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".
This article provides a summary of the major challenges currently facing PRA, as well as the changes implied by some of these challenges. The challenges are considered at six different levels, namely the individual, community, organisational, project and programme, donor and policy levels. The challenges identified are drawn from the literature on PRA, as well as from a recent series of workshops held by the author with the staff of six NGOs that are promoting PRA in South Asia. The article concludes by attributing these challenges to five cross-cutting factors: differences in power, culture, knowledge, money and time.
Public advocacy is the bandwagon that everyone's clambering onto: but not people know what public advocacy really is
This paper discusses the concept and practice of public advocacy. It describes the various practices of public advocacy, what advocacy involves, its challenges, and offers a brief look at public advocacy in India. It argues that public advocacy, rather than being a mere fashionable term, should signify a set of planned, proactive and organised actions to address issues of injustice, marginalisation and rights abuse in a more effective and efficient manner. To do so effectively, existing power relations have to be shifted in favour of the marginalised.
This paper discusses community exchange programmes as a powerful mechanism for increasing the capacity of community organisations to participate in urban development. By enabling communities to share and explore local knowledge created through livelihood struggles, a powerful process is triggered, whereby community exchanges transform development. Through a cumulative process of learning, sharing and collective action, strong sustained and mobilised networks of communities emerge. Central to this has been the sharing of experiences between communities, first at very local levels, then in the city, then nationally and internationally. The development of this methodology by the National Slum Dwellers Association, SPARC (an NGO) and Mahila Milan (a federation of women's cooperatives) in India is described. Exchanges are located within a broader approach to community learning and people's empowerment. Benefits of the exchange process are examined, and the paper reflects on why exchanges are an effective methodology for supporting a process of people-centred development. The necessary conditions for the exchange process to be fully effective are reviewed, which consequently point to the distinct characteristics of the exchange process vis-Ó-vis other participation methodology. It concludes by drawing together some of the wider implications of this approach.
This newsletter is a special issue on trying to bridge the gap between donors' resources and their effective use in targeting the poor, through the use of community development funds. Community development funds function like banks, but can work more flexibly and at different levels. Several case studies are presented from countries in South Asia, Southeast Asia, and southern Africa, and a number of tips and advantages in setting up a community development fund are outlined. Some of these are that they: " Set new standards of transparency and accountability; " Make multiple, small-scale investments in many community-initiated urban development projects; " Support tangible outputs of value to the urban poor, in different sectors and areas; " Help establish and strengthen long-term partnerships between community organisations, municipal authorities and the private sector, while stimulating new working practices; " Provide poor communities and their organisations with opportunities to learn by doing.
This book brings together writings on the discourses, politics and practice of participation in development. It explores the conceptual and methodological dimensions of participatory research and the politics and practice of participation in development. It brings together classic and contemporary writings from a literature that spans a century and in doing so offers a unique perspective on the possibilities and dilemmas that face those seeking to empower people affected by development projects, programmes and policies.
Knowledge from the Margins: An Anthology from a Global Network on Participatory Practice and Policy Influence
The Participate initiative involves 18 organisations, who work with diverse marginalised people in over 30 countries, coming together to make their voices count on development policy. This anthology is an account of the activities carried out by the Participatory Research Group (PRG) within the Participate initiative between 2012 and 2014, and also a reflection on the methods and processes created and utilised during that time. It aims to share the insights and lessons learnt to help promote thought and discussion about how to use participatory approaches to influence policy at a variety of levels. These experiences include: applying, adapting and innovating participatory methods to promote the voices of participants in all stages of the research process; creating opportunities and spaces for including the perspectives articulated through the research where possible in the policymaking processes; and embedding participatory approaches in local-to global policymaking processes.
MASVAW Movement Mapping Report: Movement Mapping and Critical Freflection with Activists of the Men's Action to Stop Violence Against Women (MASVAW) Campaign, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, August 2014
Engaging men and boys in addressing gender-based violence has grown in attention over the past 20 years. However, the emerging field predominantly focuses on the issues as a problem of individuals, neglecting the role of the institutions and policies that shape norms of gender inequality and perpetuate violent power asymmetries between men and women in people’s everyday lives (Cornwall, Edström and Grieg 2011).
Men’s engagement in addressing GBV has therefore tended to be relatively depoliticised, focusing predominantly on individuals’ attitude and behaviour change, and less on accountability of the structures that uphold patriarchal power relations and male supremacy, such as macroeconomic policies and the governance cultures of many formal and informal institutions.
This movement mapping report thus introduces a collaborative research project between the Centre for Health and Social Justice (CHSJ), India, their local activist partners in the Men’s Action to Stop Violence Against Women (MASVAW) campaign and the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) to explore the effectiveness of men’s collective action in addressing GBV. CHSJ is working across India on the issue of mobilising men to transform discriminatory norms into those based on equity, equality and gender justice to ensure the fundamental human rights of all people.
The research is premised on the notion that challenging patriarchy and working towards gender equality must include working with men and boys to understand their privileges as well as the co-option, coercion and subjugation that they also face within a patriarchal system. In turn, we aim to improve understanding and knowledge of the changing roles of men in addressing GBV and how and why collective action holds possibilities as an effective strategy to support this in the Indian context. This research is exploring the actors, strategies, challenges, collaborations and pathways for future engagement of the MASVAW campaign that works across the state of Uttar Pradesh.
Navigating the Pathways from Exclusion to Accountability: From Understanding Intersecting Inequalities to Building Accountable Relationships
Inclusion of the most marginalised people through addressing discriminatory dynamics is central to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. This research report considers how the intersection of spatial, economic and identity-based factors drive poverty and marginalisation.
It provides insights into how participatory processes with people living in these intersections can contribute to developing accountable relationships between the most excluded groups and duty-bearers. It is based on data, analysis and reflections gathered through collaborative and participatory research in Egypt, Ghana, India, South Africa and Uganda, conducted with Participate partner organisations the Centre for Development Services, Radio Ada, Praxis, Sustainable Livelihoods Foundation and Soroti Catholic Justice and Peace Commission.
In these five settings, partner organisations or ‘translocutors’ have developed participatory action research processes to facilitate exchange between citizens and a range of duty-bearers. They have attempted to open pathways to accountability, through iterative stages of building confidence within the group, deepening contextual understanding, promoting dialogue between citizens and duty-bearers, and developing working alliances between groups and agencies. This report discusses these experiences, and draws out learning and recommendations on how to build inclusive and accountable relationships with marginalised groups through progressive engagement among stakeholders in different spaces and levels of the ‘accountability ecosystem’.
This article describes the exploratory and preparatory phase of a research project designed to use co-operative enquiry as a method for transformative and participatory action research into relations between donors and recipients in two developing countries, Bolivia and Bangladesh. It describes the origins of the idea, the conceptual challenges that the authors faced in seeking funding, and what they learned from this first phase. The authors analyse why the researchers, as well as the potential subjects of the research, were uncomfortable with the proposed methodology, including the challenges arising from their own positions and the highly sensitive nature of the topic. They explain why they decided to abandon the project, and they reach some tentative conclusions concerning the options for participatory action learning and research in development practice.
This book is a collection of analytical narratives of what has happened to feminist voice, a key pathway to women’s empowerment. These narratives depart from the existing debate on women’s political engagement in formal institutions to examine feminist activism for building and sustaining constituencies through raising, negotiating and legitimizing women’s voice under different contexts.
Bringing together the reflections and experiences of feminist researchers and activists in South Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America, this unique volume explores how various global trends, such as the development of transnational linkages, the rise of conservative forces, the NGOization of feminist movements, and an increase in the power of donors, have created opportunities and challenges for feminist voice and activism.