Activist Spotlight: Jytte Nhanenge Tackles Poverty in Africa
Note: This is another part in our Activist Spotlight series, where we shine a light on Care2 members who are making a difference in their communities.
Jytte Nhanenge has led a truly remarkable life. This energetic Danish expatriate, currently living in central Mozambique, has completed three degrees, traveled all over the world, written a book, and contributed heavily to international development theory, focusing specifically on poverty alleviation.
When it comes to helping those in need, Jytte is a force to be reckoned with.
What drives Jytte is the firm belief that patriarchal domination lies at the root of our world’s struggle with crises of poverty and inequality, war and violence, environmental destruction, and human rights abuses. She does not see domination as being a literal biological patriarchy where men are dominating women; it is rather a mentality that values masculine energy over feminine energy, causing patriarchal domination of all that is feminine. Hence, competition is prioritized over cooperation, maximization over optimization, quantity over quality, exploitation over conservation, domination over subordination, aggression over submission, reason over feeling, individual over society, human beings over nature, and more. This manifests as individuals aggressively competing for maximum profit by dominating society and exploiting nature.
Jytte is most passionate about addressing the concerns of the most vulnerable members of our global family. She explains that she sees the world “from the side of those who suffer the most from patriarchal domination: women, children, poor people, traditional people, colored people (society), and nature. These are the ones who are forced to carry the burden from modern progress and economic development. They are also the ones without a voice, lacking a platform to protest.”
She adds, “It is exactly in favor of these that Care2 members are advocating; they are trying to support and empower society and nature against economic greed. I therefore see Care2 as a platform from which activists give voice to this subordinate group.”
She finds development efforts that focus on economic growth and profit making to be flawed. During her years in development work, she observed that many policies usually failed to provide basic improvements and appropriate technology for the most vulnerable. Instead activities were focusing on large-scale projects and technological feats, meant to increase economic output. For example, when her Danish development organization set up committees so that Africans could suggest policy changes, she realized with frustration that committee members were elites who did not adequately express the needs of the poor and disenfranchised.
Jytte wasn’t always interested in Africa, or in poverty alleviation. Her passion rose slowly while she was working in insurance in Copenhagen. Having escaped a childhood of limited resources and unstable familial relationships, she finally had a comfortable job and life, but she still felt like something was missing.
In 1979, at age twenty-six, she acted on her intuition and moved to Zambia to work for a Danish development organization. She enjoyed her time in Zambia; however it was also critical to her personal and professional growth. “It was the beginning of a long process that changed my perceptions about development and its ability to alleviate poverty,” she explains. Since then, Jytte has worked and/or lived in Yemen, the Netherlands, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Botswana, and Lesotho. She is currently living in Mozambique.
In Care2, this passionate activist who identifies herself as a “concerned citizen of the world” has found a home. “I enjoy being a member of Care2 because I have met like-minded people from all over the world who are determined to make a positive difference,” she explains. “The far majority of these people are very kind; I know many Care2 people, and I have even developed close friendships with some. I get news, inspiration, positive energy, and most of all I get hope when I visit Care2.”
Thank you, Jytte, for all the work you do!