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SIDA Launches New Group to Increase Influence of Global South Diaspora and Ethnic Minority Voices

A member blog post by

Hannah Clyne

Scotland's International Development Alliance

Our mission is to harness the power and potential of global south and ethnic minority communities to address global issues and drive positive change in Scotland and around the world.

Over the last year, Scotland’s International Development Alliance has been working to bring together community groups, charities, academics and activists from diverse cultures and communities in Scotland who are committed to promoting and advancing the principles of global citizenship. In different places around the country, these groups are working to ensure human rights, equality, social and climate justice for communities both in Scotland and around the world. The group is rich in expertise and experience.

To mention a few, there is Johannes and the Pachedu team teaching young people about the contribution of African civilizations to the world and advocating for the rights of minority groups in Paisley.

Bertha in Aberdeen has spent a lifetime supporting and advocating for the rights of African women and families across Scotland, while raising awareness about the importance of listening to local views on approaches to development in her home country of Nigeria.

Mya in Inverness-shire is connecting Black, Caribbean and those with mixed heritage in the Highlands and celebrating their cultures while advocating for their rights.

Uuganaa, with Mongol Identity is raising awareness of the racist distortion of the word ‘Mongol’ and is working to bring a better understanding of its true meaning – the culture, language and ethnicity of the Mongol people.

Abdul in Glasgow is supporting and advocating for the rights of minority groups while also supporting communities at home in Afghanistan and Nabiha and the Yemeni Scottish Foundation tirelessly raises awareness about the situation in Yemen and the needs of the Yemeni community here in Scotland.

Ola, at Global Justice Now, is working hard to raise awareness about global climate and social injustices.

Carolina is a PHD student working on digital mental health interventions in South Sudan, and Rezaur Rahman, also a PHD student, is doing research on cultural integration of migrant communities in Scotland. Edeo, from Ethiopia is a researcher on climate change and water access in the Horn of Africa and advocates for the rights of the Oromo people.  

The perspectives and experience of these groups are vital to Scotland’s goal of being a ‘good global citizen’, but, as they have told us, they are often left out of key conversations and decision making processes on the topic. 7

“We are here because we don’t have representation. We want to be part of the solution”.

– Nabiha, Yemeni Scottish Foundation, Steering Group Member 

In order to address this exclusion, and on the advice of the groups, SIDA has formed a Global Citizenship Steering Group. The mission of the group is to harness the power and potential of global south and ethnic minority communities to address global issues and drive positive change in Scotland and around the world.  You can meet the members and learn more about them here. 

On coming together, the group identified a list of barriers they have experienced that block their engagement and influence in global conversations and decision making in Scotland. It has been a learning process for us too at SIDA, hearing from the groups and realizing the extent of these barriers and what needs to be done to change things. The barriers they identified are: 

  1. Racism: Historical context, including the British Empire, affects power dynamics and engrained racist perceptions lead to a lack of trust in people and communities rooted in the global south. 
  2. Disconnect and lack of will: There is a disconnect between those in power and local communities. Limited tangible action is taken by governments, organizations, and individuals to address these issues, perpetuating inequality. 
  3. Lack of resources: Limited access to funding and resources discourage participation and hinder organizations. Funding applications are highly demanding and don’t always give space for organisations to reflect their real strengths.  
  4. A lack of representation: A lack of meaningful representation in decision making undermines trust and engagement of minority communities. A lack of validation silences people and discourages them from coming forward. 
  5. Practical barriers: When ethnic minority leaders, especially women, are invited to participate in conversations, their needs aren’t always acknowledged or accommodated. Many do the work voluntarily out of a passion for the cause and barriers like travel costs, childcare and time constraints limit participation.  
  6. Fear: Fear of political correctness is used as an excuse not to engage with groups. 
  7. Denial: Scotland’s self-image as having the moral high ground can lead to a denial of existing problems. 
  8. Lack of national interest: Minority issues receive less national attention. 
  9. Lack of relating: The general population can’t relate to issues of relevance for minority groups and cultural differences can prevent people from engaging and being heard. Insular thinking and mistrust prevent people from thinking from a different point of view. 
  10. Lack of cohesion: Lack of cohesion among grassroots organisations can slow progress. 

Group members discussed the impact of these barriers for their communities and by extension, Scotland and the world’s efforts to achieve global justice. The barriers lead to: 

  • Deepening inequalities between global north and south communities, both in Scotland and worldwide. 
  • There is a lack of effective and inclusive solutions to global challenges, so efforts are hampered. 
  • People feel unseen, unheard, frustrated, excluded, and disengaged. 
  • Marginalized communities and individuals experience a loss of pride and weakened sense of self when their perspectives are not valued. 
  • Misrepresentation and perpetuation of negative stereotypes and narratives reinforce biases and marginalize communities further. 
  • There is a sense of isolation and lack of influence and engagement for minority communities living in rural areas. 

These barriers, inequalities and their impact need to be taken seriously by the global development sector in Scotland. Their continued existence undermines all other efforts to affect change in the world. Along with the insight of their communities in Scotland and around the world, the members of the steering group know what is needed to address them, and the role of the rest of us is to listen, support and collaborate with them. 

The group has developed three main aims: 

  1. To increase their visibility and influence:  To unite diaspora and minority communities to have a strong collective voice and influence the way that global issues are dealt with in Scotland, at a policy level and in the way that ordinary people and institutions think and act. 
  2. To changing the narrative: To change the narrative about who they are, who their home communities are and what they are contributing to Scotland and the world.  To be seen and to be appreciated. 
  3. Magnify issues and innovations: To magnify the issues that face global communities in Scotland and around the world, as well as the innovations they are using to address them. 

Their work will be structured around the Sustainable Development Goals, as they apply both in Scotland and around the world. They have also developed a collective statement to express who they are and what they are doing:  

“We recognize the immense potential and unique perspectives that our communities bring to the table and are committed to promoting our equitable participation in discussions and decisions on global issues in Scotland.  Through collaboration, advocacy, and storytelling, we aim to use our unique perspectives, collective knowledge and networks to raise public awareness and influence policy makers, ultimately contributing to a more equitable and sustainable world.  

Importantly, our group also serves as a space where members can come together, share ideas, and leverage our collective knowledge, resources, and influence to address global challenges and promote the values of inclusivity, diversity, and social justice. We aim to foster a sense of belonging, engagement, and responsibility among all communities in Scotland towards the well-being and progress of humanity as a whole.”  

Please keep your eyes open for stories, blogs and input from the group over the coming months, and if you know of any opportunities which would increase their visibility and influence, please be in touch with Hannah Clyne at 

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