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Accepted paper:

"The politics of international development work: an analytical perspective on the implicit and explicit power dynamics between partner organizations and the impact on program implementation"


Sonan Etefa (Development Expertise Centre )
Aniek Santema (Edukans)

Paper long abstract:

Connecting to the main theme of the conference, we will explore the implicit and explicit power dynamics that influence our work in a vlog. We will focus and analyze the dynamic ways of co-creation and co-implementation of projects focused on life skills (including SRHR) and youth employment, and discuss the way the existing dynamics influence the work we do and the relations between the organizations. We depart from a shared and evidence based belief that life skills (including SRHR) are crucial skills for youth to be successful in life, and to find employment. Studies, and our practical experience, show that these life skills are key for youth to successfully acquire and maintain a job. In addition, specific training on gender relations and SRHR protects youth (and especially young women) from potential challenges and harmful practices at the work floor. While these life skills can be universally identified, the right process of co-creation and co-implementation is crucial for the life skills training to be most impactful. Therefore, we analyze the way co-creation and co-implementation is influenced by the implicit and explicit power dynamics within which our work is situated. The analytical perspective will depart from our own practical experience, in working together as young women from two different organizations where power dynamics are clearly present. These dynamics can be seen within and between the organizations and partners, but also influenced by the donor and funding priorities. While working together, these power dynamics, the role of (young) women, and the influence the power dynamics have on the successful implementation, became a frequent topic of discussion. In this vlog, we aim to depart from a wider level of discussion on the existing and historically influenced power structure in which we work, and connect this to our own personal experience. Then, we will analyze the way this impacts the implementation of the projects we work on, and how power dynamics can influence processes of co-creation and implementation in general. Whereas this discussion may be quite controversial, it also allows a critical reflection on our own ways of working. We will explore on a personal level how we may be keeping (ineffective) ways of hierarchical working structures intact, how we could be the changemakers towards a more effective way of working and move towards more effective and impactful programs to fight youth unemployment.

panel G41
Youth employment, knowledge and the labour markets; knowledge and society [initiated by Edukans with INCLUDE, ISCTE-IU Lisbon and Advance Afrika (Kampala, Uganda]]