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Hi Community Toolbox! We are planning a piece of action research in relation to sexual gender based violence in Bangladesh and want to include different community representatives on a steering/monitoring/oversight committee and wondered if you have any suggestions on recruiting people to such a committee since the number of potential stakeholders will be quite large?
Thank you.

            Thank you for writing to us at the Community Tool Box, and please excuse our unforeseen delay in responding to your important and challenging question.   
            From our distance, your recruiting procedures would typically be guided by (1) what resources (people, money, and especially time)   your group or organization has available for recruiting activities; (2) what specific role(s) you would like committee members to play; and (3) how long the project is going to last (will it be a one-time action research study, or do you envision a longer-lasting presence?)
            There are no one-size-fits-all answers to these questions; your own answers will depend on what’s going to work best for you in your particular setting; so it will be good for you to be clear on these points before you get in too deeply.
             A possibly useful approach, however, might be to consider a structure or structures where anyone who wants to participate can do so.  You’d have multiple channels, and multiple opportunities for involvement.   
            For example, you could create a bona fide planning or steering committee, with real authority.  (How those people would be chosen is a challenging question in itself.)  And this could co-exist with a larger and possibly more diverse advisory committee/ board, which could reflect the views of more people.  Since Bangladesh is a very big country, you could also help establish regional or even local councils to set local priorities and monitor their implementation.  You could sponsor a series of public hearings in different parts of Bangladesh as well, which could attract still-larger numbers.
            In addition, you could help facilitate ongoing structures where individual Bangladeshi residents could make their feelings known through texts, e-mails, and/or short videos. By so doing you could increase the number of perceived stakeholders, which seems entirely appropriate in that sexual gender-based violence is an issue that should properly concern everyone.  
            In other words, by adopting a layered, multi-level, and decentralized approach, you could maximize stakeholder opportunities to participate as well as participation itself.  And the longer-run impact of your project might be greater as well.
            What you do with all of that participatory input – how you deal with it respectfully, responsively, and effectively – is of course another story.  A bittersweet irony of community work is that success creates  its own costs.  But that is a question for another day.  For the moment, though, we think you are on the right track.
            Thanks again for being in touch, and all best wishes for success as your work unfolds.    

Question Date: س., 04/04/2023