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15 May 2024

Why our wellbeing is key to shifting power

Close up of a symmetrical sedum plant in calming green

At SWIDN, we are passionate about wellbeing. Of course we want to live our best lives and achieve the ideal work-life balance, but we also think prioritising wellbeing is a key part of transforming our sector away from colonial ways of working and towards greater equity and solidarity.

The campaign to ‘shift the power’ continues to rightly gain momentum in our sector, capturing efforts to decolonise international aid and tackle structural racism and its impacts. Understanding the ways that power functions is a key part of being able to shift it. Shifting or sharing power is also known as practising ‘power with’ amongst academics. It describes our ability to work with others, to reframe difference as fuel for creativity, and to work collaboratively towards shared goals without binary limitations. Powering with others requires a bank of resources within each of us: our own ‘power within’. Mariama Deschamps from Plan International highlights some of the blocks to accessing our power within, including an overpowering ego, fear of being vulnerable, and the state of permanent busyness that exhausts the space we need to connect with ourselves. 

This is where wellbeing comes in. It’s impossible to share with others what you don’t have yourself. Recognising and protecting our own ‘power within’ as well as that of others is one way that we as individuals can tackle inequality in all our work, every day. Checking our egos, resourcing our inner self-worth, strengthening organisational cultures that encourage reflexivity, and adjusting our schedules and mindsets to value rest, are all ways that we can improve our own wellbeing and that of the people around us. 

Organisations are only as strong and effective as the people within them. There is work to be done to shift the power, both individually and structurally. At an individual level, having the resources for powering with others is a key part of shifting the power and, ultimately, to giving it back. 

SWIDN are pleased to be hosting a 2 hour training on Wellbeing for NGO practitioners on 13 June 2024. This is an online training and we have flattened our usual fee structure to make the session as accessible as possible. Please get in touch if you would like to attend but the cost prevents you from doing so. 

Dr Vik Mohan works as a GP in Exeter and a conservation practitioner with South West-based organisation Blue Ventures. In response to the high levels of stress and burnout he has seen within the conservation and development community, he is now working to support the well-being of the international development workforce. In this interactive workshop, Vik will share his expertise as a doctor and his insights from working in international development to equip you with all of the tools you’ll need to thrive. 

Get your tickets for this event HERE

If you’d like to read more about some of the ideas we’ve talked about here, you can have a look at the following resources:

ActionAid’s Ten Principles of Feminist Leadership

Feminist Leadership for Social Transformation

A New Weave of Power, People and Politics

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