IHRFG recently held a Learning Visit in Rio de Janeiro exploring the changing dynamics of human rights and global philanthropy in emerging economies. Following the trip, we will share reflections from participants. Click here to read more lessons and join the conversation!
Contributed by Abigail Burgesson, Special Programmes Manager, African Women’s Development Fund
Civil society organisations and human rights funders need to lead the campaign to debunk the notion that development and democracy promote the socioeconomic status of people anywhere in the world, particularly in emerging power countries as the BRICS. It is a proven fact that the growth in development do not necessarily correspond to meeting social needs or fair distribution of wealth and access to social amenities. This is evident in all emerging economies globally, and this is a key characteristic of the BRICS countries.
Embracing the label of “emerging economy,” due to growing wealth and resources, is a pride of a country and its people, but this does not automatically translate into improvement in socioeconomic lives. It is worth noting that development comes with its own emerging issues, be they agribusiness, mining, or any of the extractive industrial developments and the industrialization of a country. These developments are not an end in themselves. They can intensify economic hardships and social deprivation, inequalities, the abuse of human rights, and the exclusion of a large proportion of the population as seen in Brazil and other emerging economies, where the growing wealthy group of people need city space leading to the displacement of poor and marginalized communities.
Human rights organizations need to rethink how they work and relate to each other to raise the consciousness of emerging power governments. Governments must combine economic and social growth to create an inclusive society with equal distribution of wealth, conscious elimination of discrimination, and access to good education, health, justice, and basic social amenities, as well as recognition of the voice and role of women and other marginalized groups.
Human rights funders have a role to play as watchdogs of these emerging economies. It is therefore critical for civil society organizations (CSOs) and funders to be step ahead of emerging powers’ governments – they need to challenge the new economy to deepen democracy.
International funding is critical in emerging powers as it often allows human rights organizations to tackle issues that they would not get local funding to support. Human rights funders need to strengthen CSOs and movements to promptly and proactively tackle issues from their structural and cultural sources. To advance human rights, we must start at the roots of social issues and inequality.