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Scotland – a good global citizen?

“Global Citizenship is a dream. Not about an individual, but a joint responsibility to address global challenges, and act to protect the wellbeing of others.”

Mya Chemonges-Murzynowska 

This month, the SIDA Team had the opportunity to attend a panel discussion on Scotland’s role in promoting Global Citizenship at the Festival of Politics. The event was part of a series of activities held at the Scottish Parliament which aims to foster discussions around politics, current affairs, social, and environmental issues.  SIDA were delighted to organise this session as part of our role as the secretariat for the CPG on International Development.

The panel featured speakers from various sectors and backgrounds, who shared their insights and experiences on how Scotland is fostering Global Citizenship through education and grassroots initiatives. 

Tabitha Nyariki is the Race Equality Charter Project Officer at Glasgow Caledonian University and previously worked as a Sabbatical Officer at their Students’ Association. She has focused on advocating for issues around Racial Equality in Higher & Further Education. In 2022, she won the NUS Equality & Diversity Award.  She is the youngest board member of the Scottish Fair-Trade Forum. Tabitha  graduated from Glasgow Caledonian University with a Bachelor of Science Degree with Honours in Applied Psychology.  

Peter Jackson is Executive Director of the Scottish Council on Global Affairs. He is also Chair in Global Security at the University of Glasgow and a Fellow of both the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the Royal Historical Society. He has been Visiting Professor at the History Department at Institute d’etudes politiques in Paris and at the Université de Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne. Peter is the Principal Investigator for this AHRC Research Grant ‘The Weight of the Past in Franco-British Relations since. He is also co-Convenor of the Research Network ‘Visions of Global Order: Peace, Law and Security after the First World War’.  

Elizabeth-Mya Chemonges-Murzynowska (Mya) is the founder of The African Caribbean Asian and Mixed Heritage Association & Chair, The Kenyans in the Highlands.  She is also an income maximisation advisor with the Citizen Advice Bureau. Mya’s drive and purpose is to ensure that the communities she supports are exposed to a wide range of cultural, traditional and heritage differences, while enjoying the unique benefits of being exposed to so many diverse cultures.  

The starting point of the discussion was a shared acknowledgement by the panelists that being a responsible global citizen means understanding that global issues and challenges are interconnected and require a collective response. The panel discussed the importance of education, grassroots movements, and young people in promoting Global Citizenship in Scotland. The panel raised the importance of having conversations around Global Citizenship in our local communities involved, especially beyond the Central Belt, so that all people in Scotland feel included. 

“It has to be an approach where everyone has a voice.”

Peter Jackson 

Mya reflected on the importance of early years education on topics related to responsible global citizenship, including on subjects such as colonialism and its present-day impact. “We need to be able to have conversations with each other, including uncomfortable ones at times, in order to be each other’s keepers.” 

The panel praised Scotland for being a welcoming and inclusive country, encouraging Scots to get more involved in international development projects, and campaigning for change. Peter pointed out that recent research has found high levels of support among Scottish people for principles of global citizenship. 

Despite the achievements and progress made so far, the panellists also acknowledged that there are still many challenges and barriers to overcome in advancing global citizenship, such as inequality, prejudice, and ignorance. They also discussed some of the opportunities and strategies to address these issues, such as engaging with diverse perspectives, building partnerships and networks, and engaging with young people to amplify their voices and actions. 

“Educate yourself. Don’t be afraid to ask, learn, and re-learn.”

Tabitha Nyariki 

Tabitha explored the importance of engaging younger people, through the development of platforms for young people to network, and engage with organisations in less formal environments. She also stressed that at an individual level, we must all try to educate ourselves, seeking information from reliable sources beyond the large mainstream media corporations in the West. 

Peter explained that global citizenship is about embracing diversity and learning from each other’s cultures and values, ensuring everyone has the opportunity to contribute and have their voices heard.  

Mya Chemonges-Murzynowska emphasized that global citizenship is about recognizing the common humanity and dignity of all people, regardless of their nationality, ethnicity, religion or culture.  

Thank you to Sarah Boyack MSP for chairing the session, and to panellists Tabitha Nyariki, Peter Jackson and Elizabeth-Mya Chemonges-Murzynowska for sharing their insights and experiences. 

Watch the discussion below:

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