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International Development Students' Association York

Founded in 2017 and officially ratified in 2018, the International Development Students' Association (IDSAY) aims to nurture a supportive community and inclusive culture for students registered in any one of York University's International Development Studies degree programs. Perhaps you have questions or require some support while planning your degree or career path. We are here to support you and answer any questions you might have, or match you with the right information source, regarding both the practical and academic aspects to international development.

Membership is open to students and faculty at York University.

If you have any questions regarding membership, speak to any of our year level class reps or contact us at

Our objectives include the following:

  1. Provide a relaxed and constructive forum for students pursuing degrees in International Development Studies as well as other students from within the York University community to discuss contemporary issues pertaining to but not limited to international trade, economics, development, gender, and societal issues. 
  2. Provide academic support to students pursuing degrees in International Development Studies.
  3. Offer members and the York University community diverse opportunities for education and reflection on international affairs, through active engagement with expert sources in order to gain an understanding of the works taking place in the field of development.
  4. Foster and nurture interest in international development and the undertaking of related independent research. 
  5. Ensure that the goals aforementioned are sustained through participatory action, thorough reflection, active mentoring, events, and providing students with a platform to engage and showcase pieces of work from the IDS Core, Regional Focus and Areas of Concentration courses within the IDS program at York University. 
  6. Act as a liaison between IDS students and faculty with regards to improvements and changes that could be made to the IDS program or particular Core, Regional Focus or Area of Concentration courses.

Past Events

In February 2019, members of the IDSAY had the opportunity to attend the 7th instalment of the International Development Conference at the University of Toronto Scarborough. The day was filled with panel discussions and seminars discussing a variety of topics. Members of the York University Delegation had the opportunity to attend sessions of their choice with the majority attending the sessions discussing Development Work in Conflict Zones, Global Citizenship, the Future of Development and Water Security. Workshops that took place included a Grant-Writing Workshop and Sustainability in the Office.

As students in international development, we learn about the benefits of microfinance and microinsurance through case studies of the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh. We do not, however, go deeper into understanding the mechanisms through which products are designed, who the major recipients are and challenges organizations face when bringing these products to market in the Global South.

Our second speaker session, “Microinsurance and Microfinance: Discussing the long-term benefits, sustainability, and role in development in the Global South, aimed at shining a light on this often-misunderstood niche. We were especially proud to invite, Karl Braun, an executive member for OikoCredit Canada. OikoCredit is a social impact investment cooperative based in the Netherlands with a primary interest in empowering low-income peoples in the global south through the provision of loans, equity investments, and capacity building. The conversation was moderated by IDSAY President, Samir Janmohamed.

The discussion began by first providing the audience with an understanding of microcredit and microinsurance emphasizing on the difficulties of bringing these products to market. These included working around societal opinions and finding companies to work with on the ground. In addition, we discussed the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, the challenges faced in meeting them and how OikoCredit as a coop was working towards ensuring they are successfully met through the implementation of their projects around the world.

We ended the conversation with Karl providing attendees with advice for their time in university and careers. Much of this centred around the need for students to engage deeply with their communities and to give back in any way possible. Through this giving, we are reminded of our own ability as individuals to bring about change while also remaining grounded.

At the inception of the club in January 2018, we understood the importance of learning outside the classroom by engaging with other students and professionals in the field of development. Hence the “Speaker Sessions with IDSAY” came about. The aim of these sessions would be to further discuss topics brought forward in the classroom while also demystifying the misconceptions many students in Development Studies build during their time in school.

Our first speaker session was titled “Demystifying NGOS: Questioning their Actions, Sustainability, and Accountability.” We were proud to invite Tamer El-Fouly, a Monitoring, and Evaluation specialist and Chyslyn Pais, Leadership Giving Officer at Amnesty International. The panel was moderated by IDSAY President, Samir Janmohamed and Vice-President, Menakshi Babulall.

Questions asked revolved around the experiences of the panelists while working in the development field, the difficulties faced when working within bureaucratic systems, challenges of remaining true to an organization’s cause while providing results to keep donors happy. Student’s and participants learned of the great challenges that NGOs and civil society organizations faced with regards to achieving their goals and targets in addition to receiving advice from the panelists on their career paths.

This was our first event as a recognized club at York and was an opportunity for members of the International Development Studies Faculty to meet and engage with students in the IDS program outside the classroom. It was also an opportunity for the IDSAY executive for the 2018 -2019 academic year, listed below to be introduced to the general membership while also telling members about how to become involved and upcoming events.

  • President – Samir Janmohamed
  • Vice-President – Menakshi Babulall
  • Treasurer – Humayra Safa
  • Director of Public Relations – Noorin Pattni
  • Director of Programming – Elizabeth Alabi
  • Director of Marketing – Malaika Abow
  • Secretary – Mehnaz Hossein
  • 1st Year Representatives – Malaika Abow and Utku Can
  • 2nd Year Representatives – Zuhali Suhrob and Precious Osadjere
  • 3rd Year Representative – Naureen Lakhani
  • 4th Year Representative – Umaimah Adan
  • IDS - B.Eng. Representatives – Ganjina Vanjova and Kanishk Singh

In attendance were Founders College Head, Professor Pablo Idahosa, the International Development Studies Program Coordinator Professor Uwafiokun Idemudia, Professor Merouan Mekouar, and Undergraduate Program Assistant Elvisa Zjakic.