Links & Contents I Liked 273

Hi all,

It was International Women's Day yesterday and this week's link review is to a substantial amount a reflection of that-celebrating female achievements, writers & researchers-but also highlighting some of the many challenges that still prevent full equality and achievement of women's full potential to be fulfilled.

Development news: IWD; #AidToo & Save The Children; gender gaps in non-profits; why did violent crimes drop in Sao Paulo? The genocide Obama didn't see coming; Mongolian oil revenue shenanigans; the political economy of refugee registration in Uganda; Yazidi women & journalism ethics; equestrians in Lubumbashi; academics love Black Panther; Ethiopia's girl band coming of age; new satirical documentary on life inside the UN; intermediaries in humanitarian journalism.

Our digital lives: Male-dominated media corporations; Steven Pinker, the PowerPoint philosopher.

Publications: Fake news & the charity sector; gender & mobile technology; framing representations of development.

Academia: Grant application review lottery; tracking students on campus; a new Africa Centre for the Study of the United States in South Africa; feedback for students with 'white names'.


New from aidnography

Oxfam, Haiti & the aid industry's #MeToo moment-a curated bibliography

Last update: 5 March 07:15 EST; there are now more than 110 resources!
For the time being, this bibliography will not be updated anymore.
The debate has branched out in so many different directions since the original scandal broke that I want to keep this thread more narrowly about the Oxfam scandal and how media the aid industry responded to it.
Development news

'You need to hear us': over 1,000 female aid workers urge reform in open letter
We ask for three fundamental reforms to shift the patriarchal bias in aid:
Trust women: organisations need to take action as soon as women report sexual harassment, exploitation and abuse; allegations must be treated with priority and urgency in their investigation; the subject of a complaint of this nature must be immediately suspended or removed from their position of power and reach of vulnerable women and girls.
Listen: foster a culture where whistleblowing is welcome and safe - the way to win back trust of donors, the public and the communities we work with is to be honest about abuses of power and learn from disclosures. Sexual harassment, exploitation and abuse should no longer have to be discussed in hushed tones in our offices.
Deeds not words: We need effective leadership, commitment to action and access to resources. It is not enough to develop new policies which are never implemented or funded – with the right tools we can end impunity at all levels in the sector.
Rebecca Ratcliffe for The Guardian continues to cover the developments of #AidToo.

Save the Children whistleblowers speak out

Brie adds: ‘We were so grateful when our former senior colleague Faiza Shaheen also spoke out’ – she is so far the only other former staff member to talk openly on television about mistreatment – ‘but we also deeply understand why some of our colleagues feel unable to say anything.’
Finding the courage to go public did not result straight away in the media covering their story. Some were too close to some of the men involved: ‘I wrote to a powerful female editor whose recent positioning I truly admired. She never replied,’ explains Alexia. Others, Alexia and Brie say, were too frightened of being taken to court by some of those they were challenging.
‘But #MeToo has changed everything,’ notes Brie. ‘And we just refused to stop trying.’
Pepper de Caires and O’Keefe emphasize that they are not the only or even the worst affected. They are clear that they are only two people, who happen to be more visible than others, within a much larger group, forming bonds of solidarity and alliance with women across the world. ‘The outpouring of support we’ve had from colleagues still too afraid to come forward has been overwhelming. It’s what keeps us going,’ says O’Keefe.
Ben Phillips for the New Internationalist with important reflections on how to enable whistle blowing and the importance of the #AidToo movement.

Save the Children 'failed' to deal with women's complaints

Sir Alan is described as saying, "the best way to protect the organisation from reputational risk is not to let the organisational response become disproportionate".
Manveen Rana & Laura Lea for BBC News with more insights into the Save The Children allegations.

Opinion: Why we can’t separate sexism from racism in the humanitarian and development sector

For one brief second, I asked myself questions about whether I was over-thinking, over-analyzing, and generalizing? Or missing the point entirely? Or all of the aforementioned? For one minute, I wanted to return to my silence on this matter. Maybe I was just plain wrong and my lens was clouded by my acute sense developed from being the only black expatriate representing Oxfam in the room.
I often wondered about the presumptuousness of aid organizations proclaiming that somehow they could “build back better” in Haiti? What did that mean? How do you fix history when there was almost no understanding of the cultural and social constructs that gave birth to this island nation and its place in Caribbean history? Haiti is important to the psyche of the Caribbean despite all the problems, because the Haitian war of liberation stands as a defining moment in Caribbean history. Haitians represent that all of our enslaved ancestors chose and fought for liberation over bondage.
Angela Bruce-Raeburn for DevEx on the intersectionality of gender, race, class & ,ore of #AidToo.

Assessing the Gender Gap at Nonprofits in Global Development

But if these numbers broadly hold up, they suggest US institutions involved in international development aren’t sufficiently practicing what they preach when it comes to the importance of diversity and equality to outcomes—and they are less effective as a result. More (and more fairly remunerated) women in nonprofit leadership will change what the sector does for the better.
Charles Kenny & Tanvi Jaluka for CGDev kick off an important debate around gender (pay) gaps in the #globaldev industry.

Bad apples vs good eggs

So the ‘sacrifice’ of our aid work and the power we wield and the powerful self-belief in our goodness produce people who are inclined to believe that it is OK to engage in what we know is wrong for others. This is the notion of privilege, a word which, as the Economist points out, defines a ‘private law’.
I pray for the pendulum, that these and other reflections on the grey do not dampen the black and white fervor aiming to exorcise the bad apples (sexual cowboys and others) and the culture of acceptance that has empowered them for so long. I also pray we are not one major earthquake away from the status quo snapping back.
Marc DuBois for Humanicontrarian on #AidToo.

Introducing OkayAfrica's 100 Women 2018 List

These women were not only handpicked for their utter excellence; we gauged their impact and influence, and this year, we hone in on the component of community building. It is one form of admirable triumph to pull oneself from the rubble, out of unfavorable circumstance, away from persecution, abuse, war... It is something else and altogether superhuman to run back into the settling dust to save others, in their communities, their countries, their continent and the world.
In short, they are superheroes. No, not from Wakanda. But from Lagos, Somalia and Sierra Leone, Botswana, Dakar and Nairobi to name a few. We at OkayAfrica are honored to uplift them and add to the growing number of collective 100 Women honorees for a campaign that last year successfully reached 72 million people. 72 MILLION. And each of those people received the same message:
African women are no longer requesting seats at the table. You might want to see about getting a seat at ours.
Violent crime in São Paulo has dropped dramatically. Is this why?
So what happened?
There are many competing explanations for why São Paulo registered such monumental improvements in safety. For example, some social scientists believe that the murder drop coincides with a decline in the number of young men and falling unemployment. Others say it has more to do with tighter controls on access to alcohol and firearms. A few researchers believe the drop is due to the dominance of a single gang – the PCC – that imposed its own brand of criminal order, a kind of Pax Mafiosa.
Whatever the explanation, the city’s great crime drop does not receive much international attention.
Robert Muggah & Ilona Szabó de Carvalho for the World Economic Forum with a fascinating case study about 'complexity', non-linearity and how measuring and attributing behaviour change is difficult.

Following mining and oil tax payments down the rabbit hole
Between the convoluted ownership structures and dead-ends created by corporate confidentiality, following the chain of responsibility from the project to the supposed ultimate beneficiaries – citizens – is rarely straightforward. But Dutch non-profit Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO) set out to follow the trail down the rabbit hole anyway. They allege in a recent report that the Canadian company behind Mongolia’s Oyu Tolgoi copper mine may have taken advantage of preferential trade agreements to minimize its tax payments to Mongolia and Canada by as much as $700 million.
Sarah McNeal for Oxfam America with an important reminder yet again that 'aid' is only a small portion of the global money that could help countries in their development and that tax avoidance is still alive and kicking!

The Genocide the U.S. Didn’t See Coming

More than a year later, as a new wave of violence has sent hundreds of thousands of Rohingya pouring into Bangladesh, former Obama administration officials have been emailing one another and agonizing over what more—if anything—they could have done to prevent the current crisis. Did they pay enough attention to this one group? Were they blinded by the positive changes in Myanmar and naive about the impact on the Rohingya? Was it a mistake to lift the sanctions?
Critics of U.S. policy, many of them human rights activists and some former administration officials, blamed Rhodes, and by extension Obama, for not pushing hard enough to protect the Rohingya. Rhodes was so invested in his narrative about engaging adversaries, these critics charged, that he failed to fully appreciate the Rohingya’s plight. Some former and current U.S. officials I spoke to said they found it difficult to point out problems with the “Oburma” legacy, especially in Obama’s second term. “It was really hard to issue statements that suggested not all was well with the U.S. relationship with Myanmar, even when it came to the Rohingya,” one U.S. official involved in the process said. “Everything had to sound positive.”
Nahal Toosi with a long-read for Politico Magazine on Myanmar, Rohingya & how violence, perhaps even a genocide, can unfold with knowledge and powerlessness of political actors, including the Obama administration.

The Illegal Economy of Refugee Registration: Insights into the Ugandan Refugee Scandal #PublicAuthority

These and similar stories demonstrate the veracity and significance of one of CPAID’s guiding principles: that public authority in fragile contexts does not always function solely via official or normative means, but rather involves multiple actors and institutions – both formal and informal – operating under their own logics and mechanisms concurrently with or alternate to more official channels. In the case of the current Ugandan refugee scandal, the same public authority institutions formally employed to promote human rights, good governance, and social justice are also those engaged in opportunistic social and economic exploitation, no matter how unofficially. Thus, in public authority situations such as this, we not only see how formal and informal mechanisms of governance can both play out through multiple alternate channels at the same time, but also how these varying governance forms can involve the same actors engaging in competing strategies simultaneously.
Charles Ogeno & Ryan Joseph O’Byrne for Africa at LSE on the political economy of refugee registration in Uganda and the complexities of governance and institutions.

Study: 85 percent of Yazidi women interviewed describe unethical journalism practices

Among other troubling details laid out in the report, journalists relied on quid-pro-quo promises of money or aid, which led to a feeling of betrayal by the women, who expected help in return. (A journalist should never offer money to a source; the journalist wouldn’t know whether the source is being truthful, or whether the source is just saying what he or she wants to hear. At the same time, in such situations, WMC Women Under Siege has witnessed and experienced misunderstandings between journalist and source: Sources often assume money or some kind of aid is part of the deal when speaking to the media, when no such thing has been offered or promised.)
According to the report, 80 percent of women expressed fear that if journalists disclosed details of their identity—including names, eyes, and markings like tattoos—it could lead to retaliatory violence and even death of family members in captivity. Some survivors told the authors that they’d witnessed, heard, or experienced ISIS identifying them through media reports and then retaliating against relatives or other community members.
Annie Hylton for Women Under Siege presents a new research article that raises important questions about how to 'represent' the 'voices' of women in journalism in an ethical, responsible way.

One of the world’s most elitist sports is incongruous in one of the poorest places on earth
A new generation of riders though look nothing like the colonial-era equestrian enthusiasts who may have ridden here before. Most of them are giggling Congolese adolescents who take the sport very seriously. Their parents are entrepreneurs who want to prepare them for life beyond Congo, so many of them attend international schools and slip easily between French and English. In Lubumbashi, there isn’t much to do beyond WhatsApp groups and playing with Snapchat filters for the girls ages between eight and 13 so these events are as much a social gathering for them, as it is an aspiration for their parents.
Lynsey Chutel for Quartz with an excellent story about new money, aspirations and inequalities in the DRC.

'By Ethiopians, for Ethiopians': girl band Yegna shake off Spice Girls tag

Back in Bahir Dar, the children, polite and restrained during the performance, cheer and clap wildly as the concert draws to a close. At the end of the gig, there’s a stage invasion. Unfazed, the band simply carry on singing with the children.
Habtamu, 19, is full of praise for the project. “It helps girls be confident,” he says. “Teaching a young girl is changing a whole community.”
A decade from now, Yemesgen’s ideal vision is a “euphoric state” where Girl Effect does not exist, because the project has succeeded and given all girls in Ethiopia a voice and agency. But he is realistic. “We know there is a lot of work to be done to get to that stage. In 10 years, I want to look back and see there has been a change.”
Claudine Spera for The Guardian on music and girl power beyond Daily Mail snark and Western labels.

Why Big Thinkers Can't Stop Talking About 'Black Panther'

Academics can't stop talking about Black Panther.
Sure, it's just a movie. A superhero action movie.
But it's also a movie about an (admittedly fictional) African nation that, in the absence of colonialists, shaped itself through careful governance into a thriving society. And so on Twitter, in newspapers and just about anywhere you look, researchers, professors and African leading lights are talking about Wakanda.
Joanne Lu for NPR Goats & Soda provides a good overview over how Black Panther is discussed in #globaldev circles.

Who are the intermediaries for international news? Five key questions answered

If the role of intermediaries for international news is being re-thought, it is important to first clarify precisely who these organisations are, what they are trying to do and how they differ. To this end, the following explainer seeks to answer five key questions about the role of intermediaries for international news.
Martin Scott for Humanitarian Journalism with an overview over organizations that support humanitarian journalism-and the challenges for all the actors involved.

Our digital lives

The media is a male business

The leadership of the 100 largest international media corporations is dominated by men. Thirty corporations have no women whatsoever in their top management, according to new statistics compiled by Nordicom.
Nordicom has mapped men and women in CEO positions, positions in top management generally and seats on boards of directors, based on the list of the top 100 international media corporations published by the Institute of Media and Communications Policy in Germany. The result shows a significant lack of women among the leadership of these corporations.
Maria Edström, Ulrika Facht, Greta Gober, Gunilla Ivarsson & Suzanne Moll present new data for Nordicom.

The PowerPoint Philosophe
Enlightenment Now has few of these qualities. It is a dogmatic book that offers an oversimplified, excessively optimistic vision of human history and a starkly technocratic prescription for the human future. It also gives readers the spectacle of a professor at one of the world’s great universities treating serious thinkers with populist contempt. The genre it most closely resembles, with its breezy style, bite-size chapters, and impressive visuals, is not 18th-century philosophie so much as a genre in which Pinker has had copious experience: the TED Talk (although in this case, judging by the book’s audio version, a TED Talk that lasts 20 hours).
David A. Bell for The Nation takes on Steven Pinker's book.

The impact of fake news on the charity sector: New report from the International Broadcasting Trust

“Only strong communication strategies, built around clear core values, will ensure that NGOs are heard above the increasing stridency of competing voices on platforms like Facebook and Twitter. […]
Openness, accountability and inclusivity are key. Regulation of social media platforms is very much on the political agenda, but so far they have avoided the type of regulation that controls the mainstream media by insisting on their role as intermediaries rather than publishers or news organisations.”
Carolina Are for Humanitarian News Research Network introduces a new study by the IBT

Gender, Mobile, and Mobile Internet

This article shows the impact of “maintenance affordances” on women’s capabilities to use mobile phones to lead lives they value. Analysis of data from a qualitative study of mobile phone use by 30 young low-income women—including 15 who had no access to the Internet other than through their mobile phones—shows how maintaining mobile phones through charge, credit, and repair is a significant burden. These challenges were inextricably bound up with structural inequality experienced by respondents such as poor employment conditions and unaffordable housing. This study therefore proposes a new theoretical framework combining affordances and the capability approach, in which the maintenance affordances of a technology are seen to impact directly on individuals’ capability to use this resource to lead lives they value.
Special open access section of Information Technologies & International Development introduced by Savita Bailur, Silvia Masiero & Jo Tacchi.

Is Global Poverty Framed?

“In my second sub-study, entitled In Search of The Pitiful Victim, the purpose was to examine with what frequency emerging countries are portrayed as powerless and pitiful. In this respect, I did indeed carry out an expended framing analysis with regard to 876 news reports and 284 development aid ads released in the Netherlands, Flanders and England over the last years”. The notable results showed that particularly NGOs based in England build on the depiction of the powerless and pitiful. While in the Netherlands and Flanders the latter occurs to a lesser extent, the study does acknowledge that Dutch and Flemish NGOs and newspapers nourish the dependency relationship between emerging nations and development aid: “I can’t establish a causal link, but it’s plausible that this is the reason why only a small percentage of the Dutch and English population is aware that global poverty is on the decline – when it comes to Flanders, I don’t have access to related figures”.
Jassir de Windt (one of our current ComDev students) introduces interesting PhD research from the Netherlands on how poverty is framed in news media (which seem to confirm Nandita Dogra's classic expose on representations of poor people/poverty)


Low agreement among reviewers evaluating the same NIH grant applications
Results showed no agreement among reviewers regarding the quality of the applications in either their qualitative or quantitative evaluations. Although all reviewers received the same instructions on how to rate applications and format their written critiques, we also found no agreement in how reviewers “translated” a given number of strengths and weaknesses into a numeric rating. It appeared that the outcome of the grant review depended more on the reviewer to whom the grant was assigned than the research proposed in the grant. This research replicates the NIH peer-review process to examine in detail the qualitative and quantitative judgments of different reviewers examining the same application, and our results have broad relevance for scientific grant peer review.
Elizabeth L. Pier, Markus Brauer, Amarette Filut, Anna Kaatz, Joshua Raclaw, Mitchell J. Nathan, Cecilia E. Ford and Molly Carnes with an open access article in PNAS that confirms of how powerful biases and individual opinions are no matter how much we try to make the academy more 'objective'...
UA Looks at 'Digital Traces' to Help Students
"It's kind of like a sensor that's embedded in them, which can be used for tracking them," Ram said of the card. "It's really not designed to track their social interactions, but you can, because you have a timestamp and location information."
Alexis Blue for the University of Arizona. This sounds scary-and totally luckily not possible withing EU data protection frameworks...


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