Dignified storytelling recognises that biases, stereotypes, social stigmas, and power differences exist, whether we are aware of them or not. We all have “narrative frames” that we use to select and shape stories, especially about what it means to “do good” or “help others.” These narratives develop over time and must be continually reflected upon and questioned by the storyteller to see if they promote or challenge existing status quo ways of seeing the world – and particularly the world of development.
Even when working closely with individuals and teams on the ground (for example, country programme teams and/or partner organisations), there are still power and privilege issues at play between local contributors, programme teams or partner organisations, and visiting staff or communication freelancers from outside of the country. Thoughtful and inclusive planning and communication are needed to put in place strategies to avoid perpetuating the stereotypes, biases, and social stigmas that underpin inequality and discrimination.
Dignified storytelling encourages continuous open reflection and dialogue amongst all stakeholders and holds local expertise and perspectives in high regard. It is committed to including and depicting contributors as equals, rather than passive recipients of any kind of assistance. Dignified storytelling seeks to follow, rather than trying to control, the story and embraces changes of perspective that can be initiated through the storytelling process.