Contextualisation – international standards and local norms
During our Learning Project webinar today on the importance of the constextualisation of localisation, one of the topics of discussion was on how to balance the enforcement of international humanitarian standards (such as Sphere or the Core Humanitarian Standards), with pre-existing norms and cultural values in a country or region.
Shahana Hayat, the DEPP Learning Project Country Learning Advisor for Bangladesh, highlighted the particular example of how humanitarian actors should approach the mis-match between the general humanitarian standard of involving women in leadership and decision-making processes, and the fact that women face varying degrees of disempowerment around the world. She suggests that in this context, we can’t ignore the global humanitarian standard if the local culture and values contradict it.
I would love to hear other people’s reflections on this, and particularly how different organisations and actors approach this issue. Are there any areas where international standards should be ignored or modified based on local context? Or are standards like Sphere always completely universal?