Review of international development

New focus on tackling gender inequality.

Projects that prioritise the rights of women and girls in some of the world’s poorest nations are to be supported as part of a new approach to international development.

The updated policy includes a commitment to offering at least £500,000 for projects that promote equality of women and girls in the partner countries of Malawi, Zambia and Rwanda, and continued support to the Scotland Pakistan Scholarships for Young Women and Girls.

The review was prompted by the global impact of coronavirus (COVID-19), anti-racism movements such as Black Lives Matter, and the climate emergency.

Health will continue to be a key theme of international development work, and there is a commitment to support a shift in power to partner countries – for example, the Scottish Government and University of Malawi College of Medicine will enter into a longer-term relationship, with similar institutions to be identified and agreed in Zambia and Rwanda.  

A new set of Scottish Government International Development Principles has been developed with stakeholders – these commit to partner country-led development, collaboration, equality, inclusion and diversity.

As part of delivering these commitments, a new advisory Global South Programme Panel will be established, which will include experts and academics from partner countries and representatives of partner countries’ diaspora living in Scotland.

Minister for International Development Jenny Gilruth said:

“The COVID-19 pandemic is one of the greatest challenges of our times and, given its global impact, we decided to pause, reflect and take stock of our international development programme in order to future-proof against the ongoing threat of the virus.

“We also considered the urgent issues raised by movements including Black Lives Matter, how we can play our part in tackling systemic racism and inequality, as well as shifting power to partner countries.

“We know, in particular, that COVID-19 is deepening pre-existing inequalities and exposing vulnerabilities in social, political and economic systems - our decision to establish an Equalities Programme reflects the urgency of that challenge.

“International solidarity has never been more important as we build back, and help others to build back, fairer and stronger, an approach shared across Scottish Government policy.

“I look forward to this new evolving phase of our approach to international development, and to deepening the ongoing commitment that we have to our partner countries of Malawi, Rwanda, Zambia and Pakistan.”

Head of Oxfam Scotland Jamie Livingstone said:

“Progress in the fight against poverty is under intense threat; conflicts are lasting longer, the climate crisis is worsening, and the COVID-19 pandemic is throwing economies into turmoil. 

“The Scottish Government has rightly recognised that if it’s to continue to help tackle these growing challenges, then its approach to international development must evolve.

“If we’re to create a kinder, radically better and fairer world, then governments around the world and organisations like Oxfam need to stand together with communities driving their own change while challenging the gender and racial injustices trapping people in poverty.” 

Vice Chancellor of the University of Global Health Equity, Rwanda, Dr Agnes Binagwaho, said:

“I am pleased to see improvement in policies and strategies that will effectively promote systemic changes for sustainable development with the objective of making Africa an equal partner.”

Acting Principal, University of Malawi College of Medicine, Professor Macpherson Mallewa said:

“We are very grateful, excited and feel highly privileged as the College of Medicine to be part of the Scottish Government financial support. With the support from the Scottish Government since 2005, we have achieved so much already in different areas including governance, training, ICT and research.

“We will leverage this special relationship to effectively and efficiently cascade our efforts in training, research and respond better to the COVID-19 pandemic to the benefit of the entire nation.”

Chair of the NHS Scotland Global Citizenship Programme Board, Professor John Brown said:

“Learning from and responding to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which is affecting healthcare systems and people around the world, as well as other key issues such as climate change and those highlighted by the Black Lives Matter movement, is key to realising our commitment to contribute responsibly and effectively.

“We are pleased that health has been prioritised by all three of the Scottish Government’s Africa partner countries - Malawi, Rwanda and Zambia - and therefore remains a key area of co-operation with Scotland alongside our ongoing NHS Global Citizenship partnership work in Pakistan and elsewhere.”


Read the review document

Read the new Scottish Government international development principles, formulated with the inclusion of a wide range of Scottish Government policy areas including climate, health, trade, education and equalities.

The Minister has answered a question on the review at the Scottish Parliament today, which can also be read online: March - Parliamentary Business :  Scottish Parliament

The review outlines the Scottish Government’s decision to restructure funding streams in its International Development Fund to focus on sustainable recovery, organisational resilience, and to provide more funding direct to local organisations.

The Scottish Government and NHS Scotland are investing in and supporting global health initiatives, including through the NHS Scotland Global Citizenship Programme, which supports global peer-peer exchanges of knowledge and expertise for mutual learning.


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