@grantmgordon drew my attention to this quote from Lisa Shannon, who's been engaged in helping Congolese rape victims ever since she saw an Oprah episode about it:
It's not my job to measure the results. It's my job, as it is anyone's job, to show up.Sorry, Lisa Shannon, but you're wrong about that. Of course it's your job to measure the results of your advocacy and activities. When you decide to become the public face of a major awareness and fund raising effort, you have a responsibility to ensure to your donors that:
- Their money is being spent on what you say it's being spent on.
- Their donations go to programs that have a proven record of helping women recover from rape, gain economic self-sufficiency, find housing, and address any of the other myriad of problems Congolese rape survivors face.
- That you won't simply "show up," but rather will take effective action, the results of which are tangible and measurable.
It's also unfortunate because it's not that difficult to evaluate program effectiveness. There are well-established mechanisms for doing so. In fact, I'm sure that Women for Women International, the organization to which Shannon directs her efforts, does regular internal evaluations. They're a highly reputable organization that does a lot of good, and I'm not the least bit critical of their efforts.
What I am critical of, however, is the attitude that just "showing up" is a sufficient condition for effective advocacy. It's not. Advocates must take responsibility for ensuring that the means to address problems for which they advocate are, in fact, effective. To do otherwise is not only irresponsible; it means that advocates risk doing more harm than good.