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The Tragedy of 'NGOnisation' of the Place of Women in Africa's Peace and Security Processes

It is clear that women’s security and gender dynamics are critical to preventing conflict, resolving conflict, and rebuilding after conflict but wait a minute, they will not play these roles in the manner being championed by international NGOs working on the conflict affected regions in the global South especially Africa. I have always argued for a different model. The current one is not only a failed experiment but also a corrupt and exploitative enterprise. It is only persisting because it is ‘conflict and peace entrepreneurship’ with known merchants. Look, you work in an INGO where you receive donor money largely from the home governments where such an NGO is headquartered to support women on peace and conflict; a quarter of that money remains at the Headwaters (HQ) and another quarter returns through payments made to expats from the HQ countries. Three quarters of the remaining (which works to half of the total grant) is spent on 'planning to plan' and salaries of some local - often heavily HQ-leaning individuals (in fact most of them are very arrogant at the level of ignorance) whose main job is Skype meetings with their networks in the HQ, travelling around and attending forums in fancy hotels where they speak to themselves using ‘sector language’ with things like human - rights based approach, gender as cross-cutting issue, gender mainstreaming and Inclusion (GESI), do no harm bluh bluh, you know, and drawing handsome perdiems. 

The remaining fraction (which is very tiny, not even a quarter of the total grant) is often split into two. The first is paid to some local, mostly really hardworking persons who often normally quite genuinely committed to the cause but often powerless. These kinds of guys (field staff) are often voiceless and whenever they attempt to suggest their ideas on transforming the community, their opinions are mocked and trashed, after all, they are regarded as ‘local’, inexperienced, ‘without capacity’ etc. Such employees are therefore effectively reduced to errand boys/girls at the call of their arrogant, know-it-all, Western-leaning bosses who basically are far removed from processes on the ground just like their Masters/Mistresses in the global North. It is only the remaining portion of this last fraction of the cash that gets to do something that is close to the community. This is in most, if not all cases, the planning and holding ‘capacity building/enhancement activities’ which typically are some irrelevant trainings for select community women (seminar-goers). And then, those trainings are conducted by same arrogant, know it all bosses who go ahead to lecture women about very remote issues related to theories of gender etc. The boss lady/gentleman ultimately retreats to some upmarket coffee bar in Nairobi and decorates a report for the donor about how the project has empowered and transformer women. A huge success that needed to be properly documented and scaled up!!! Under the circumstances it is no doubt that the local staff, many of whom change-oriented persons genuinely commitment to something become more and more frustration as they increasingly realize how futile their efforts are; they either resign or they get fired for ‘incompetence.’ The spin continues. Crap!

The Tragedy of 'NGOnisation' of the Place of Women in Africa's Peace and Security Processes The Tragedy of 'NGOnisation' of  the Place of Women in Africa's Peace and Security Processes Reviewed by Ibrahim Magara on December 18, 2018 Rating: 5

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