V Interesting

Bonus: CARE for Women, Girls, and Global Equality

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This bonus episode was made possible by CARE and P&G. V chats with Emily Janoch from CARE International about what it looks like to compassionately serve and connect with more than 100 countries around the world. While most organizations have good intentions when traveling to help overseas, Emily shares how CARE’s “Do No Harm” approach sets it apart. From centering women and girls in all of their work, to knowing when to step back and leave space for others, CARE is giving power back to the communities that need it most.

Follow CARE’s work at @careorg on Instagram, at @CARE on Twitter, and at @careusa on TikTok. Check out these reports for more information on how CARE is empowering communities and helping them fight for social justice.

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V Spehar, Emily Janoch

V Spehar  00:05

Hey friends, as you know, we are all about helping people. And today we’re going to talk with someone who is working to help a lot of people around the world. Emily Janoch is the Senior Director of thought leadership, knowledge management and learning at CARE. CARE is an organization with a mission to work around the globe to save lives, defeat poverty, and achieve social justice. I mean, how can you not love that? Thank you to CARE and P&G for making this conversation possible. As you’ll hear, Emily says the work they’re doing relies heavily on listening to the communities they’re trying to help and empowering them to make things even better. care specifically places their focus on women and girls. That’s because they believe it’s impossible to overcome poverty until everyone has equal rights and opportunities. And what better time to talk about this than Women’s History Month. Emily, I’m so glad you’re here today.

Emily Janoch  01:00

Thanks so much for hosting.

V Spehar  01:01

So start off by just telling me about the work that CARE does.

Emily Janoch  01:05

Care works in over 100 countries around the world, with local communities, trying to help them solve whatever problems in front of them. One of the things that is both amazing and challenging and care, it’s hard to have one sentence that explains what we do, because what we do in […] is gonna look very different than what we do in Cambodia, or Guatemala, because those communities are starting in different places. And they have different priorities, and they need different things. And the core of our work is to work with those places to say, what do you need to change? How can we help you do it?

V Spehar  01:34

How does care stand out from other organizations, because there’s a lot of folks who do like niche work, but you guys are trying to do like more broad strokes, big projects.

Emily Janoch  01:41

So we do a lot of big projects. And then we have this real focus on changing systems. So we talk about both what do individuals want for themselves? So maybe they want education, maybe they’re interested in literacy classes, in many cases, they’re interested in savings. But you can’t assume that a woman will do it all by herself. Other things in her life need to change. What about the relationships in her life? What does she need different from her husband or her father or her mother in law? And then how do we look at the bigger system? What needs to change about the legal environment? Can she access a loan without her husband’s permission, because she leaves the house without her husband’s permission. Some of those are bigger systems changes. And care is relatively unique, that we look at all of those pieces together. So we don’t say, Well, we’re going to focus on one issue and do that in one place. We’re gonna say, how do you combine those to have the best change possible for the people who need it?

V Spehar  02:31

Absolutely. So what kind of groups is CARE helping right now, like, couple projects off the top of your head.

Emily Janoch  02:37

So one of my favorite examples is something we call village savings and loan associations, their savings group, small groups of women saving together all over the world. Those started 30 years ago, out of a tree planting project where women and users that says, Please stop planting trees, the trees are all gonna die, we don’t have any time to water the trees, we need you to help us think about savings instead, our best and coolest work comes out of a time when the community says to us, your assumptions are wrong, and we listen to them. And then we change. So the savings group operate all over the world, we have nearly 14 million women who are part of those and are working in them. And that’s just through CARE. So we estimate that for everything CARE does women set up an additional group themselves, because they’re so inspired and so excited about it? So that’s one place we see it. We also do a lot of work with couples groups, so women and men sitting together and having dialogues about what does need to change in my life? Exactly how many hours of housework, am I doing today? Could you maybe help out with that. So those kinds of groups are ones that we spend a lot of time working with, we also spend a lot of time working with farmers groups, you know, there’s a huge food crisis happening in the world right now, billions of people don’t know where their next meal is coming from working with the people who produce that food is critical and thinking about what needs to shift so they can produce that food more effectively, they can produce more nutritious food, and that every single bit of that food is getting used effectively instead of going to waste. So those are some of the groups that we work with.

V Spehar  03:58

And where are these projects mainly located?

Emily Janoch  04:01

So we operate in 100 countries around the world, primarily in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. So those are the biggest chunks of the work. But we have a pretty broad geographic spread. And we work with partners to really understand what is happening and what are local based organizations doing and where and how can they lead. And then we do have a little bit of programming in the US.

V Spehar  04:21

So often, somebody decides that they want to be a helper, and they just don’t know like how to decide like, where to go. When you’re in your position, right? It’s such a high level. So the need is so great across the world. How do you decide who gets help first? How do you decide what projects to prioritize?

Emily Janoch  04:41

Here’s rule is pretty simple about this, who are the people who need it the most? Who are the people who are most marginalized and need them most additional support? So one story I tell all the time is we had somebody we hired to evaluate one of our programs to see if it was working. And they came back and their report said look, your program is working as well as it could be because you’re working with poor people. If you stopped working with poor people, and you worked with middle class people, they would be able to earn a lot more money. For us, that’s fundamentally not the mission, the mission is to say, who needs the support the most? And how can you help them overcome the obstacles they face? And that’s where we prioritize, which is part of why I don’t have a great soundbite that says, here’s the one thing we do, because that looks different in different places.

V Spehar  05:20

So true. And do you ever run up on a project where you’re like, you know what, we’re not the right person for this? That must be difficult?

Emily Janoch  05:26

Absolutely. And there are a couple of things. One is just absolute honesty, right? Sometimes we’re not the right people. One is the importance of leaving space for others that if we’re not the right people, that means we have crowded out somebody who was, which ultimately is not the best impact for the world. And that’s what we’re here for. We’re not here to be the biggest, the most famous the best. We’re here to see the world change. And sometimes that means stepping back. And as we have more and more conversations about localization, understanding who in this context is better placed than we are? And how do we support them? And if their answer is, you can’t please just leave us a space. And that has to be the right answer.

V Spehar  06:03

Sometimes that’s it, sometimes it’s get off my lawn. Okay, maybe check back in with us. So you know, there are so many people whose heart is in the right place when they go to help overseas. But we’re also aware of the fact that some organizations can like helicopter into these areas, and don’t take the time to really listen to what the communities need. Can you just share a little bit more detail on your thought process when you’re going into a community, for other folks who are listening right now who want to be, you know, missionary helpers?

Emily Janoch  06:32

One of the things is that we’ve been in a lot of places for a long time cares more than 75 years old. In some countries, we’ve been there since before they were a country, right. And so that role in the birth of a nation is really powerful in the places where it’s happened. And there are a few countries like that building, those relationships are so important, and really building that year for listening to say, you tell us what’s happening here, you want to do that, in a way that’s not completely overloading people, nobody is interested in answering 70 surveys a week, or spending six hours doing the details, here’s exactly what I need from you, they especially don’t want to do that if you don’t have the mechanism to change. So if you’re gonna listen to them, you better be willing to do what they’re asking for. And so those are some of the pieces that are really important about those long standing relationships, building that trust. And to me, the best signal of that trust is when a community tells us now, when they come back, and they say, that’s not the right thing, let’s try something else. That’s the signal, you need to hear that if they’re willing to say that to you, you’ve started to build that relationship, because otherwise, they won’t say anything. And they will just try to make the best of what they can.

V Spehar  07:36

So they used to say to me at the restaurant, be thankful for your bad reviews, because those people at least cared enough to hope that you get better. It’s nice people who just say I had a lovely time, and then they never come back. And I know do no harm is a big part of your work. I was just reading about can you tell me a little bit more about what that means to you?

Emily Janoch  07:54

So our first priority is to see the best results for the people we say we serve. Right? We’re an organization that claims were based on service. And we’re also enormous, we’re in 100 countries, we have 14,000 staff that doesn’t even include our partners and our donors and the governments or schools or other people we are acting with on the ground. Institutions can cause problems, they can either cause them unintentionally, which I think is what happens most of the time, or an institution can act to protect itself instead of protecting the people, right. And so we have to be incredibly thoughtful and to build those recommendations in and to build the systems to hold ourselves accountable. So a couple of examples. One is having some kind of feedback mechanism in all of the work that we do, and making sure that that’s relevant. So if I say, Well, I put up a survey on my own website, is that going to make a huge difference for a refugee in Syria? Probably not. That is not the way she is going to interact with the work. So how do you make it available to her? One is to hold rigorous accountability processes. So we do an annual report on sexual harassment and assault. What happened? What did we do about it? What actions are we taking? Because to assume that in an organization of this size and scope, nothing ever goes wrong, is naive to the point of disruption. And then also thinking about how do we hold ourselves accountable. Making sure our staff are training to making sure everyone is on the same page is about this is what is acceptable? And this is what is not. And then how do we think about those unintended spaces. So here’s an example all of us we do surveys all the time with various kinds of communities. And it’s really easy to say it’s important to understand the experience of violence. It’s important to understand what violence women are experiencing, or other marginalized groups are experiencing. And researchers always want more data. If you do that, you go out and you ask those questions with no plan to support a woman who is suddenly reliving the trauma you have just asked her about, but you don’t have services available for her. You’ve now put her name and experience in a database that may or may not be safe for her to be labeled that way, you have suddenly done more harm than good. So how are we thoughtful about those kinds of things to make sure that We’re not putting an additional burden on communities, and we’re not putting them at risk, even with the best of intentions.

V Spehar  10:05

So what have you done to make sure that that doesn’t happen?

Emily Janoch  10:08

There’s lots of different ways. So one is about minimizing data is saying, if you don’t need it, there’s a Mark Twain quote, data is like garbage. If you don’t know what you’re going to do with it, you shouldn’t collect it. Yes. Right. So one is about saying, If you don’t know exactly how that is going to inform your decisions don’t ask. One is about saying, what are those mechanisms we can put in place? Sometimes even questions that seems simple from the outside can be traumatizing for people. How do you think about that? And have your reference systems in place and have a process so you can say, we’re gonna stop the interview? Now, here’s where you can get some help. So how do you do some of those things? And some is also about when we do need the information being incredibly rigorous with where we store it, how we store it, anonymizing the risk to the person involved always has to be our first consideration.

V Spehar  10:55

I know another way that folks often think about sending help is to send care packages like we did 75 years ago, you know, and sending things like I think I was reading the first care packages had things like rice and beans and powdered eggs and milk. But the differences like Americans were picking went in the box, and there wasn’t like a ton of thought to like, Okay, does this person have a can opener? Do they have an oven? Do they even eat this type of food, CARE has since shifted, and now allows those directly impacted to choose what they receive, which is very powerful. How did communities respond to that new approach.

Emily Janoch  11:25

is a fascinating story. And just I had a professor in graduate school who was a recipient of an original care package and World War Two. And he said we had everything but the powdered eggs, we did not know what those were, we literally didn’t yellow powder, it looks very strange. We didn’t need any of that. So even at the time, that you know, there were issues about that, too. munities get really excited and invested when they feel like they have control the same as any of us, it is easier to buy in when you feel like somebody is listening to you when you feel like you have some influence over what happens next. It doesn’t happen in every case, there are some cases large scale refugee responses in the middle of cholera, where you say, look, clean water has to be the first priority in the middle of this camp and this outbreak, that’s what we’re gonna focus on. So it doesn’t always happen completely community driven, particularly in that kind of an immediate mass scale challenge. But communities really feel better when they get involved in we see that the response works better and lasts longer. It helps build long term ability to respond to change when people feel like they have some control over their own lives. And my favorite part about this job is I get to watch when community say things are a little bit better for me than they used to, how do I pay it forward? We watch this all the time, women in Somalia, who were saving just a few dollars a week, put together care packages, when they were giving money to people they thought it was poor than them. In Yemen, 89% of women who are in a savings group with care are using some of their money to support other people in their communities. But that’s one of the first things they do is say, okay, how do I pass it on? And that’s one of the most exciting pieces to me about the work.

V Spehar  13:02

Absolutely. What are some of the things that people ask for most often?

Emily Janoch  13:06

One that always surprises me is that people start with soap. It’s a big one I hear all the time, when you say to people tell me about the biggest difference in your life. They say now I have soap. Yeah, and to just think for a minute of what that means about their previous experience and about what’s happening now. Women will talk a lot about now I feel cleaner, I feel like my appearance is better. Those are things that kind of always get pushed to the back as not being incredibly urgent, but change so much how you feel about yourself and how you feel about what is happening and if you are supported in the world. So that’s one that comes up a lot. Food is an obvious one, right? The act of eating together of sharing food is so powerful no matter where in the world you are, that we see that come up a lot. And we see I was just watching a video out of Cote d’Ivoire, where women were saying, Well, we were donating food to the school so that kids in school got free lunches. So that’s what they decided to do with their work. So we see that come up a lot. And then other things that are often interesting to me are things like candles, the ability to have light to study after school or after dark right some of those things come up lots of other things are very specific based on the context and what it is that people are looking for.

V Spehar  14:16

I was surprised to hear you say soap because when I worked in food security that was similarly the thing we would get asked to also I was straight up only there to serve to bring food in particular mostly to children so that they would be able to eat over the weekend. And they would be like do you think that we could use some of our money if we like trade a banana for more shampoo or for soap or for different cleanliness items that I was like no but we’ll you know find a partner and we’ll try to get make sure that gets in the backpack too. But it’s this thing that we take so for granted because you walk down the grocery store aisles are so piles of any store here in America, it’s just everywhere and it seems so inexpensive and like it should just be something that everybody has. But the difference between having soap and not having soap is oftentimes life changing. What have you seen when that soap delivery comes in from people?

Emily Janoch  15:04

It’s interesting people talk a lot about feeling better about themselves, right? The confidence that you get in feeling like you are well presented, feeling like you have met the social standard of what cleanliness looks like people talk about a lot. There was a group in Malawi, that was HIV positive patients, and they all talked about the importance of having soap, because it was so connected to dignity. For women, a lot of what comes in is around menstrual hygiene, right? The idea of even being able to leave your house depends on being able to be clean, being able to manage your period when it’s happening, being able to do that safely. Those are pieces that come in. So it’s partly the dignity and the self-confidence and feeling like you are part of the community. And it is partly very real practical. Can I leave my house or not? Is it safe for me to be out and around? And then of course, it also relates to is the food I’m eating safe? Am I healthy? Those things are all tied up in soap and various kinds of hygiene items.

V Spehar  16:20

Why does CARE look at fighting global climate and world hunger as a gender issue?

Emily Janoch  16:26

Because women eat less than men. First, and most starkly women are also more impacted by climate change than men are, which is not to say the impacts don’t affect everyone. Of course they do. But if you look, there are 150 million more women than men in the world who don’t know where their next meal is coming from. That’s as much as all of the women in the United States. And that gap. In 2018, that number was the equivalent of all of the women in California. And by 2021, it was all of the women in the United States, women get pushed to the back bumper immediately when crises happen. And they’re the ones who are often involved in putting the food on the plates, 90% of food shopping and preparation is something women do. So if you don’t look at the gendered experiences, women and men will both say, oh, I’m not eating as much. Men are eating smaller meals, women aren’t eating at all. There’s a quote from a woman in Ethiopia that says a woman who eats before her husband is considered a bad woman who only cares about filling her stomach. So it’s not just tied up in whether you ate or not. It’s how does your community see you? Are you a good woman or a bad woman. And that’s a huge amount of pressure. Those are all things that impact a woman’s experience and her ability to contribute. The flip side is the more gender inequality there is in the world, the more hunger there is. And we see that across about 150 countries, there’s a direct correlation there. And one of the reasons is because women are heavily involved in producing food, but without the same tools and resources and support that men have, which means that everyone is hungry, or when you don’t address gender equality.

V Spehar  18:03

It’s just shocking, honestly, like we hear these stories so often. And every time you like, can’t believe that it’s so tied together, and then it’s happening in this way. So what efforts is care putting forth to build equality in the hunger space?

Emily Janoch  18:19

A couple of things, and one seems so obvious that it’s almost embarrassing to say it, but it turns out that it’s true. Take women seriously as farmers leaves that they count and treat them like they matter. That is in the sort of acronym, we have come up with it. That’s called a farmer’s field in business school, which is FFVs. And that is literally saying, we’re going to treat women like they are farmers who deserve the same access and attention as men. And we’re going to figure out ways to do that. And it doesn’t seem like that shouldn’t be revolutionary. But it turns out that it is because other people don’t do it that way. This sort of stereotypical image of a farmer is the man. And the person who shouldn’t be selling grain is a man. And so how do you think about that, and then correspondingly, what needs to change in the world? So for example, just saying, well, we’re gonna go out, and we’re gonna give these women a bunch of training, we’re gonna teach them how far apart to plant their soybeans, that’s useful. But if they’re not allowed to leave their house, it doesn’t really matter if they know how far apart to plant the soybeans if they have to spend five times more hours a day, dealing with childcare and cooking and cleaning than male farmers do. Just teaching them how far guards is at this point is not enough. So how do you think about that broader system I talked about earlier of how you get a husband engaged and have couples dialogues where men and women talk to each other about what is our plan together to move forward? How do you get the mother in laws involved so that they understand oh, it’s not that she’s being a bad wife to my son? Because turns out that’s a universal issue that happens in every country. There is something happening that is good for all of us, right? How do you shift some of those arrangements about access to credit or access to resources? The first step is you take women seriously as farmers. And the second is you help them shift the system so it meets their needs more effectively.

V Spehar  20:14

Here in the States, I know a lot of the times when I was doing food security work, we would find that it was the farmer’s daughter who was going to be taking over that farm because I don’t know where their sons were, if they just more women were born into farms of the last 100 years or, or what the case may be, or they moved on to something else. What we’re finding is that women also had greater passion for consumable crops, as opposed to crops that would be made into products, is that something you find internationally as well?

Emily Janoch  20:36

Absolutely, women are much more likely to be involved in food crops, and particularly crops that feed close to home. So crops they can use in their own meals or their communities can use, they’re less likely to be involved in crops for export cash crops, that kind of work. And, you know, I said before women do 90% of the cooking in the world, there’s a reason they have a vested interest in making sure they have the ingredients, they need to feed their families. So that is one of the things we see. Another piece we see. And we’re seeing this in all over the world and at an increasing rate now is that women are more likely to be doing that not always more likely than men, but more likely than they were five years ago, 10 years ago. Because with climate change, and with conflict, men are more likely to migrate in most circumstances, they’re more likely to have an education, they’re more likely to be mobile. So they are moving away from the rural areas. And that leaves the woman holding the farm holding the need to feed her whole family holding the need to be the head of the household, while the sort of official head of the household is in another place. So we see that getting bigger and bigger in many communities.

V Spehar  21:41

Is CARE also working on things like better access to basic education, good health care, because I know we talked about farmers and food and growing it oftentimes that could take away from the time that you get to go to class, or you could go to school, we see that you have to work at home. So how can I possibly afford for you to go to school?

Emily Janoch  21:57

Yeah, absolutely. We do work on basic education. And there are a couple of ways we do that. So one is clearly the quality of the education itself is there is it accessible. One is around these gender norms, right several years ago was in India, visiting a girls school. And it’s a school where it’s girls who haven’t been able to go to school, or they’ve dropped out, they catch up all the way up to fifth grade in one year. And so it’s all these girls who are in an accelerated program. And we were asking them to throw up pictures about their hopes for the future. And my favorite one I’ll never forget is this little girl who drew a picture and she was narrating it to me. And she said, okay, so this is my brother, and he is helping me go get water because I don’t like it, that I have to do all the chores, and he gets to go play with his friends. And this is a ceiling fan. Because if we had electricity, we would be able to study at night and it wouldn’t be so hot in our house. And here’s a road so my dad can go into the city and get a job. And here’s an elephant because I like elephants. Kids see, the injustice is in their own lives. And sometimes they’re a lot more willing to tell you about them than grownups are. They haven’t learned to filter that out yet. But that idea of how do you make it possible for a girl to save school? Things like how do you reduce the risk of child marriage? So she doesn’t get pulled out of school to get married at the age of 13 or 14? How do you make sure somebody else is helping with the housework, we saw that a lot in COVID. Boys were able to prioritize online education in ways that girls weren’t because girls were doing childcare while their moms were working. So you start to see these really complex dynamics that are partly about the classroom and partly around the universe that surrounds it.

V Spehar  23:30

And I wanted to ask you about that next, during the pandemic care released a report called she told us so. And it was a look at women’s lives during COVID. The report said COVID-19 is widening systemic inequalities, especially for women and girls, and others who face discrimination because of race and migration status. And that was adding to just these decades of threatening progress when it comes to equality. Could you just give us like a little example from the report?

Emily Janoch  23:56

So here’s an example that I think most of your listeners will have some experience with whether or not they had a full time job, women were suddenly in charge of childcare. And no matter what the theory was, women were holding almost all of that burden. So in the example we were just looking at in Turkey during the earthquake, now, women are doing five times more household work than men are, regardless of their employment status. So that’s not a question of, well, women don’t have jobs so they can take time for that. They did have jobs, they just also have to hold this burden. And what that did, even in the US was drive women out of the workforce at a much higher rate, because you can’t do both all the time. So that is one of the things that we saw. We also saw employment gaps open up so women got pushed out of the workplace, it was harder for them to come back. And that was true in many countries. One is a quote from Iraq. I’ll never forget, as the woman said, just the psychological burden of knowing that in this environment, a man will always be picked before he will always have first priority for a job is so high. There’s something really important about that that inequality is called As a mental health burdens in ways that impact people’s ability to engage.

V Spehar  25:05

And this was not a small sampling of a report, it was like 6000 women in 40 countries.

Emily Janoch  25:10

Over the years we’ve done it, we now have over 28,000 women who have shared their experiences with us.

V Spehar  25:16

I was reading about one of the studies that you had done about women in a refugee camp in Bangladesh, and they weren’t leaving their homes. And the assumption was that this was due to the virus. But you guys uncovered a different reason. When you tell folks what that was about? I found out when you’re on the ground.

Emily Janoch  25:31

Yeah. So we thought, oh, women, they’re worried about the virus, if we teach them how to wash their hands, that we’ll be fine. And then you start asking questions, and women say, I’m not allowed to leave the house. Because the men in my life think COVID-19 is caused by women’s rights. And the way to stop COVID-19 is rollback women’s rights.

V Spehar  25:50

Emily Janoch, the women told you that their men think that women’s rights are causing a global pandemic?

Emily Janoch  25:59

Yes. And so the women told us that because we said, tell us about what’s happening. And instead of saying, Please take one of these boxes, because never in a million years would I have thought to put that as one of the boxes No, never, would never have occurred to me. We said, Tell us about your experience, leaving that space. And in this case, having it be female volunteers who already had relationships and communities who really were there to listen, and they weren’t there to find an answer that I had determined from where I sit, and then shared that back. And that’s one of the most important things is about how do you leave that space to hear the thing you never expected to hear. And take it seriously.

V Spehar  26:41

Yeah. So how did you work around that?

Emily Janoch  26:46

Then your programming is very different, right? It’s not handwashing classes. And it’s not masks. And it’s not soap. Even though we talked about the importance of soap earlier on. It’s how do you start to do those couples dialogues? How do you start to get men who are champions in the community to be a little more vocal? How do you start them talking to their peers to shift some of those narratives. One example from Nigeria will use is that several women who were in a savings group had been trying and trying and trying to get their husbands to let them do particular kinds of business opportunities, and just had no luck at all. And they’ve very strategically went and said, If we convince the chief of the village, and have him talk about how great this is, then that will solve the negotiation problem for us. So instead of me going head on with my husband, we’re gonna see if we can convince the chief to do a talk about how great this is. And that unlocks things. So how can you tap into local leaders and local structures? Because me as a white lady from DC, I’m not going to change that. That’s not helpful for me to show up and say, No, women’s rights are the most important thing. And we’re gonna listen to me. How do you find ways to unlock that community organizing, that don’t just become me on a soapbox.

V Spehar  27:54

Right? On a literal soapbox, a literal box of soap. No, you guys are going to these places a lot more than you did, even before the pandemic, which I found very interesting is a lot of folks are just still trying to ramp up their program, or there’s still, you know, so many complications to the ongoing pandemic, but places you were going only like four times a year before now you get to go like 60 times, how has that changed for you this volume of work abroad?

Emily Janoch  28:19

One of the things it’s about, it’s not always work abroad, it’s how you unlock the folks who are already there. So it doesn’t have to be me on the plane. There’s somebody in that community who already knows how to do it. And it’s really pushing us to think more creatively and frankly, more ethically about local leadership, and who needs to be involved? And again, how do I support and help unlock as opposed to drive the show? Right. And so that’s one of the things that he was really allowed us to do. Somebody that we worked with in Zimbabwe, who was a care staff member was fabulous, said, you know, the difference about COVID-19 Is there were no experts, you couldn’t just put somebody on the plane to come here and tell me what to do. Because nobody knew what to do. We had to figure it out. Unlocking that kind of entrepreneurship and trust, because you had no other choices. It’s something I really hope we keep and lean into, as opposed to sort of going back to IT business as usual, which is, before we were doing that, it really forced us to confront a lot of our own assumptions, which were never appropriate. Let me be clear, the idea that I should go tell the guy in Zimbabwe what his job was, was never a good idea. But it forced us to confront that in new ways. And it forced us to see that a lot of things really worked, whether or not we were sending somebody like me there. He also showed us where that kind of global connectivity is really important and what can be helpful in a space like that, but it really requires taking a step back and saying how do I support that agenda as opposed to when a question is ended up.

V Spehar  29:58

Were there any other things that the Covid pandemic helped expose for you.

Emily Janoch  30:02

One of the things that we I talk a lot about in my job is the idea of having to learn fast and imperfectly, some of our teams who are already operating in humanitarian response, we’re doing this already, because you know, an earthquake happens, and you have a couple hours to get started working, right? You’re never gonna know the perfect information, but you can’t wait for six months to know the true answer. And before you try to help people who are traveling, right can’t do that. It really pushed us to think a lot more about the idea of is waiting 10 years for an RCT the right answer? And is that the right version of truth for what needs to happen next RCTs randomized controlled trials are incredibly valuable, but they are one piece of a whole picture of the world. And they’re a very specific piece that is created in a specific way. So that idea of being able to react faster, with less perfect information, really having to center the local perspective, the woman in Bangladesh, who says, I’m not staying in the house, because I’m afraid of COVID. That’s not what’s happening here. Knowing that we didn’t know it all, but that we had to act anyway, has really forced us to think about that. How do you do lighter touch learning? How can you be more adaptive? Turns out some of those processes we had built, were holding us back? Again, how do we keep that in our thinking and not kind of just sort of by default spring back to a business as usual.

V Spehar  31:23

Right. And I know there was the second episode of she told us so again, where you guys found out that things for women were actually getting quite a bit worse as the pandemic was even starting to, like heal, like come 2022 times. What were some of the biggest takeaways from that report.

Emily Janoch  31:38

So a couple of things there. One was that obviously, these women were facing more than one crisis at a time. COVID was one part of everything that was going on in their lives. So as particularly in the US, we were just desperate to be like, never mind, it’s over. It’s all right. For women. For one thing, COVID hadn’t been the same experience for them as it happened for us in the United States. And for another that was one part of desert locust invasions of droughts, actual vocalists of civil wars, right, they had all kinds of plagues happening all at the same time, not just COVID. And so as the rest of the world was sort of starting to pull back and say, okay, back to normal, even though that wasn’t necessarily accurate. That wasn’t what these women’s lived experience was. And the rush to address COVID actually broke a lot of systems women were depending on so things like their ability to access health care, we’re seeing cholera outbreaks all over the world, partly because huge investments went into COVID. That correspondingly did not go into preventing cholera. And there’s only so much money and so much time in the world, you can’t do it all. But some of that is that we put so much focus on one thing that instead of trying to solve the system, we were treating an individual symptom, right? And so thinking about how do you treat that system instead of the symptom is a big part of what we’re having to focus on now.

V Spehar  33:03

And the most recent report that came out this month is called her voice listening to women in action. How was this different than the previous two reports?

Emily Janoch  33:11

So it’s always been a theme in the report to say, look, these women are not just victims, they’re not just sitting around waiting for us to come in and help. They are taking action in their own life. And this report I particularly loved because it put that front and center, it’s been in all of the reports as a theme. But this really started from that premise. And for us, it was a lot about that work, women are leading, they are stepping up to the plate, we are not keeping up with them as a global community, we see all of these incredible stories of what women are doing. And we still don’t see gender equality has rolled back by a generation, because the systems are not investing at the same level the women and that focus on them as actors on them as people who can help drive the change is one of my favorite pieces of this work.

V Spehar  33:57

What kind of recommendations does CARE have to help women and girls in these communities? What can the average person be doing to help?

Emily Janoch  34:03

The average person can do several things, and one is really to listen for it really just say, where are the women showing up here? And are they showing up? So if the way I’m making decisions is driven entirely by White men in the global north, and what they told me is the truth, that’s probably not so relevant for the female refugee in Syria. So really questioning our own data sources, our own assumptions about what works and what doesn’t. Our own prioritization of particular narratives and sources of truth is something that’s really powerful for all of us. And certainly our work is not the only work in the world to do that. And it’s, again, many of the things I say feel so obvious, but it’s hard to imagine that it’s a recommendation, but also question your data. Look to see, is this something that a person living through the crisis is telling me or is it something else? So that’s something that we all have a lot of power to do, and I think we often underestimate the power of that The power of writing to a decision maker and saying, wow, you didn’t talk about women at all here, or you only talked about them as victims. What’s up with that? Those are things that we can do, really also trying to center those people as leaders. And so one of the things I see all the time coming from a really great face is, especially in America, where Americans we want to help we know the answers, here’s the answer, go do it. The assumption that I as a girl who grew up in Michigan and has lived in DC for a while, knows what the answer is for the woman in Bangladesh, is pretty flawed. And I know it comes from a good place of wanting to help and wanting to share, but willing to step back. One of the things that somebody told me many years ago in my job was stop thinking of yourself as an expert, and think of yourself as customer service. And that completely changes the dynamic. Just because I live in a country where I have immense privilege doesn’t mean I know anything about her life, step back and think of it in that service mindset of how are they telling me what they need next? And am I doing that? Or am I using my own lens to force a viewpoint. So those are some of the important things. And then some of the obvious ones that I’m going to say anyway, pay attention to this kind of work, particularly pay attention to the global inequality and global poverty because it impacts your life more than you think it does. It impacts what you’re eating, what you can buy at the grocery store, what diseases you are at risk of, and your general experience as a human, if we treat each other like equals where everybody matters, or if we only care about the narrow circle work in. So those are some of the obvious ones. And then to the extent that you can donate to causes it doesn’t have to be care, but donate to causes that work on this there are a lot of people doing incredible work in the world, support them to do the work they do.

V Spehar  36:47

What can we do about misinformation and disinformation online? How do you fight that, you know, sort of constant wall of rhetoric from naysayers?

Emily Janoch  36:57

There’s a wall of rhetoric about everything. And you know, one of those quotes, that’s you can’t fight a soundbite with a paragraph. It’s that idea of how do you meet people where they are? And sometimes, how do you surprise them. So one of the things we did, we did a lot of work around COVID-19 vaccines and promoting acceptance of COVID-19 vaccines. And one of the biggest surprises for the team that was working here in the United States was that celebrity ambassadors were actually a great deal less effective than everyday people. So honestly, having either a care staff member talk about their experience of why they chose to get vaccinated, or having a community doctor who was not a famous person say, here are the recommendations I make was so much more powerful than having a celebrity campaign, the celebrity campaigns make a difference in particular ways. And they can be really useful for drawing attention to something. But when it came down to people choosing do I get the shot? Or don’t I get the shot? It was about identifying with the messenger. Does that person seem like me? Does that seem like somebody I would trust? So how do you think about building on those communities? How do you think about cutting through the noise, and nobody ever, ever wants the conversation to start with your wrong hands or your evil, they want to be met where they are, they want to have a conversation. And so there are a lot of things that she told us the work her voice work is part of what’s so powerful is like, you don’t have to believe me, this is her I can this woman will tell you her own story. And I’m not going to filter it. And I’m not going to clean it up. And I’m not going to try to make it the story. I think you want just gonna let her tell her story. And so there’s a lot of those ways that it’s, it’s usually surprising, because pure debate unless you’re a total dork, like me, is mostly not the most convincing thing in the world, right is that it’s more about a conversation and a community. How do you do that over time?

V Spehar  38:50

What else is coming for CARE this year? What can we look forward to?

Emily Janoch  38:53

All kinds of things, a couple that I’m really excited about is continuing to drive this agenda of what happens when women tell their own stories, what happens when they are in more controls and narratives. So we have a lot of different work that’s coming out about that, that I’m really excited to see. We’re also continuing to focus on the food and the hunger crisis in the same way that last year at the beginning of 2022, we were all desperate to say COVID is over. And it wasn’t. We’re seeing similar things in the hunger crisis. It’s not at the top of the headline anymore, but it hasn’t gone away. And in many places, it’s going to get worse. So focusing on what that means. And how can we try to make decisions that are going to set us up not just for a better this year, but a better future, we often have this drive to say we want to do it now we want to have the biggest number today, that might actually hurt us two years out. So how do we think about that longer term vision and that longer term future instead of just the immediate now, which also has to happen? immediate response is important. So those are two of the pieces that I’m really excited about. And then there’s a lot more work coming out about how do you we talked about earlier when you have to step back and say we are not the people here there is a local organization that should be leading this and we will support them but we’re not in charge. So there’s a lot more coming out about that in the next couple of months. Where can people keep up with this work? There are a few places. So pure.org is our website. And that’s the easiest place to go. You want to look at our reports, we have a whole section on that. We also do something called failing forward, which is a podcast about here’s what’s going wrong. And we’ve produced almost 100 of those over the last four years to talk about what are we learning? And how do we make sure we don’t repeat the same mistake over and over again. So that’s on pod Bean, and you can get it on, you know, Apple podcasts in those spaces. Those are two of the places where you’re going to see the work that’s designed to be conversational like this, if you’re really interested in all the research reports, we also have an evaluation website where people who are excited about the data can dive all the way in.

V Spehar  40:42

I love the data. So I will be there. Thank you so much for being here with us. Emily, we will follow you we will keep up with the work of CARE and we just greatly appreciate knowing folks like you are out there.

Emily Janoch  40:52

Thanks so much.

V Spehar  40:56

Wow, I did not see COVID-19 is caused by women’s rights coming but I am very glad that we had Emily here from CARE to help give us a rundown on the state of women around the world and the importance of equality when it comes to improving the global economy, hunger and health care. Thank you to CARE and P&G for making this conversation possible. Be sure to tune into next week’s episode where we dig into the headlines you might have missed. Leave us a five star rating on whatever platform you’re listening on. Follow me at @underthedesk news on TikTok Instagram and YouTube. And guess what friends there is even more V INTERESTING with Lemonada premium. Subscribers get exclusive access to bonus content, like Gina Plata-Nino from the Food Research Action Center telling us what a food shortage is and why egg are so expensive. Subscribe now in Apple podcasts.

CREDITS  41:51

V INTERESTING is a Lemonada Media Original. Our producers are Rachel Neel, Xorje Olivares, Martín Macías, Jr. And Dani Matias. Executive Producers are Stephanie Wittels Wachs and Jessica Cordova Kramer. Mixing and Scoring is by Brian Castillo, Johnny Evans and Ivan Kuraev. music is by Seth Applebaum. Please help others find the show by rating and reviewing wherever you listen and follow us across all social platforms at @VitusSpehar and @UnderTheDeskNews, also, @LemonadaMedia. If you want more be interesting, subscribe to Lemonada premium only on Apple podcasts.

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