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Thursday, June 6, 2013

Keeping it Real



It is hard to know when you are right and when you are wrong in this crazy, over educated, over professional, over experienced DC world. Everyone has the right answer, and yet, few people seem to agree. 

Take gender equality. What does it take to achieve it? How do you reform aid in ways that equally empower both women and men to take ownership of their community's development? Train both women and men at the ground level...in DC...or both? Fight some of the large contractors and businesses and government bureaucracy? Or create bridges between people and systems and companies, no matter how flawed they are? How do you stay true to mission and values - really prioritize and amplify the voices of women and men in the struggle and follow their lead - and build new alliances that have the power to advance real change? 

And the most important question: how do you stay human - human to the core, to the bone, to the marrow - as you try to stay professional and policy savvy? Is it even possible? I think so. I need to believe so. Because even more important to me than advancing certain policies, being right about an advocacy strategy or delivering on grant indicators is caring about people on a human level. There are no numbers, no data. Only individual, precious, valued human beings.

That's why I struggle in this job, in this field...intl dev policy. It
is so theoretical...so process oriented. It is all about what the
policy looks like on paper, how the log frame or results framework
holds up, how we deliver on indicators. And although part of me really
gets that...is even obsessed with that at times...it does not fully
satisfy. It seems to rarely be about individual human beings...their
stories, their priorities, their voices.

I guess advocacy, for me, serves as the  bridge. It connects the
individual, precious human beings on this planet - their needs, their
voices - to the decisions that get written down in laws, policies and
evaluations. It makes the theoretical real. It makes the statistic
human.

Until we can connect to this inside the beltway DC intl Dev work on a
personal level, on a human level, we will continue to miss our mark.
It is not just a marketing tactic to make it real for our
constituents. For me, it is an urgent marching order: see the human
side if this, connect your heart to ending poverty and injustice. And do it soon, before the theoretical world takes over.

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