆs equality and human rights. The study illustrates the building of FMG task forces on local and national levels, coalitions of organisations and individuals active in several fields of development. It focuses specifically at the forming of a local FMG grassroots coalition in Beni Suef, going through problem analysis; stakeholder analysis using power maps and strategic influence grids; preparation of an action plan; determining coalition policies; steps for ensuring an effective coalition; use of external interventions; organisational outcomes; and measures of sustainability. It is concluded that the critical element contributing to the success of coalition building in Beni Suef was that the movement came from the grassroots. The study was an initiative of the Asia FoundationÆs Global Women in Politics Program (GWIP) supported by USAID (United States Agency for International Development). The study compares the coalition work to the case of the Fayoum Ladies Association (FLA) working for the same objective as the coalition, but established by a para-statal body (the Fayoum Governorate Committee on Women). It is found that although had better support form the state it was not as well integrated in the community and its membership was mainly from the civil sector, such as bureaucrats, and its board came from the government and the ruling party. Egypt, advocacy, influence, women, female circumcision, female genital mutilation
Case Study on advocacy, influence and political participation in the Philippines: constituency-building and electoral advocacy with grassroots women in the Philippines
This case study describes how the membership federation of the Democratic Socialist Women of the Philippines (DSWP) has used advocacy to organise and advance the interests of grassrootsÆ women within the political arena. The advocacy experiences in this story range from local level denouncements in cases of domestic violence, to legislative reform, and to electoral organisation establishing a womenÆs political party and field women candidates for the Party List Law in 1998. The study is primarily a description of how a national federation mobilises its membership to advocate at different levels. The experience from DSWP provides lessons about organising the power of numbers and responds to a number of questions: how grassroots members are incorporated into and ultimately drive the advocacy agenda; how decisions are made at the community level and in the organisation so that the process is empowering and owned by the members; and how women and other disadvantaged groups have created alternative forms of political strategy and organisation in order to engage in politics and at the same time, transform political culture. The study was an initiative of the Asia FoundationÆs Global Women in Politics Program (GWIP) supported by USAID (United States Agency for International Development).advocacy, influence, Philippines, domestic violence, women, gender, legislation, election
How can ordinary citizens - and the organizations and movements with which they engage - make changes in national policies which affect their lives, and the lives of others around them? Under what conditions does citizen action contribute to more responsive states, pro-poor policies and greater social justice? What is needed to overcome setbacks, and to consolidate smaller victories into 'successful' change? These are the questions taken up by this book which brings together eight studies of successful cases of citizen activism in South Africa, Morocco, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Turkey, India and the Philippines.
This toolkit draws on the lessons generated from learning projects and case studies supported under the Citizens and Governance programme of the Commonwealth Foundation. It offers practical guidance on how to promote the participation of citizens in governance. The contents of the toolkit include: the meaning of inclusive governance; ways for citizens to organise and engage in governance; strategies for multi-sectoral partnerships; key themes that emerge in governance, such as conflict, gender and power; suggestions for participatory methods in governance, including learning circles, popular theatre and role play; and methods for inclusive governance capacity building of citizens, intermediaries and government officials. Brief summaries of action-learning projects and case studies from the Citizens and Governance Programme from: India, the Caribbean, Vanuatu, Tanzania, Nigeria, South Africa, Uganda, Jamaica, Zimbabwe, UK, New Zeeland, Africa, Malaysia, Canada and Belize; are presented. A toolkit CD-ROM designed to run on Windows 95/98/XP and MacOS9 is also incorporated. The CD-ROM contains the toolkit in an electronic format and has a resource bank of downloadable materials, such as relevant publications, materials used by the project partners and a word bank which provides explanations of, and proverbs illustrating terms common in the debate about civil society and governance which project partners themselves have furnished.