When ActionAid Uganda faced attacks from the government for their work, including freezing the organisation’s bank account, unrelenting support from local partners and credible local leadership ensured massive popular support during the ensuing legal battle (and eventual victory) against the government.[i]
The 9th of August, marks International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples. The day is commemorated in recognition of the first meeting of the United Nations Working Group on Indigenous Populations in Geneva in 1982.
Asia is home to the largest number of indigenous peoples with an estimated 260 million from the 370 million original inhabitants worldwide. Despite this significant number, equaling half of the combined population of Europe, Asian indigenous peoples face an array of challenges such as the denial of the right to self-determination, the loss of control over their land and natural resources, discrimination and marginalisation, forced assimilation and violent repression by state security forces.
While most of the countries in Asia had voted for the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) in September 2007, many refuse to respect and implement these rights. This has been made more difficult with the shrinking democratic space in many Asian countries and the rise of autocratic leaders.
In 2018, the CIVICUS Monitor continued to document human rights violations and state repression against indigenous peoples in the region. In the Philippines, there has been an increase of vilification against indigenous activists under the Duterte government. In March 2018, the Philippines labelled a number of local indigenous rights activists as “terrorists” for alleged links to the Communist Party. This included Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, a Filipino national.
By Siok Sian Pek-Dorji, from Bhutan Centre for Media and Democracy and CIVICUS member delegate to the EC Partnership Forum 2018.
The energy was palpable as nearly 300 representatives of civil society and local authorities from across the globe gathered in Brussels on 26th July to discuss global partnerships. The aim was to strengthen partnerships so that we can make the world more sustainable and livable and to address the inequities so that “no one is left behind” in the 21st century.
“We’re all supposed to be singing from the same hit list” said one of the panelists – reminding the participants of the urgency of developing meaningful collaborations to make the Sustainable Development Goal’s (SDG) vision of the United Nation’s Agenda 2030.
The premise is that these partnerships, and indeed, the SDGs, will be a game changer. The 193 signatory countries are supposedly aligning their national goals with the SDGs – at least the developing countries are. And they have another 12 years to achieve them.
The partnership forum, supported by the European Union, provides a critical platform for countries to come together to discuss the goals we have adopted. The forum reminded us that we’re all relying on one another to create this global movement of change, while we also need to focus on specific needs in our own countries. There were calls for urgent work on gender equity and addressing women’s role in development. Recommendations were made to address the many discriminations that still exist.
CIVICUS, which publishes an annual state of civil society report warns us that the world is facing a shrinking civic space and a general decline in democratic space, polarising politics, and divided societies. It is not an optimistic picture but the voices at the partnership forum shows that civility remains in civil society space, and ideas and commitment abound. And that gives us hope for the future. All this is very relevant to Bhutan where civil society is emerging, slowly but surely.
CIVICUS exists to defend people power. With a growing alliance of over 4000 members in 175 countries, we believe that together we are stronger. But, as an alliance, we need EVERYONE (our members, constituents, donors, wider civil society, general public) to tell us how the CIVICUS Secretariat is doing and to hold us to account on how strategies and approaches are implemented. A new and easy way to do this is through the online feedback and complaints form, launched in July 2018. Putting people at the centre of our work, enabling more iterative and participatory programming and allowing faster responses when changes in direction are required – this is what CIVICUS’ new Accountability Framework aims to establish, with your help.
Accountability, shifting the power
As part of our mission to strengthen civil society and mobilise citizens to fight for a more just, inclusive and sustainable world, the CIVICUS Secretariat continuously ask ourselves the question - what tools and strategies will help us to achieve the change necessary to achieve this mission? More specifically from an Impact and Accountability perspective, what data and accountability strategies, assets or tools can help us shift this power?
Through our accountability strategy and data approaches, we strive to see the diversity of those we work with reflected in our data sources (survey respondents, interviews, focus group participants etc.) and provide opportunities for our constituents to capture data on issues that are most relevant to them. We want to develop inclusive processes that not only take into account but shine a light on underlying power inequalities when it comes to sourcing data. We also want the data analysis and outputs, to be consumable, user-friendly and relevant to individual citizens and local decision makers to dialogue and make informed decisions together.
By Lusanda Magwape, fromDream Factory Foundation, South Africa, and CIVICUS delegation’s member at the EC Partnership Forum 2018.
When I received the email that I would be attending the EC Partnership Forum in Brussels, I was both shocked and super excited. I remember thinking when I applied: “yes, I could be part of the five, why not?” So, when I was selected, I took that “I can do the impossible” mindset with me to the Forum. As a first-time attendee of a European Commission event, this colossal organization became an approachable person who I could relate with. From all the speeches, I sensed a genuine intention to truly strengthen its partnerships with civil society and local authorities; as was the theme of the forum. The fact that two more Framework Partnership Agreements (FPAs) were signed at the end of the Forum, really sealed the deal of their intentions to grow these partnerships.
Being a CIVICUS representative, I also kept thinking, how does a locally based NGO such as ours position itself in a space of ‘giants’? I think my biggest take-away, in keeping with the principals of the SDGs, was that all of our voices matter if we are going to realize a sustainable and equitable future for all. Since the forum represented civil society leaders from different levels of influence and scope, recommendations such as “the EU needs to have different modalities of funding for an enabling environment” and “the EU needs to push for national SDG implementation plans that are people-centered at all economic levels”, came out very strongly.
Por Jorge Vallejo, de la Red Latinoamericana de Jóvenes por la Democracia, Peru, y miembro de la delegación de CIVICUS al foro de asociación de la CE 2018.
Para mí fue una enorme satisfacción recibir la confirmación de haber sido seleccionado al Partnership Forum 2018 de la Unión Europea gracias a la convocatoria que lanzó CIVICUS. Recuerdo que la noche en que preparaba mi postulación era el día previo al inicio en Lima de la semana de la Cumbre de las Américas en la cual mi organización, la Red Latinoamericana de Jóvenes por la Democracia, tuvo participación. Ser notificado semanas después de que estaba invitado también al Partnership de la Unión Europea fue una gran alegría. Así, este año, a ambos lados del charco, tuve la oportunidad de seguir buscando alianzas estratégicas entre actores para el fortalecimiento de nuestras democracias y el respeto de las libertades, generando más ciudadanía para la vida comunitaria. Eso fue lo que me motivó a presentarme, y el foro me ha brindado una perspectiva más global en los temas y con más herramientas en dicho trabajo, escuchando valiosas experiencias de los 5 continentes.
Entre nuevos aprendizajes y nuevos retos
Ahí estábamos con Lusanda (Sudáfrica), Pek (Bután), Ekaterina (desde Kuwait) y Cathryn del equipo CIVICUS ¡los viajeros ya en Bruselas! Punto resaltante en la reunión ha sido la Agenda 2030 y el hacer que los Objetivos de Desarrollo Sostenible lleguen a un aterrizaje local que permita efectivamente “no dejar a nadie atrás”, remarcando la relevancia de las alianzas para alcanzar objetivos (ODS 17). Hay muchos casos por mencionar, pero quisiera en este espacio hablar de la experiencia de Senegal y sus presupuestos participativos, teniendo una “certificación ciudadana” como evaluación para la acreditación de los actores locales como buenos administradores de recursos, algo rescatable y replicable en camino a la transparencia (Aliou Sow, Presidente de la Comisión del Alto Consejo de las Autoridades locales y regionales de Senegal).
By Ekaterina Porras Sivolobova, from Project 189, Kuwait and CIVICUS member delegate to the EC Partnership Forum 2018.
Let’s make sure that the echoes of the recent EC Partnership Forum in Brussels do not fade away. The event brought together Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and representatives from different governments to have a dialogue with the European Commission on how to collaborate to implement and localize the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – leaving no one behind.
It was my first time in Brussels, and my first opportunity to engage with representatives from the European Commission. Hearing about the different struggles from civil society, from corruption to gender equality and the rising of the seas. I could not stop reconfirming that this is the time to double our solidarity with the European Commission and others, to roll-up our sleeves and get to work, to share our resources and do what has to be done.
The decisions that will be taken in the coming years to achieve in unison the SDGs, will be important to pave the way to decentralised development, making sure not to leave anyone behind. I do hope that in the coming years, we all put our individual priorities aside, recognise the value of collaborative action and once and for all start creating a change, a real change. This form of solidarity is what will strengthen efforts and shorten and mitigate challenges.
GDPR-viestit, uutiset Facebookin tietoturvaongelmista ja sähköpostin tietojenkalasteluviesteiltä. Oman yksityisyyden suojaaminen on digitalisaation myötä yhä olennaisempaa myös kansalaisjärjestöille.
Mutta miten digitaalinen turvallisuus liittyy kansalaisyhteiskunnan tilaan? Parhaimmillaan se tukee sananvapautta ja turvaa kansalaisyhteiskunnan oikeudet toimia. Pahimmillaan sen puute on turvallisuusriski. Digitaalinen turvallisuus on kuitenkin myös paljon muuta.
Osallistuin kesäkuun alussa Civicuksen ja Access Now:n koulutukseen digitaalisesta turvallisuudesta ja sen linkittymisestä kansalaislaisyhteiskunnan tilaan. Armeniassa järjestettyyn koulukseen osallistui Euroopasta ja Aasiasta kattojärjestöjen edustajia sekä ruohonjuuritason toimijoita ja aktivisteja, joiden toimintamahdollisuuksia ja jopa turvallisuutta riittämätön tietoturva uhkaa.
Itse mietin koulutuksen aikana digitaalista turvallisuutta pitkälti siltä kannalta, miten meidän suomalaisten järjestöjen kannattaisi toimia, jotta emme tahtomattamme aseta kumppaneitamme vaaraan. Kun toimitaan maissa, joissa internetin käyttöä rajoitetaan, puhelimia kuunnellaan, sähköpostia seurataan ja viestintää sensuroidaan, on tärkeää tiedostaa ja ennaltaehkäistä riskit. Näillä vinkeillä voit lähteä liikkeelle:
Politics and art have always been deeply connected. Art has always been used to challenge the status quo and empower silenced voices. From Banksy’s political street art to David Alfaro Siqeuiros’ murals to the songs of Fela Kuti, there is no shortage of examples of creatives that spread their political message through art. We also must not forget the creativity and contributions of young people, who make up nearly half of the world’s population, who have been at the forefront of rights’ struggles across the globe and who are using art to subvert harmful systems. Here are 10 activists using art to disrupt the status quo, amplify repressed voices, and provoke and inspire change.
Madeline Sayet is a Native American director, writer, performer, and educator. As a member of the Mohegan tribe, Sayet reimagines classic plays “to give voice to those who have been silenced.” Sayet stages classic plays with completely Native casts. By bringing these performances to life with an untraditional cast she hopes to show that Native people are more than the typical tokenized characters they often perform. In fact, they can occupy many different roles. Madeline Sayet is a recipient of The White House Champion of Change Award for her work as a director, writer, performer, and educator.
2.Daniel Arzola // @Arzola_d
Arzola used his love of graphic design to challenge bigotry and inspire LGBTQIA+ people through his artivism. In his home country of Venezuela, Arzola experienced violence and discrimination because of his sexuality. In 2013, Madonna retweeted one of his illustrations and his work went viral shortly after. Unfortunately, following this recognition he began receivingdeath threats and had to flee Venezuela.
3. Sonita Alizadoh // @SonitaAlizadeh
Sonita Alizadoh is an Afghan rapper and activist or ‘raptivist’ who spoke up against forced child marriages, after having been almost forcibly married as a child herself, twice. She was almost married off first when she was 10 years old and again when she was 16 years of age. She reacted to her experience by creating a song and video entitled “Brides for Sale.” In an interview with Rolling Stone, Sonita explained the potential risks of the video when she said, “My voice shouldn’t be heard since it’s against Sharia. Women must remain silent; this is our tradition.” The video received international attention, and Sonita, continues to perform rap.
By Mr. Mange Ram Adhana, President of the Association For Promotion Sustainable Development, India, and CIVICUS member.
My colleague and I attended a 5 day Local Fundraising training organized by Change the Game Academy, Wilde Ganzen, and local partner SMILE Foundation, on June 4, 2018. The intention was to test the training as pioneers among the CIVICUS Community, to discuss ways to potentially open up these types of learning opportunities further to more CIVICUS members.
This full time training included 20 sessions. It was a really enjoyable and new learning opportunity for all of us. The trainers were very good at conducting the sessions and the facilitators helped to keep the participants continuously energized, throughout the sessions.
The inputs and new skills which we have gained will go a long way in our journey in the field of fundraising.
The day I arrived to Ghana, I had the opportunity to network with people from Greece, Sudan and Nigeria. One of the participants, after knowing that I came from Tunisia, asked me whether I identify as African or not since North Africa is always related to the Middle East than to the rest of Africa. I responded, “I am an African". The last day, I talked to him again and told him: “After my stay in Accra, I have truly found my African identity, and now, in all self-confidence, I can tell you that I belong to this continent that I carry in my heart and soul”.
During the four days of the Afrika Youth Movement (AYM) retreat in Ghana, I had the chance to meet people from 14 different countries. I felt in each workshop or panel that I had travelled to a different African country. I was astonished by the quality of the interventions of AYM members. We dug deeper into the issues of African youth and the solutions in order to implement our mission and achieve our vision as a movement aiming for transforming this continent.
The experience was very inspirational and motivating and had an impact on me both personally and professionally. Knowing that it was my first trip out of Tunisia, the experience was so exciting, unique and full of learning and sharing. I have learnt how to be responsible for myself, to articulate my views especially because I was representing my country and the whole of North Africa. It was my duty to give an image about our culture, our situation and our history.
The five days of the AYM retreat and forum were full of new knowledge for me. It was the first time I heard people discussing Pan-Africanism and understanding its history and how we are redefining it. The first day, we focused on team building, ground rules and networking while the second day, we dug deeper into the roadmap, strategy and structure of AYM Hubs across the continent. Through group work and art of hosting methods, we developed a code of conduct, governance structure and working methods of the hubs and national action plans.
Imagine a space where over 8000 young people would come together to discuss, debate, share their opinions on political, social and cultural issues and have a dialogue with policy makers on how the life of young people can be improved. This space is the European Youth Event, a festival held every two years that celebrates youth participation in one of the most beautiful ways possible. It brings together youth from all over Europe and beyond for a 2-day marathon of discussions, sessions, workshops, musical/theatre/circus performances, rap battles, games and simulations, all with the purpose of bridging the gap between youth and policy-makers, and collecting fresh and innovative ideas on how to improve the life of Europeans in all aspects, whether economic, social and labor-related, environmental protection or political participation. The event is held inside and next to the European Parliament, which means that for 2 days the whole space around the European Parliament turns into a vibrant hub of energy, laughter, good vibes, music and positivity.
This year´s edition of the EYE revolved around the motto: "The plan is to fan this spark into a flame" (Hamilton, My Shot), and covered the following topics: keeping up with the digital revolution, calling for a fair share, working out for a stronger Europe, staying alive in turbulent times and protecting our planet.
It was amazing that so many young people could benefit from the opportunity of sharing the same space with decision-makers and learning more about how their ideas can shape the future of Europe. What was even more incredible was that the programme was shaped by the young people themselves! In a complex procedure that starts way before the event, youth organisations and youth groups are invited to apply with an idea for a workshop or activity that covers one of the topics mentioned above. This feature creates an amazing diversity of methodologies used for the proposed activities, and the participants get the chance to meet and learn about the work of multiple national and international youth organisations from Europe.
Youth movements and organisations are always at the forefront of campaigning for human rights and social change. Whether Brexit in the UK, abortion in Ireland, anti-gun laws in the USA, LGBT rights in Russia, democracy in Armenia, or climate change in Fiji, young people risk their safety – and their lives – in the pursuit of change.
But changing the world costs money. #MarchForOurLives is up against the NRA - an organisation with an annual budget of $250 million. Having the resources is not just about cash in the bank; it is the time and capacity to plan and deliver, having staff and volunteers with the right knowledge and needed skills, and the ability to respond to changes in external environment (something that is getting worse).
Too often this is a luxury that only large, formal NGOs can afford. If you are in a small and less formal youth organisation, global research found, you will face the ‘most acute’ challenges. This is due to a lack of internal expertise and capacity to fundraise, the stringent requirements of some funders and donors, and the restrictions (and outright suppression) from governments on civic space.
So how can we all help?
If you’re an established NGO:
Offer your space and resources – youth organisations often only need a desk, a printer and somewhere to store their things. Could your organisation help by giving space, resources or facilitates? Being generous and collaborative with other organisations – especially newly formed or youth-led groups – is a way of giving back to the movement.
Be flexible with your funding – if you’re a funder, change your model. Some funders still only give funding to formal, accredited organisations. If you’re a Syrian human rights organisation, government accreditation puts you on a hit list, not a funding list. Funders like FRIDA - the young feminist fund - give to informal movements, have limited reporting requirements and focus on relationship building. Be more like FRIDA.
Some months ago, a call was sent to CIVICUS members inviting them to apply to attend the European Commission’s partnership forum to be held on 25th and 26th June 2018. In order to ensure fruitful discussions during the forum, we needed members who understand cross-sectoral collaboration, the dynamics of professional networks and knowledge-sharing, and members who were able to envision future collective actions as CIVICUS members after the forum.
We received over 160 expressions of interest from 75+ countries and we were very much impressed by the depth of the insights! We are delighted to introduce the five members who will attend the forum as the CIVICUS delegation.
The CIVICUS delegation will be a rich blend of actors from the civil society: members from different regions of the world (including Francophone and Spanish speaking representation), working at different levels from local to regional, and ensuring gender and youth representation. The five members also deal with very different aspects which are key when it comes to multi-stakeholder partnerships, North-South collaborations, tackling key global challenges (e.g around migration and employment) and using diverse channels and means of communication (e.g. arts, media, high-level discussions etc).
What the Resilient Roots accountability pilot project application process has taught us so far
By Jack Cornforth
The Resilient Roots initiative recently launched two open calls to find pilot projects around the world which will test the hypothesis that organisations that are more accountable and responsive to their roots - namely, their primary constituencies - are more resilient against external threats.
A unique aspect of this initiative is that organisations have so much free reign to lay out what they want to do, over an extended length of time. As a result, this is an exciting opportunity for some really meaningful engagement, but also comes with much responsibility to get things right.
Having personally spent several days reading through all 238 applications from the first call, this has been a truly eye-opening experience. My first impression was, “what have we created!?” The use of unexplained buzzwords, such as “empower”, “innovative”, and, of course, “accountability” itself, was really startling. Is our initiative, with its regular use of this terminology, only adding to this problem?
The organisations that applied are striving to address hugely important issues. However, a significant number did not provide a clear mission statement, so outlining the specific steps they would take to try and increase their primary constituent accountability was even more challenging. This could have been due to an absent theory of change, or challenges with written communication, especially if English isn’t their first language - something which it is of course our responsibility to address.
Solidarity? From mutual support to working as a collective
By Marina Cherbonnier, CIVICUS membership engagement specialist
CIVICUS Board and Staff annual meetings were held recently. It was a crucial moment to re-assert CIVICUS as an alliance. One of the key achievements from the meetings was the adoption of the new membership policy. A big change it brings is that voting membership isn’t closely tied to one’s ability to contribute financially anymore. Indeed, membership fees will be voluntary for any organisation whose annual income is less than 80 000 USD. We feel this best reflects the true principle of inclusion and “people power” that is at the heart of CIVICUS.
What being a member-based organisation means
It was refreshing to hear the CIVICUS board - all elected by CIVICUS voting members - re-emphasize the importance of listening to what all members want and need. Annual surveys and post-event surveys were recently revisited towards this purpose.
They particularly raised the question of how, as members themselves, do they make sure that they represent members and - through the Board’s representation - ensure that CIVICUS is a member-based organization.
Another point raised was how we remain accountable to our primary constituents and show impact by defining thebest metrics to assess the solidarity we aim to build through the alliance. Some thorough work with the Impact and Accountability cluster on monitoring, evaluating, learning and adapting the work from there, is being done to respond to this.
Showing how a global alliance makes a difference
How to better show the added value of being part of the CIVICUS Alliance was also discussed. Several board and staff members as well as members of the community emphasize that there is an incredible power in being part of a global network: by joining the alliance you enable yourself to tackle issues collectively.
My experience at CSW62 as a panelist in the event "Shrinking space for the feminist movement"
The 62nd Commission on the Status of Women - CSW62 was an experience that facilitated knowledge generation and transfer amongst women from more than 120 countries who met and shared their experiences, but also decided on the steps to take forward together. In the session on "Shrinking space for the feminist movement" organized by CIVICUS in collaboration with other civil society organizations, I first thought it would only be about discussing the theme of rural Women and economic empowerment, but the biggest outcome was connecting as activists and leaders to raise our voices, finding out that everything we shared had a strong connection, sharing around the work of women, rural women, peace and our own feeling as activists.
Main outcomes of attending CSW62
Sharing our experiences with the UN allowed us to empower ourselves and generate valuable connections. But above all, it enables us to act together.
CSW62 was also an opportunity to revive hope that we are doing the job well and that the time is now to continue dignifying our rights.
I particularly connected and developed synergies with the delegation of my country, Colombia, who invited me to be in their sessions and to actively participate in a topic as important as peace.
SHE IS, the organisation I founded, works with victims of the armed conflict, communities in situations of vulnerability and extreme poverty. It has not been an easy process, we have moved from indifference to our work to building a sustainable network that transforms lives.
Now imagine what it has been like to share our work in this iconic venue, to raise our voice and being given the opportunity to exchange knowledge for a common good, which perhaps could be called a 'solidarity economy of knowledge'.
Every active citizen would by now have heard of "Transforming our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development" or, simply, the SDGs. Every active African citizen would also have heard of Agenda 2063. The SDGs are a group of 17 global goals addressing social and economic development issues set by the United Nations. The goals apply to the world in its entirety and they do not distinguish between nations, whether ‘developed’ or ‘developing’. Agenda 2063, which is specific to African nations, is a strategic framework for development of the African continent with the vision of “an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in international arena”. Both are praiseworthy documents full of hope, but we are all aware that the biggest hindrance to the success of a development agenda lies in implementation. How are the SDGs and their respective targets going to be implemented by 2030? Is Agenda 2063 being executed across the entire African continent? The most important question for me, one that is rooted in citizen participation, leadership and accountability is, what is the role of African Youth in the implementation of both the SDGs and Agenda 2063?
I recently spent close to a week deliberating on this last question in the company of brilliant young minds from various countries within and outside Africa. This platform was provided during the second Afrika Youth Movement (AYM) Empowerment Forum that convened in Accra, Ghana, from 18-22 April 2018 to which, as a member of the movement, I was invited. AYM is a pan-African, action-oriented, youth-led movement that strives for the participation, development and leadership of African youth to transform Africa and achieve their rights to peace, equality and social justice. AYM further adds to its uniqueness of being the largest youth led movement with its promotion of the values that bind the African continent; ubuntu, self-determination, integrity and accountability in each of its endeavours. Did the forum provide an answer to the question I raised above? There is rarely ever one solution to a puzzle and the problem of development in Africa is surely a puzzle. My sole conclusion, however, is that our role as African youth lies in or begins with grassroots implementation. This position is in line with AYM as a focal point of empowerment of young people already working or those keen on working in their communities.
By Patrick Newton Bondo Chief Executive Officer/ Social Justice Activist/ Main NGOs Representative To United Nations
Every day we are inspired by the stories our girls, youth, women and young families share with us. The Outreach Social Care Project team’s job is to fuel their passions by giving them the knowledge, skills, and tools they need to turn their inspirational stories into real world actions that change lives forever. The Outreach Social Care Project wants a world where social and environmental development justice is assured and all people are able to live in a prosperous, healthy and peaceful environment, access to basic rights.
As a grassroots non-profit organisation, Outreach Social Care Project was pleased to have the opportunity to attend the launch of the former public protector Thuli Madonsela’s foundation at Constitution Hill in Johannesburg on United Nations Wold Social Justice Day under the theme “Walk in My Shoes”. The Thuli Madonsela Foundation partnered with Khulisa Social Solutions to host the event to empower the most disadvantaged and underprivileged communities.
Social justice is a fundamental principle for peaceful and prosperous coexistence within and among nations. We advocate for the principles of social justice, promote gender equality and the rights of children, girls, youth, men, women and the LGBTIQ community. We advance social justice by removing barriers that people face because of gender, age, race, ethnicity, religion, culture or disability in South Africa and around the world. Working together we can make the world a better place for all.
This event was an eye opener for where our resources are strongly needed and how we can continue being a light to many of our beneficiaries living in the most disadvantaged and underprivileged communities.
Based in Johannesburg since 2002, CIVICUS: World Alliance is commemorating Youth Day in South Africa by initiating a conversation to find this generation of young people’s mission and empower youth to organise, mobilise and take action throughout the world to better our communities. Forty-one years after the Soweto youth uprising that took place on 16 June, a group of creative and engaged members from the CIVICUS Youth Working Group took to the street of Johannesburg in a quest to find their generation’s mission. They recorded the diverse voices of young people living in Johannesburg in order to achieve this goal.
Youth Day is a celebration to remember the ability of young people, through their voices, actions and power, to stand up and speak out for our collective rights and to create meaningful change for our present and future. Throughout the world, the youth population is increasing. This is particularly the case in developing countries where civic space – the fundamental space necessary to exercise the freedoms of expression, association and peaceful assembly – is being unduly restricted. This is according to the CIVICUS Monitor, which highlights added challenges facing young people living in the global South. Often, they face systematic violations of their human rights through institutionalized inequality, lack of protection against discrimination, unjust and unfavourable work conditions, and few have access to an adequate standard of living with proper health services and education.
Just after International Women’s Day this year, Amal Clooney, accomplished international human rights lawyer, addressed the UN. She and survivor-advocate Nadia Murad are calling for justice and accountability for the so-called Islamic State’s acts of genocide against the Ezidi community of Iraq. Time magazine was more interested in focusing on the lawyer’s baby bump.
Disappointing? Yes. Surprising? No.
It’s just one more in an endless string of examples demonstrating what a very long way we still have to go. And that's the case whether we look at the civil society sector, or politics, or the legal profession, or the media, or just about any sector or field.
About 66% of CIVICUS’ staff are women. And while it’s impossible to say what percentage of the whole CIVICUS Alliance’s membership is composed of women, we can safely guess that in a sector dominated by women, there are many member organisations that have more women than men on staff.
Thus, a day without women would be an impossible day for CIVICUS; work at the Secretariat, and quite possibly throughout much of the Alliance’s more than 1,200 member organisations, might just grind to a complete halt if all women workers went on strike.
As Joanna Maycock, head of the European Women’s Lobby in Brussels, clearly demonstrates in Breaking the Glass Pyramid, there is a “failure of our own sphere, civil society, to address gender inequality in our leadership.” We must struggle to consciously address the conditioning and messages we were raised with and that are constantly reinforced every day. So of course, even in progressive civil society spaces, we are frequently replicating the very same kinds of hierarchies internally that we see all the time externally in the broader world.
After Trump took office and the world was reeling in shock, it was women* who organized a worldwide women’s march to come together in solidarity. We know that through hate propaganda, women are often the most targeted, even through an intersectional lens of race, identity, migration status, and other factors that deepen discrimination and exclusion.
It is women who are pushing back against far right propaganda and division, and that is why a day without women will hopefully demonstrate the power of women within the struggle to advance fundamental rights for everyone.
We must ensure women of colour lead these movements as women’s campaigns rooted in the Global North often fail to understand or acknowledge the particular challenges that women of colour face. I was able to take part in the Dutch women’s march this year, and although it felt empowering to be part of something bigger, as a woman of colour I still felt alone. How we campaign together must be inclusive of all the issues that we face.
The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day seems to match the current sentiment around much of the globe. A day without a woman… What would that mean for us?
In equal measure, Hillary Clinton’s loss and the success of Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election have reminded many of us what it means to be a woman in the workforce here in the United States, at every level. In the nonprofit sector, the pay differential between male and female leaders executives continues to increase, with women earning anywhere between 21 and 47 percent less than their male counterparts. All along the corporate ladder, women are underrepresented: 45% of posts are occupied by women at the entry level and this figure drops to 37% at management, 32% at senior management, 27% at vice presidential, and 23% at senior vice president levels with only 17% of C-suite positions going to women.
So what would it look like then, if all women stopped working?
Before the Tunisian Revolution, International Women’s Day centered around a major state-sponsored festival in which artists and government officials celebrated the progressive Code of Personal Status (CPS) promulgated in 1957 under President Habib Bourguiba. However, Tunisian women have been facing the most “sophisticated inequalities” since our independence.
According to UNESCO’s report on women in the labour force in 2009, only 38 percent of adult women are employed compared to 51 percent of men and nearly half are subject to various kinds of gender-based violence, including physical, sexual and/or verbal abuse. In this restrictive civic space, I wondered if our policymakers were even aware of these numbers or do they think only of using the progressive gender legislation to portray themselves as pro-western, secular modernists despite the implementation falling short?
Wathint’ abafazi,wathint’ imbokodo – When you strike a woman, you strike a rock – was the battle cry of women who marched to the Union Buildings in South Africa in 1956, and it has echoed through the ages and continues to ring true today. For hundreds of years, as birth givers, nurturers, leaders of industry and pillars of their communities from Cape Town to Cairo, African women have fought for their place in society; fought the label of “the weaker sex”, seeking to be seen as equal in strength, determination and value in their various forms of womanhood, and as people whose voices should not and cannot be muted. Today, we challenge ourselves here at CIVICUS to continue to amplify the voices of women all over the world.
Solidarity across frontlines: why CIVICUS is supporting the International Women’s Strike
At a time when right wing ultra nationalism threatens to usher in a new era of regressive patriarchal politics, the International Women’s Strike reminds us of the power of civil societies to resist. On 8 March, people in more than 35 countries will answer the rallying call ‘solidarity is our weapon’, by marching, walking out at work and by not taking part in unpaid care work.
The strike originates from two diverse grassroots actions in late 2016. In October Polish women went on a one-day strike against a proposed bill controlling women’s sexual and reproductive rights that sought to impose a near total ban on abortion, including criminalising miscarriage or abortion as a result of rape. Later that month, tens of thousands of women marched in Argentina against femicide and widespread gender based violence. A call for one-hour strikes and mass mobilisations was answered in countries across Latin America and the Caribbean.
Reasons to be hopeful: Five moments that inspired us in 2016
The year 2016 was a difficult year in so many ways for those who believe in democratic values, fundamental human rights and social justice. Despite all this, there were several moments of hope demonstrating the power of citizen action which continue to inspire Civil Society.
As much as it is a time of struggle and shrinking space, it is also a time for hope and revolution
30 members of the Affinity Group of National Associations (AGNA) gathered in Johannesburg, South Africa for a peer learning exchange. With the facilitation of Common Purpose, the members looked at their ability to lead beyond authority and which tools they may need to achieve this in civic space. Civil society’s (CS) ability to act rests on the realisation of three essential rights: the right to association, the right to peaceful assembly and the right to freedom of expression. Together, these define the boundaries of civic space within which civil society can function.
Six decades after the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted, creating a global covenant affirming the fact that ‘all human beings are born equal in dignity and rights,’ the vision lies in tatters, made worthless by the ever-increasing chasm between haves and have-nots.
Protecting civic space against #NGOMuzzle laws in Kenya
This article captures the background and events of November 2013 in Kenya. A set of thirteen amendments to the Public Benefits Organisations Act 2013 were unexpectedly brought to the National Assembly. If they had passed, they would have fundamentally affected civic space, democracy and development. It offers lessons and reflections on the state of governance and civil society in Kenya and the challenges of protecting and advancing fundamental freedoms within a new constitutional order.
Mozynah is currently participating in CIVICUSs UN learning Exchange program for citizens of an African country. She is 22 years old, from Egypt and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Public Affairs and Policy Management with a specialisation in Development from Carleton University in Canada.
On 28th January 2014, I attended the 18th Session of the United Nations Universal Period Review (UPR) on Cambodia. I also had the privilege of attending two side meetings held before the UPR and organized by World Association for the School as an Instrument of Peace and International PEN and its Partners. Several disturbing revelations on restrictions on the operation of human rights activists came up during the side meetings and the UPR on Cambodia.
Investigations into the 2011 human rights violations in Yemen are a matter of urgency
On 29 January 2014, I attended the side meeting on Yemen, organized by CIVICUS and its partners, as well as the 18th Session of the United Nations Universal Periodic Review (UPR) on Yemen. One of the issues that arose in the side meeting and the UPR process was concerning investigations into the human rights violations during the 2011 uprising in Yemen. This issue caught my attention, because it directly touches on the work of human rights activists and human rights defenders in Yemen.