Posted by Victory on May 12, 2021 at 8:24 pm
‘Member Spotlight’ is our bi-weekly series bringing you stories and reflections from members of the Share-Net Netherlands network. We will be spotlighting the different ways they have been involved with the network and what the value of this has been for them. This week we are spotlighting our member, Roanna van den Oever:
Roanna van den Oever is a Gender Advisor at Aidsfonds and member of the Share-Net Netherlands Engaging Men and Boys Community of Practice who muses on the benefits of the social dimension of the Communities of Practice.
The Share-Net Netherlands communities of practice (CoPs) are made up of members from many interesting backgrounds who are passionate about many different topics in the SRHR field. In our communities of practice (CoPs), they can come together around their interests to connect and collaborate, which is essential the core work of our CoPs. One of our members who recognizes the importance of this space to connect with other members is Roanna van den Oever.
For Roanna, when it comes to being part of the Engaging Men and Boys CoP, she recognises the importance of the social dimension of working in her community of practice. Our CoPs encourage participation, two-way learning, and cooperation between our members. Speaking to Roanna, she reflected on this non-hierarchal way of working which makes being part of her CoP enjoyable. This way of working gives all members the opportunity to address the topics that are relevant to them and their work. For Roanna, she has been “energised and inspired” by the opportunity to address topics like intersectionality or reflecting on how engaging men and boys is important to gender transformative work. She has found these conversations and reflections “useful for taking a more activist view” in her own personal work.
There’s no “one size fits all” approach to how CoPs function but what makes them special is the emphasis on the social nature of learning. As Roanna puts it: “CoPs are about more than outputs.” On one hand, outputs are important for keeping SRHR topics on the agenda and, as Roanna puts, creating visibility, but on the other hand, Roanna acknowledges that CoPs can and do exist for reasons beyond this. She adds: “Letting go of the idea that our outputs are our meaning of existence is really helpful especially for CoPs without many outputs”. This important reflection speaks to the necessity of having the space for informal knowledge sharing, networking, and socialising with members from various backgrounds – from researchers to practitioners, students to policymakers. At Share-Net Netherlands, we aim to facilitate this informal knowledge sharing, networking and matchmaking. In recent times, we have started doing this through our new communication platform, Mighty Networks. Mighty Networks connects our whole network in a streamlined space and, much like us in the secretariat at Share-Net Netherlands, Roanna expresses “high hopes for this space”. She further muses on how it acts like “Tinder” for finding people and matchmaking. Roanna also expresses the desire to see the energy of the CoPs kept alive through frequent meeting and more interaction with the informal space to not just collaborate over outputs but also make friends, share resources, and catch up with one another.