New Crisis, Greta Thunberg, International Women’s Day

This week our Social Impact Briefing covers the emergence of a new crisis on Europe’s external borders, the impact of Greta Thunberg’s Bristol to visit, and a look ahead to International Women’s Day.

Authors: Borimir Totev
  • Reading time: 5 min.
  • Posted on: March 2, 2020

Who is WHO’s advice ignoring? How coronavirus could affect the most vulnerable

Exactly a year ago the EU commission declared the migrant crisis of early 2015 to be over. Part of the solution at the time was a deal the EU struck with Turkey in 2016 to limit the flow of irregular migrants and asylum seekers into Europe in exchange for refugee funding.

Today, concerns at the external borders of Europe are growing over Turkey’s decision to ‘open the gates’ on Saturday 29th February to 4 million refugees currently living there, in order to pressure Europe into providing greater support to it’s war efforts in Syria.

Clashes with riot police on the borders of Greece and Bulgaria have already occurred, but the invisible threat of coronavirus adds a new dimension to the emerging crisis, which can make our experience of 2015 pale in comparison.

The rapid spread of the virus may now compound the migrant crisis. Vulnerable refugee and migrant populations are often overlooked in disaster and epidemic preparedness planning. The World Health Organisation’s basic protective measures against the virus seem inadequate in the context of migrant camps. It is highly unlikely that internally displaced and/or stateless people will report their symptoms if they fear arrest and even deportation.

Makeshift shelters of internally displaced Syrians in Sarmada, Idlib province, Syria. Photograph: Reuters

And with elections due this year in North Macedonia and Serbia, far-right movements are likely to hijack populist narratives, delegitimising the case for aid provision in refugee settlements in light of the potential threat to national health.

Is anything being done?

The New Humanitarian noted the Red Cross and Red Crescent have prioritised migrant communities as part of coronavirus preparedness programmes. In addition, last week, the International Organization for Migration (UN agency responsible for migration) launched their $17 million response plan, focusing on migration, including fighting stigma and risk communication. 

Greta’s Trip to Bristol: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

Greta Thunberg among climate activists in Bristol last Friday. Photograph: Leon Neal / Getty Images

Thousands gathered in Bristol last Friday to march alongside Greta Thunberg, who stated the climate emergency is being completely ignored by politicians, the media, and those in power, adding that she “will not be silenced when the world is on fire.” 

So, what impact did Thunberg’s visit, leave?  

The good: 

> The day before the march, the Court of Appeal ruled that plans for a third runway at Heathrow Airport are illegal, because ministers did not adequately take into account the government’s commitments to tackle the climate crisis. The expansion block was a major win for campaigners, following similar outcomes for Stansted and Bristol Airports.

> Police estimated that there were more than 15,000 people at the Bristol Youth Strike 4 Climate event, highlighting the increased interest in environmental campaigning amongst the younger generation. 

The bad:

> A Canadian energy company has faced criticism for being associated with a sexually explicit image that emerged this weekend, including its company logo and a girl resembling Greta Thunberg. Thunberg’s response was simple: “they are starting to get more and more desperate… this shows that we’re winning’’. Despite serious concerns that the imagery used constitutes child pornography in Canadian law, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police stated the case “does not meet the threshold of a criminal matter”. 

The ugly:

> A fundraiser has been setup to repair Bristol’s College Green, after hundreds called for the organisers to pay for damage caused to the green space. The GoFundMe page has almost reached its target of raising £20,000 to help Bristol City Council restore the grass.

The aftermath on Bristol’s College Green after thousands gathered to hear #GretaThunberg make a speech earlier today.

— Andrew Plant (@BeebJournalist) February 28, 2020

| An equal world is an enabled world

It’s been a busy build up to International Women’s Day for our team – here’s a run down of the significant projects we’ll see coming to life this week and next. 

Womankind Worldwide | #AllNotSome

We’ve been working with global women’s rights organisation, Womankind Worldwide, to launch #AllNotSome, a campaign to demand urgent action so that all women can realise their rights. The campaign aims to highlight the intersectionality of women’s rights and how progress since the Beijing Plan for Action 25 years ago hasn’t been equal, particularly for BAME women, LBTQI+, women living in informal settlements, and women with disabilities.

Learn more about #AllNotSome and how you can get involved

Global actions began on Sunday, 1st March 2020 all over Spain. Photograph: Voices of Faith

Our partnership with Voices of Faith – an initiative empowering Catholic women into decision making roles at local and global levels of the Catholic Church – has helped launch a cross-cultural and multilingual call for equality and dignity for women in the Catholic Church. The campaign’s aim is to connect Catholic women from around the world and unite them in one voice  to effect positive change in a complex religious society. 

Take part in one of the global actions or organise your own this Sunday!

We’ve worked with Fondation Botnar, foundation championing the use of AI and digital technology to improve the health and wellbeing of children and young people in growing urban environments -to produce a digital mapping and curation of cases, where tech has been designed to address some of the biggest health and wellbeing issues facing women and girls around the world. 

Check it out

What’s on our International Woman’s Day events radar this week: 

5 March – 8 March 2020

ActionAid presents ‘Women by Women’, a photographic exhibition at Oxo Tower Wharf that showcases the stories of women and girls in the global south told by talented local, female photographers.

5 March

In a 2011 survey, the Wikimedia Foundation found that less than 10% of its contributors identify as female. The data relative to trans and non-binary editors is basically non-existent. Gaps in participation create gaps in content. If you want to change that, join an all-day communal updating of Wikipedia entries on subjects related to gender, feminism, and the arts.

6 March – 8 March 2020

Join the annual arts and science festival, Women of the World, that celebrates the achievements of women and girls for its 10th anniversary. This year’s festival features Naomi Wolf, Deborah Frances-White (The Guilty Feminist), Scarlett Curtis, Sandi Toksvig, Emma Dabiri and Shazia Mirza.


❓ Who is WHO’s advice ignoring?
🌏 Greta’s Trip to Bristol: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly
♀️ An equal world is an enabled world

Our full rundown of social impact in the news this week 👇 #CoronaOutbreak #Turkey #GretaThunberg

— SHAPE HISTORY (@ShapeHistory) March 2, 2020

Shape History is a social impact communications agency. We nurture purpose-led institutions, charities, campaigning groups and social impact leaders with strategic design and communication to accelerate social impact. 

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