A feminist with human rights in focus
Georg Andrén now enters his new role as Secretary General for Diakonia. He is humble but not nervous about leading the big organization, and wants to sharpen rather than change.
The new Secretary General feels comfortable with his return to an organization that he has previously worked for and followed with interest.
– It is great to finally begin! I've known Diakonia and many of the staff for a long time and have great confidence in the organization, Georg Andrén says.
It is not with any major reform ambitions that he enters into his new role. He wants to make the work already being done in Diakonia even better, clearer and more streamlined.
– It's about sharpening rather than changing. My vision is that Diakonia is a natural source of knowledge in Sweden in terms of development issues and foreign policy. I want journalists, think tanks and others, saying, "Let's call Diakonia, they know."
Meant to be
For Georg Andrén, there is no doubt about what is at the heart of aid and development – a feminist approach and the will to always be guided by the perspective of the poor. With a background in international economics and positions at the Riksbank, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Sida, he has been working with development issues for many years, in recent years as Sweden's ambassador to Guatemala. To be back at Diakonia again makes sense for him and feels a bit like coming home.
– This was meant to be! There has been a fairly clear line in everything I have worked with – understanding society and development based on the individual, for example, the mother in the African countryside and her context, he says.
Diakonia supports more than 400 local organizations in about 30 countries, helping people to lift themselves out of poverty and oppression. In a way the Secretary General represents all these people, but Georg Andrén is careful not to make himself a spokesperson for anyone.
– It's not about representing them or being their voice, instead we need to create spaces and venues where they can raise their own voices.
Becoming Secretary General for Diakonia also means representing the churches who own the organization, and Georg Andrén sees the organization's Christian foundation as empowering.
– Diakonia is a professional aid organization that works around the world with the value base of everyone's equal value – this work rests on Christian values. It gives us the strength that we have the Christian base, it makes us bold to work with anyone.
Age: 57 years
Family: Married, three adult children
Lives: In Ålberga outside Nyköping in Sweden