Why are we gathering online?

We are happy to announce that our first series of ICSW virtual events has been completed. With help from an amazing community of talented speakers, partners and colleagues who joined as co-organisers, our staff and our loyal attendees. We hosted seven unique conversations about topics that are key to strengthening ‘people power’ and are now preparing for a new ICSW phase that begins in 2021.

As we close off the first phase of our global conversation, we share; some lessons learned, reflections and interesting facts about this intense learning opportunity that was ICSW/virtual. Learn more and explore these stories in our newsletter by clicking on your preferred language; English, French or Spanish.

ICSW #1 Supporting Youth-led Movements and Groups as Key Drivers of People Power

This online conversation hosted by the CIVICUS Youth Action Team focused on how youth-led movements and groups can balance power dynamics and create healthy, equitable relationships with donors and other allies to foster social transformation. Participants heard from several youth activists who will share their experiences, as well as creative exercises from the new ‘Resourcing Youth-led Movements and Groups’ playbook, which was  launched Monday, 20 April 2020 by CIVICUS and Recrear.

This interactive 90-minute session provided  space for discussion and inspiration for young activists looking for ideas and better partnerships to resource and sustain their work while staying true to their values and mission.

Date: 22 April - 2PM  SA time, 7PM Bangkok time, 
Languages: English, Spanish, French

Amanda Segnini
Justin Francis Bionat
Priscilla Nyaaba

ICSW #2 Social Movements: Before, During & After COVID-19

The past year was defined by numerous demonstrations of people power, from activism on the climate crisis to mobilisations prompted by economic hardship and inequality and uprisings demanding more and better democracy. Many of these mobilisations were still taking place when the COVID-19 pandemic swept the world, bringing actions to a pause as societies were put under lockdown. In many countries lockdowns have brought increased restrictions on key freedoms, including on civic space, making it harder to voice opposition, scrutinise decision-makers and hold them accountable. Activism has had to continue online and civil society resources have been put under renewed pressure. But despite the challenges, civil society is continuing to mobilise, and a resurgence of collective action can be expected once restrictions are eased. The pandemic further exposed and exacerbated major existing economic, social and political problems, and civil society will lead the struggle for a socially just and rights-based recovery: one that does not return to old strategies but rather reinvents towards a new, different reality. This virtual conversation focused on sharing the lived experiences of activists engaged in some of the key issues raised in the last year, how they have responded to the pandemic and how they will renew their struggles after the immediate crisis has passed to advance demands for democratic freedoms, fairer economic policies, an end to inequality, action on the climate crisis and international political reform.

Date: 27 May 2020, 2PM SAST/CEST
Languages: English, Spanish, French

What did we speak about during the event
  • Share impacts/success stories: Lessons learnt on impact/breakthrough? 
  • Open discussion: Adaptive strategies on evolution of movements have evolved and new movements emerging 
  • Exchange of experiences on mobilisation: what does activism mean during and post COVID19 
Moderator: Maja Stojanovic
Civic Initiatives, Serbia
Alexandra González
Campaña Defender la Libertad, Colombia
Bart Staszewski
Lublin Equality March Association, Poland
Johnson Yeung
Hong Kong Civil Hub, Hong Kong
Nisreen Al Sayeem
Sudan Youth Organization on Climate Change & YES, Sudan
Sarah Ali

ICSW #3 Why Positive Narratives are Critical to People Power

From disinformation to attacks on HRDs and movements: why positive narratives are critical to people power and the work of civil society, and how to build them together.

This online workshop led by the Innovation for Change network, brought together civic innovators, activists and organisations to look at:

  • why positive narratives and public opinion are important to the success of people powered change and to civil society
  • what approaches, tools and networks are working and what lessons can we take and use. How do we build solutions together?

Narratives are often shaped by those in power to galvanise different types of attacks on fundamental freedoms and civic space, whether through attacks on Human Rights Defenders directly, through restrictive NGO laws or the wider demonisation of civil society. How do we effectively counter these attacks? Why could hope be a powerful concept in re-shaping narratives? What are the lessons from weaponized disinformation campaigns?

This interactive 90-minute session provided space for the sharing of experiences of how narratives and public opinion can affect the issues we are working on and the tools, strategies and tactics that are proving effective in creating positive narratives about positive social changemakers.  It was a practical session for people working on the frontlines of people power, in mobilising, communications, campaigning, advocacy and research, to network and exchange what’s working and the tough lessons learned, and to collaborate in sparking new ideas.

Date:10 June 2020, 2PM SAT
Languages: English, Spanish, French


Mouna Ben Garga, Innovation 4 Change Network Lead


  • Omaid Sharifi, Art Lords
  • Pang Khee Teik, I4C Hub East Asia
  • Ana Patricia Munoz, I4C LAC
  • Justin Murhula from the “Jeunes Nous Pouvons”
  • Emaline Siale , Executive Director of Pacific Islands Association of NGOs
  • Vadim Ni,chairs the “Socio-Ecological Fund”
  • Rajae Boujnah, I4C Hub MENA
Thematic focus areas / breakout rooms:

How data and research sparks advocacy and people power?

Art and Storytelling as Humanizing Narratives

Mobilising people on complex issues around legislation

Ecological campaigns and citizen engagement in restricted civic spaces

ICSW #4 Artivism for inclusion

Art is a powerful medium for activism across the world, especially for traditionally excluded groups to express their experiences, deal with identity trauma and tell their stories. Artivism comes in many formats - visual images, songs, poetry, dance etc.

This 90 minute session hosted by the Diversity and Inclusion Group for Networking and Action (DIGNA) provided an opportunity to share our artivism globally with translation available in English, French and Spanish. The first 45 minutes were dedicated to a showcase of live performances of different kinds of artivism from poetry reciting, to singing, to art exhibition. The last 30-45 minutes offered a chance for informal discussions divided in groups based on language (EN, FR and SP). This gave participants a chance to chat with each other with support from DIGNA facilitators.

Date: 1 July 2020
Length: 90 minutes
Languages: English, Spanish, French

Visual Arts

Coming back (In His name)

Juan Pajaro Velasquez

The law of silence

Mahamat Ismail Yousouf

I can't breathe

Tarryn Booysen
Tarryn Booysen
Tarryn Booysen
CIVICUS, South Africa
Ika Vantiani
Jakarta, Indonesia
Dave Gerapusco
Youth Voices Count, Philippines
One Future Collective
Maria Sol Taule
Human Rights Lawyer, Philippines
La Múcura
South America
Lasisi, Babatunde Damilare
Paraísos Invisibles 
Band, Colombia
Mawethu Nkosana
CIVICUS, South Africa

ICSW #6 "We the Peoples...": Reimagining global governance on the eve of the UNs 75th Anniversary

The 75th anniversary of the founding of the UN is not only an occasion for celebration of its achievements, particularly in enshrining human rights norms, but also an opportunity for civil society reflection on how the UN should change to better serve a world that is very different from that of 1945. This event will focus on thinking more boldly, assessing prospects for change and responding to the challenges involved in building a more open, inclusive and democratic UN.

During the course of the event, participants will engage with critical perspectives on the concrete actions needed to strengthen the ability of the UN to advance human rights and social justice through its engagement of civil society and people’s movements and the promotion of civic freedoms.

Date: 14 September 2020
Length: 90 Minutes
Languages: English, Spanish 


Oli Henman (UK), Action for Sustainable Development


  • Alessandra Nilo, Gestos (Brazil)
  • Annie Namala, Centre for Social Equity and Inclusion (India)
  • Shehara Natalie Samarasinghe, United Nations
  • Yolette Etienne, ActionAid (Haiti)
  • Memory Kachambwa, Femnet (Kenya),
  • Beverly Longid, Civil Society Partnership (Philippines)
  • Fergus Watt, UN 2020 (Canada)
  • John Romana, TAP (US)
  • Daniela Vancic, Democracy International (Germany)
  • Layan Al-Dani, Access Center for Human Rights (Lebanon)

ICSW #7 Experiential workshop: Self and collective care for a transformational change

Have you ever felt anxious, exhausted, upset, pressured, or sad in your circles of activism? Changing the world, saving the planet, or fighting for human rights is an empowering, exciting, and motivating mission, but it can also burn us out.

In recognition of World Mental Health Day, CIVICUS and Greenpeace International will host an ICSW/virtual event focused on sustainable activism and avoiding burnout through collective care.

In this event, we will build care and resilience strategies, and through experiential exercises, we will guide participants through a collective journey of discovery and healing for the mind, body, and soul.

Date: 21 October 2020
Languages: English, Spanish, French

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