Gender, GESI, GEDSI, Diverse SOGIESC Advisor

Poverty and inequality are underpinned by unequal power relations. We have long recognised this simple fact, but as part of the (local and international) community sector, have been much slower to act on its main implications: first, that social change is as important as economic growth in addressing poverty and inequality. Second, if we are to succeed, we must hand more power to the people we are (or should be)working with; women in all their diversity; people with disabilities; people with diverse Sexual Orientations, Gender Identities, Expressions and Sex Characteristics (SOGIESC); Indigenous and First Nations communities, poor people and people with low social-economic status and other under-represented communities. In aid programming, they have the most to gain and the most to lose – and they cannot be seen as “beneficiaries”.

These insights have driven the recent proliferation of political commitments to a greater focus on addressing inequalities. Most prominently, the 2030 Agenda commits governments to “leaving no one behind”. These commitments are increasingly flowing through to binding standards at both global level (such as the Core Humanitarian Standards) and in National sectors (such as the ACFID Code of Conduct, or the Bond Equity Diversity and Inclusion Policy). The COVID-19 pandemic has only heightened this imperative: emerging evidence suggests that not only has the pandemic exacerbated inequalities, inequalities exacerbated the pandemic.

Too often, a GEDSI approach is reduced to a list of ‘vulnerable groups’, without deeper analysis of the root causes of inequalities, particularly unequal power relations, systemic economic inequality and social norms. Frequently, this list is accompanied by siloed approaches where separate policies, processes and resources are in place for different identity groups.

A world where strengths are recognised, power is distributed, and we walk alongside each other towards thriving. A world where each person can give and get support they need, tailored to what they want before crisis hits – which can catalyse healing and regeneration

By focusing on a practice which centres Community Powered Responses to development seek to create a world where people and communities have the tools and capacity to support each other, scaffolded by social work and community development practice and theory