Back to Basics

Merlin Udho
Posted January 24, 2011 from Guyana

Dear Madam Bachelet

Please allow me to congratulate you on your appointment as Head of such an important UN body. You now hold the future of more than half of the world's population in your hands. Our (and I say "our" because you are not alone) task is not an easy one, but we can achieve much more by networking, learning from the past and listening to the voices that matter.

I worked in the UN system for almost a decade and I have seen and learnt a lot. The UN has done much for the poor and disadvantaged throughout the world, but if I had my way I would make some fundamental changes, especially in these times of harsh competition for scarce resources. In my opinion, the UN spends too much money on lengthy "studies" regurgitating what people on the ground tell them and then offering recommendations that are already known by the target groups. Interventions need to be simplified and more assistance is needed at the grassroots level. I know many so-called NGOs that now operate as a business. They are good at preparing project proposals and writing reports. They give donor agencies lots of publicity. The impact, however, leaves a lot to be desired. It is time to get back to the basics.

Madam Bachelet, I am sure I am not offering anything new, but I just want to add my voice to those of millions of others who would like to see some meaningful change in our approach to poverty reduction and eventual eradication, especially among women and children. Many countries have top notch legislation, policies and institutions in place. Yet, the poor are getting poorer because we are unable to reach them. I am positive that if a campaign for "volunteers" is launched you will receive numerous responses...volunteers who will go into the remotest of villages or approach the highest of authorities if need be. We need "doers", not so many talkers and writers.

In conclusion, I must say that I do not object to providing assistance in the development of appropriate legislation and policies. However, my view is that too much attention is being paid to the "top down" approach. Poverty is multi-dimentional and, therefore, should be tackled that way...from all angles, especially from the perspective of those who we set out to help in the first place.


Merlin Udho

As the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women officially begins its work this month, World Pulse is asking women worldwide: What is YOUR vision and recommendation for UN Women? We invite you to raise your voice by writing a letter to UN Women Executive Director Michelle Bachelet outlining your recommendation for how this new UN agency can truly affect change on the ground to promote gender equality and uphold the rights and needs of women both on a local and global scale. Learn more:

UN Women: Visions and Recommendations

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