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Change is in the hands of yours!

My continuous involvement in health and development related field, focusing on sexual and reproductive rights promotion is influenced by the quote, “Be the change you want to see in the world” by Mahatma Gandhi.

As I grow, I have realized how often I question myself, my colleagues, and donor agencies about how they define “change”. I wonder how those changes have been translated into actions, and or how they will enact them for the sake of so-called “development”.

It seems as if change is made equivalent to development by default. Development is seen in light of standardized benefits making available by state and mainstream policies. Therefore, communities throughout the world eventually adopt similar developmental templates which are known as “best practices”, and replicate them over again particularly in the global south.

Power is diffused all over when discussions or dialogues on “change” taken place.

Change is unavoidably funder driven. Communities have not much to say when it comes to developmental framework because it is under special care of experts and consultants. For example, funding agencies offer a ready-made package designated for their grantees entering its organizational capacity development (OCD) program plan. Thus, technical assistance from funders majorly focuses on technical aspect of OCD in which answers and solutions are envisaged, and quantified. Even though OCD also has a lot to do with adaptive aspect of change within the organization or prospective community, cultures and subcultures of communities have minimally been taken into consideration.

Nowadays, Thai society is shifting its interest and discussions towards a “local-community being”. It is highlighting an existence and importance of local cultures, folk wisdom, and being incredibly conscious of any threat on localization.

I see “change” interplays with construction and deconstruction of norms, values, beliefs, and socio-cultural behaviors of community and its members. Hence, it is extremely challenging to intervene at the level of cultural behaviors and practices when change is expected. Moreover, culture is diverse and changed over time. That opens gateway for cultural intervention. Then women writings can be drawn in to spell out explicitly how cultural behaviors and beliefs making the lives of women and girls difficult.

Since PulseWire allows an online activism on various layer to roll in front of a computer screen. Take the hand with PulseWire to streamline development field with women writings can be one strategy. Besides, it is crucial for women writers to centrally focus more in bringing more stories that illustrate how societal norms and values including cultural behaviors and practices making women and girls living in hardship.

The list of how to overcome those barriers can be added endless. I see that simply participate in online dialogue, share more stories of cultures that inhibit women and girls to exercise their full rights over their bodies, circulate or cross-post online petitions, bring women issues upfront can help overcome those challenges. Certainly it can yield positive and powerful impact from your individual level.

Change is in the hands of yours!

Comments

Adepeju's picture

I love that Mahatma Gandhi's

I love that Mahatma Gandhi's quote. Lets live by example and be the change we desire.

earthwindfire's picture

Change is in the Hands...

Thank you, Mlaphimon, for this writing. Your convictions that global, organizational programs for change do not take into consideration the myriad cultural needs of women who do not fit into the patterns these programs address are valid and significant . Your argument against global development is thought-provoking; mainstream best practices fail those on the outskirts, particularly those of unique belief and behavior systems. You seem to care deeply, temper frustration with intelligent pursuit, and face challenges head-on. You understand that barriers to creating change are philosophical and political, and need to be managed on a culture-by-culture basis. That you admire Gandhi to such an extent that you are so greatly influenced by his wisdom tells this reader that you hold a historical and civic perspective and, thus, a big picture drive for change for women, particularly in the area of reproductive health. Certainly, such an altruistic engine deserves to be well-oiled. I wish you much success in your quest for change that is streamlined and appropriate for the women of Thailand.

mlaphimon's picture

Dear Martina Bedar, Thank you

Dear Martina Bedar,

Thank you for your comment, Martina. Your reflection on my article has confirmed my confidence in getting my views, experiences, and knowledge across in writing, specially in English.

I have reviewed your profile, and are thrilled to see how you involve in various sphere of social activism. I wonder where I will be when coming at the same age as your. Thank you once again for listening to my voice (Khob Khun Mak Kha).

Monruedee Laphimon (Pat)

RosemaryC's picture

The power of local knowledge

Dear Mlaphimon:

I really appreciated your article, and your thoughts about how development should be done. I like the thinking of the Community Development Resource Association of Cape Town, which talks about the importance of 'horizontal' development (neighbour to neighbour learning and sharing) vs "vertical" development (expert to learner). They talk about a strategy of 'accompanying' people as they work to build peace and change, providing support for them as and when they need it. You might like to visit their website www.cdra.org.za - they have some great resources.

They also have been involved in preparing The Barefoot Guide to Working with Organisations and Social Change, which you might find to be a useful resource - http://www.barefootguide.org/

Finally, if you want some research that proves the value of community leadership in health, have a look at the study of the African Control Program for Onchocheriasis (APOC), which pioneered a system of delivering treatment locally by training local people. It was based on research done by African researchers who were trying to see how a particular drug could be widely distributed in remote areas, over a sustained period of time (14-15 years, administered once a year). They developed community-directed treatment iwth ivermectin as the only possible way, but it has proved to be useful for many more interventions as well and also strengthens the local public health system. See
http://www.who.int/apoc/publications/cdti_healthsystems/en/index.html

I wish you all the very best with your work. Keep believing in yourself and the power of your own thinking. You are, indeed, being the change you want to see.

Kind regards,
Rosemary

ck's picture

women together

Hi Mlaphimon,

Women talking and working together always makes things better, doesn't it!

Kind regards,

ck

ck

mlaphimon's picture

Greetings Rosemary, and

Greetings Rosemary & CK

Thank you for the listed websites for additional resources. I will check it out, and thank you for taking your time reading my article, and of course your feedback.

Thank you (Khob Khun Kha)

Monruedee(Pat) Laphimon

Pat, first thank you for your piece. The big question for me is: How do we accomplish our own political goals while complying with funders' interests? As someone who counseled grantees in my past employment, this is not always possible. So what comes first? Funding with our willingness to deviate from our negotiable goals or remaining firm on all goals and doing without or with less? Tough to harmonize, but worth reflecting. The answer might be situational. J.

Ruth Beedle's picture

We are learning - slowly -

We are learning - slowly - that the answers to the problems - the changes that must be implemented - are never going to be imported from some wise culture somewhere else. Those solutions resulting in change are going to be most successful when they are locally discerned and decided upon with outside funding supporting what grassroots communities decide is best for them.

I am for you 100% in being the change you want to make in the world. And if I have anything to do with helping you clarify your vision and your voice, then that is the best and most I could possibly pray for.

And, by the way, for someone who is just getting started writing in English, you ROCK!!!!!

Your impressed Vision Mentor.....

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