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Voice: a consortium truly based on inclusiveness

Marinke van Riet, programme manager of Voice

In September 2016 Voice was launched, a new innovative grant facility to fight inequality, marginalisation and discrimination. The Euro 50 million fund is managed by a consortium between Oxfam Novib and Hivos and financed by the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Its full name “Voice – nothing about us, without us” already indicates that this programme is about inclusiveness and inclusion, in response to the manifesto in the Sustainable Development Goal to not only Leave No One Behind but also to reach the furthest behind first.

The consortium of Oxfam and Hivos follows this same principle of inclusiveness, says Marinke van Riet, programme manager of Voice.  ‘our team members in The Hague are equally divided between  Hivos and Oxfam employment contracts and we work in both offices, the Steering Committee is made up of one senior manager from Hivos and another one from Oxfam Novib. The team members are continuously encouraged to share experiences and learn from the rich experiences in both organisations’.

Voice targets the five following most excluded and discriminated groups: people living with disabilities; LGBTI people; women facing exploitation, abuse and/or violence; age-discriminated vulnerable groups (youth and elderly); and indigenous groups and ethnic minorities. ‘Voice does this through building the influencing capacity of civil society organisations to better serve and be more legitimate of these underrepresented voices in their work and organisation’, van Riet explains.

Van Riet has been an admirer of the Hivos approach, long before she started working for Voice.  ‘Hivos is bold and innovative and pushes the boundaries and the status quo. Hivos’ work with LGBTI communities and informal groups are just two examples which form a critical component within Voice. Hivos keeps looking for new ways of reaching the most marginalized, sometimes even being exclusive of some vulnerable groups in order to be inclusvie and shows boldness by standing by its values and principles even in the most restricted spaces.’