Post 2015 agenda – Listening to the voices of people living in poverty

06/08/2013

Susanne SchirmerSue_Schirmer200

‘If democracy binds us as a family, then why do we get excluded and treated differently?’ asked the panelists at a recent Ground Level Panel meeting in India. Meanwhile, their counterparts in Egypt commented on one of the reasons for exclusion: ‘To those who did not educate us, may God forgive you.’

Panelsts in Egypt sitting round tables and talking

Ground Level Panelists in Egypt discussing their vision for development

As the target date for the Millennium Development goals is drawing closer, the UN has established a High Level Panel (HLP) to discuss a new global development framework beyond 2015. In order to bring the voices of those directly affected by poverty and marginalisation into the debate, the Participate initiative, has established a Ground Level Panel mirroring the work of the High Level Panel. During July 2013, meetings were held in four countries bringing together people living in poverty and marginalisation from a huge variety of backgrounds and enabling them to voice their thoughts and recommendations for a new development framework. The blog entries about the meetings give a fascinating insight into what poverty means for people that are directly affected by it – and their views on how this could be changed.

The meeting in Brazil was characterised by the diversity of the people attending it, and each of the participants had different experiences of what ‘extreme poverty’ means for them. The diversity is also expressed in their message to policy makers. Combining an indigenous and a Banto African expression to highlight the interconnectedness of life and the importance of including everyone: ‘Awêre para Kisile’ – ‘That everything goes well for those who don’t have a name yet’.

In Egypt, the Ground Level Panel was not only rich in terms of the content produced, but also it provided a transformative space where panelists were able to challenge their capabilities and self-hindering beliefs. They explored reasons for their marginalisation and found the space to voice their stories and opinions. The process was not only able to prove that citizen’s participation is a right that enlightens, but also it provides a more stable alternative for expression. It also moves the hearts and hands towards a locally-owned change.

In India, panel members from across the country discussed reasons for exclusion and marginalisation, like disabilities and poverty. They then went on to look at the role of different players, stumbling blocks, a way forward and institutional mechanisms for bringing about change.

The panelists in Uganda identified common challenges that their ommunities faced, like access to health care and issues around land and peace. They then expressed their shared hopes for their country: ‘Our Vision for Uganda is that it respects the rule of law, human rights, and transparency to ensure that services are delivered to everyone equally without any segregation or misappropriation of national resources.’

Panelists in India giving a presentation on a podium

Indian panelists presenting their views

Find out more and read the communiqués from each of the panels on the Participate blog.

Sue Schirmer works as Communications Coordinator for the  Participation, Power and Social Change team at IDS. Participate is hosted by the Participation, Power and Social Change team at IDS and Beyond 2015, it provides high quality evidence on the reality of poverty at ground level, bringing the perspectives of the poorest into the post-2015 debate.

Read other recent blogs about Participate:


On having Voice and Being Heard: Participation in the Post-2015 Policy Process

31/10/2012

Elizabeth Mills

From their inception and formal agreement in 2000, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have played a significant (and also ambivalent) role in shaping policy agendas, directing aid around the globe, to combat poverty, hunger, disease, illiteracy, environmental degradation, and discrimination against women. This week, the Post-2015 UN High-Level Panel convenes in London to discuss the shape that the future global development agenda will take following 2015.

The Participate team will use this blog and Twitter to provide a unique window into the the discussions taking place in and around the HLP reflecting on and documenting the policy process as it unfolds.  We will be blogging on the HLP meeting here, working with our partners in the Participatory Research Group, and providing regular updates through twitter using these hashtags: #worldwewant; #post2015; #beyond2015; #post2015HLP. Check back here for regular updates and follow the debate live on Twitter: @IDS_UK

The development policy climate is on the cusp of change and the imperative for active and participatory engagement is crucial to ensure that the post-2015 framework genuinely reflects the priorities of people most affected by poverty and injustice. The field of development, and of participatory research, has and perhaps always will be challenged by the difficulties posed by the disjuncture between the practice of people’s lived realities and the policies that directly (and indirectly) affect them, between thoroughly listening to the voices of the most marginalised and ensuring that these voices are heard by policy makers. This disjuncture calls us all – from marching academics and activists, to striking miners, from HIV community-health workers to international policy makers – to really look at the difference between having voice and being heard, and to hold ourselves and each other accountable in the process of creating a world where policies genuinely speak to people’s needs. The Participate initiative reflects the imperative of listening to voices from the margins and ensuring that these voices are heard in the post-2015 process.

Working with partners in Latin and Central America, Africa, Asia and Europe, Participate aims to provide high quality evidence on the reality of poverty at ground level, bringing the perspectives of people living in poverty into the post-2015 debate.  As discussed previously on this blog by Joanna Wheeler and Danny Burns,  Participate is working with communities, social movements and civil society organisations in more than 25 countries across these regions, to draw together an extensive body of past and current participatory research in order to ensure that the perspectives of those most affected by poverty and injustice directly inform the post-2015 process. Participate will use in-depth methods to gain insight in to the lives of people most affected by development. Some key activities include: creating a Ground Level Panel tomirror the work of the HLP; putting cameras in the hands of the poorest to make films, to share stories from their own lives and provide a more nuanced understanding of the subjective aspects and consequences of development; encouraging policy-makers to spend time living with people and learning firsthand from their experiences. More information on Participate’s activities is available here.

Elizabeth Mills is a PhD candidate working on health, citizenship and HIV/AIDS within the IDS Knowledge, Technology and Science research team.

Read other recent blogs from Participate: