Having difficult conversations to shift the power

 

Mariana Sandoval Ulloa

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‘What was your first money related memory?’ That’s how we started the day at the Pathways to Power Symposium, held in London last week. There were people saving it, giving it away, fighting for it, hiding it. But what was all of this about? As long as we have been living with and hearing about it…money is not the only resource of power.

But, what kind of power exists and for what? Where are these powers located?

We had a profound conversation about how capacity building processes can be a resource of power and a catalyst for change that could help to shift the power, and for this to happen the following is necessary:

  1. Recognise the innate power of communities and their complexity in order to develop systems that potentialise them and making its power accountable.
  2. Release the romanticism of NGOs and INGOs being heroes and reframe the way we deliver capacity building to the communities (we also have to rethink the pertinence of this concept).
  3. Break the arrogance of ‘experts’, change the way they are seen, learn different kinds of approaches to work with the communities and redefine who the ‘experts’ are?
  4. Potentialise the power of collaboration and a generous movement of open knowledge and information within the sector.
  5. Eliminate the idea that ‘international is better than the local’ or that ‘what comes from the north is better than the south’ and instead of this try to create a ‘glocal approach’ to improve programmes and processes all around the globe.
  6. Capacity building has to be also for donors and all the actors involved in international cooperation, not only for NGO or grassroots organisations.
  7. Have the ability to listen, empathise, be flexible with time and resources to empower. Conscious partnerships have to be built to upgrade capacity building processes. ‘Always from the communities, with the communities and for the communities’.

Pathways to power was an amazing space where people from all the globe and from different kind of organisations within the sector got together to have difficult but very inspiring and challenging conversations that I’m pretty sure will lead us to collaborate and do things differently.

Mariana Sandoval Ulloa is Executive Director at Comunalia


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