As we bring this year to a close, it is an important time to reflect on the theme of this year’s International Volunteer Day which is Solidarity through volunteering.
IAVE’s mission is centered on creating collaboration among volunteers and on and weaving networks of leaders who catalyze and champion volunteering in their communities. This year especially, IAVE has focused on lifting these leaders up and showcasing their work.
As an example, in special honor of IVD IAVE hosted an important webinar in partnership with the African Union. This webinar, entitled Decolonizing & Repositioning Volunteering for Development in Africa highlighted what we can all do to center Southern expertise and re-imagine the connection between volunteering and development to deliver transformational and locally-owned change. It was a vibrant and candid discussion and stands as one of the most important discussions we have produced this year.
And of course, prior to this in October, IAVE co-hosted its 26th World Volunteer Conference in Abu Dhabi and in partnership with the Emirates Foundation. The theme of this event – our first WVC in four years, also brought to the forefront the imperative to deploy Volunteering for the Common Good, Making Life Better for People and Communities. The event was an opportunity to renew ties and to reaffirm our belief in the power of our collective humanity to drive positive change through volunteerism.
We encourage you to learn more about both of these events by scrolling the stories below, and wherever you are, we extend our sincerest appreciation for all you do as volunteers and in support of advancing the volunteer sector.
Decolonizing & Repositioning Volunteering for Development in Africa
Volunteering in Africa is faced with diverse challenges that underpins its development and ownership of national volunteering initiatives. The lack of expertise to advance meaningful and responsible volunteering, data collection as evidence to attract investments, funding, and state recognition/support towards national volunteer engagement have been great setbacks to the growth of traditional volunteering in Africa. However, the contribution of international volunteer organizations has been very visible and valued by the government. Unfortunately, this has ultimately undermined the growth of indigenous volunteering due to lack of collaboration and integration of traditional and international volunteering.
The international aid and development sector is being increasingly challenged to decolonize. Research indicates that localization of development decision-making and delivery has been a long-standing response to shifting power within the sector, yet the rhetoric of decolonization and localization does not always translate to changes in power and practice. These same concerns are also felt within the ‘volunteering for development’ community.
In this webinar, we will explored what the Global North can do to center Southern expertise and re-imagine the connection between volunteering and development to deliver transformational change. Our panel of experts discussed four enablers to support the locally owned development of volunteering, including: 1) shifting decision-making at all stages to Southern organizations and stakeholders; 2) South-South collaboration, knowledge sharing and exchange; 3) harnessing of technologies and capacities for conducting research in the South; and 4) supporting Southern investment in volunteering from government and the private sector.
26th IAVE World Volunteer Conference in Abu Dhabi
IAVE’s 26th World Volunteer Conference held In Abu Dhabi in October with our partners the Emirates Foundation had the theme of ‘Volunteering for the Common Good – Making Life Better for People and Communities’. Over 815 individuals with representation from 94 countries made this a truly global event. 95% of respondents to the conference evaluation indicate that their overall experience was very satisfactory or satisfactory, including the content of the sessions and the opportunity to connect with others:
See the conference highlights video here:
The conference theme resonates with the United Nations message for International Volunteers Day 2022 – solidarity through volunteering. On the 5 December we celebrate the contribution of volunteers worldwide. IAVE recognizes and commends the efforts and impact our global members are making every day to encourage, enable and empower volunteers to take action for the common good. A quote from one of the World Volunteer Conference participants neatly sums up the alignment between this global IAVE convening and IVD 2022 – “unity is strength”. We need that unity going forward to help make life better for everyone.