Developing a Collective Framework and Agenda to Advance Social Justice Philanthropy in Africa and the Arab RegionSubmitted by Halima Mahomed on Thu, 05/09/2013 - 16:07
What does it mean to develop a collective framework and agenda for social justice philanthropy in Africa and the Arab region? Where do we even begin? What are the core issues we need to interrogate before we can do so? These and many other questions had been plaguing a number of us interested in this area of work for some time now and last year, the moment seemed to be just right to begin to take some initial steps on this; and so we did what we all do when starting from scratch... hosted a convening!
“Let us not become resolutionaries” warned Akwasi Aidoo of TrustAfrica as we began the discussions; and in trying to live up to this, the 33 participants – bringing in diverse perspectives from across the African continent and the Arab region – had the challenge of both critically examining what this area of work meant in our contexts, for our practice and in line with our own narratives as well as simultaneously identifying the core issues that we needed to collectively engage on at the level of theory, field building and; importantly, in relation to our organizations and our individual practices.
Acknowledging and Celebrating the Power and Impact of Women’s Human Rights Movements Over Three Decades
Change Takes Time
Over the past 30 years the work of women’s rights movements has led to nothing short of revolutionary changes in public attitudes, law, governance, and in the private sector and civil society. Women’s movements have changed how we think about gender and the meaning that we ascribe to it, and they have transformed how we understand violence, sexual and reproductive health and rights, and what counts as work.
We recognize that work on women’s rights is a long-term undertaking and requires sustained effort. We rarely put the time aside to reflect on the progress we have made and celebrate our success. For every victory, another challenge emerges. In the midst of urgent work to secure rights and hold the line against backlash, we often neglect to take the time to recognise, honour and rejoice in the gains that we have made.
This presentation was made by Stephen Pittam at the conference ‘Social Justice Philanthropy: Implications for Practice and Policy’ organised by the University of Kent on 1 March 2013
I would like to thank the team at Kent University for inviting me to contribute to this event. As Carl has mentioned I retired from the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust in August 2012 after 26 years there. I want to make clear from the outset though that I am speaking today as a Member of the Working Group on Philanthropy for Social Justice and Peace. I will of course be drawing on my experience at JRCT, but I am not in any way speaking on behalf of JRCT.
What I want to do in my time is four things:
• To give a personal view of how the concept of Social Justice Philanthropy has emerged over the last 20 years or so,
• To discuss what is Social Justice Philanthropy,
• To describe the Working Group’s idea on Social Justice Philanthropy as a Family of Concepts.
• And finally to offer a few thoughts on the future.
Social Justice Philanthropy In USA and UK
At a philanthropy gathering in late 2012, a session participant remarked, “raising money for social justice is like the church asking for money for love”. The analogy amused me and yet I was gravely concerned by the implication of that statement. In that statement was a reflection of our times where philanthropy is largely driven by language more suited to markets. Its product must be tangible, measurable and quick or it will be banished to the realm of the vague.
We’ve all seen the headlines that portray those on benefit as scroungers; we’ve most likely all heard ministers question the fairness for hardworking people having to foot the bill for the unemployed who “sleep off a life on benefit”; and most of us will know someone who believes that poverty is the fault of the individual – or who will argue that poverty doesn’t even exist in this country.
How accurate are such perceptions? Are the views presented based on fact, or is it the case that evidence and statistics have been misused, misrepresented and manipulated to create propaganda for a war on welfare? And what effect do these attitudes have on those who are living below the poverty line?
Research has shown that myths and misunderstandings fuel stereotypes that negatively impact those living in poverty in the UK. This supplement to the New Statesman, produced in partnership with the Webb Memorial Trust, aims to bust those myths – once and for all.
25 March 2013