EDITORIAL. ActionAid, is democracy about power?

ActionAid Italia launched at MAXXI, the National Museum of 21st Century Arts- in Rome, its 2018-2028 strategy, with the event “2028: Towards a better quality of democracy”.

The launch, theatrical and much appreciated by the public –sold out well in advance- was meaningful and we liked it under many aspects, both regarding the communicative format and the contents.

We share the approach focused on active citizenship and on empowerment, promoted by ActionAid; in fact, because of this, on the 26th January 2018, ActionAid General Secretary Marco De Ponte is going to hold the Keynote Speech during the opening day of our International Masters.

I would like to remind you that the NGO, together with Slow Food and Cittadinanzattiva Onlus, is amongst the organizers of the ‘Festival of Participation‘ that takes place every year in L’Aquila, during the month of July: which reflects a habit of comparing and sharing ideas, also in a ludic way, with a wider public not from the sector, with the aim of talking to everyone and with the right language.

ActionAid gave a further demonstration of their intriguing, challenging and intelligent communication abilities (even to the members of the Lega Nord and to the right-wind), with its latest video, amongst one of the funniest and smartest videos produced by an Italian NGO: ‘Aiutiamoli a casa loro‘ (Let’s help them in their own homes).

Beyond the communicative effectiveness, paradigm and line of action are strong. Development and democracy are built upon empowerment and power, not on charity or as a replacement. Development must be created on site. Poverty, in the line of thinking that unites the Social Change School, ActionAid, Oxfam and many other NGOs, is neither a matter of economic resources nor of aids, but instead of giving the power to those who are less powerful or those who have been left out. It is the approach of Amartya Sen and Graham Green, capacitation and redemption. It is a strong re-centring – the one ‘from aid to power’, from rescue to empowerment- but necessary if the NGOs don’t want to act forever as wonderful stopgaps of the system’s holes.

Nowadays, the ‘underdevelopment’ is always more in our homes, often under the form of a diffused cultural underdevelopment: the incapacity of understanding the world and the will of defending ourselves from it, by building walls (Trump), escaping (Brexit) or attacking migrants.

If we want to overcome this, we should take a strong position and be able to talk to everyone, not just to those who already agree with us. And that’s what, it seems to me, ActionAid is trying its best to do.


Happy 2028!  


Marco Crescenzi, Social Change School President

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