Our Perspectives

Will Cinderella be at the 2015 Development Ball?


woman and child in Darfur clinicA mother and child visit a doctor at Kalma IDP camp in South Darfur. Public service officials must be given a voice if the post-2015 agenda is to be realized. Photo: Albert Gonzalez Farran/UNAMID

It’s that season again.  Artificially orchestrated good cheer generating excessive consumption followed by a bad headache – and that’s just fiscal policy.  Then at New Year widespread indulgence in resolutions that won’t be kept. It is enough to make anyone a bit gloomy.

But, as ever, missing from the dance floor will be the least understood and most under-appreciated people in the whole development enterprise – those dedicated public officials who actually do most of the work.  These unacknowledged heroes who delivered the MDGs, and who will be the rock-bed for implementing the SDGs in the Post-2015 Development Agenda, are  struggling every day to deal with contradictory political instructions and irreconcilable directives, to ‘do more with less’.

The morale of public officials almost everywhere around the world has been in decline for thirty years. Derided for decades for lacking the private sector dynamism, these same officials are being told to ensure that public institutions be inclusive, participatory, and accountable; that laws and institutions protect human rights and fundamental freedoms; that everyone be free from fear and violence, without discrimination; that democratic, free, safe, and peaceful societies provide access to fair justice systems, combat corruption and curb illicit financial flows, and the rule of law must be secured for the free, active and meaningful engagement of civil society and advocates reflecting the voices of women.  

Who will give a voice to the silent public service around the world on whose efforts the entire development edifice is built?  As faith in political leadership declines, it is the dedication of committed public officials that shore up the legitimacy of government in the eyes of the population.

For dreams to come true in the post-2015 world, the Public Service Cinderella needs to be at the development ball. After all, she’s been working hard for the last 15 years, sweeping and tidying up and delivering the MDGs – doesn’t she deserve at least a spinning-wheel on which to spike her finger on the prickly golden thread of governance indicators being spun for the development table?


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