Since the Shift the Power movement emerged during the Global Summit on Community Philanthropy in Johannesburg in 2016, the term and hashtag have been widely used and circulated globally. While this contributes to its growing popularity, it can also create some confusion around its meaning. In advance of the Shift the Power Global Summit in Bogotá in December 2023, RINGO hosted a webinar on 26th October 2023 to help to build a common understanding of #ShiftThePower and provide key insights that will help shape the critical discussions that will take place at the Summit.

The session provided an opportunity to revisit the roots of the Shift the Power movement and  manifesto, and reflect on what ‘Shift the Power’ means in today’s civil society. We welcomed the following guest speakers to share their experiences and knowledge of how this transformative agenda can look in practice:

  • Grace Maingi, Kenya Community Development Fund (Kenya)
  • Barbara Nost, Zambian Governance Foundation (Zambia)
  • Tégawendé Astrid Larissa Sonde, Shift the Power Fellow (Burkina Faso) 
  • Kate Moger, Pledge for Change / Adeso (UK)

Key takeaways from Tarisai Jangara, (Member Engagement and Communications Manager, African Philanthropy Network):

  1. Shifting the power should not be about simply taking over the space left by those in power. It is about actively practicing the principles and values of shifting power.
  2. Accountability should be directed towards the community, not just the funders. The focus should be on serving the communities and breaking down silos, rather than prioritising the interests of the funders.
  3. The movement should empower communities to realise their dreams. Instead of displacing them, it should support and partner with them. This approach should be practiced at all levels, from local to international organisations.
  4. Shifting the power requires reimagining and restructuring development. It should encompass mental development through formal, informal and non-formal education.

A powerful quote that resonated with me: “Let’s prioritise communities in development, setting aside logos and egos. It’s not about us, but about them.” This highlighted the need to shift the focus from self-centred approaches to ones that prioritise the well-being and empowerment of communities.

The webinar concluded with the understanding that true change begins from within. To achieve #ShiftThePower, individuals must embrace discomfort and recognise the commonalities that bind them together. By working together and challenging existing norms, they can create a more equitable and inclusive society.

This webinar formed part of a series of Weaving Conversations on the #RoadtoBogotá.