Jo Rowlands

Jo Rowlands

Jo has worked for Oxfam GB since 2001, initially with the UK Poverty Programme then in a senior advisory role, and now as team lead for the Governance advisory team.

She works with programme mangers and staff to support and develop programming and learning on citizens and states, including governance and institutional accountability. Since 2009, she has also been working to support Oxfam GB’s programme delivery and effectiveness in fragile and conflict-affected countries.

Jo supports staff and partners in enabling poor women and men to become empowered and be heard by decision makers and to hold their governments and other institutions accountable in delivering good quality basic services and making effective use of the resources available to them (including aid, tax and other income).  This includes looking for ways to strengthen constructive engagement between people and formal and informal power-holders.

Before coming to Oxfam GB, Jo worked with VSO (Voluntary Services Overseas) managing the programme development and evaluation unit, and as programme officer in the Philippines. Further back, she worked as a consultant in the cooperative sector, both in the UK and Latin America. She studied issues of power and the concept of ’empowerment’, based on community level field research in Honduras, resulting in a PhD from Durham University, where she also worked for a while as a Lecturer. The resulting book, ‘Questioning Empowerment‘ is still a core text in many Masters programmes.



Pathways to Accountability Bargains (part of the A4EA research programme)

This research theme, under the Action for Empowerment and Accountability (A4EA) Research Programme, is concerned with the following question: how can stable and inclusive political settlements (among elites) and a just social contract (between elites and different social groups) emerge that are...


Governance Diaries of the Poor

Background We do not have much understanding of what empowerment and accountability mean to poor people through their lived experiences. In fact, in fragile and conflict-affected settings, especially in areas affected by violent conflict, we have little understandings of how ordinary people...



Understanding Governance from the Margins: What Does It Mean In Practice?

What does governance look like ‘from below’ – from the perspectives of poor and marginalised households? How do patterns of conflict affect that? These were the questions at the heart of the Governance at the Margins research project. Over three years from 2017-2020 we worked to explore...

Katrina Barnes & 13 others

29 November 2021