Thursday, 6 January 2011

Warmth and Attention

At this cold time of the year, at least for inhabitants of the Northern Hemisphere, I realise that I have not yet written about work that I did last year with my occasional associate Jasmin Rocha, PhD candidate in social sciences. We visited organisations working with women survivors of violence in Mozambique, Guatemala and Nicaragua to find out what they considered to be "quality services" for survivors of violence against women. The purpose of this "sense-making" exercise was to generate ideas for an international NGO as to how they could best monitor their grantees' work in this extremely complex field.

It was an extremely interesting and stimulating assignment. We gathered many different views. One organisation we have visited, for example, has found it unacceptable to speak of "services", as this word suggests a business relationship rather than the type of feminist, women-centred support the organisation strives to provide. Others have expressed opposite views, seeing themselves as impartial, professional mediators in family disputes - "service providers" indeed.

When we looked through our findings, we realised that all these different views could be sorted into a limited number of dimensions: access to "services", "service" process, human resources, co-operation & co-ordination with others, and desired results. Within these five common dimensions, we found some 20 common indicators for quality. In each country and each context, these indicators denote somewhat different realities - but "warmth" and "attention" keep coming up as key parameters. That is why we called the mini-blog publishing our results "calidad y calidez" - "quality and warmth" in Spanish. Find the mini-blog in English, French, Portuguese and Spanish by clicking HERE. The blog opens on a "welcome" message; to navigate to its main body, click on the language button of your choice.

Jasmin and I would welcome any comments and suggestions on the mini-blog - we'll work on an article later this year and can use constructive criticism!
The picture is from a poster by the Mozambican organisation Forum Mulher.

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