Using Participatory Action Research Methodologies for Engaging and Researching with Religious Minorities in Contexts of Intersecting Inequalities
This working paper reflects the findings of the first phase of the REJUVENATE project, which set out to understand and map approaches to integrating children, youth, and community participation in child rights initiatives.
In this paper, we:
Grounded in an understanding of child rights as ‘living rights’, we propose building on the 3Ps of the UNCRC (protection, provision and participation) towards the 3Ss – space, support and system change.
We offer a set of field principles (REJUVENATE) to guide substantively participatory work with children and young people, underpinned by our Ndoro Ndoro model, which refers to intergenerational, community-driven approaches that put children and youth at the centre, while being accountable to them.
We recognise that this paper is far from exhaustive, and we intend it to be a springboard for further work that substantively recognises the importance of children’s participation in work to further child rights, and to enrich and rejuvenate the societies of which children are a part.
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’.
Accountability is a complex issue in South Africa. The country has high levels of inequality, and marginalised groups – as in many countries – struggle to make themselves heard by those in power. Yet the issue is further complicated by an interacting set of factors, including the legacy of apartheid, gender and religious issues, and the lack of access to those in power.
Through a six-year research project, the Sustainable Livelihoods Foundation (SLF) used a range of technology-enabled participatory processes to unpack this lack of government accountability. This report focuses on four case studies, which examined the lived realities of marginalised groups and the activists that campaign on their behalf: activists against gender-based violence and for community safety; community care workers and health committee members working for public health; informal traders and the informal economy; and traditional medicine, Rastafarian bossie doktors and indigenous rights.
Using a multi-method research process, SLF supported these groups to work together and identify the accountability issues that they felt were important, and then consider how they could raise their voice collectively to those in power and those who shape and implement policy. As well as providing valuable findings, which SLF fed into the policy dialogue, this process also strengthened the capacity of these groups to speak out – not least through the use of different participatory technologies including digital storytelling, filmmaking, PhotoVoice, geospatial mapping and infographics.
This report reflects on the different tools used, considering not just the effectiveness of the outputs generated but also how these tools can empower citizens and bring marginalised groups together. Lastly, the report reflects on SLF’s role as an intermediary organisation, and how this role can influence the path that marginalised groups take in their efforts to make government more responsive to their needs.
Two of the central challenges in building accountability for marginalised people are how to reach and meaningfully involve the most excluded, and how to establish the kinds of relationships that mean they can achieve, influence and expect government responsiveness.
This report explores how participatory video – an existing methodology for engaging marginalised people – can be adapted and strengthened to inclusively engage citizens and foster responses from decision-makers. It presents four propositions for achieving this.
Proposition 1: Ensure inclusive engagement during group-forming and building.
Proposition 2: Develop shared purpose and group agency through video exploration and sense-making.
Proposition 3: Enable horizontal scaling through community-level videoing action.
Proposition 4: Support the performance of vertical influence through video-mediated communication.
Each of these propositions is discussed in relation to three concepts that are important elements of accountability initiatives: enabling spaces, bonding and bridging communication, and power-shifting. The discussion draws on two long-term participatory video processes at five sites in two countries, Indonesia and Kenya. Many participatory governance and accountability processes – and the theoretical discourses and practical approaches underlying them – do not pay enough attention to the need to shape the relational conditions for accountability for marginalised social groups. This can perpetuate exclusionary dynamics. Extended participatory video processes can mediate relationships, but for them to do so, there is a need to develop more ethical and effective participatory video practice, and for more work on how to foster support from influential decision-makers.
This practitioner research, carried out by women’s empowerment organisation FAMM Indonesia, brings the voices of young women – a group consistently excluded from decision-making spaces about the allocation of local government resources – into the conversation about social accountability. Barriers to young (especially unmarried) women’s participation in public spaces include the prevailing view that doing so violates social norms, young women’s often low level of education, and family expectations. Many young women have internalised their marginalisation and lack the confidence to participate in community forums.
This paper describes participatory action research carried out in partnership with eight grassroots Indonesian women’s NGOs. Preliminary focus group discussions laid the foundation for a series of movement-building initiative workshops to strengthen rural young women’s leadership capacity, encourage critical awareness and develop their roles as community organisers. Young women’s social engagement can generate criticism and backlash, which may lead to their losing interest in public forums. As well as empowering participation in formal meetings, the research suggests that young women can overcome closed spaces through building on informal relationships and collaborations. And young women’s involvement in producing creative content (print, audio and multimedia) for use in community organising is used to strengthen their self-esteem and abilities.
The paper ends with a reflective conversation between Niken Lestari of FAMM and Francesca Feruglio of MAVC. They discuss the kind of capacity-building needed to enable young women to overcome barriers to their engagement in local governance spaces, and thus fulfil their own declared potential to contribute much more to the development of their communities.
This paper, based on a lecture given at the University of Sussex, UK, takes on the issue of growing inequality. Arguing that we know more about how economic inequality affects political participation than we do about how participation and voice affect economic inequality, the author describes ongoing work to identify participatory practices that offer some precedents for linking strategies for narrowing political and economic gaps from below. These combinations in turn contribute to challenging these intersecting inequalities and hold promise for transformative solutions across the global North and South.
This report articulates three strategies by which the poorest and most marginalised have attempted to ensure accountability from national and global policymakers to local people. It is a response to demands, articulated through the Participate initiative research conducted from 2012 to 2013 with extremely poor and marginalised groups, for greater participation and accountability in decision-making.
Valuing Volunteering was a two year (2012-2014) global action research project, conducted by VSO and the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) to understand how and why volunteering affects poverty and contributes to sustainable development. This report summarises findings from inquiries conducted in the Philippines, Kenya, Mozambique and Nepal which explore the role of volunteering across different development contexts and systems. Using Participatory Systemic Action Research it asks local partners, communities and volunteers to reflect on how and where volunteering can contribute to positive, sustainable change.
The processes of international development often mean that beneficiaries have pre-designed programmes imposed upon them. Even the most well-intentioned development projects are often constrained by funding requirements from fulfilling their vision of social justice, with the result that poor, marginalized communities feel even more disempowered and excluded by programmes over which they have no control. Participation Pays attempts to show how beneficiaries of aid can challenge and overcome conventional power arrangements set up by donors and development agencies. It does so through a focus on community knowledge and self-generated data, control of which enables greater ownership and direction of development processes. These projects involved members of marginalized and resource-poor communities including landless people, female sex workers, tribal people, and people affected by a natural disaster. Eight thematic case studies are featured, seven from India and one from the Maldives. Participation Pays argues for the need, in any vibrant democracy, for multiple ways of making development more accountable to excluded communities. In doing so, the book invites an understanding of marginalized people not simply as beneficiaries of technical solutions, but –through the work of participatory development projects – architects of a politics of equity and democratization.
This collection of eleven cases from Canada and the United States gives expression to the ideal of a new economy based on fairness and environmental sustainability. Grappling with complex problems in their local communities, organized citizens are forging innovation, prying open cracks in the prevailing economic system and seizing opportunities to redirect economic life.
Featured here are examples in urban and rural contexts and ethnically diverse settings — First Nations, Inuit, Latino, African American, predominantly white, and mixed communities — where citizens are challenging the short-term focus of political leadership and taking action now to pave the way for an economy that can sustain future generations. They illustrate a new way of working, tying economic justice to the creation of multiple types of environmental, economic and social assets or forms of wealth.
Tackling extreme poverty and marginalisation alongside rising and intersecting inequalities must be a priority for the post-2015 agenda. As country representatives at the United Nations undertake the difficult task of agreeing the next steps towards a final framework, a focus on the three key areas including improving livelihoods and pro-poor infrastructure development; increasing opportunities for participation and citizen action and tackling discriminatory social norms is critical if the final targets are to be transformative for the poorest and most marginalised people. This Policy Briefing examines these focus areas and provides some policy recommendations.
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.
This book presents the reflections and analyses of more than 500 participants from across Africa, Asia and Latin America. Brought together by LogoLink (the Learning Initiative on Citizen Participation and Local Governance) they included social leaders, human rights activists, academics and politicians as well as representatives of community, grassroots and advocacy organisations. Their synthesis culminated in the World Charter for the Right to Citizen Participation in Local Governance. Whilst this book is not available online, some of the chapters are and can be found on the Logolink website.
This report came out of the learning and inspiration event held in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania from 26th - 28th May 2014, which was part of the Making All Voices Count programme. It is for participants and others with an interest in technology for transparency and accountability