Persevering through the pandemic

Message from Lysa John, CIVICUS SG

Dear CIVICUS members and allies,

What a year it has been! 2020 came with so many new challenges - both personally and professionally.  Many in the alliance reported new and worrying civic space restrictions taking root, shrinking funding, and vital activities forced to a standstill under lockdowns and health concerns. 

Yet, we have persevered as an Alliance. Both at the Secretariat and across the world, activism shifted online, we found new ways to convene and conduct research, and adjusted programming to address new realities shaped by the pandemic. Listening to the Alliance, work at the secretariat largely focused on resourcing, rights, and resilience. Recent months have been just as busy: 

  • We published 2 thought-provoking research reports  - you can learn more about People Power Under Attack or read inspiring stories of Solidarity in the Time of Covid-19 
  • The first series of ICSW virtual events has been completed - 7 unique conversations,  11 hours of streaming,  41 speakers from 25 countries, with over 650 attendees! 
  • Linked to Human Rights Day and 16 Days of Activism, we continued to encourage people to #StandAsMyWitness and celebrated the release of 2 featured HRDS since the start of the campaign in July. 
  • We’re expanding our network of member spokespeople across the globe, with a pilot group already taking part in media training. 

We’ve just wrapped up the virtual CIVICUS Annual General Meeting held 7-11 December 2020, an opportunity to reflect on our collective strength and discuss priorities going forward. Members reviewed the annual report, connected with each other, and participated in events about resourcing, how language shapes narratives, the #StandAsMyWitness campaign, and diversity & inclusion.

Recently, CIVICUS undertook a scoping exercise with staff, board, and selected members thinking about challenges facing our sector and how we could innovatively respond to these. We used a design thinking approach and held online engagements with 80+ individuals and came out with 10 ideas that we are integrating into our planning and programming in the coming year.

This coming year we'll be reaching out to the alliance to explore post-pandemic re-building for good and piloting a new member to member communications platform.  We’ll also be celebrating the 10th Anniversary of the publishing of the State of Civil Society Report! Building on virtual events this year, the revisioned 2021 ICSW journey will continue to be a space for civil society to connect; watch for the open call for innovation awards nominations in early 2021 to celebrate the best civil society has to offer. Innovation Awards. 

In January, CIVICUS is pleased to welcome newly elected board members. I’d like to thank all of the outgoing board members for their work with and commitment to CIVICUS, and look forward to working with the incoming members. 

CIVICUS offices will be closed from 24 December to 4 January. I look forward to connecting with all of you again next year. It is my great honour to work with such inspiring activists and organisations that make up the CIVICUS Alliance, who are daring to organise and mobilise in new and creative ways, pushing back against threats to democracy, and raising their voices for change. 

In solidarity,
Lysa John
Secretary-General, CIVICUS

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