Five Takeaways from the Global Solidarity Summit 2022
Hub Cymru Africa has adopted the language ‘global solidarity’ to articulate the work between Wales and Africa partnerships. We believe it better reflects the work and values of our collective work. But as we introduced this, we began to realise how differently we viewed this term. At the 2022 Global Solidarity Summit, we explored our collective understanding and these are some of the things we learned.
What does global solidarity mean to us?
Solidarity is a state of mind, but it is also a way of acting. Being able to embody the values of respect, equality, inclusion and compassion, among others, enables us to stand in solidarity with our partners and the communities we support.
Partnership is the cornerstone of solidarity. Having a common goal, navigating through challenges together, identifying objectives and working equally towards something and achieving it together.
Long-term. Enacting solidarity takes time. Cultivating strong relationships and building trust in our partners’ communities takes investment and commitment and will not happen authentically if rushed.
Understanding and using our power and privilege are key to acting in solidarity. We need to be able to look at power dynamics in decision-making, which is key to ensuring equality in partnerships. We need to be able to amplify partner and community voices. Not speaking for people but giving them the space to have their voices heard and acted upon.
We need to enable a two-way dialogue; to listen rather than talk and have open discussions without personal agendas. Solidarity is enabling people to feel heard and understood through regular conversation and builds trust and honesty through this process.
What are some of the barriers to acting in solidarity?
Rigidity is a big barrier. Building solidarity is messy! It doesn’t fit neatly into a log frame and doesn’t always fit donor requirements. There is often a need from donors for measurable results and this can sometimes be hard in solidarity work.
Not being aware of our unconscious and implicit biases or not acting to address them can be a huge barrier to acting in solidarity. People’s perceptions are often informed by the past and this can sometimes be hard to move beyond.
Barriers exist when there is a lack of understanding of the context. If partnerships don’t understand the financial, political, cultural and social context of the communities in which they are working, the project may ultimately fail due to inappropriate interventions.
Power imbalances often exist when funding is involved and this can lead to difficulty changing long-established practices. Striving for truly equitable partnerships helps us move towards solidarity.
The inability to communicate what it is can be a barrier. What does authentic solidarity look like? What are the meaningful actions that people can take? Talking about solidarity can sometimes be quite alienating particularly if it challenges local customs. Also, practical challenges often exist in being able to communicate effectively about solidarity with partners and the community, be they technological, logistical or cultural.
What do we understand the key values of Global solidarity to be?
How can we better embody the principle of global solidarity in our work?
By being brave. Don’t be afraid to be messy. Be flexible and don’t be afraid to disrupt ‘norms’. Be prepared to step back so others may step forward.
By enabling continuous reflection and learning. Create space for reflective practice and give time for lessons to be learned. Be mindful of the complexities of this type of work.
By strengthening our partnerships. Support autonomy over decision making by our partners, work together to achieve a common aim without hierarchy. Through mutual respect, partnerships become stronger.
By taking a bottom-up approach. Showcase local leadership and credit their work. Involving communities in the design and implementation of projects, we foster ownership.
By being accountable. Have a framework or key indicators which include ways of thinking and working. Amplify examples of good practice and encourage others to hold themselves accountable.
Senior Development Support Manager
All the mainstage sessions are available to watch on-demand via Hub Cymru Africa’s Youtube Channel in the #GlobalUndod2022 playlist.