Brasil

 

  • BRASIL: ‘La discriminación y el discurso de odio se están normalizando’

    Dariele SantosEn el marco de nuestroinforme temático 2019, estamos entrevistando a activistas, líderes y expertos de la sociedad civil acerca de sus experiencias y acciones ante el avance de los grupos anti-derechos y sus estrategias para fortalecer las narrativas progresistas y la capacidad de respuesta de la sociedad civil. En esta oportunidad, CIVICUS conversa sobre los derechos de los trabajadores migrantes con Dariele Santos, joven fundadora del Instituto Alinha, una empresa social enfocada en el mejoramiento de las condiciones laborales y de vida de los trabajadores migrantes empleados en la industria de la moda.

    ¿Cuándo y por qué decidiste crear el Instituto Alinha?

    Cuando estaba en la universidad tuve varios trabajos con los que suplementaba mi beca, y uno de esos trabajos fue una investigación sobre el tema migratorio, y más específicamente sobre los inmigrantes latinoamericanos empleados en la industria del vestido en San Pablo. Entonces empecé a conversar con algunos migrantes y me fui interiorizando en sus precarias condiciones de vida y de trabajo, es decir, en la realidad de la cadena de producción de la industria de la moda en Brasil.

    Brasil abarca todos los eslabones de la cadena de esta industria, desde la producción del algodón hasta la confección de la prenda. La industria de la moda está distribuida en todo el país, pero su eslabón final, la confección de vestimenta, está muy concentrado en San Pablo, y ocupa mayormente a trabajadores migrantes. Es una producción muy tercerizada; las marcas de ropa subcontratan con talleres de costura que intervienen en las diversas fases del proceso de confección, y cuantos más talleres intervienen en el proceso, más difícil es ejercer algún control y más garantías laborales se pierden. Muchos de estos talleres son pequeños, familiares, y funcionan en la vivienda de la familia, todos cuyos miembros trabajan, y lo hacen a destajo. Trabajan hasta 90 horas semanales porque les pagan poquísimo por cada pieza producida.

    Al conocer las historias de estos trabajadores migrantes empecé a caer en la cuenta de las dimensiones del problema, y me di cuenta de lo poco que sabía hasta entonces, y de lo poco que sabemos en general sobre la cadena de la moda: no nos importa la historia de la ropa que usamos. El problema de la enorme desigualdad e injusticia en la cadena de la moda es completamente invisible. Es una cadena de super lujo, que genera mucho dinero, en la misma medida en que es una cadena de enorme explotación.

    Junto con una amiga comenzamos a pensar en un emprendimiento social que aplicara la tecnología para atacar este problema, y lanzamos Alinha en 2014.

    ¿Qué hace Alinha para mejorar las condiciones de trabajo de los trabajadores migrantes?

    La idea es simple: Alinha asesora a empresarios de talleres de costura para que regularicen sus negocios, garantizando las condiciones de seguridad, plazos y remuneraciones adecuadas, y los conecta con fabricantes y diseñadores de ropa interesados en contratar un taller, asegurando así condiciones justas para todas las partes involucradas.

    Más concretamente, empezamos por visitar los talleres de costura que se inscriben para recibir asesoramiento, y evaluamos sus déficits para recomendarles lo que deberían hacer para salir de la informalidad. Miramos las formas de contratación, condiciones sanitarias y de seguridad, equipamiento, etc. Después hacemos una segunda visita con una técnica en seguridad de trabajo. El riesgo de incendio en los talleres es alto, porque los talleres almacenan mucho tejido y tienen instalaciones eléctricas precarias, y para peor suele haber muchos niños en las casas donde funcionan los talleres. Una vez hecha la evaluación de seguridad hacemos un plan de acción que apunta a regularizarlos o ‘alinearlos’ con las normas laborales y de seguridad (de ahí justamente el nombre de Alinha). Lo hacemos en un lenguaje llano, traducimos las leyes para los trabajadores, damos nociones de contabilidad, ayudamos a calcular la inversión requerida y su traslado a los precios de los productos. Cuando las mejoras han sido realizadas y consideramos que el taller ha alcanzado un umbral mínimo de seguridad y formalización, lo subimos a la plataforma Alinha para conectarlo con marcas y diseñadores. En nuestra plataforma tenemos marcas y diseñadores que buscan cambiar la forma de producir y están dispuestos a garantizar condiciones justas de pago y plazos, y nosotros los conectamos.

    Los precios de estos productos seguramente son más elevados que los de los productos elaborados en condiciones de explotación extrema. ¿Han logrado convencer a los consumidores de que vale la pena pagar más por ellos?

    Estamos en eso. Sabemos que es importante conectar a los consumidores, porque ellos tienen en sus manos un poder enorme: al elegir la marca que van a comprar, pueden optar por apoyar a una que garantice condiciones justas de trabajo. Pero los consumidores no pueden elegir realmente si no saben cuáles son las marcas que tienen contratos con talleres alineados. Por eso tenemos una plataforma donde las marcas alineadas colocan datos que el usuario puede comprobar – por ejemplo, que está haciendo determinada cantidad de piezas con tal o cual taller, para que después de lanzadas las informaciones en la plataforma Alinha, desde el taller puedan confirmar telefónicamente que están confeccionando esas piezas, ganando determinada cantidad por hora, y con tales o cuales plazos. Cuando todos los eslabones de la cadena de producción confirman la información, se genera un código de identificación de la pieza que se pone en la etiqueta de la prenda, para que el usuario pueda rastrear la historia de la prenda. Todas las informaciones y confirmaciones son guardadas en Blockchain, para que haya más seguridad y confianza en las informaciones.

    En este momento también estamos haciendo un cortometraje que relata la historia detrás de la ropa, basada en la historia de una costurera inmigrante boliviana. La presentación de una historia individual busca generar conexión y empatía: queremos que el consumidor vea a una mujer con sueños y esperanzas iguales a los suyos. Nuestro objetivo es plantearle al consumidor una pregunta: ¿cuál historia quiere elegir: una historia de explotación o una de trabajo justo?

    ¿Piensas que la situación de los migrantes en Brasil ha empeorado en los últimos tiempos?

    El problema de los migrantes no es reciente, viene desde mucho tiempo atrás. Hay muchos migrantes que viven aquí, y que trabajan en condiciones terribles, desde hace décadas. Los migrantes que trabajan en talleres de costura en San Pablo son mayormente bolivianos, aunque también hay de otros países como Paraguay y Perú. Muchos de ellos primero emigraron de sus países primero hacia Argentina, pero con la crisis financiera de 2008 se fueron desplazando hacia Brasil. Las condiciones políticas y económicas – el gobierno de Lula y un período de fuerte crecimiento económico – hicieron de Brasil un mejor destino.

    Pero es difícil ser inmigrante en Brasil. Es el único país de la región donde no se habla español, de modo que hay dificultades de comunicación y de acceso a la información. Los migrantes sin documentación legal o sin empleo formal tienen miedo todo el tiempo. La presión psicológica es muy fuerte: no salen del taller de costura, piensan que los van a atrapar y los van a hacer regresar. Los inmigrantes temen las consecuencias de reclamar por sus derechos.

    Si bien la explotación de los trabajadores migrantes no es un problema nuevo, y el temor de las personas migrantes ha sido siempre una constante, recientemente la situación ha empeorado. El actual presidente, Jair Bolsonaro, representa a la extrema derecha, y su discurso es extremadamente xenófobo. Se coloca por encima de las leyes y por encima de todas las garantías democráticas. Su mensaje para los trabajadores migrantes es: ‘agradece todo lo bueno que tienes aquí, y si algo no te gusta mejor que te vayas’. El hecho de que el discurso de odio provenga de tan alto está envalentonando a gente que siempre pensó así, pero antes no lo decía y ahora se siente legitimada para decirlas. En ese sentido, la discriminación y el discurso de odio se están normalizando.

    Esta situación se repite en distintos ámbitos. Es un momento peligroso para los activistas de derechos humanos, ambientales, de las mujeres, las personas LGBTQI, las personas negras o indígenas y los migrantes. Hay mucho temor porque ponerse en contra del gobierno supone riesgos altos. Así lo demuestran los casos de Marielle Franco, la activista LGBTQI y concejala de Río de Janeiro asesinada en marzo de 2018, y el parlamentario y líder LGBTQI Jean Wyllys, que se fue de Brasil a causa de las amenazas contra su vida.

    Afortunadamente, no todos los brasileños se hacen eco del discurso de Bolsonaro. Vivimos una situación de mucha polarización. Mientras que muchos se han desplazado hacia la extrema derecha y han adoptado posiciones nacionalistas, mucha gente está cada vez más convencida de que lo que hay que hacer es garantizar más derechos para más personas.

    En este contexto, ¿qué puede hacer la sociedad civil que promueve los derechos humanos?

    La sociedad civil se mueve con márgenes estrechos. Nuestra estrategia es generar un discurso que cree empatía en la opinión pública más que un discurso de confrontación y crítica del presidente, porque esto nos generaría problemas con un amplio sector de la sociedad que lo vería como una cosa de izquierda. Estamos viviendo un momento difícil: no conviene anunciar que se lucha por los derechos humanos porque los derechos humanos están asociados con la izquierda más que como algo que es patrimonio de todos. Por eso nos resulta más productivo centrarnos en la persona y en su historia, mostrar la foto de una persona de carne y hueso e interpelar al público: ‘¿crees que esta mujer es una persona trabajadora, que se esfuerza como tú, que merece mejores condiciones de trabajo, que merece salir adelante?’

    Realmente es bastante trágico tener que disimular la lucha por los derechos humanos porque no es vista como una causa legítima. Desde la elección de Bolsonaro, un montón de activistas tuvieron que dejar Brasil. Los que se quedan deben elegir: si quieren hacer un activismo frontal y directo, tienen que estar dispuestos a correr riesgos. Hoy por hoy, el mío es un activismo diplomático – me siento a conversar con empresarios, y tengo que estar abierta a charlar con gente que no necesariamente piensa como yo ni hace las cosas de la forma que yo pienso que se deben hacer, pero con las que puedo conseguir algunos progresos.

    ¿Qué apoyos internacionales necesita la sociedad civil brasileña para seguir trabajando?

    Aunque a veces no parezca evidente, porque Brasil es considerado un país de ingresos medio-altos, la sociedad civil brasileña necesita de toda clase de apoyos para seguir trabajando en este contexto hostil. Afortunadamente, yo he recibido apoyo del programa Goalkeepers Youth Action Accelerator, que busca acelerar el progreso hacia el cumplimiento de los Objetivos de Desarrollo Sostenible (ODS). Este programa dio apoyo a un grupo de jóvenes activistas con proyectos innovadores de utilización de datos para abordar los ODS 1 al 6, es decir, para buscar soluciones a desafíos de desarrollo local relacionados con la pobreza, el hambre, la salud y el bienestar, la educación, la igualdad de género y el agua y el saneamiento.

    Este ha sido un apoyo súper estratégico, ya que incluyó financiamiento, apoyo técnico y conexiones, y me permitió adquirir nuevas herramientas. Se necesitan muchas más iniciativas como esta, porque la sociedad civil brasileña se está reduciendo, no solamente a causa del clima político sino también por la crisis económica que ya lleva varios años. Según un estudio reciente, entre 2013 y 2016 se cerraron en Brasil más de 38.000 organizaciones de la sociedad civil, muchas de las cuales brindaban servicios básicos a poblaciones vulnerables. El segmento de la sociedad civil que más se resintió fue el de desarrollo y defensa de los derechos humanos: más de 10.000 organizaciones que cerraron sus puertas actuaban en favor de minorías tales como la población negra, mujeres, indígenas y personas LGBTQI, así como por los derechos de las comunidades.

    El espacio cívico en Brasil es clasificado como ‘obstruido’ por elCIVICUS Monitor.

    Contáctese con el Instituto Alinha a través de supágina web o sus perfiles deFacebook eInstagram.

     

  • HIV/AIDS: ‘We need a global civil society movement that stands together for all rights’

     

    Alessandra NiloCIVICUS speaks toAlessandra Nilo, co-founder and Executive Director of GESTOS – HIV and AIDS, Communication and Gender, a civil society organisation (CSO) created in 1993 in Recife, Brazil. She is a member of the NGO Delegation to the Programme Coordinating Board of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), an institution that uniquely involves civil society in its governance board. Here, Alessandra discusses civil society’s important role in UNAIDS, her work on HIV/AIDS in the deteriorating political climate of Brazil and the growing challenge posed by anti-rights groups that oppose action on HIV/AIDS and human rights.

    Can you tell us about your background and how you came to work on issues of HIV/AIDS?

    I am a journalist, specialised in health and with a postgraduate qualification in diplomacy. I was also involved in student movements and workers’ and political movements. In 1993, a group of us created GESTOS. At that time, we didn’t know much about the epidemic. I lost a friend, whose family locked him in his house and wouldn’t allow us to talk to him. That was why GESTOS was born, to address the issues of people living with HIV/AIDS.

    We knew that having an organisation to help people was not enough. We needed to exercise accountability. We needed to improve policies. We were pioneers because at that time we knew that gender was an important dimension, and also that without communication, we could not move forward, because it was important to involve the public and mobilise them for our cause. This is why we were named GESTOS – Seropositivity, Communication and Gender.

    We started to engage with the national councils in Brazil. These are bodies established by the 1988 Federal Constitution, where government, civil society and interested parties sit together to define public policies. These were spaces where we could practise direct democracy and have direct participation. Through participation GESTOS became very close to the ministries of health and gender and we began to engage in social networks of the Latin American region.

    What have been some of the impacts of the HIV/AIDS movement, in Brazil and globally?

    In general Brazil’s HIV/AIDS movement is very strong. We have helped people take action to define their own responses to HIV/AIDS. Worldwide, the HIV/AIDS movement has been responsible for many breakthroughs in HIV/AIDS policies, and this happened in Brazil.

    We were the first movement to start pushing that treatment was a right, rather than a commodity delivered by governments depending on whether they wanted to or had capacity. We were responsible for big discussions around sexuality that contributed to the sexual and reproductive rights movement. We built strong alliances with the feminist movement. We were the first movements to include people who use drugs, men who have sex with men, transgender people and sex workers in a global resolution at the United Nations (UN). We also engaged in debates that led to the Sustainable Development Goals. The fact that in the Agenda 2030 resolution there is a mention of people living with HIV/AIDS is because GESTOS was there as part of the Brazilian delegation and Brazil proposed this at the last minute of negotiations in New York.

    The bottom line is that people living with HIV/AIDS proved at local, national and international levels to have a strong capacity to advocate for amplifying the spaces and formal sites and mechanisms for civil society participation in general.

    How did civil society’s role in UNAIDS develop?

    UNAIDS created the Programme Coordinating Board (PCB), UNAIDS’ governing body, in 1995 – it started operating in 1996 – and it is super innovative because it is the only governing body in the UN system that includes formal participation by civil society. It has 22 voting Member States, 11 co-sponsors, who are other UN bodies, and five civil society delegates plus five alternates, which means 10 people from civil society are involved. We have one member and one alternate per region, from Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, North America, Asia and Europe.

    The PCB is the place where the main global policies on HIV/AIDS have been discussed and formed, and these have informed other UN debates. More than that, it has informed and inspired the ways UN member states implement HIV/AIDS policies at national levels.

    The rationale for civil society’s involvement lies in the fact that the HIV/AIDS movement was really based on participation. Since the beginning, people living with HIV and key populations pushed and insisted that politicians, scientists and affected people should come together and figure out how to create solutions together. We built this social movement where it was almost impossible to move forward any discussion without involving us. We were pressing since the beginning to have meaningful participation.

    Because of this, when the PCB was formed, civil society was considered a very important player that had to participate. This was very innovative at that time and continues to be innovative today.

    How does civil society’s involvement work in practice? How are the delegates selected and how do they connect with wider civil society?

    The PCB NGO Delegation members have mandates for two years and depending on the performance of a delegate, the group can expand this mandate for one more year. Delegates are selected by current NGO PCB members. We put forward a public call, in response to which interested applicants make a submission. Shortlisted applicants are then invited to an interview panel. The panel, which consists of NGO delegates, as well as an external civil society partner or a former NGO delegate, makes a recommendation. Final deliberation and decision are done by the full Delegation.

    We have a number of requirements for these candidates. One is that they should have the capacity to represent and communicate with their constituencies. It is essential to have the capacity for broader communication.

    We have a very transparent process. We have a website where we publicise the calls, but also use social media to publicise the opportunity. We have a list of advisory groups, CSOs and activists who are always interested in issues of the UNAIDS PCB, and we communicate with them and involve them in preparations before, between and after the biannual PCB meetings. In recent years, we have been trying to reach out to other spheres, including groups working on issues such as sustainable development and financing for development.

    Since 2008, there has also been an independent Communication and Consultation Facility (CCF) to support the NGO Delegation by providing technical, administrative and programme support. Since 2013, the CCF’s host organisation has been the Asia Pacific Network of People Living with HIV, based in Thailand. The CCF is the backbone of the NGO Delegation. It is hard to imagine how the Delegation would function effectively without it. A key objective of the CCF is to facilitate communication among the delegates and consultation with wider civil society.

    What have the impacts and challenges been?

    The NGO Delegation has no right to vote, but can participate in every other aspect of PCB activities. There is a very fine line between participating in deliberations and taking part in decision-making, because traditionally the PCB does not hold votes but decides by consensus. There have been so many examples where the NGO Delegation has been able to table decision points during meetings for critical agenda items, and had its points approved. Most decisions that have come out of the PCB came in one way or another after strong civil society participation.

    Civil society and communities are really strong players and our voice is considered in a very respectful manner. It has been proven that with civil society participation, policies, programmes and services are designed much more efficiently and with much higher chances of working and benefiting people.

    In terms of the process, since 2012, the NGO Delegation has been trying to create connections with other groups working with the UN to show them how the experience of the UNAIDS PCB accepting us and having us as formal members can be transposed to other UN bodies. We think this would be a great achievement for civil society in general. We tried to push this while the UN was having a conversation about restructuring and reforms. We talked with so many people, but it seems there is not an appetite for the UN to become more democratic in terms of the participation of civil society in formal decision-making bodies.

    To have formal spaces for civil society is important, but it is not enough. There is absolutely a need to be able to inform decisions and participate in the decision-making processes of the UN at this time when, at the national and international levels, we are every day being pushed farther away from spaces for participation because of the advancement of reactionary political forces.

    Although our PCB NGO Delegation succeeded, gaining formal space to participate was challenging. This is why we value it so much. If you think about the face of our movement you see people who use drugs, sex workers, men who have sex with men, LGBTQI people and women, people who have always led our movement but who have been marginalised in society. And even nowadays, stigma and discrimination continue to prevent us from reaching and accessing some places. While the HIV/AIDS movement has been successful in gaining public attention and claiming spaces, it has been very hard to do so, because stigma, prejudice and discrimination continue to fuel this epidemic.

    With all these populist movements nowadays, the communities impacted on and affected by HIV/AIDS are not only the most marginalised but also the most criminalised. Criminalisation really impacts on the kind of organising we can do. In many countries in Africa and Asia, homosexuality, sex work and drug use are criminalised. There are real legal barriers for our communities that really impact on participation and engagement.

    How is the restricted space for civil society in many contexts impacting on your work?

    In the past decades we were fighting to improve the work that we were doing, but now we are working toward maintaining the rights we have, to resist, to recover from losses, and this is a very different game. In general, there is this trend of the space for civil society being increasingly restricted, and it is even more so for the HIV/AIDS movement because the forces opposing us are reactionary.

    We are seeing different experiences in different countries. And, including in countries that were known as democratic, we have seen civil society dismantled, and colleagues in civil society forced to flee their places in order to keep some movements alive.

    Besides this, in general, governments have used economic crises to justify cuts in programmes that used to have civil society participation. One very efficient way of diminishing civil society’s capacity is to cut funds, and this has happened to the HIV/AIDS movement. Until recently, we had countries investing in HIV/AIDS response, and that included investing in communities and civil society. This was working in a very progressive way, but now we have seen that resources for civil society, particularly international resources in middle-income countries, have decreased, and this has impacted negatively on our capacity to continue responding to HIV/AIDS and influencing governments.

    In recent years we have seen the rise of fundamentalism and nationalism and a rejection of multilateralism in general. This has completely jeopardised the progress made in previous years in human, economic and environmental rights. Even in contexts where states had no interest in supporting civil society participation, we used to have an organisation such as UNAIDS and other international entities that could fund international networks and those networks could support national work, or could directly fund communities on the ground. This is not the case any longer. Formal space is being diminished, resources have been reduced and the groups that organise to provide support face increasing demands, because when democratic spaces shrink, public services and policies that benefit everyone in society usually suffer. And then the demand on us increases further. This equation simply does not work.

    At the UNAIDS PCB itself, we see a political trend of some Member States becoming more aggressive towards CSOs, and some conservative governments questioning our model of participation. PCB meetings have seen attempts to challenge the existence of the NGO Delegation. In 2013 this was brought up by a couple of Member States that questioned the Delegation’s standing to participate in the meeting. In December 2018, a Member State questioned the recruitment process of the NGO delegates. I think the threat of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) resolution that established the PCB being revised is always there, especially in the current climate of declining democracy in various parts of the world. If that resolution is revised, then anything can be revised.

    What challenges do you now face under an extreme right-wing president In Brazil?

    In Brazil, the federal government is really going after LGBTQI people, the indigenous population, people who use drugs, black people. In June the Senate approved a law to make the policy on drugs even more restrictive, going in the opposite direction to many other countries. LGBTQI people are much more scared of being visible now. Also in May, the new government issued a decree to basically shut down all civil society participation in national councils. All councils created by law will continue to function but their composition will be revised, and all councils created by decree were immediately cancelled.

    The government spread confusion about civil society in relation to the Amazon Fund, which is a big international fund to which CSOs can apply to fight climate change. The government lied by stating that the fund was being misused, while what they really want is not to let civil society get funding.

    Also, as soon as it took power, the government cut several contracts with CSOs. At this moment we do not know that will happen with women’s rights and human rights policies. All progressive agendas are being cut by 65 per cent, 85 per cent, 95 per cent. Can you imagine that the Environment Ministry’s fund for climate change was cut by 95 per cent? As well as being a fundamentalist and economically ultraliberal, the new President doesn’t believe in climate change, the Minister of International Affairs stated that "globalism is a cultural Marxist conspiracy" and they want to solve the violence problem by releasing weapons for the entire population. How do you deal with people like that?

     

    Given challenges, what is needed to improve the impact of the NGO Delegation?

    UNAIDS and Member States should improve the level of investment in the NGO Delegation. Because our delegation operates very differently from government delegations, we lack the resources we need to amplify our voices and our advocacy work. The reason why we have not done more structured advocacy work in other areas of the UN is that we never have funds for that.

    We also need more support in terms of communications, because we would like to do more campaigns around the results of our work and publicise key debates happening at the PCB, including intensifying our communication about the unique role of the PCB and civil society’s role within it.

    More generally, how can the challenges that HIV/AIDS-related civil society is facing be addressed?

    We need to improve our capacity to communicate and amplify our voice. If we could do that, people would pay more attention and value more what we do. It would be helpful if people could understand that the HIV/AIDS movement is an important part of the development agenda.

    We need to reshape the entire conversation about international cooperation and decision-making in terms of the allocation of funds for communities and civil society. Decisions not to support countries because of their income levels are flawed. Brazil, for example, is defined as a middle-income country; as a result, over the past 10 years or so international cooperation agencies have withdrawn from Brazil. As a consequence of the low capacity to respond to right-wing fundamentalism, repressive forces have flourished. We need to go back to the basics, to our peers, to frontline groups, to political education. Conservative forces were just hidden and waiting for the moment to rise again. And they did so with discourse filled with falsities, for instance claiming to oppose corruption, an issue that has dominated in Brazil in the past years.

    In countries with repressive right-wing leaders – such as Brazil, Hungary and the Philippines – civil society is doing its best to respond on several fronts despite lack of funding. Luckily for humanity, some people are born activists and do this work whether there is money or not. But I truly believe that, in order to keep our movement sustainable, we have to engage more deeply in global discussions about how to fund an independent civil society, one that does not rely upon states to raise funds and therefore remains independent of government decisions.

    Given the impossibility of engaging with the federal government, another response in Brazil is to engage more with sub-national authorities and parliament. More connections are needed at the sub-national level, where it is possible to identify many people who support our causes.

    Another idea is to make more use of litigation: to use legal frameworks to maintain the agenda. But, again, we need funds to do that.

    For the UN, we need to be mindful about institutional reforms that are taking place and be vigilant. We need innovative mechanisms and funds that can help make the UN more independent of Member States, and to increase civil society capacity to play a bigger part. There should not be such distance between the international and national levels. People on the ground can benefit from discussions at the global level, and international discussions should be informed by the desires of people on the ground. People on the ground need to know why multilateralism is important, what the UN is, what UNAIDS is, why they matter. But it is hard when international cooperation funds keep shrinking and most organisations are relegated to providing services rather than advocating for rights, developing capacity and enabling new activists.

    The issue of restricted space for civil society connects us all, independently of our field of action. Therefore it is crucial to have cross-movement dialogues and open conversations, because this is where we can build resilience and solidarity and support each other. We need different sectors to come together to keep growing and not to be intimidated into silence by forces that are sometimes literally killing us. We cannot be isolated in our own agendas. We really need a global civil society movement that stands together for all rights.

    We are in a very delicate movement for democracy where social media and education play a crucial role. Communication is also a major issue for social movements. At this point in history we should be able to communicate better. What is our role? What is our success story in terms of supporting and strengthening democracy? Well, if you look at history, you will see that our role is essential and that most existing rights resulted from civil society demands and victories. Because without meaningful community and civil society participation there is no sustainable development, there is no democracy, and it is unlikely that public policies can be translated into services and programmes that really serve the needs of people.

    Civic space in Brazil is rated as ‘obstructed’ by theCIVICUS Monitor.

    Visit the websites ofGESTOS and theUNAIDS PCB NGO Delegation.