The issue

The idea of a Global North/ Global South divide is an outdated concept to describe our global society that has impacted the distribution of wealth and power for hundreds of years.

Under this definition, the Global North becomes synonymous with economic and social development, while the South represents the previously colonised countries that are therefore in need of help in the form of international aid agendas.

It has been important to recognise differences in countries across the world to find a common path towards a more equitable global society. According to the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, over the next years, with new goals that universally apply to all, countries will mobilise efforts to end all forms of poverty, fight inequalities and tackle climate change, while ensuring that no one is left behind.

However, the North-South narrative persists and creates a divide that segregates communities across the globe. It fuels misconceptions of a fixed hierarchical view of the world based on power and relevance that continues to dominate many of our global interactions today.

The impact

Over the years, the persistence of this dividing narrative has fostered the idea that a significant proportion of Asia, Africa and Latin America are in constant need of being rescued by more advanced economies. In an international relations context, this often perpetuates stereotypes that the North holds knowledge and expertise, and that the South is an ill-equipped, fragile, and chronic recipient of aid, with little to contribute to the development and progress of more advanced economies.

This apparent power imbalance is frequently visible in the international aid arena, with the flow of skills, knowledge and resources often going in one-direction, and ignoring or dismissing any contributions from nations in the South.

The effect of this, sometimes subconscious, bias has on the people and communities receiving aid can be disheartening and re-enforce a self-believe of powerlessness, and incapacity to overcome obstacles and to be the owner of their own futures.

The solution

Jaya Mental Health’s work is underpinned by the value of solidarity. In many of our activities, we encourage the exchange of knowledge, skills and resources between health and social care professionals from different parts of the world, always in a spirit of mutual learning, professional and personal growth.

In its micro-cosmos, Jaya Mental Health operates as a platform for people of very different backgrounds to come together and learn from one another. From joint capacity building activities bringing together mental health specialists from South Asia and Europe, to buddying schemes between nursing staff from the UK and Nepal, over the years, slowly but steadily, we have been expanding our portfolio of projects that celebrate the benefits of growing together, regardless of where you are based in the world.

As we prepare our next steps, we look forward to putting more energy into projects that encourage partnerships between countries where resources are limited, such as mental health capacity building projects that bring Asian and African communities together. These are often unsung and unspoken relationships that deserve to be at the front of discussions around how we can turn the international aid agenda more just and truly successful.