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The beauty of hindsight, the excitement of foresight!

Goodbye 2019 and hello 2020

Written by Marinke van Riet, Global Programme Manager Voice

Trevor Noah, my favourite South African comedian recently interviewed Dutch historian Rutger Bregman on his NYC-based Daily Show. Earlier in 2019, Rutger made a big stink -smelling like perfect Chanel 5 to me- during the World Economic Forum in Davos. He dared to challenge the audience of billionaires to pay their fair share in taxes: the big elephant in the room. In the interview with Trevor, Rutger challenged the audience (“the moderates”) by referring to his book Utopia for Realists:  

If you zoom out a little bit, you see that so many times Utopian fantasies have become reality. Democracy, end of slavery, for example, were once seen as radical and they all happened. The problem is that it never starts from the centre or the moderates, but always the fringes where people with ideas are seen as radical, crazy and lunatics. I guess we have to be unreasonable at times.  

In many ways this is exactly what Voice stands for. We just prefer to call it #beautifultrouble rather than unreasonableness! By late 2019, over 300(!) grants -involving many more CSOs- have been contracted to be bold, creating #beautifultrouble, in standing up for diversity inclusion since our launch in 2016.

They did this in several ways.

By being persistent.  In their quest for justice a national disability caravan in Mali was organised on December 3 (UN day for People with Disabilities) by the movement of people with disabilities (including grantees AMPA, FEMAPH, UMAPH who feel the government is too slow in developing regulations for a new protection law adopted in 2018. 

By being creative. In our Linking and Learning’s Knowledge Exchange titled Influencing Unbound a transman from Tanzania testified it to be a life-changing experience broadening his world view. Influencing Unbound explored the issue of self-advocacy based on the principle of NOthing about us Without Us!

By being vulnerable and share personal stories and the intrinsic motivation to support, for example,  senior citizens in Cambodia and the Philippines. Ou from HelpAge Cambodia and Rizal from COSE in the Philippines did this as part of a new partnership with And Then Suddenly, a NYC-based podcast show to share moments that turned people’s lives upside down!  Voice features these stories as voices of change to highlight the small and big changes people are experiencing.

These are just three examples from a much bigger pool of #beautifultrouble the Voice grantees helped create.

The biggest complement Voice received in 2019 was from the Mid-Term Review (MTR):

 “The added value of Voice lies in its demonstrated ability to give practical meaning to the notion “nothing about us without us” by creating and managing an easily accessible grant funding mechanism.”

NOthing about us Without Us has been the key guiding principle for Voice, creatively abbreviated into NOW-Us!  To hear that we have done this principle justice from well-known evaluation firm MDF is something all stakeholders can be proud of!

The overall very positive MTR -finalised in March 2019- resulted in the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs inviting consortium managers Oxfam Novib and Hivos to submit an extension proposal. The proposal was recently approved and featured in the Dutch Government gazette.   

The extension phase will take us onto October 2024 with an additional budget of Euro 36 million (bringing the total to Euro 86 million over 8 years). The VoiceMail scheduled for January 2020 will feature the key learnings of the MTR as well as the recommendation and subsequent changes we like to introduce in 2020.

To whet your appetite, here is a sneak preview:  

  • We will adopt a hope-based narrative to be bold in what we do stand for and want rather than countering what we don’t. Voice will be positioned as a fund promoting diversity and inclusion. Target groups will be seen as rightsholder groups to indicate the innate and legitimate claim they can make to demand their roles and rights for an inclusive society. You can expect a different website!
  • Further standardisation and simplification of forms integrating the solution-based approach mentioned above. But also introducing a standard budget line for staff well-being and self-care in recognition of the fact that organisations and Voice rightsholders need to take care of themselves and each other to prevent burn-outs.    
  • An exciting and revised Theory of Change to be presented as an animation in early 2020!

We have already started playing with the second item in the just launched Call for Ideas called From Open to Inclusive Governance. What is interesting is that only a simple idea needs to be presented based on which all grantees will come together to co-create the full proposal!

Yet another opportunity to join the growing Voice family to create more exciting foresights.

Watch this space.

But for now, the Voice team wishes you a peaceful and restful end of 2019 with your loved ones and we look forward to unleashing many more voices in 2020!

#beautifultrouble from a great team reflecting on their 2019!



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