Dana McNairn

Dana McNairn

For the last ten years Dana McNairn has worked for NGOs on the frontline of human rights and gender-based violence, as well as INGOs such as the Canadian Red Cross and Habitat for Humanity. She is the CEO of KOTO, an award-winning nonprofit social enterprise and vocational training programme for at-risk and disadvantaged youth in Vietnam.
Website URL: http://danamcnairn.com

Not that long ago, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg pledged to give away his gazillions of shares of the company he famously started in his pyjamas. Add to this fray the recent Brexit vote in the UK and the never-ending US presidential campaign, and you could say I’ve had plutocracy on the brain for a while now.

By the time you read this, another graduation will have been celebrated at KOTO. This year three classes of young men and women proudly walked across the stage as they received their certificates, the triumphant culmination in their two-year journey with KOTO. If you’re not familiar, KOTO provides vocational hospitality training to youth who come from highly disadvantaged circumstances.

We’ve looked at ill-defined terminology before. The non-profit sector not only loves its jargon (MEAL policy, anyone?) but what about those popular — and hazy — words that sound like they really nail something on the head, but upon closer inspection collapse under the weight of their lofty ambitions. ‘Building capacity’ or ‘sustainability’ or ‘delivering impact’ (ack!) are all suspect terms and rightfully so. They’re overused and defined so broadly as to become meaningless. I’ll offer up ‘empowerment’ to demonstrate what I mean.

One in three women and girls on this planet do not have access to a toilet when they menstruate, and 70 percent of women feel stigmatised or ashamed about their period.

International Women’s Day (IWD) is observed every Mar. 8 and is, according to the UN, a “time to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women” in the quest to achieve gender equality, and women’s empowerment and rights.

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