Interview with Carelle Mang-Benza, Policy Lead at Cooperation Canada


1. Why did you decide to work in international cooperation and what have been some career highlights?  

When I first worked with a bilateral donor many years ago, I was more interested in the subject matter (environmental policy) than the sector of international cooperation. I gradually grew to discover, appreciate, and critique the sector, as I moved from bilateral to multilateral cooperation. 

 Everything I consider as a professional highlight is tied to human experiences working in and with countries where programs are implemented: that conversation with a teenage girl victim of sexual abuse in a displacement camp; that 10-y old boy who voiced his grandmother observations about climate variations over her lifetime; that seasoned farmer who found the boldness to share his experience in land management in front of the agriculture experts; that UN colleague whose program funding shortage was solved by the local community and their diaspora relatives; and so many others… 


2. What experiences have influenced your career as a Black person in the international cooperation sector? 

The above experiences have shaped my professional opinions as a person. They probably resonated with me in this way because, as a Black woman, I can see racially motivated behaviors, hear prejudice-laden language, and feel when people assert their agency and power a certain way. I have to say that I have been equally influenced (and irritated) by self-destructive behaviour and self-victimizing language. 


3. What are your hopes for the future, and what advice would you give to those wishing to work in international cooperation? 

My hope is to see the power shift (often called localization) agenda gain greater momentum to transform international cooperation practices. Those wishing to work in this sector should be comfortable not with the present of the sector but rather with a future where power and authority will be more equally distributed. 


Carelle Mang-Benza

Carelle Mang-Benza

Policy Lead