‘I sometimes hate the system, and then I want to fight it even more’

‘I sometimes hate the system, and then I
want to fight it even more’

Blog by Jytte Elfferich, Intern at Oxfam Novib

‘With great power comes great
responsibility’- a saying emerged in the late 18th century, an adage
later used by politicians such as Winston Churchill and Franklink D. Roosevelt
and in the 19th century popularized by comedy writers. If only all
power-holders would take responsibility naturally…

From the moment I started a minor
in international development studies I framed the private sector as the enemy
of the good. Right before I started this minor, I finalized my bachelor in law in
which I had not been thought to critically analyze the international
development agenda. How come our world, filled with 7.5 billion human beings,
is this de-humanized? After 3 months of reading and discussing the world system,
I felt pretty helpless. How could I fight this complex system? And what is
there to fight for when you don’t even know where to start? I decided to look
for opportunities, rather than to get stuck in the ‘me against the un-fightable
capitalism’ thinking. I didn’t know where to search. Not until my laptop screen
showed ‘We Defeat Poverty’ by Oxfam Novib. If Oxfam claims to defeat poverty,
save lives, makes the world a more equal place and creates opportunities for
all, I figured ‘They must know how to do so’. This is how I became part of the GROW
private sector team, where I am working as an Intern on inequality in food
value chains.

For two months I have been
working at Oxfam Novib. As we know by now, ‘Responsibility doesn’t come with
great power automatically’. In order to influence companies’ practices to decrease
inequalities within their supply chains, my team advocates, campaigns, and
engages with powerful brands and retailers. It is motivating to see that Oxfam
Novib not just claims to defeat poverty but to witness them actually get concrete
things done. For example, the Behind the Brands scorecard shows that companies’
policies have been improved between 2013 and 2016. I don’t believe that a
relatively simple policy-fix immediately leads to positive impact at local
level. Nevertheless, commitments are essential to hold ‘great powers’
accountable for policy compliance, which is visible at local level. And as we
all know, Rome wasn’t built in a day either.

I’m proud to be part of an amazing
team within GROW in which everyone works hard but stay energetic and interested
in the work of others at the same time. In the two months I have been working
at Oxfam, I have been learning how to monitor outcomes and how to take notes in
international conference calls. I conduct research to assist the development of
campaign strategies, I learn how to write quarterly reports, how to work
together with allies and take part in stakeholder meetings.

Most importantly – something my team might not realize – I witness them being
incredibly motivated to fight for human rights, although they are not certain
nor empowered to make systematical changes. It demonstrates exactly what I
admire the people who work at Oxfam for. The ambition and energy people at
Oxfam Novib have is extremely inspiring and motivating. I’m looking forward for
the coming months of my internship at Oxfam Novib.

Jytte is interning at our Behind the brands Campaign for Grow. She is very eager to learn and hard working. 

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