In aidspeak, ‘vulnerability’ is almost always a negative word. It denotes weakness, fragility, a heightened possiblity of something or someone being in danger or at risk, unsafe or unprotected. It is something to be guarded against, mitigated, planned for; we often talk or (moreso) write about how our programs will ‘target vulnerable populations’ or ‘reduce vulnerability.’ We show donors and security officers how we recognize existing vulnerabilities and have made plans to keep ourselves and our staff safe.
This is not the fault of the aid world. Merriam-Webster defines vulnerability as meaning “easily hurt or harmed physically, mentally, or emotionally” or “open to attack, harm, or damage.” A quick scan of other online dictionaries did not turn up any indication of Continue reading