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Communication & Engagement News

Power & history in the communication practice

The Community of Practice on Inclusive Communication had another inspiring and valuable session on June the 30th, this time partly in real life, at the Buzz House. There were about 20 people present at the University of Amsterdam and about 45 online, so a good turnout! We are very happy to see that there is so much interest in learning about Inclusive Communication in development cooperation. This time we reflected on the history and power structures in the communication practice in development cooperation. Of course, there was room for best practices by member organisations. Mama Cash and Rutgers presented their work and progress made on inclusive communication. 

12 July 2022

Future Brief

Wouter Oomen & Emiel Martens presented the Future Brief on History and Power, giving an overview of the imagery debate. They demonstrated how communication by and between the international development and humanitarian aid sector is part and parcel of the unequal power relations established by colonialism and development. In doing so, this Future Brief discusses the history and current debate on humanitarian communication in order to understand the present and move ahead towards a future with more ethical and inclusive communication. Here you can dive into the publication

Mama Cash

Mama Cash gave an insight into their approach to inclusive communication. They have been successful for years in involving partners, key constituency groups and activists in the creation of their campaigns. Susan Jessop, Senior Officer for Content Development, spoke about Mama Cash’s strategies, how they use communications to support these strategies, how they develop campaigns and the importance of consulting with partners to centre and amplify activists’ voices.  

A range of campaigns was shown through videos. One of the campaigns shown was the “My Body Is Mine” campaign. With this campaign, Mama Cash wanted to give attention to bodily autonomy and self-determination, but also to the right to pleasure and enjoyment. They distributed a temporary tattoo and invited people to share personal stories and photos of themselves wearing it on social media. Several activists were interviewed about how they relate to the notion of “My body is mine”.  

Besides this, Susan mentioned how they stay involved with the partners they support through flexible and multi-year funding. Check out the Mama Cash presentation!  


After Mama Cash, Rutgers had the floor. Nina Hoeve, Coordinating Senior Communications Advisor, spoke about the values that are central to Rutgers and gave insight into how these played a role in their approach to communications. Key elements included: using transformative language, co-developing strategies with country partners and linking organisational KPIs to communications measurement. There was also a look ahead; what challenges and opportunities are there in the future? How do you deal with the fact that the opposition is growing and getting tougher and more proficient with their communication? One of the approaches Rutgers is using increasingly is value-based messaging and framing.   

In addition, Rutgers showed two successful campaigns. One of the campaigns shows Jairo, a LGTBQI+ youth advocate in Guyana. He speaks out for LGBTQI+ rights and access to sexuality education. The video shows how he does this, by letting him speak for himself. Margo Bakker, Senior Programme Advocacy, highlighted that giving young people the platform to tell their own stories is always Rutgers’ point of departure. Check out their PowerPoint here.  


Sadly, due to technical problems with Zoom, we were unable to record this meeting. 

About the Community of Practice

In April 2022, we started the Community of Practice (CoP) to explore how we can make communication in development cooperation more ethical, inclusive and just in all senses. Not only through the stories we tell, or the words and images we use, but also in our ways of working with our international partners and communities involved. Learning more about inclusive communication is needed to improve the current language, images and communication working methods. We should avoid one-sided and stereotypical narratives and images of countries, communities and persons. The Expertise Centre of Humanitarian Communication is a specialist on this matter and our partner in facilitating this community of practice, in which members and their partners can engage in learning and innovating current communication strategies toward more inclusive and ethical working practices.


If you want to contribute to the work of the Community of Practice, contact Sera Koolmees at