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What is political voice, why does it matter, and how can it bring about change?

What political voice is and why and how it matters – and for whom – has emerged as a central area of interest and engagement in international development. Several of the mechanisms and tools of citizen engagement and participation touched upon I this blog will be explored in this series on political voice as part of the Development Progress project. Blogs and other activities will capture insights on the media and its role in promoting accountability, on forthcoming elections in Afghanistan and India, on protests that have emerged worldwide, on the emergence of Arab think tanks women’s empowerment and on transparency and accountability initiatives, among other topics, as we explore some of the many facets of political voice. And as always, we welcome your feedback and suggestions on this critical issue.

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Women's empowerment rally Nigeria - Africa renewal (Creative Commons licensed via Flickr)

Understanding the nature of power: the force field that shapes development

Duncan Green
16 April 2014

Rounding off our series on political voice, Duncan Green looks at gender rights and what needs to be done to turn global progress in this area into national policies. He outlines the concept of 'power within', arguing that empowerment must start in the heart and mind of the individual.

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We the (poor) people - constitutions and the economically marginalised

Sumit Bisarya
10 April 2014

Constitution-building processes can be key opportunities for the participation of once marginalised groups in democratic processes but recent examples illustrate the lack of focus on including the economically marginalised in these debates, writes Sumit Bisarya

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A wide-angle lens on the Afghan elections

Anna Larson
8 April 2014

For Afghan voters, the true test of the 2014 elections is whether they help to secure a peaceful transition, or whether in fact they contribute to future insecurity, writes Anna Larsson.

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Rowan el Shimi (Creative Commons licensed via Flickr)

The boom of think tanks in a changing Arab world

Nabila Hamza
7 April 2014

The new think tanks in the Arab world carry a heavy responsibility in terms of deepening the region's reform agenda to add weight and authority to the voices pushing for change, writes Nabila Hamza.

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Political voice: Who’s talking? Who’s listening?

Ruth Carlitz
4 April 2014

Transparency and accountability initiatives need clearly defined theories of change and context-specific analysis of what really makes government officials tick if political voice is to have true meaning, writes Ruth Carlitz.

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Afghan voting- Tim Page/ UN (Creative Commons licensed via Flickr)

Of media, elections and polarisation

James Deane
31 March 2014

BBC Media Action's James Deane explains why donors should place a higher priority on understanding the role of media and embedding support strategies that maximise the media’s positive role and diminish its negative impact.

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How do people make their voices heard? A visual narrative

Alina Rocha Menocal with Craig Valters and Chris Little
28 March 2014

The landscape of political voice is extraordinarily diverse and complex, with people everywhere grabbing opportunities to express their views in a multitude of ways to influence policy and decision-making processes. These infographics highlight some examples of voice and engagement that have particular resonance today.

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An Afghan loads a ballot box into a truck in Afghanistan - Joseph Swafford / Isafmedia (Creative Commons licensed via Flickr)

Elections and accountability: what role for the media?

28 March 2014

ODI and BBC Media Action joined forces to host a debate on elections and accountability, with four panellists from the world of political journalism and communications.lections and accountability: what role for the media?

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Tunisian voter- Ezequiel Scagnetti (Creative Commons licensed via Flickr)

Foreign Policy - Studies Show: People Want Democracy to Deliver the Goods

Alina Rocha Menocal, Gina Bergh and Laura Rodriguez Takeuchi
12 March 2014

Does the average person consider governance when they think about what would make the most difference to their wellbeing? In this blog for Foreign Policy, ODI researchers Alina Rocha Menocal, Gina Bergh and Laura Rodriguez Takeuchi explore the multi-dimensional nature of governance.

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Governance, Accountability and Citizen Empowerment Workshop

Alina Rocha Menocal
19 June 2014

This presentation entitled 'The "Good Governance" Agenda and its Discontents: Implications for Political Voice' by Alina Rocha Menocal was given at the Governance, Accountability and Citizen Empowerment Workshop for the opening session on Bringing Politics Back In. The Workshop took place in Dublin, organised by the University of Limerick, DSA Ireland, and Christian Aid as well as others.