Edna Jaime, General Director at México Evalúa, talks to us about working collectively with other civil society organizations in Mexico

Edna Jaime was interviewed by On Think Tanks Consulting (OTT Consulting) as part of the retrospective and evaluation of the Mexico Program commissioned by the Hewlett Foundation.

In this segment of the interview, Edna shares her thoughts on working collectively with other organizations in Mexico, what they were able to achieve by working together, and the contribution of the Hewlett Foundation in supporting these partnerships.

The interview was conducted in Spanish. Below you can find a translation of the transcript.

OTT Consulting has been commissioned by the Hewlett Foundation to carry out a retrospective and evaluation of the granting of funds from the Hewlett Foundation in Mexico over the last 23 years. The purpose of this endeavour is to understand the evolution of the Foundation’s strategies, the role of other donor organizations in the areas in which the Hewlett Foundation has worked, and the socio-political context of the country. This is an effort to learn, reflect, and analyze more than two decades of support to civil society in Mexico.

We have interviewed over 60 key actors working in the development of Mexican civil society, including organizations that received funds from the Hewlett Foundation, members of civil society, Program Officers at the Hewlett Foundation and other donors, political actors, and media channels who can give an account of the role of the Foundation in Mexico.

The questions we tried to answer through the interviews refer to the strengths and weaknesses of the Foundation’s support, its most significant contributions to social change, and the degree of support received by the organizations that were strengthened during this time.

The retrospective and evaluation will take place between July 2020 and January 2021.

Do you think that the Red por la Rendición de Cuentas, the Tres de Tres campaign and the collective Lo Justo es que Sepas would have achieved the same achievements if the organizations had worked individually, or why not? Was there any added value generated by working collectively?

Collective work is fundamental in the achievements we have had as civil society organizations that promote changes in the accountability agenda. I believe that these joint initiatives did mark milestones, because we achieved concrete things. I do not mean to say that individually — the organizations that participated in these initiatives — have not done a good job and we have had no impact. We did it, we have very identifiable victories. But working together, designing, and agreeing on a conceptual idea and its implementation- be it in a proposal for a regulatory framework or in a public policy was essential to achieve very important things.

Why do I mean when I say that we achieved very important things? We achieved a reform in transparency that, I think, includes innovation and largely ensures our right to access information. Of course there are complex implementation processes- changing the law does not necessarily mean changing reality. But it is the first step, and I think it is a very good first step. We would not have achieved it if we had worked individually. The work that was achieved by the Red por la Rendición de Cuentas, the accompaniment work to our colleagues who were in ‘battle front’- whether drafting a bill or participating in open parliaments- was key to achieving the objective. The same can be said about the National Anti-Corruption System (Sistema Nacional de Anticorrupción).

There were brilliant ideas from some colleagues who were able to gain traction because there was a network of institutions that decided to work together. It would not have been the same otherwise. I believe that the Tres de Tres initiative was a brilliant idea, which could later be transformed into a proposal for the design of a National Anti-Corruption System (Sistema Nacional de Anticorrupción) and the change or design of many laws. This idea could not have transcended a certain space if we had not had the support of so many organizations that provided knowledge to the conversation and strategic thought to achieve its objectives. So, it was very important. Lo Justo es que Sepas gained success very fast. This is a very relevant issue because through transparency in the sentences we will be able to evaluate the work of the justice officials. It seems key to me. And, well, its success was the result of an alliance of different organizations. I am sure that the energy and power of Equis, a very important member of this group, would have taken the initiative very far, but I think that the formation of this group gave it the opportunity to advance in a very fast and forceful way. We already have a legal change that will make it possible for all sentences to be public.

What was the Hewlett Foundation’s contribution to these coalitions, what kind of support did it give them, and do you think they would have been formed without the Foundation’s support?

The Hewlett Foundation has been instrumental in our achievements on the accountability agenda for a number of reasons. First, because it has bet on organizations and the development of capacities within our organization. This capacity development refers not only to analytical skills, but it also includes organizational development- the way an organization manages its processes. The Hewlett Foundation has made it possible for key Mexican organizations working in accountability to strengthen their capacities. That is one factor.

The second is that the support of the Hewlett Foundation has made it possible to generate knowledge. It has allowed analysis. It has allowed making diagnoses and identifying what needs to be transformed. The continuous support over the years allowed us to generate a ‘stock’ of knowledge that we can draw on when we need it. We might have had a lot of energy to promote change, but we would not have had the analytical components nor the knowledge to be able to direct it to where we thought it could have a positive result. The support in the generation of knowledge and analysis has been fundamental.

So far, those are two elements that I identify as very important. First, the strengthening and support of institutions in their capacities. Second, their support has made it possible to generate knowledge, diagnoses and proposals. And third, the Hewlett Foundation was instrumental in creating a community of practice. The Foundation called us frequently to have conversations between colleagues. Those recurring conversations between colleagues built trust. They generated understanding between organizations and I believe that they established the conditions so that later it would be easy to work in coordination to form collectives. This collective work and this coordinated work is a result of years of being summoned and of finding a community of practice where we were able to exchange points of view and where we generated bonds of trust. It is easier said than done. I think the Hewlett Foundation set the conditions for this to be achieved.



Updates from the Hewlett Foundation’s Inclusive Governance team. Part of our Gender Equity & Governance Program https://hewlett.org/

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Hewlett Foundation's Inclusive Governance Team

Updates from the Hewlett Foundation’s Inclusive Governance team. Part of our Gender Equity & Governance Program https://hewlett.org/