Feedback to large institutions is vital but grassroots women's voices fall into the bureaucracy cracks

International bodies such as the UN and World Bank are critical in advancing women's rights and voices because of their immense power but, importantly, they need to be inclusive in the true sense of the word.

These big institutions do not work in the grassroots but collaborate with local organisations when, for instance, conducting surveys or gathering information. That is where I have issues.

Large organisations need to create mechanisms for the ordinary woman on the street to be able to contribute to the conversations that affect their lives. Working with local grassroots organisations is critical but it must not be the absolute end to which ordinary women can have their voices heard.

Every organisation working at grassroots has its mandate, therefore, voices that it will bring out have to fit within that mandate - meaning there is a sifting of voices that happens there and other voices get lost in the process.

The UN and other large organisations need to create opportunities for neutral, ordinary women to attend these big events and contribute to the discourse on governance and other developmental processes which affect their status.

I grew up in a village in Zimbabwe in a community which is considered very close to Harare, where most ''grassroots organisations'' are based but I never heard of the UN as a meaningful existent body whose work could impact on my life. 

To women in my community, the UN and other international bodies are 'alien, larger than life institutions where only the president and government ministers are allowed'. 

This is not to say grassroots organisations are not doing lifesaving work, they are but they cannot be everywhere physically. 

With the advent of the internet came new opportunities to hear women's voices, to listen to women's voices - their own voices, not an interpretation of those voices.

One good example is the innovative platform that I am using right now to express myself, Worldpulse, a virtual space where all women are welcome regardless of what area their voices represent. 

The UN and other body politics need to start looking into such rich sources of information about women's issues to hear our voices, and not rely only on grassroots organisations and governments - from where I come from the latter cannot be trusted to present issues accurately especially where the truth affects political interests.  

I cannot propose how to eliminate bureaucracy yet but I can ask that this conversation starts now. How do we remove the intermediary, how do we make sure the women's voices we hear are authentically theirs and are not political.




This post was submitted in response to Is Your Voice in the Room?.