Principles and non-negotiables
The different methodologies vary as they integrate into different types of intervention and sector, and adapt to different organisational and social context and responding to needs of different stakeholder combinations. Nevertheless, they are all underpinned by a number of common principles and non-negotiables:
- Inspiration is key: Start with visions, opportunities and where the ‘spark energy’ is. Be clear there you want to go and what can help you get there and who will support you and what you can do fast. Tackle the negatives and slower things later from a position of strength and optimism.
- Inclusion and respect for all: everyone has a right to be listened to and respected without prejudice or stereotyping.
- Everyone can be a leader of change in their own lives and the lives of those around them. Sitting around waiting for ‘leader heroes’ is not an option. If each person has a vision to be active against injustice around them and inspire others, then real change is possible and democratic civil society can thrive. Self-reliance is seen both an end in itself, and also essential to building negotiating strength for people who are currently disadvantaged to articulate and communicate together what they really need from external agencies to best use scarce resources and avoid corruption.
- Action Learning from day 1: All tools and sessions, right from the start and at all levels, identify change goals and actions that participants themselves can take towards those goals without waiting for external assistance. Actions must also be tracked and achievements and challenges analysed on an ongoing basis by people themselves as individuals and groups to increase their achievements. Participant’s own action learning for their own benefit is then the basis for external empowering enquiry and organisational action learning.
- Community-led and multi-stakeholder: bringing together those without and those with power around a common agenda – as far as possible. The process of consensus-building is never complacent and content with ‘sticking plaster’ on the cracks. But aims as quickly as possible to build empathy, respect and confidence for as many participants as possible to address more sensitive conflicts of interest further down the road.
- Gender and diversity empowerment strategies are non-negotiable and mainstreamed as essential components of the effectiveness and sustainability of any development intervention. Human rights are contextualised from a community-led perspective, but ultimately non-negotiable. Human rights include women’s human rights under the 1979 Convention on Elimination of ALL forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and child and minority rights under different UN Conventions.