Indignation and inspiration, heartbreak and hope – our 2017

Catherine Meredith Gender, General, Humanitarian, Inequality

As 2017 draws to a close Catherine Meredith looks back at the many powerful blogs posts, videos and podcasts which we’ve published on Views & Voices this year.

My job as editor is a great privilege. I am frequently inspired by colleagues’ passion for overcoming injustice and the innovative ways in which they, and Oxfam, are helping people overcome poverty around the world, often placing themselves in risky situations along the way, to get aid to where it’s most needed.

Some blog posts can be heart breaking to read. This year I’ve been particularly moved by Ed Cairn’s reflections on speaking out about the Rohingya Crisis, Nour Shawaf’s reflections on interviewing Syrian refugees, ‘I’ve realised I know nothing’, and Rachel Hastie on civilian suffering in war and the responsibility to protect:

‘People have told me about the moments their lives change – when they watched the tanks roll into their town, the knock on the door before armed men pulled them from their homes, or the moment the bombs started raining down.’

Other content is a rallying cry to act. Take for example Nikki van der Gaag’s post on why addressing power is key to end violence against women, and Caroline Sweetman on gender and unmet needs for water, sanitation and hygiene:

‘Imagine… you don’t have a toilet – just a piece of open wasteland by a railway line, where men hang around and ogle you.’

There have also been posts which are challenging to Oxfam, and the development sector at large. We have to be frank about our failings in order to become more effective at ending poverty, but sometimes this makes for uncomfortable reading. In October, Mark Goldring and Harriet Lamb reflected on ways in which we could be a better partner in conflict situations, after our research found that INGOs (Oxfam included) are failing to adequately support the local civil society organisations they partner with. For World Toilet Day, Kerry Akers looked at why so many toilets in IDP and refugee camps are unused. Our research has found that not enough has been done to mitigate the risk of sexual violence in the design of latrines, their location and lighting.

There have been plenty of moments of inspiration however, such as Angus McBride’s podcast on how a tiger worm toilet works, and Alex Jacobs on how and why we use cash transfers in emergencies, not to mention many cunning uses of technology. And our ground breaking unpaid care programme, helping to reduce and redistribute the caring work load:

‘When men and women share what there is to do, they have a better relationship… we forget our tiredness when the kiss is there.’ (Arlene, East Samar, the Philippines)

Oxfam dares to be bold in the way that we plan for a fairer world.
Other posts are exciting because they look at changing the way the global economy works. From Erinch Sahan on encouraging the emergence of the fourth sector, ‘businesses engineered to balance social, planetary and commercial concerns,‘ to Fenella Porter on making the economy work for both women and men, Oxfam dares to be bold in the way that we plan for a fairer world.

Over the Christmas season, Kathleen Kerridge and Rachel Alcock remind us that even in a wealthy nation like the UK there are people going hungry.

Wherever you are there is no space for complacency in the struggle to build a more equal society, no doubt our blog authors will have much more to say on this in 2018.

Finally – a thought provoking short video: ‘Are you a feminist?’ Nikki van der Gaag on women’s rights


Catherine Meredith