Questions that repeatedly come up when supporting reform programs include: how do we work with local politics to influence change without reinforcing existing elitism and capture of power? How do we “dance with the system” whilst at the same time trying to change the system? When do we go with the grain and when do we not? Can we do both in parallel?
Thinking and working politically can achieve results, in areas such as policy influence or social accountability, when engaging with formal and informal power to build consensus amongst powerholders. But it’s too often all rather male and elite. How can we go from simply fitting in with the system to changing it to work for women and other marginalised groups?
Working with so many forms of power clearly requires the smartest of tactics. Here we present some ideas that have come from practitioners who are very much thinking and working politically on gender on a daily basis.