The Washington Weekly – January 7, 2013

January 7, 2013

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The Hunger Project’s Executive VP, John Coonrod, is in Washington, DC to strengthen THP’s seat at the table of international development. Each week, John sends us insight into issues of health, policy, human rights and more by way of the Washington Weekly.

Happy New Year and Greetings from India!

  • Debriefing 2012 and Launching 2013
  • Halting Gender Based Violence
  • Local Democracy Consultation in India
  • President Obama appoints Global Development Council

Debriefing 2012 and Launching 2013

I practice four questions to aid in debriefing: 1) What was achieved? 2) What lessons were learned? 3) What new leadership emerged? 4) What new opportunities do we want to seize?

I have covered what I thought was achieved in the world in terms of policy trends in 2012, but what was achieved in THP advocacy oin 2012? Bottom line: we expanded what THP is known for globally. From our work on gender and food security, to having a voice in a broader range of issues relevant to our holistic strategies. This is especially true in governance, water, and maternal and child health and nutrition. And, as always, the basis for our credibility is our impact on the ground.

A Lesson that I saw us learning in many countries is the power of making every contribution we can to civil society alliances (or “platforms”). Working with government is slow. Government personnel may come and go, but the more civil society can institutionalize its voice in policy making through strong civil society platforms, the better.

Influential new leadership is emerging in our program countries, with the assignment in 2012 of senior staff devoted to this work. These colleagues are leveraging the ever-growing voices of our country directors.

The big new opportunities we need to seize in 2013 include establishing relationships with newly-elected governments in our countries (or changed ministers, as in the soon-departure of Secretary Clinton), and powerfully articulate what we know about ending hunger in the UN process to create the Post-2015 Global Development Goals.

Halting Gender-Based Violence

When THP made the empowerment of women its highest priority back in 1998, we recognized that the subjugation of women is ultimately held in place by violence and the ever-present threat of violence. The grassroots women leaders we empower make halting gender-based violence (GBV) a top priority. The world may now be approaching a tipping point in addressing this vast assault on human dignity.

The massive demonstrations in New Delhi demanding government and societal action in the wake of the gang-rape and murder of a female medical student could be a watershed moment.

Last week our team in Dhaka helped organize a demonstration by 400 representatives of 37 organizations to protest an appallingly similar case in Bangladesh.

THP has been approved to host a side event on women, governance and gender-based violence on March 12 during the UN Commission on the Status of Women

Participatory Local Democracy Consultation in New Delhi

The third essential element of our strategies for ending hunger and poverty is in the spotlight this week as we will hold the third in our set of global consultations with support from the UN Democracy Fund. Our goals is to cultivate a global community of practice, and put capacity building for participatory local democracy higher on the international agenda.

I’m in New Delhi with two George Washington University graduate students – Luke Fuller and Sam Kendall, who both have hands-on experience with local governance.

The meeting will be hosted by former THP Global Board member George Mathew and the staff of the Institute for Social Sciences, along with Rita Sarin and her team.

Please visit the project website. If you’re not already getting our weekly Participatory Democracy update from Leanna, sign up for it at the link!

Obama appoints Global Development Council

Over the Christmas break, the one long-awaited news is that President Obama announced appointments to his Global Development Council.

The international development community has long wanted policy input at the presidential level, and President Obama announced last February he would create this council. The blogger Sarah Jane Staats at the Center for Global Development comments: “The line-up so far pulls in research, private sector and philanthropic expertise and does not include operational or advocacy organizations (which may be a smart move to avoid conflict of interest with organizations who receive federal dollars for aid programs).”

I disagree with her on that last comment – there are plenty of folks with operational expertise who do not receive federal aid dollars, and we NGOs are good at democratically selecting our own spokesperson.

Four of the nine members are women, and these four have all met with The Hunger Project: Sylvia Burwell Mathews, Esther Duflo, Sarah Kambou and Smita Singh. Congratulations to the new presidential advisors, and best wishes for their leadership in the second Obama administration!

Coming Events

January 9, 2013: THP consultation in New Delhi on Participatory Local Democracy.

February 6-15, 2013: UN Conference on Social Development

March 3-4, 2013 – AU Conference on Ending Hunger in Africa, Addis

March 4-15, 2013 – UN Commission on the Status of Women. THP side event, Tuesday March 12, 10:30am.

April 19-21, 2013 – World Bank Spring Meetings in Washington

April 29-May 1, 2013 – InterAction Forum, Arlington, Virginia

May 28-30, 2013 – Women Deliver Conference, Kuala Lumpur

June 2013 – Civil20, Business20, Youth20 Summits in Saint Petersburg, Russia

June 27-28, 2013 – International Conference on Population and Development, Paris

September 2013 – Leaders G20 Summit in Saint Petersburg, Russia

October 5, 2013 – The Hunger Project Fall Event