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Because representation matters!

Passing on the Voice leadership baton

Written by Marinke van Riet, Voice Global Programme Manager

I’ve learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision.” Maya Angelou

Five years ago, I landed my dream job. To bring to life words on paper, concepts in people’s heads and passions in people’s hearts. Four hundred grants, over a thousand partners, one heck of a team and a unique Linking and Learning legacy later, it is time for someone else to land their dream job and lead Voice.

Why? Because it is time. Because representation matters, especially in Voice.

Understandably, this is not a decision I have taken lightly but one I am taking with an open heart. I have loved every step of the rollercoaster journey as we have collectively formed and creatively shaped Voice into the #beautifultrouble it is today. Diversity and inclusion are challenging issues, yet Voice partners, team members and most importantly, rightsholders have created spaces in which we have been able to hold up mirrors to each other and more importantly – to ourselves. For myself as a donor, a leader, a woman, and a privileged white European, the mirrors have been at times confrontational but always meaningful and as they say “mirrors don’t lie.” The blind spots became visible, some have disappeared (phew…I can hear my family and friends say) but overall they have led to a deep reflection, grounded in the complexities of a Covid-19-induced lockdown and broader phenomena that gained traction in 2020.

To quote from my letter of resignation:

Following a deep professional and personal reflection, relating to Black Lives Matter and white privilege, the principle of Nothing About Us Without Us combined with my own personal ambitions, I believe it is time for me to pass on the leadership baton to someone from the Voice rightsholder groups. Authentic leadership can only enhance the power of Voice(s), a programme I deeply care about and have led to the best of my abilities to the proud powerhouse it is today. It is, hence, great to see the clear commitment to diversity and inclusion by both Oxfam Novib and Hivos in recruiting my successor.”

It is equally great to see that the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs has also fully welcomed this step in their commitment to local ownership and southern leadership.

Rightsholders rise to the occasion! A dream job awaits you to lead Voice into the extension phase.

Soon Oxfam Novib will launch the recruitment for a new leader of Voice to hopefully be based in any of the ten countries (Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Indonesia, Laos, Cambodia or the Philippines) where Voice works, excluding the Netherlands. We are especially reaching out to candidates from the following groups Voice supports: indigenous people and ethnic minorities, differently-abled persons, vulnerable youth and the elderly, LGBQTI+, and women at risk of violence.

Why? Because representation matters. Because it is time for the next stage of NOW-Us!


PS 1- I welcome any conversation around this with you – confidentially if so desired. I will obviously be around to ensure a smooth transition to a new leader.

PS 2. For those of you who were wondering about the meaning of NOW-Us! Check out our home page to find out; it is our take on NOthing about us Without Us!

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