Careers in International Development: A talk about poverty, gender equality and human rights in the developing world
40 GCSE and A Level students filled Room 210 for the second 2014-15 HMSG Geographical Society Lecture. It was presented by Mary Ann Brocklesby, who has 25 years of experience in international development projects.
Mrs Brocklesby introduced her talk by explaining the role of a social development consultant. The ability to look at the world in a different way is at the heart of this role, also there is the need to show people respect and equality. Several questions were posed to the audience:
‘Who constructs how we look at the world?’
‘Who are the decision makers, and can wrong decisions be made?’
‘Who stands up to the millions of poor around the world?’
Mrs Brocklesby described her career development from a History and Politics Degree to a Masters in International Development. She has then worked for various NGOs including the VSO and the Department of International Development, in many countries including Bangladesh, Cameron and Indonesia. In Indonesia Mrs Brocklesby worked closely with a women’s organisation. 75% were illiterate and earned less than 60p a day. A plan was developed to bring a well to the village as the main water source was over 3 miles away and had to be collected daily by women and children. The plan involved developing women’s literacy so they could help raise half the money needed, thereby empowering the women of the village. However, the well was not built in that year. When Mrs Brocklesby returned to the village the well had been built but not in the original position. When she asked why it had taken so long the women replied that they liked the idea, but the suggested location was not good for all of the community as it was in the middle of the Muslim area. Also the timing was wrong as it was the wet season. The well had been built between two communities, giving equal access, and also it had incorporated a private space for women. The literacy scheme had worked as it had given women a voice and a say in village matters. Thirteen years later the same literacy policy has been developed by the women of the village and taken to the Indonesian Government in Jakarta. It is now part of a national literacy programme. Mrs Brocklesby explained that she had learned a valuable lesson from this experience. The starting point for development projects has to be to listen and learn, and not to focus on what you think needs to be done.
Mrs Brocklesby offered advice to students who were considering a career in international relations and development and left literature on her work with Department of International Development and volunteering with the VSO. A big thank you goes to Mr Jones for organising this event.
Mr N Meek
Head of Geography