Rosemary McGee

Trained in interdisciplinary Development Studies, Dr Rosemary McGee is a scholar-activist.  She has alternated between her academic role at IDS and various development practitioner roles in the international NGO sector.

She is from the UK and has lived and worked in Colombia for several years, and also in Spain, Uganda, Mozambique, Central America, Bolivia and Brazil. Her PhD research, based on rural ethnographic fieldwork, explored poverty and social policy in Colombia.  She believe that one way that societies and polities can change for the better is by people becoming more reflective, self-critical individuals, practitioners and members of organisations, institutions or processes, making more focused efforts to learn from their own and others’ experience. She applies this belief to her work in international development and aid. 

She joined IDS in 1999, intialy working on participatory poverty assessment methodologies. From 2000-2003 her focus was on promoting and supporting the participation of civil society organisations in policy processes. Research and advisory work with donor agencies and NGOs on participation in Poverty Reduction Strategy formulation and monitoring led her onto more critical conceptual and empirical work on the spaces available for CSO and citizen participation in policy processes. She managed a large-scale applied research project on poverty knowledge and policy processes in Uganda and Nigeria, in close partnership with co-researchers from NGOs and research institutes in each country.       

Since 1997 she has held several posts in the international NGO Christian Aid, as a policy researcher on gender and on participation, an advocacy officer and a programme manager. Most recent was her posting as Country Representative in Colombia from 2003-6 while on leave of absence from IDS. Reflection on that experience is captured in an article about the challenges of working at the aid and advocacy frontline for a large international development NGO.

In her current IDS role she continues to work for Christian Aid as well as other international development NGOs including Trócaire, Plan International, Plan UK, CARE, World Vision, ActionAid and Amnesty International. Several team relationships with INGOs converged in 2008-9 in a process of collective reflective learning that the PPSC team convened with representatives of eight Big International NGOs, looking at their role in supporting progressive social change in a changing world .

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