4 the World blog

Empowering collaborative communities

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LRA Research to Practice Episode on Gender. A must watch if you are a classroom teacher!


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Reducing violence against women

The statistics are devastating. 7 in 10 women have experienced physical violence. 1 in 4 women around the world has experienced rape or attempted rape. A woman is murdered by an intimate partner every day, EVERY DAY.  Between 1 and 2 million girls and women are being held as sex slaves RIGHT NOW. More statistics are reported by the UN http://www.un.org/en/women/endviolencInternational day for the elimination of violence against women November 25 logoe/situation.shtml

One of 4 the World’s programs is educating girls with the hope that education will empower them to be able to provide a livelihood for themselves, to make well-informed decisions, and to be better mothers.  The research also shows that education and empowerment helps reduce violence against women.  But the education cannot stop with just girls.  In order for violence against women to be eradicated, men must also be educated and feel empowered.  If women are empowered but not the men, that can backfire.  Men, feeling threatened, may lash out at women.  Research has shown this effect in response to micro loans to women in Southeast Asia and literacy education in the Americas. Remember Malala’s story? Educating women is not the magical pill.  It is not easy and it has severe, sometimes deadly, unintended consequences.

We have to change an entire human history (with few exceptions) of patriarchy. It seems impossible that this could change in my lifetime, but the institution of slavery collapsed.  That isn’t to say that racism is over or that there is not slavery today.  But, the world did change. The institution of imperialism collapsed.  That isn’t to say that there isn’t still colonialist attitudes or that there aren’t residual problems still today.  But, the world did change.  We have to believe that the institution of patriarchy can collapse and with it people’s attitudes about violence against women can change.  We have to believe it is possible!

To show your support for women, wear ORANGE on the 25th of November – the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women – See more at: http://www.unwomen.org/en/what-we-do/ending-violence-against-women/take-action#sthash.5kCHMTEQ.dpuf

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Announcing the Karen Tharrington Scholarship

10013937_10203508529697663_591347589_nKaren Tharrington is a dedicated teacher and global citizen.  If there is a need, she fills it. . . and she fills it in a way that is above and beyond what was expected.  Karen’s teaching background includes high school Spanish, college Spanish, and Spanish teaching methods.  But her teaching isn’t limited to the traditional classroom.  Karen has also traveled the world to bring education to those without or with limited access.

NCSU group in front of Maya ruins in BelizeIn 2014, Karen traveled with 4 the World to Belize and Guatemala. While there, she spoke with girls about the difficulties they face in and out of school.  The girls explained that some families do not send their girls to high school and asked for Karen’s help.

Now, you can help Karen help children in Guatemala go to high school. By contributing to the Karen Tharrington Scholarship Fund, you can help reduce the burden on families to send their children to high school. Today, it costs families 770 quetzals a year to send a child to high school.  This is the equivalent of 100 US dollars.

For $400 you can send a child to high school to help ensure a better quality of life, not only for that child, but for that child’s future family. A person’s income is significantly related to a person’s level of education. In addition, the years of schooling a girl has completed predicts the amount of schooling her children will receive. Your contribution has exponential returns.

You can donate today!

Click the link above and add I want my donation to be dedicated to: The Karen Tharrington Scholarship Fund. Share this with your friends and family. Together, we can help hundreds of children in Guatemala go to high school.

Girl holding sign that says Thank You

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Future Directions for INGOs

INGOs have been praised and criticized during the various international development movements.  Among the praises include Islam and Morgan, “NGOs interventions are . . . flexible, innovative, efficient, and low cost for promoting participation and to transfer appropriate technologies to fulfill local needs” (2012, p.56).  Among the criticism are INGOs have little legitimacy, credibility, and scale.  Barber & Bowie state three solutions to the current problems with INGOs, (a) education of donors and volunteers, (b) subscription to the Humanitarian Accountability Partnership (HAP) International guidelines for accountability to beneficiaries, and (c) partnerships with CSOs and national governments (2008).  These three solutions suggest future directions for researchers of empowerment theory as it relates to community development: (a) education of donors and volunteers on community assets, (b) beneficiary self-efficacy and agency, and (c) INGO government partnerships.

Community assets. First, donors, volunteers, and INGO practitioners should be educated on Gonzalez, Moll, and Amanti’s (2005) funds of knowledge approach to education development as it relates to empowerment.  Rather than asking what a group doesn’t have, Moll emphasizes asking what a group does have.  Moll also suggests that (a) learning ethnography, describing ethnic groups, and (b) reflexivity, being aware of one’s assumptions, are important not only for researchers but also community workers (cited in Bransford et al., 2006).  Learning about the community and being sensitive to one’s own subjectivity can help reduce enculturation, and keep INGO practitioners focused on what the community has and what the community wants rather than the practitioner’s preconceived ideas (Gaudio, 2013).  INGO workers must also be aware that poverty and development are socially constructed paradigms situated within time and culture.  Hickey and Mohan explain the importance of understanding one’s subjectivity in order to, “look for alternative value systems so that the poor are not stigmatized and their spiritual and cultural ‘assets’ are recognized” (2003, p. 38).

Taking this approach one step further, communities can move beyond the outside organization’s ability to empower the community to the community’s ability to sustain growth. Sustainable community development, also called sustainable enterprise, has the potential of keeping accountability with beneficiaries and not donors. Sustainable development theory is most often associated with the environment but can also refer to financial self-sustainability of an NGO or community.  While there are seemingly no critics of protecting the future of our environment in the international development community, there are critics of the slower pace of growth that regulations could cause (Iriye, 2002).  A criticism of self-sustainable development is that focusing on money distracts NGOs from their services.  These critics believe that NGOs should focus on their mission and not on business (Valderrama & Coscio, 1998 cited in Pearce, 2000).  “The World Bank (2006, pp. 5-8) commented that the public image of the NGOs reflected an illegitimate shift into for-profit activity, with low service quality and only limited development impact” (Islam & Morgan, 2012, p. 371).  Whether fundraising or sales, NGOs always had to have an eye on financial resources. Sustainable community development is a growing model and more research on this model is needed in the future (Underwood, Blundel, Lyon, & Schaefer, 2012).

Self-efficacy and agency.  Accountability to beneficiaries keeps the focus on the communities and not the donors.  The end goal is for donors to disappear and communities to develop sustainable solutions.  In order for INGOs to disappear, the community must progress in the four dimensions of power.  The INGO needs to focus on the fourth dimension: building the efficacy of the community members.  Efficacy is confidence in one’s ability to successfully complete a job (Perry, Turner, & Meyer, 2006).  If members of the community know what to do, have the power to do it, and believe that it is possible, the members have empowerment and efficacy.  However, if the members of the community do not believe that they can succeed, then they may not be motivated to invest the time or money necessary to achieve success (Perry et al., 2006).  Again, taking this theory further is the idea of agency.  Communities must move beyond having the power to exerting the power (Sloan, 2013).  According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, agency is “the capacity, condition, or state of acting or of exerting power” (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/agency).  Moving beyond empowerment to agency is the second place further research should be carried out.

INGO Partnerships. Third, INGO partnerships with in-country organizations and governments offer a means of remaining true to the beneficiaries’ cultural values.  Partnerships for this study are defined as “a joint commitment to long-term interaction, shared responsibility for achievement, reciprocal obligation, equality, mutuality and balance of power” (Fowler, 2000 p. 3).  Partnerships create an equal platform that allows for critique of INGO policy, approaches, or programs and offer a safe place to communicate contrasting or conflicting viewpoints and to address social or political barriers.  While INGOs can take the time to learn about the different cultures and ethnicities of the people they serve, it can be hard to see one’s own assumptions and culturally embedded values.  Being sensitive to cultural differences is especially important in community development because there are two pathways to human development.  The industrialized Western view is called individualistic and the non-Western view called sociocentric (Greenfield et al., 2006).  “With origins in both developmental psychology and anthropology, this parsimonious theory posits two idealized developmental pathways: one emphasizing individual identity, independence, self-fulfillment, and standing-out; the other emphasizing group identity, interdependence, social responsibility, and fitting in” (Greenfield et al., 2006, pg. 676).  These two pathways lead to human development, but the two outcomes look very different in the two communities.  Without being sensitive to cultural differences, a development worker could easily jump the fence from empowerment to enculturation.  INGOs can avoid enculturation by distributing the role of expert cross-culturally.  Moore and Stewart (1998) recommend INGOs can also avoid competing with CSOs and gain “economies of scale through collectively providing services within the NGO sector” (Pearce, 2000,p.25).  While the literature is in place that supports partnerships in theory, research on successful practice needs to be conducted to ensure a future of thriving INGO and government partnerships.

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Empowerment in International Development

This post chronicles empowerment theory in international development from 1970 to the present with an emphasis on the impact of the political climate and trends on INGOs.

Background of Empowerment Theory

Empowerment theory in the 1970’s and 1980’s was seen as a radical, or alternative, form of development that grew out of the work of Paolo Friere and Feminism (Luttrell et al., 2009). Friere’s (1970) Pedagogy of the Oppressed is a seminal work holding society and not the individual responsible for the many illiterate citizens and calling for quality education for the poor. According to Kamat, empowerment during the women’s rights movement meant “empowering individuals to change their societies” (2003, p. 68). The emphasis was on consciousness raising and social justice.

This emphasis began to change in the 1990’s. In this decade, funding seemingly dictated focus. In 1989, the World Bank began funding NGOs that educated communities on technical and entrepreneurial skills (Goldman, 2005) and thus those NGOs grew. This change of focus resulted from funding agencies’ agendas and not the INGOs’ agendas (Kamat, 2003). Edwards, Hulme, and Wallace warned, “What would make a difference (like mass-based public protest against Western indifference to genocide) – is never given sufficient attention in NGO strategy. It is too expensive or too “political,” and wins few plaudits or contracts for foreign aid” (1999, p. 9). As NGOs began to accept money from governments and the World Bank, they began to focus on building technical skills rather than removing political barriers to equality (Pearce, 2000). Empowerment of individuals to change society gave way to empowerment of individuals to change themselves in congruence with the liberal view of the individual as the problem and solution to economic development.

Empowerment Theory Today

In 2000, the UN has adopted a human development model, as seen by the name of the report above, in order to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDG). The eight MDG are measurable outcomes of development: to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, to achieve universal primary education, to promote gender equality and empower women, to reduce child mortality, to improve maternal health, to combat HIV/AIDS and malaria and other diseases, to ensure environmental sustainability, and to develop a global partnership for development (UN, 2013). According to Sen , human development seeks to improve the quality of life of a nation through improving education, health, and capacity (1999). As Sen’s terminology was adopted by mainstream top-down development, the terms capacity, capabilities and even empowerment began to be associated with the top-down approach (Luttrell et al., 2009). Human development from a top down approach includes direct government (foreign or national) investment in public schools, health care, and social security (Sen, 1999).

Opponents of the top down approach conclude that foreign aid and service delivery are too short- sided to rid stubborn poverty (McCloskey, 2012). Development should not be defined as delivery but as leverage (Pearce, 2000). In other words, development must reform society and transform the systemic causes of poverty. To address the concerns, development practitioners can develop a multidimensional approach to development. Utilizing Rowland’s (1997) framework for understanding power, development practitioners can define empowerment as both “individual capacities and collective action to address inequalities that are the causes of poverty” (Luttrell et al., 2006, p. 16). Another concern of top down development based on the MDG is that “it presupposes a set of (essentially bureaucratic or government) goals or objectives which may not be shared by many of the people who are supposedly benefiting from development” (Sumner & Tribe, 2008, p. 13). A solution to this concern is the participation of beneficiaries in all steps of the development process.

Future Directions

Accountability to beneficiaries keeps the focus on the communities and not the donors.  The end goal is for donors to disappear and communities to develop sustainable solutions.  In order for INGOs to disappear, the community must progress in the four dimensions of power.  The INGO needs to focus on the fourth dimension: building the efficacy of the community members.  Efficacy is confidence in one’s ability to successfully complete a job (Perry, Turner, & Meyer, 2006).  If members of the community know what to do, have the power to do it, and believe that it is possible, the members have empowerment and efficacy.  However, if the members of the community do not believe that they can succeed, then they may not be motivated to invest the time or money necessary to achieve success (Perry et al., 2006).  Again, taking this theory further is the idea of agency.  Communities must move beyond having the power to exerting the power (Sloan, 2013).  According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, agency is “the capacity, condition, or state of acting or of exerting power” (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/agency).  Moving beyond empowerment to agency is the future direction for international development organizations.

References and Resources

Eade, D. (2000). Preface. In D. Eade (Ed.), Development, NGOs, and civil society (pp.9-14).
Oxford, UK: Oxfam GB.
Friere, P. (1970). Pedagogy of the oppressed. New York, NY: Herder & Herder.
Friedmann, J. (1992). Empowerment – The politics of alternative development. Cambridge,
UK: Blackwell.
Kamat, S. (2003). NGOs and the new democracy: The false saviors of international development. Harvard
International Review, 25(1), 65-69. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/59896246?
Laverack, G. (2006). Using a ‘domains’ approach to build community empowerment. Community Development
Journal, 41(1), 4-12.
Luttrell, C., Quiroz, S., Scrutton, C., & Bird, K. (2009). Understanding and operationalising empowerment (Working       Paper 308). London, UK: Overseas Development Institute.
Pearce, J. (2000). Development, NGOs, and civil society: the debate and its future. In D. Eade (Ed.) Development,          NGOs, and Civil Society (pp. 15-43). Oxford, UK: Oxfam GB.
Rowlands, J. (1997). Questioning empowerment: Working with women in Honduras. Oxford, UK: Oxfam.
Sen, A. (1999). Development as freedom. New York, NY: Anchor.
Sloan, L. (2013, April). Mixing, selecting, doing: The intersection of structures and agency for women in Ghana.               Poster session presented at the Global Engagement Exposition of North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC.     UN. (2013). Millennium development goals. Retrieved from http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/reports.shtml World Bank. (2002). What is empowerment? Empowerment and poverty reduction: A sourcebook. Washington, DC:      World Bank.

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TB Silent Killer – A Documentary on Frontline

Tuberculosis was once thought to be a disease of the past.

But with more than 8 million new infections every year, virulent new drug-resistant strains emerging faster than ever, and outbreaks occurring across the world (including in Europe and the United States), TB—passed simply by a cough or a sneeze—has become the second leading cause of death from an infectious disease on the planet.

In TB Silent Killer, a special 90-minute FRONTLINE documentary, filmmaker Jezza Neumann travels to Swaziland, the country with the world’s highest incidence of TB. With startling intimacy and emotion, TB Silent Killer delivers an unforgettable portrait of the people living at the pandemic’s epicenter.

People like Nokubegha, a 12-year-old girl whose mother was just killed by a multi-drug-resistant strain of the disease, and who is now cared for by her 17-year-old brother.

She loves to dance, loves to wear pink, and dreams of one day working with computers at a big company—but then she is diagnosed with TB, and the film follows her through the wrenching months of hospitalization, treatment and uncertainty.

“Multi-drug-resistant TB first emerged years ago when patients with the standard disease didn’t take all of their meds,” Neumann says. “Successful treatment regimens do exist, but they remain old, long and expensive, with serious side effects.”

The film also follows a man named Bheki, a builder who is fanatical about soccer, and recently learned that both he and his sister have the drug-resistant form of TB.

“It’s impossible not to be frightened by this,” he tells FRONTLINE. “You never know when it will end for you.”

And as TB Silent Killer illustrates, you also never know when it might start.

“Anyone can get TB. … You don’t know who’s sick, who is not sick. … [It’s] just in the air, so whether you’re poor or rich, you can’t stop that,” says Gcnenikele, a young woman living in isolation, and on borrowed time, after being diagnosed with extremely drug-resistant TB—an even more deadly strain that has now been reported in 92 countries.

Through the intimate stories of Nokubegha, Bheki and Gcnenikele—and the nurses and doctors who are fighting to save their lives despite the stigma and infection threat they face for doing so—Neumann delivers a haunting, powerful look at this disease’s human toll, and sounds an alarm for us all.

“In Swaziland, a quarter of all adults are HIV-positive, which means their immune systems are compromised and especially susceptible to TB infection,” says Neumann, whose previous FRONTLINE film, Poor Kids, explored poverty in America through the eyes of children. “But globalization and international travel mean that these infections have the potential to spread all over the world.”

“The fact is, we cannot choose the air we breathe,” a nurse working in Swaziland tells FRONTLINE. “And hence, anyone can get TB.”

TB Silent Killer aired Tuesday, March 25, at 10 p.m. on PBS. You can watch it online at pbs.org/frontline.


TB Silent Killer is a True Vision production for WGBH/FRONTLINE and the BBC. The producer, writer and director is Jezza Neumann. Rebecca Stewart is the co-producer. Clare Paterson is the executive producer for the BBC. The executive producer for True Vision is Brian Woods. The deputy executive producer of FRONTLINE is Raney Aronson-Rath. The executive producer of FRONTLINE is David Fanning. This blog is a repost of the press release.


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The Rising Cost of NOT Going to College

In the age of high student loans, many wonder if it pays to go to college.  I say that there are nonmonetary benefits of going to college, such as meeting people that are different from you and challenging yourself to your highest intellectual potential, but there is monetary value as well.

Check out the recent report from the Pew Research Center with easy to read graphs to see what is going on in the US today.


My advice is to research a university’s graduate rate and job placement percentage upon graduation.  Also, look at how much a person makes in the job market that has the same degree that you do.  Take the earnings minus your potential loan payments to see if that program is a good investment.  Not all degrees are equal.

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Do you think there are more males or more females in the world? In Europe and the West, when women and men have equal access to food and health care, there are more women, we live longer. But in most of the rest of the world, that’s not the case. In fact, demographers have shown that there are anywhere between 60 million and 100 million missing females in the current population.

Sheryl WuDunn, author of Half the Sky, addresses the issue of missing girls.  Girls are missing in our world because they are not taken care of at the same level as boys.  Girl babies are abandoned, girl children are sold, and the girls’ lives are never recorded.  They are missing because they are probably dead.  This cannot continue.  We must educate girls and boys on the importance of treating all people with respect and dignity, regardless of ethnicity, ability, or gender.  We must open our eyes and see that gender equality has not been reached, not in the U.S. and certainly not in other places in the world.  This January, instead of a resolution, let’s start a revolution.  A revolution for gender equality.

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Smart Girls = Smart Investment

The Girl Effect is the exponential effect that education of one girl can have on a family, a community, and the world. See CARE’s explanation of the girl effect with this side-show.

Rauol Davion, associate director of Girls’ Education at the MacArthur Foundation, explains that investing in a girl’s education gives more return on investment than any other development investment. Watch this video to learn why.

Want to do your part? 4 the World gives secondary education scholarships to girls in Belize, Guatemala, Myanmar, and India. Vist 4theworld.org to donate securely. Smart investment = smart girls = smart world.

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English Language Learners

Supporting English Language Learners in the classroom is important in all schools where the language of instruction is English, but students first language is a different language.  The Sheltered Instruction method provides common sense ways to scaffold instruction for ELLs.

  • Preteach to activate prior knowledge and provide adequate background knowledge that will be needed for the lesson. Connect to the students’ experiences.  Acknowledge the rich cultural knowledge each students brings to the class.
  • Cooperative groups allow students to practice speaking and listening, to use each person’s strength to help the group, and the social interaction is motivating.
  • Speaking slowly and clearly is important.  Before I traveled to Mexico I practiced saying, “No comprendí. Por favor, hablá más despacio.”  I knew that I would need native speakers to speak more slowly for me.
  • Avoiding idioms or figures of speech that don’t literally translate helps avoid confusion.  Common idioms are “give yourself a pat on the back,” “shoot for the stars,” and “all your ducks in a row.”
  • Use visuals like hand motions and pictures to support understanding.
  • Adapted texts can help also.  Instructors can cut and paste to make an abridged version or highlight what the ELLs should concentrate on comprehending.  Using multiple texts and considerate texts is advisable.

McLaughlin, M. (2010). Content area reading: Teaching and learning in an age of multiple literacies. Boston: Pearson.