Speaking Out

How Poor People Influence Decision-making

ISBN 978-185339-695-3

Edited by Nikki van der Gaag and Jo Rowlands

About the editors
Table of contents
Related links


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Many poor people around the world are denied the opportunity to have their say. Politics generally works well for those in power, but those in poverty are often excluded from forums that directly affect their welfare and so are unable to hold decision-makers to account.

Speaking Out describes different ways to strengthen the participation of people in poverty so that they become active citizens and shape policy decisions. The book includes different approaches, lessons learned, and useful case examples on issues ranging from local community budget monitoring to popular mobilization and media work. The chapters show that addressing a lack of ability to speak out against injustice, as well as the more tangible issues, can make a big difference to people’s ability to achieve greater well-being and get out of poverty, and so work towards a point where poor and marginalized women and men are more able to access their rights.

This book will be of interest to community activists, development workers and campaigning organizations.


"This important new book, rooted in a wealth of experience, resonates strongly with work being pursued by humanitarian organizations to effect change with and for marginalized people everywhere. I welcome its contribution to this goal wholeheartedly."
Sir Nicholas Young, CEO, British Red Cross

"This book provides inspiring examples of the power and potential of collective action by the poor to hold governments accountable."
Olga Gladkikh, Coady International Institute, St. Francis Xavier University

"The case studies in the book are truly inspirational."
Tara Brace-John, Governance Policy Coordinator, One World Action

About the editors

Nikki van der Gaag is a freelance writer, journalist, and editor specializing in rights, gender, and development issues.

Jo Rowlands is Senior Global Programme Adviser on governance and institutional accountability for Oxfam GB.

Table of contents

1 The right to be heard: an overview
Jo Rowlands

2 A life with dignity: Honduran women raising voices to improve labour standards
Juan Carlos Arita

3 Fostering local accountability in Malawi
Shenard Mazengera

4 Tackling corruption
Bethan Emmett

5 Indigenous people gain recognition in Bangladesh
Ayesha Dastgir and Bibhash Chakraborty

6 Community participation in local budgeting in Georgia
Thea Jamaspishvili

7 Indigenous women against impunity: challenging discrimination in Guatemala’s legal system
Mayra Muralles and Rebecca Fries

8 Get Heard! People living in poverty in the UK give their views on government policy
Emily Laurie

9 Driving Change: policies favouring poor people in Indonesia
Sharon Thangadurai

10 What’s in a name?: changing policies and beliefs in favour of women in Peru
Rocio Vargas Morales

11 Keep Your Promises: campaigning to hold government to account in India
Avinash Kumar

12 The Global Call to Action against Poverty: international voices for change
Caitlin Blaser

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