Authoritarian regimes, co-opted institutions, the absence of enabling legislation and a persecuted civil society are some of the central factors holding back the fulfilment of the fundamental rights of freedoms of many an African citizen. This does not mean that the continent has not made progress towards democratisation and participatory governance. Despite the trying circumstances, and the challenges of working in constraining environments, African civil society and citizens have been able to achieve major successes in enhancing participatory governance through the implementation of gender budgeting policies, enactment of freedom of legislation, establishment of institutions and support of social activism and volunteerism to name a few. These experiences need to be celebrated, shared and replicated albeit taking into account the different realities in each country.It is within this context that CIVICUS and ODI will bring together civil society practitioners from six African countries namely; Ghana, Malawi, Sierra Leone, Ethiopia, Uganda and Zambia to share experiences in advancing participatory governance in their local and national contexts with a view to discussing solutions to emerging challenges as well as identifying key opportunities to advance civil society’s participation in governance processes. The workshop will also bring together participants and resource persons from the academia, civil society organisations, international organisations and research institutes in South Africa to examine the state of civil society and democratic space in Africa in an effort to identify key areas where advances can be made to enable greater representation of people’s voices in the decisions that affect their lives.
Finally, participants will discuss contemporary trends in citizen participation and civil society engagement with key decision making forums with in order to identify opportunities on how current developments can be capitalised on to enhance participatory governance at all levels.
The workshop will be held on the 25th and 26th of October 2011 in Johannesburg, South Africa.