CIVICUS Announces the Nelson Mandela – Graça Machel Innovation Award Winners

CIVICUS is pleased to announce the winners of its latest round of Innovation Awards. These awards are in the form of seed funding of US$5,000 granted to outstanding for initiatives born out of the CIVICUS World Assembly. Last year's Assembly was held in Montreal, Canada, and organisations who attended were invited to submit proposals.

The judging was done by an international panel of civil society leaders, who selected two projects for funding:

1. "Freedom of Association" – a project of the New Woman Foundation of Egypt

Following a severe clampdown on civil society and NGOs for many years, things were expected to improve after the People's Revolution in January 2011. However, the restrictive NGO Law of 2003 is still in place. The process of democratisation called for will undoubtedly require a vibrant Civil Society enjoying the freedom of organising and mobilising Egyptian citizens around the principles of democracy and citizenship. This project will focus on opening channels of communication and dialogue between governmental parties and NGOs in order to agree on specific measures that need to be adopted, enabling CSOs to associate freely move and play their expected role in the process of political change. This will include negotiations about the right to establish independent general unions on a democratic basis.

2. "Women's Health Rights and the Environment in Rural Cameroon"

This project is a collaboration between the African Women's Education and Development Partnership Forum in Virginia, USA, and Free the Children based in Toronto, Canada. The project will work with women in Cameroon to combine community education and their personal choices to create holistic solutions to poverty, climate change and women's health rights in the face of restrictive cultural taboos and lack of resources.

The judges were most impressed with the overall quality of the proposals, which were judged according to their novelty and originality, sustainability, potential for positive impact on citizen rights and justice movements, and partnership opportunities. Particularly important was the relevance to the theme of the 2010 CIVICUS World Assembly, the overall theme being "Acting Together for a Just World" which was explored through the annual theme of "Seeking out Solutions: Economic Justice".

For all those attending the World Assembly in 2011, there will be another opportunity to apply for this award. CIVICUS strongly encourages participants to network amongst each other and come up with innovative project ideas in line with the annual theme: "Civil Society and Global Decision Making: Doing it Better".

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