On 24 September Link representatives took central roles in the annual Scotland’s International Development Alliance Conference which was held as a digital summit for the first time. With the subtitle “Global Development Beyond COVID-19”, the event welcomed 239 attendees from 19 countries to explore innovative responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, and to consider how collective action can help to forge a more sustainable, inclusive and resilient future.
Link’s International Programme Director Samantha Ross chaired this session to look at how COVID-19 is hitting the most vulnerable the hardest, and to explore how having a better understanding of deep-rooted inequalities can help us to support everyone through the pandemic and beyond.
Samantha was joined by colleague Abaynew Mulat who is the Safeguarding Gender and Inclusion Coordinator for Link Education Ethiopia, and who led the breakout discussion on Gender while other discussion groups tackled Disability and LGBTI issues.
The session highlighted the importance of involving people from marginalised groups in discussions and policy making, and the importance of data collection, and called for flexibility from funders to allow for programming to be adapted to support marginalised communities in these difficult times.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted and exacerbated various inequalities, it also provides us with the opportunity to focus on the challenges that different groups face so that we can “build back better” as we come through the crisis.
Josephine Akiru, Programme Director of Link Education Uganda reminded us in this session that education is the key to solving world’s most pressing problems – providing routes out of poverty, and boosting economies. So far, $10 trillion has been lost in lifetime earnings due to the pandemic, and 71 million people have been pushed back into poverty.
Speakers including Harry Wala, Leave No Girl Behind Team Lead, and Sophie Mhoni, Leave No Girl Behind Project Manager, led breakout sessions to discuss ideas on overcoming the multiple challenges of delivering projects during the pandemic. Harold Kuombola, Link’s Malawi Country Director, then presented the solutions that Link has found while delivering our TEAM Girl Malawi project. Engaging communities, delivering a reduced curriculum in smaller study circles, distributing food, and keeping girls’ clubs going with an emphasis on self-esteem and decision making, have all helped to keep children engaged in learning.
While governments face a deep economic recession, they should remember that an educated population will most likely be their most valuable resource as they recover and face future challenges. The global community must continue to provide aid to help prioritise education and to invest in brighter futures for all.
It was fantastic to have representatives from across the Link family coming together to showcase our work as part of a significant international summit, and to share our challenges and solutions with our other international development professionals.
To watch the sessions and to find out more about the event visit: https://www.intdevalliance.scot/events/previous-events/digital-summit-2020