International development: Global South Panel minutes - January 2023

Minutes from the meeting of the panel on 27 January 2023.

Attendees and apologies

  • Minister Gray
  • Antonia Mutoro, FAWE (Rwanda)
  • Dr Thierry Uhawenimana (Rwanda)
  • Letty Chiwara, UNWomen Malawi
  • Kate Higgins, Scottish Government
  • Joanna Keating, Scottish Government
  • Gary Leslie, Scottish Government


  • Prof Emmanuel Makasa (Zambia)
  • Joyce Phiri, Chair, Association of Malawian in Scotland
  • Christopher Mutawali, Chair Scotland Zambia Partnership

Items and actions


Minister Gray – Welcomed Thierry officially to the Panel and thanked the members for their work to this point. He recapped the discussions from the previous three meetings on Equalities, Feminist Foreign Policy (FFP) and the Global Citizenship Fund (GCF). He invited members to offer their views on how the Panel was functioning from their perspective.

Antonia – Thought the Panel was performing well. The only issue seemed to be time to attend meetings as members were all busy with limited availability. The previous discussions had been very welcome and feedback from the Scottish Government perspective on the Panel’s performance would be beneficial.

Joanna – The work of the Panel was highly valued and appreciated. Previous meetings had been supportive of the Scottish Government’s approach to International Development which was much appreciated as it seemed to confirm we were moving in the right direction. However more challenge and critique from the Panel would be gratefully received also (recognising it may simply be that generally content to date). 

Thierry – Having competed his PhD in Dundee, he was now a lecturer at the University of Rwanda as well the editor of a health radio programme. The previous meeting he had attended had been fruitful but as a relative newcomer, it was hard to critique at this time.

Letty - Agreed the meetings had been both informative and interesting and agreed with Antonia, that availability to attend meetings was an issue.

Minister Gray – Was grateful for the feedback and welcomed more input on what a FFP should look like.
Letty - Thought the principles of FFP should focus on ownership and accountability across the whole of government and partners.

Joanna – Noted that the Panel meeting in November had considered and initially discussed the issue of SG’s development of a FFP policy. Added there would soon be a FFP workshop for panellists to attend and add more input, specifically on FFP in the context of international development.

Reflections on “Shifting the Power”, “Decolonisation” and “Localisation” in International Development discussions

Joanna – Opened the discussion by asking what does “Shifting the Power, “Decolonisation” and “Localisation” mean to the Panel?

Antonia – This covers who is involved in the decision making both on policy and funding decisions, is the relationship equal and does it include local communities including minorities (participation/who has the voice). Also about respect,

Letty – Opined the phrase “Shifting the Power” could have negative connotations as it implies the Global South has no power of its own. The “shifting” element of this terminology is potentially problematic. The South brings great value to the International Development table through experience and knowledge. The system needs to be overhauled both from top to bottom and bottom up. Much could be learned from the gender equalities journey where great progress had been made, in terms of both language and concepts about power imbalances between men and women and how they should be addressed. It is about resources, but also leadership too, to allow Global South leaders to lead. The disadvantaged should influence the agenda. 

Joanna – Reflecting on Letty’s intervention, suggested the term “Equalisation Agenda” may be more appropriate for SG to adopt than “Shifting” in the context of power.

Thierry – Agrees that there is an imbalance. His understanding of Scottish Government policy was previously they were choosing international development priorities but now it was more consultative with partner countries. Whilst recognising the value the Global South had, there was much to learn from the north also as he had experienced. Did not like the phrase “Decolonisation” as it felt backward looking, referring to historic events which many countries in the Global South had moved on from. He opined there were differences on interpretations of feminism between the North and South and we should be wary of “culture shock”. Need to learn from the Global South too. 

Joanna - Relayed the International Development Team in the SG would be holding meetings with partner country governments on mainstreaming gender within the next few weeks, with a view to understanding how they currently do this, what SG can learn, and how we can align. We can also test Letty’s challenge re “shifting power” language with them, within that gender equality space as suggested by Letty.

Minister Gray – Summed up by commenting “Equalisation” sums up the Scottish Government position well. Local voices and involvement were of huge importance. The Panel had once again demonstrated its value and worth through the preceding discussions and he reiterated his gratitude of both the input and support it provided.

Official meeting closed

[Post the official meeting, ongoing short discussion between Joanna and Letty regarding Letty’s suggestion on learning from the gender equality work to date:

  • look at the gender equality agenda, and how that has been perceived by the Global South – Joanna keen to see any Global South generated documents etc on this issue that SG may have missed/not easily access – Letty will look into this for Joanna and share any relevant global south GE research/policy papers
  • about dismantling patriarchy, that is shifting power
  • what does “power” mean? Is that about money? Global South organisations may not have money but will have experience and knowledge as a valuable resource to contribute
  • transformative way of thinking through power relations – its “shifting” through that issue] 
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