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After the great meet…what next?

The Annual Voice Reflection Meeting in July 2022

By Kenneth Jura – Voice External Amplifier

After close to two years of no physical meeting, the entire Voice team finally reunited in Siem Reap, Cambodia. The meeting was a special moment for all the teams to reconnect, restrategize and most importantly reimagine a better world where everyone is included and respected. A society where voices of all rightsholder groups are included at the decision-making table. It was also the first time that some of the team members were meeting for the first time, especially the Linking, Learning Amplifier Officers. Each Voice focus country was represented by the programme officer, the linking, learning and amplifier officer and a finance officer.

Group photo

In this blog, we take a look into some of the discussions held as far as trust-based and inclusive grant-making is concerned, why we say linking and learning is at the heart of Voice, the impact of Covid-19 on grantee partners’ project implementation and the programme as a whole. How do we intend to ameliorate our internal processes to be most responsive to diverse representation from the rightsholders? The different country teams came armed with information and inspiring stories that were shared with their colleagues. The context analysis update was the last big task carried out in all the 10 Voice focus countries before meeting in Siem Reap, Cambodia. These contexts analyses ground Voice’s work on which impact themes to focus on or which rightsholder groups are under-represented and how the future calls for proposals will attempt to bridge that gap. In Nigeria for instance, at the height of the #EndSARS movement Voice put out a call for proposals dubbed “Beyond a Hashtag!” to work with civil society organisations and non-governmental organisations to collectively address specific threats that impacted the well-being of groups facing marginalisation and discrimination with the view of changing the attitudes and practices that promote equal access and opportunities, confront injustice and/or encourage social development. Presently,  and based on the current context analysis, there is a better understanding of disability rights after the passage of the Disability Act as well as the voices of the youth are well-articulated in demanding a better Nigeria. Additionally, the discussions around the context analysis provided the Voice teams to draw points of commonalities and departure points and how best to serve the different rightsholder groups in the countries and the regions. According to the Civicus monitor, Mali, Niger, Nigeria and the Philippines’ civic space downgraded from obstructed to being repressed. In Mali, this is due to political factors such as the transitional national government which could lead to uncertainty in project implementation. The context analysis information will also be uploaded on the Voice website under each country’s profile.

Rethinking grantmaking…

In February 2021, Voice conducted a confidential grantee perception survey that sought to further cement our commitment to the principle of Nothing About Us Without Us as well as remain true to leaving no rightsholder group behind in the decisions Voice makes to improve its engagement. The sessions provided a space to reflect on the process and progress of implementing the recommendations that came out of the survey. Some of the areas that Voice needed to improve on such as enhancement of local ownership, grantee-centred empowerment trajectory, purposefully rethinking the stringent processes in grant application processes and ways to simplify or find innovative ways for grantee partners to apply for new calls for proposals. As such, Voice is committed to consciously reflecting on how to enhance processes to create an enabling environment for grantee partners. Currently, Voice has adopted the use of a pitching document to invite applications for the Nothing About Us Without Us Awards commonly known as Now-Us! As well as the implementation of conversation based reporting that builds on trust and encourages collaboration and cooperation between the grantee partner and Voice country teams.

Life spiral

If you are to draw a spiral, in the spiral plot the successes, challenges and learning moments since your organisation started implementing projects. Could you also do the same at an individual level?

Each Voice country drew their country’s life spiral recounting their journey from when they first launched Voice in their countries. What a creative moment for all the team members! Covid-19 upended most of the grantee partner’s project implementation as well as Voice. Here below are some of the life spirals drawn by different teams.

Life spiral from the Indonesian Team

Life spiral from the Tanzania team

A collage of life spiral from all the teams

What is the dream?

As we concluded the life spiral activity, we took a pause to dream.

What would an inclusive world for all kinds of rightsholders look like in 2030?

Allow me to circle this back to you, the reader,

What does an inclusive world look like for you?

Share your answers in the comment section

Some of the visions were to:

  • Support and facilitate the creation of coalitions of feminist CSOs to strengthen the engagement of women in civil society as a way of bridging gender inequality.
  • Engage in efforts to decolonise aid and adopt a global mindset in tackling common challenges – glocalisation.
  • Work with stakeholders such as religious leaders and customary leaders to promote Voice work and demystify human rights work.
  • Governments are more receptive and the voices of rightsholders are at the centre. Policy formulation and implementation have rightsholders’ voices and work for them.
  • Have more than 10 countries.

The dream as shared by the Asian team

Finally, this year’s annual reflection meeting was unique and special as it was graced by the members of the steering committee, the advisory board members and the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs.


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