Malavika Murali is a research professional who specialises in Development Studies and Psychology. She’s committed to a unique approach to community development that challenges inequitable structures while fostering a sense of self-organisation within communities. Through dialogue, critical thinking, and active participation, she seeks to empower marginalised communities and inspire transformative change. Over the years, she has worked with various international and community organisations, using her expertise in qualitative methodologies like thematic analysis and participatory research to inform strategy and interventions.

Through her work, she has developed a deep understanding of place-based systems change—an approach that prioritises local context and resources. This focus has underpinned her work, from managing strategic collaborations to implementing community-focused solutions. Her global experience of working in India as well as UK, has also honed her understanding of different social landscapes, enabling her to foster inclusivity and equity.

Passionate about community development, Malavika has consistently translated research into real-world solutions, to bridge gaps between communities and resources. Stepping into her new role as a Research and Evaluation Consultant at Collaborate, she is prepared to bring her unique mix of research skills, hands-on experience, and commitment to facilitate meaningful community transformations to promote social equity.

In their own words:

At its core, my work revolves around making community development not just equitable, but also deeply aware of the dynamics of relational power. It’s one thing to strive for equity, but another to truly grasp how power relations shape our systems and interactions. So, I’m always wrestling with this question: How can we design systems that not only recognise and understand these power dynamics but are also skilled at navigating through them? For me, understanding power isn’t just an added layer; it’s the driving force if we want to build something that’s sustainable and truly equitable. My goal remains to weave these insights into meaningful change that uplift and resonate with all.

My approach to my work is about about guiding communities to harness their own strength. However, I recognise that for the communities to tap into their capabilities, they need access to resources that can create these capabilities. Often this access is the primary gap, and I’m committed to bridging it. But here’s the thing: all these efforts, from recognising gaps to facilitating resource access, they all tie back to understanding and navigating those very power dynamics. It’s an intricate and delicate web, and I’m here for every step of it.