The Power Awareness Tool
The Partos Shift-The-Power-Lab presents the Power Awareness Tool. In 2019 and 2020, a group of front running organisations has been looking at the complexity of power in partnership relations and the opportunities and blockages to shift the power. The decision to develop this tool is based on the assumption that if partners have a better understanding of the way power works in the partnership, they will be in a better position to work towards shifting power in accordance with their shared principles. The document presents the tool that has been designed to make power imbalances more visible, enabling partners to analyse and reflect on power relations.
There is widespread consensus that in partnerships for development, donors, and international NGOs have too much power, and local NGOs in the Global South too little. Despite this consensus, the power imbalances persist. Apparently, it is hard to put the principles into practice. Those with the most power, usually the donors, and to a lesser extent the INGOs, are not always the most knowledgeable about the local situation or about the change needed and how. While there is broad consensus on this, power imbalances persist. We believe this is partly because power is in many ways elusive. Therefore, the Lab decided to develop a tool to make power more visible, enabling partners to analyse and reflect on their power relations.
What others say about the tool
In all tests of the application of the tool did make power relations more visible. This is what participants say about the tool:
- “The tool is about individual – organisational reflection, to what extent are we aware of power. When I used it for my own learning and discussed it with alliance/ partners, it gave new insights into how I use my power so far to empower others or to empower me only. I realised that power is not always about money, but also about information/ knowledge and it needs to be humble by a power to share with others who are not really empowered without being judgemental.” – Kiswara Santi (Civic Engagement Alliance/ICCO Coordinator Indonesia)
- “The Power Awareness Tool provided a concrete and timely opportunity to test and put into practice elements of Cordaid’s own internal policy guidance on Partnership and Alliances building.” – Izabella Toth (Cordaid)
- “Power balance and understanding of power relations in partnerships cannot be wished away. This tool has been vital in helping the partners in both Kenya and Ethiopia to reflect, understand and come up with concrete steps towards balancing power with a more clear understanding of their obligations, roles and responsibility. I wish we had in fact used this tool earlier in the partnership.” – Susan Githaiga (Civic Engagement Alliance/ICCO Coordinator Kenya)
- “You can only shift the power if you understand how it operates, and that is exactly what the Power Awareness Tool enables you to do.” – Dr Willem Elbers (Radboud University, Member of the Shift-the-Power-Lab’s panel of experts)