A report from Ellas and the Global Fund for Community Foundations released recently looks at how the Covid-19 pandemic has affected Latin America’s national and regional capacities to meet a challenge – and where community philanthropy can best offer support.
During May and June 2020, Ellas and GFCF interviewed women community leaders from several Latin American countries to learn about the impact of the pandemic on communities and individuals. The researchers found that these reflections often focused on a few specific topics, including:
- Questioning the idea of ‘new normal’, based on criticism of ‘old normality’.
- The weakening of participatory democracy in the region.
- The economic consequences of the pandemic on people’s quality of life, particularly in terms of employment and work and own resources.
- The impact of digital divide on inequality.
- The low participation of civil society as a major player in public policies in the face of the impact of Covid.
- Solidarity, as a temporary and reactive phenomenon.
- The importance of women’s role in supporting their communities.
Through their research, Ellas GFCF found in Latin American contexts, women were overwhelmingly responsible for organising themselves, creating networks of hope and support, and gaining visibility to advocate for what their communities needed. Many of the women that were interviewed didn’t stay home during the spring surge of Covid, as they were unable to.
‘Trust in their communities became their most important resource,’ said the report, in its introduction.
The report found that given the organising work of women in Latin America, women-led community philanthropy played ‘an undisputed starring role’ in the response to Covid-19.
Community philanthropy, and particularly women-led community philanthropy, was particularly well-placed to serve the communities quickly and effectively, because of how they are already embedded in the community’s social environment, the relationships that are already established, and the trust by community members of programmes they’re offering.
The work by women during the pandemic has shown that ‘The time has come for women to be the focus of new governance,’ especially in Latin America, said the report in its conclusion. ‘The good news is that in Latin America and the Caribbean, the population is seeing them on the streets, in the houses, in the media, in parliaments – and seeing them united and organised.’