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What’s the Best Way to Measure Empowerment?

Duncan Green's picture

Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (MEL) used to send me into a coma, but I have to admit, I’m starting to get sucked in. After all, who doesn’t want to know more about the impact of what we do all day?

So I picked up the latest issue of Oxfam’s Gender and Development Journal (GAD), on MEL in gender rights work, with a shameful degree of interest.

Two pieces stood out. The first, a reflection on Oxfam’s attempts to measure women’s empowerment, had some headline findings that ‘women participants in the project were more likely to have the opportunity and feel able to influence affairs in their community. In contrast, none of the reviews found clear evidence of women’s increased involvement in key aspects of household decision-making.’ So changing what goes on within the household is the toughest nut to crack? Sounds about right.

But (with apologies to Oxfam colleagues), I was even more interested in an article by Jane Carter and 9 (yes, nine) co-authors, looking at 3 Swiss-funded women’s empowerment projects (Nepal, Bangladesh and Kosovo). They explored the tensions between the kinds of MEL preferred by donors (broadly, generating lots of numbers) and alternative ways to measure what has been going on.

Campaign Art: Raising Her Voice

Roxanne Bauer's picture
People, Spaces, Deliberation bloggers present exceptional campaign art from all over the world. These examples are meant to inspire.

Only 1 in 5 parliamentarians worldwide are female, and even fewer serve as Head of State or Head of Government.

In formulating and implementing government policy and development projects, the lack of female voices in decision-making processes can have unfortunate consequences. For example, an estimated 222 million women in the developing world would like to delay or prevent pregnancies but do not use contraception, resulting in 20 million unsafe abortions and 30million unplanned pregnancies.
 

Raising Her Voice, Oxfam's global programme to support female political participation and leadership through collective activism, has empowered women worldwide, creating avenues  to make their voices heard.  This ensures that political processes are accountable to them and that policies reflect their needs.  

The following video commissioned by Oxfam International illustrates why it's important for women to be a part of decision making, but also that it is possible.

Raising Her Voice

Breaking Down the Silos: Reflection on the “Invisible Wounds” Meeting

Mike Wessells's picture

Speaking as a psychosocial practitioner-researcher, the World Bank's recent “Invisible Wounds” conference, which enabled a rich dialogue between psychologists and the Bank's economically-oriented staff, was a breath of fresh air. In most war zones, humanitarian efforts to provide mental health and psychosocial support and economic aid to vulnerable people have frequently been conducted in separate silos. Unfortunately, this division does not fit with the interacting psychosocial and economic needs seen in war zones, and it misses important opportunities for strengthening supports for vulnerable people.
 
A case in point comes from my work (together with Susan McKay, Angela Veale, and Miranda Worthen) on the reintegration of formerly recruited girl mothers in Sierra Leone, Liberia, and northern Uganda. These girls had been powerfully impacted by their war experiences, which included displacement, capture, sexual violence, exposure to killing and deaths, and mothering, among others. After the ceasefire, they were badly stigmatized as “rebel girls” and were distressed over their inability to meet basic needs and to be good mothers. The provision of economic aid alone would likely have had limited effects since the girls believed that they were not fit for economic activity (many saw themselves as spiritually contaminated and as having “unsteady minds”), and they were so stigmatized that people would not do business with them. Similarly, the provision of psychosocial assistance alone likely would have had limited effects because the girls desperately needed livelihoods in order to reduce their economic distress and be good mothers.

Weekly Wire: the Global Forum

Kalliope Kokolis's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

Center for Global Development
Development and the Death of Aaron Swartz

“Aaron Swartz, who died on January 11th, worked and fought for key freedoms of our time: the right to information, to share knowledge and ideas, and to speak freely.  He did not just campaign: he built  the RSS standard which enables blogs and websites to share information, the Web site framework web.py, the architecture for the Open Library, the link sharing platform Reddit, and he helped to design the Creative Commons licence. He co-founded the online group Demand Progress — known for its campaign against the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). He died, apparently by killing himself, aged just 26. Aaron Swartz faced 13 felony charges for having downloaded millions of academic journal articles from the online repository, JSTOR, allegedly with the intention of publishing them freely online.

The death of Aaron Swartz has made me think about how important it is for development that we continue to fight his fights, and continue to build what he began.” READ MORE

Weekly Wire: the Global Forum

Kalliope Kokolis's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

ICFJ
African News Innovation Winners Focus on Citizen Engagement, Investigative Tools and Whistleblower Security

“Twenty African media innovators will receive a total of $1 million to develop digital projects that improve the quality of news across the continent, as part of the first African News Innovation Challenge (ANIC).

Many recipients concentrated on enhancing citizen journalism, investigative reporting and source protection.

ANIC is the largest fund for digital journalism experimentation in Africa. It is designed to spur solutions to the business, distribution and workplace challenges facing the African news industry. The contest was organized by the African Media Initiative (AMI), the continent’s largest association of media owners and operators, and managed by Knight International Journalism Fellow Justin Arenstein. The fellowships are administered by the International Center for Journalists.”  READ MORE

What Difference Does Accountability Make? Six Real Life Examples from Tanzania (and A Great Job Opportunity)

Duncan Green's picture

One of my favourite Oxfam projects is Chukua Hatua (CH) in Tanzania, which is using an evolutionary/venture capitalist theory of change to promote accountability in a couple of regions of the country. CH is now looking for a new coordinator, because the wonderful Jane Lonsdale is moving on – if you fancy taking over, check out the job ad (closing date 20 July).

Talk of ‘Evolutionary theories of change’ all sounds very abstract, so here are six specific examples of the kinds of change the project is bringing about.

Weekly Wire: the Global Forum

Kalliope Kokolis's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

Nieman Journalism Lab
From Nieman Reports: How social media has challenged old media in the Middle East

“In the wake of the Arab Spring, a vigorous debate is taking shape. While Facebook and Twitter are recognized broadly for playing a pivotal role in broadcasting information from inside the demonstrations in Cairo’s Tahrir Square and elsewhere, views differ on the fit they will — or should — have in territory that has been the traditional reserve of journalists.

Throughout the Arab region, web forums — general and themed — have long served as hosts for civic discussion. These online spaces held the place of social media before global sites like Facebook and Twitter came along. From 2004 to 2007, when I lived in Morocco, Facebook was nascent, still closed off to users outside certain networks, and Twitter, launched in 2006, had not yet emerged. Blogs were still new, so much so that the Moroccan blogosphere, now a force to be reckoned with, consisted of just a handful of largely disconnected writers posting in diary style, dipping briefly into politics or sports. It was Yabiladi, Bladi, and others — Morocco’s forums — that were sources of unreported news, discussion and social commentary.” READ MORE

Village Intelligence: There Are No Obvious Solutions

Naniette Coleman's picture

The story was told to me and so I will tell it to you. No, it was not passed down to me by my father or my father’s father but I still think it is a great story. A known story amongst international volunteer corps, it is whispered between friends with wistful eyes and knowing glances. 

 

The Well

 

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