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IDS Blog: Bridging social divides – can Covid-19 become a catalyst for societal transformations?

Covid-19 is shining a spotlight, bringing into sharp relief a range of fissures, cracks and marginalisations in societies throughout the world.

As highlighted by Melissa Leach, Hayley MacGregor and Annie Wilkinson in a recent IDS opinion piece, the pandemic is frequently characterised as a health crisis, but it is in fact multi-dimensional, and is heightening fragilities, exacerbating inequalities, and deepening vulnerabilities in systems of all kinds. When it comes to knowledge and evidence, Covid-19 is going to require funders, researchers and practitioners alike to reposition themselves in response to the pandemic, focusing efforts on building the resilience of both systems and communities, if we are going to see genuinely transformational progress.

The November 2020 Victoria Forum brought many fabulous speakers and participants together to consider options and possibilities for radical action and change. One panel discussion – co-hosted by Peter Taylor of IDS and Crystal Tremblay of University of Victoria, and including Mary McCarthy of Irish Aid (in Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs), Sohela Nazneen and Rachel Sabates-Wheeler of IDS, and Manuel Balan of McGill University – had an ambitious aim to shine its own spotlight on the implications of Covid-19 for food systems, social protection, gender equality and governance of the economy and financial systems.

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