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Want to Help Someone? Shut up and Listen!

This is a fantastic and humorous TedTalk from Italian aid worker Ernesto Sirolli. After a long conversation with one of my Guatemalan friends about my thoughts on the errors of many Western do-gooders who, though well-intentioned, go about international development work in all the wrong ways, he recommended I watch this. Sirolli is spot-on, and provides some excellent examples of what NOT to do, as well as a way forward for effective international aid work, based on participatory action, self-determination, and listening (all tenets of feminist research methodologies, by the way!)

All 17 minutes are worth watching, but the first 3 or so are especially recommended. Enjoy!

“Women need to know that they can reject the powerful’s definition of their reality — that they can do so even if they are poor, exploited, or trapped in oppressive circumstances. They need to know that the exercise of this basic personal power is an act of resistance and strength. Many poor and exploited women, especially non-white women, would have been unable to develop positive self-concepts if they had not exercised their power to reject the powerful’s definition of their reality.”

~bell hooks, Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center

Feminist Methodologies in International Development

This brief article on feminist methodologies as applied to international development and humanitarian relief is definitely worth a read! It poses such questions as: How does gender come into play during the implementation of aid programs? In what ways and to what extent are gender relations changed? Are they improved? Are they made more difficult? What is left unsaid or taken for granted during these interactions?