As India goes to to the polls, will the people vote against the ‘politics of hate’


By Alina Tiphagne, Human Rights Defenders Alert (HRDA)

Womens March3 4 April 2019In just under a week, the world’s largest democracy, India, will vote to elect and constitute the 17th Lok Sabha. According to the Election Commission (EC) of India, nearly 900 million voters will be eligible to vote for representatives to the lower house or the Lok Sabha of the bicameral Indian Parliament. Voting will begin on 11th April and be held in seven phases till 19th May, 2019 across 543 constituencies. The EC has also declared 23rd May, 2019 the day of counting and results.


How resilient are our pilot partners to civic space threats?


By Soulayma Mardam Bey and Jack Cornforth, CIVICUS

In recent years, “Resilience” has made its way into international development’s buzzword bingo board. Yet despite its increasing popularity, the concept often remains poorly understood. In this article, and during our upcoming Resilient Roots event at ICSW 2019 (Wednesday afternoon ), we will take a closer look at what this concept means for civil society organisations in the context of closing civic space.


The quest for resilience

By  Patricia Deniz, Senior Research and Development Officer CIVICUS 

Civil society, more than ever, is in dire need to reinvent itself, at least figure out how to be flexible, adaptable and resurgent in an ever-changing, uncertain and increasingly restrictive environment. Sustaining the status quo or surviving a crisis are no longer sufficient in contexts in which change happens unpredictably and drastically, requiring innovative responses to old problematics and new complex challenges. Instead, civil society aspires to becoming resilient, a term well known in the environmental and humanitarian spheres that is yet to be further analysed and explored in the CSO world.   


"Stubbornly optimistic": Reflections from Lysa John, CIVICUS SG


It has been a little over 60 days since I took on my new role with CIVICUS and the question I get asked most frequently is: How does it feel to be SG? Fortunately, this query has an easy answer! It involves being reminded on a daily basis of the need to celebrate and reinforce efforts taken to defend and strengthen rights-based values and freedoms by individuals and organisations worldwide. It also involves being stubbornly optimistic about our ability as civil society to demonstrate greater accountability and impact, while continuing to learn from each other and from unconventional champions of the causes we believe in!


“La inclusión es una ilusión”

English | French 

Ochoa Ayala, Fundación 11:11, México

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¿A quién no le gusta sentir que pertenece a un lugar, comunidad, espacio, algo? El sentido de pertenencia tiene que ver con la identidad que cada individuo va desarrollando a lo largo de su vida, da una muestra de quienes somos; por ejemplo yo, soy una mujer, joven, mexicana, activista, soñadora etc., es como me identifico y las palabras que elegí para describirme hacen que me conecte con personas afines.

Al ser una mujer joven mexicana activista soñadora encontré a CIVICUS

“Una comunidad mundial de ciudadanas y ciudadanos informados, inspirados y comprometidos en el abordaje de los desafíos que enfrenta la humanidad.”[1]

Al leer su visón de inmediato supe que quería ser parte de esa comunidad y es que me sentí identificada, supe que al otro lado del planeta, en el hemisferio de a lado, existían personas con una visión muy similar a la mía, con la intención de cooperar y crear alianzas para que los problemas de la humanidad se combatieran de manera conjunta e unificando esfuerzos aislados.

Ingrese mis datos y cada semana me llegaba información sobre sus boletines, actividades y demás, hasta que un día llego un correo invitándome a la convocatoria “the Global Learning Exchange and AGM” en donde se hablarían temas de inclusión y diversidad en Montevideo, Urugay; Sin pensarlo mucho tome una decisión y apliqué, sin imaginar que acababa de abrir la puerta a una de las mejores experiencias de mi vida. Meses después me confirmaron que fui seleccionada y el 13 de diciembre me encontraba en un avión rumbo al intercambio de aprendizaje.

Fueron tres días donde hablamos sobre el significado de diversidad e inclusión, de entrada tanto las personas seleccionadas como los encargados de dirigir el intercambio teníamos diferentes nacionalidades, idiomas, aspecto, creencias e ideas pero eso no importo para intercambiar experiencias y crear conceptos nuevos, al interactuar entre nosotros le dimos vida y realidad a los conceptos de diversidad e inclusión, puesto que estás dos palabras no significan nada sino las llevas a la acción. Comprobamos de primera mano que las diferencias enriquecen las ideas y la disposición a escuchar da pie a la inclusión.

Juntos concluimos que la diversidad es la riqueza de lo diferente y la inclusión es la bienvenida de eso, dos conceptos que coexisten puesto que uno necesita de otro para fortalecer cada acción que realicemos en pro de la humanidad.

Antes de este encuentro veía a la diversidad e inclusión como una ilusión, tenía el anhelo de que en mi país existieran personas que fomentaran acciones de bienvenida a lo diferente, y es que ya llevaba un tiempo trabajando por ello pero no se materializaba.

Lamentablemente vivimos en una Era de discurso y poco accionar, las personas hablan de aceptación, las leyes de inclusión, pero en la realidad parece más una exclusividad de lo diferente, es decir, “si eres diferente júntate con los que son diferentes como tú” pero entonces ¿dónde está la inclusión? ¿Es una ilusión inalcanzable? CIVICUS respondió mi duda al integrarme a un equipo donde lo que imperaba eran las diferencias, pero aprendí que la disposición, el respeto, la humildad, el reconocimiento, son actitudes que cualquier ser humano puede tener con otro y al hacerlo se da la oportunidad de conocerlo e incluirlo a su mundo.

Recordemos que desde nuestra existencia pertenecemos a un mundo en el que todos coexistimos y al que todos tenemos la oportunidad aportar algo valioso.

Gracias CIVICUS por hacer mi ilusión realidad.



Decluttering Diversity and Inclusion

French | Spanish

By Jose Maria “Lloyd” Nunag, Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Rights and CIVICUS member from the Philippines

‘What does Diversity and Inclusion means to you?’

046bc8d0 d141 45db 9af2 8f41668951b1This is a question I have been pondering (and decluttering) in the last few years and even until now. Growing up as a young, queer person from a poor, rural family in the Philippines, and now as a migrant worker in the United Kingdom, my vision of diversity and inclusion has been emerging. Today, I define it as a world where everyone knows and claim their rights in which human rights and justice are enjoyed without discrimination.

Global Learning Exchange

In December 2018, I was able to take part in an ambitious CIVICUS programme of work on diversity and inclusion mainstreaming and integration across the civic movement called Global Learning Exchange (GLE) held in Montevideo, Uruguay.

The program made me build on and re-energised my commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion and to transform our ways of working to better meet our strategic aims.

It aimed to capitalise on the potential of diversity and inclusion across the CIVICUS movement and beyond: to create space for dialogue and peer-to-peer sharing among the participants; to identify effective approaches that can contribute to social justice; AND to strengthen ways of working, including sharing good practices as well as joint strategising, within the global CIVICUS CSO (Civil Society Organisations) network.

What have I learned?

In this learning journey towards a more accountable civil society sector, I have realised that we need to successfully challenge the inequality, structural oppression and intersectional discrimination which shapes our societies and is the primary cause of human rights violations. How effective we are in meeting these challenges will depend heavily on our own ability to understand these forces; to confront them and find ways to counteract their impact within the civil society movement and our ways of working; as well as meaningfully raising the voices of people who are marginalised around the world. Continually striving for excellence on how we mainstream and integrate diversity and inclusion in our work is therefore of fundamental importance to our aim of building a truly global movement for justice and human rights.

Highlights and Recommendations

In order to help implement this work that CIVICUS is doing, they gathered more than 15 informed and dynamic individuals who, through their experience and expertise, can help improve CIVICUS and partner CSOs’ culture, ways of working and impact so that we can better challenge structural inequalities and oppression, intersectional discrimination and demonising narratives. Hence the Global Learning Exchange (GLE) happened.

As one of the participants in the GLE, I hope the steps that would be undertaken as a result of this program will be guided by the overarching goals and principles of:

-promoting social justice and human rights

-recognising and making visible that different aspects of people’s identities and lives interact to structurally affect their experiences of discrimination, marginalisation, privilege, and power.

-making CIVICUS and other CSOs a better organisation to work with for staff, volunteers, and partners who experience systemic discrimination

-transformation, not tokenism

Overall, I would like to affirm the importance of CIVICUS’ efforts to improve its practices, culture, and outcomes with respect to diversity and inclusion, prioritising improvements related to their ways of working, governance, and areas of acute and chronic issues.

I didn’t expect the event to have this kind of positive effect on my personal life; it’s pretty cool to derive personal benefits from an advocacy project.

What’s next? Be involved?

Over the next few months, CIVICUS is piloting a network alliance on diversity and inclusion. This would entail regular calls or communication, providing some time and expertise on Diversity & Inclusion for civil society and working towards a common commitment of dynamic accountability and support. If you would like to discuss this program in more detail please contact: Suhani Bhushan on . We are hoping this will be a participative process from inception.



CIVICUS GLE Testimonial: Building communities for inclusive action

French | Spanish

by Vandita Morarka, One Future Collective, India

VanditaI was a participant at the Global Learning Exchange and the ensuing AGM held by CIVICUS in Montevideo, Uruguay, 16th December, 2018, onwards, representing One Future Collective.

As a participant I engaged in various discussions and actionable agenda items towards building the first step towards frameworks for inclusion and diversity. The representatives at the GLE in themselves were a stellar example of the beauty and massive knowledge exchange and learning that actual practise of diversity and inclusion can bring in.


Remise en question des structures verticales de prise de décisions dans le secteur des Organisations de la Société Civile (OSCs) à travers l'amélioration des pratiques de redevabilité

Par Gaetan Mertens (Accountability Lab) et Resilient Roots (CIVICUS)

Resilient Roots est une initiative de CIVICUS, menée en partenariat avec Keystone Accountability et Accountable Now. Il s’agit d’un projet ambitieux qui implique 15 organisations de la société civile basées dans des pays différents, comprenant deux organisations en Afrique francophone, et plus particulièrement en Mauritanie et au Bénin.


Sketching Dreams Together

Reflections From CIVICUS’ Youth Co-Design Workshop In Montevideo

By Gioel Gioacchino

GioelIn December, as part of my work researching the resourcing landscape for youth-led civil society, I had the chance to witness and participate in a youth co-design workshop in Montevideo. For CIVICUS, organising this workshop meant bringing together wisdom and lessons learned about working meaningfully with young people.

For a start, the group was small: it felt intimate. We were not coming together to listen to people speak about ‘participation’ and civil society – we were invited to call upon our experience and knowledge. The guidelines of our work were simple: We have a budget for a youth program, let’s design it together. It felt like a rare luxury, a treat, to be able to get together with young activists all over the world and create. With my researcher cap on, it was refreshing to see how collective creation emerged as a product of reflection, of bringing together our emotions, stories, and insights.

Originally appeared on


Inspired and Challenged: Message from Lysa John, CIVICUS SG


As I write this, I am heading into my second week as Secretary-General of CIVICUS – and each day has been an opportunity to understand a new dimension of this global alliance. Day one, for instance, was marked by a strong sense of celebration! Many of you – members, partners and allies of the CIVICUS Alliance – have shared messages of support and encouragement to do more to secure and strengthen the work of civil society worldwide. I very much look forward to collaborating with all of you in the coming year!


CIVICUS’ AGM comes to a close with an approved Annual Report and Solidarity Fund!

Spanish | French 

In December 2018, CIVICUS members from all over the world gather in Montevideo, Uruguay, to attend a multiplicity of convenings. This includes a board meeting, a youth co-design workshop and a global exchange on diversity and inclusion. Participants share cake and celebrations to mark CIVICUS’ 25 year anniversary.

CIVICUS Alliance also bid farewell to outgoing Secretary General, Danny Sriskandarajah, who reflects on his 6- year tenure as “a wonderful mix of change and constancy, of frustration and fulfillment, of pride and humility” in this blog post, and welcomes incoming SG Lysa John. 

All of this end of year activity culminates in the CIVICUS members AGM (annual general meeting), held at the Spanish International Cooperation Agency for Development. Members approve the  CIVICUS Annual Report, as well as the framework for a ground-breaking CIVICUS Solidarity Fund. Stay in touch early 2019 for more information!

Voting members unable to join physically participate online through the Virtual AGM, where they actively contribute to the discussions around  key agenda items and cast their votes. Many express their contentment to be able to take part remotely. “We are happy and are with you who are on site in Uruguay; CIVICUS governance is more democratic and the needs of members are taken into account; we receive all information related to the management of the Alliance and agree to vote for the Report submitted to the members.”

One of  the AGM highlights, is when each continent comes together to create  a slogan representing their solidarity. Asia envelops everyone in a giant hug saying that ‘no one is an outsider’, North America links hands around the room as a physical manifestation of solidarity, Europe tells us that ‘your journey is our journey’, South America protests across the room to the slogan ‘the people united shall never be defeated’ and the Africans join everyone in a giant train across the world with a protest song.

As everyone leaves to go back home, crossing the globe to get back to our countries, we carry with us the spirit of togetherness, and the power of what we can achieve together.


Going forward hopeful: Reflections and farewell from outgoing SG of CIVICUS

Spanish | French 

As my time at CIVICUS draws to a close, I wanted to say a proper farewell to those who matter most at CIVICUS – the alliance of members and partners - who make this organisation unique and so special. The last six years have been a wonderful mix of change and constancy, of frustration and fulfillment, of pride and humility.

The markers of dramatic change are many. Our annual income has risen from around $3m to over $13m. This year, we will issue $2.5m of subgrants, to smaller, Southern organisations. Our staff team is more diverse than ever before and our technological capabilities far beyond those that I encountered upon my arrival.

Other things, I am pleased to say, have remained reassuringly constant, not least the fact that we remain proudly headquartered in Johannesburg. And, perhaps most importantly, that we have retained, I hope, the same professional, yet humble, approach to serving civil society that has been a feature of CIVICUS since its beginnings. I tried to label it being ‘profumble’ but it didn’t seem to stick with colleagues 😉

Of course, the last six years have also held their fair share of frustrations and setbacks. We could have been more strategic and intentional in the way we’ve grown, particularly in terms of our geographical footprint. We’ve talked a great deal about democratising the international system, as well as about the SDGs, yet our programmatic work does too little to reflect or support these goals.

My tenure at CIVICUS has also coincided with a period in which the crackdown on civic space has solidified into a persistent, pernicious, truly universal phenomenon. The space for civil society is shrinking, not by accident or in accordance with the natural ebb and flow of social change, but by design. Our democracies – we, the people – are under siege.

But I do not move on from CIVICUS convinced that we are living in dark and dangerous times. Quite the opposite: I go forward hopeful.

For, wherever I have been, I have encountered not just frustration with broken politics, but a desire to shape better democracies; to satisfy an unquenched thirst for participation; to re-imagine democracy for a new age. It is this hunger – a hunger for the power to better our own lives, to better our communities and countries – that civil society must look to satisfy.

But, if we are to have any hope of succeeding, we will need to embrace radical change. Neither the market, nor state alone can mend our social fabric, or rebuild our ailing democracies, but nor can we assume that civil society organisations, in their current form, will be at the vanguard of driving social change in the 21st century. Those that are – and will become – our most influential civic formations are those that are already reshaping, reinventing and renewing themselves.

If civil society can find new dynamism in its shifting shapes and come together to stand united in the push back against shrinking space, then we will be ready to take on what I have come to see as our three major challenges.

Our common, digital future

The first will be to reimagine our rights for a digital world. Nowhere are our freedoms being more fiercely contested than they are online. The handful of corporates that dominate cyber space, convinced as they are of their pioneering role as digital saviours of our ailing world, are fiercely anti-regulation. But we need to find ways of promoting better behaviours online and supporting a fairer, more transparent structure. We need to work out how our legal and social norms apply in digital spaces. We need to get the rules and the governance right.

Any new rules cannot be solely state-led, nor can they be led by the private sector alone. Governance of the digital space will need to be a truly multi-stakeholder initiative. Without conscious, purposeful struggle, the digital era won’t only fail on its promise to emancipate citizens; it will achieve the very opposite. [By the way, please do let me know in this area – the High Level Panel on Digital Cooperation I sit on will report in April 2019]

Reimagining democracy

Our second major challenge is to reimagine our democracy, as we outlined in our latest report Democracy for All: Beyond a Crisis of Imagination. We – as civil society – need to be rethinking our ideology of power, rethinking our democracies, in such a way as to enable people to reclaim their voice and sense of agency. We need to be experimenting, engaging those who are most under-represented in our existing system in designing new prototypes.

It’s a process that urgently needs to happen at the global level as well. Many of the decisions that affect our lives are taken in the headquarters of remote, opaque, inaccessible institutions, cogs in a system that privileges a few, powerful states—and often corporations—over the interests of people.

We need institutions of global governance that offer recourse to protection and support when authorities at the national level abuse their power. We need them now more than ever.

And so, we must develop new forms of global consultation, we must insist upon more direct citizen participation in key decision-making, we must demand more transparency, so that trusted – and therefore, more effective – global institutions can form part of a reimagined democratic system.

Redrawing sectoral boundaries

Finally, we cannot reimagine our democracy until we reimagine our economy. Modern capitalism has concentrated power and wealth to an absurd, immoral degree.

We need to find ways of enabling people to reclaim their sense of economic agency. We need to repurpose technology to create services equivalent to those offered by today’s corporate monoliths, without the extreme levels of exploitation, extraction and inequality.

Civil society enjoys a freedom that neither the state nor market can lay claim to. Sitting beyond those sectors, we are free to reimagine the rules and dynamics that govern their systems. This constitutes perhaps the most fundamental challenge for CIVICUS. We cannot afford to simply defend ‘our sector’, nor can we fall prey to the fallacy that these sectors – state, market and civil society – are as neat or eternal as many make out. The future is going to be blurry and hybrid, and I hope CIVICUS can be ahead of the curve, helping others to navigate these changes.

Finally, let me finish where I started by saying that it has been a hugely fulfilling privilege to be part of the CIVICUS journey. I feel proud to have been part of a dynamic and diverse community of people. I leave with a conviction that there is something beautiful, precious and powerful about CIVICUS. I also leave knowing that there are some brilliant colleagues at CIVICUS continuing and evolving our work, led by the wonderful Lysa John, and overseen by the best Board in the civil society world.

I will be watching with great interest to see what comes next for CIVICUS. And I hope that I can work with my new colleagues at Oxfam Great Britain to play our part in strengthening people’s power.

Dhananjayan Sriskandarajah


Climate change as a matter of peace

By Flávia Bellaguarda, Co-Founder and COO, Youth Climate Leaders

FlaviaThe Youth Climate Leaders (YCL) was honored to be selected to attend the first edition of the Paris Peace Forum, from 11th to 13th November, and to showcase our startup in the environmental village among other 119 projects from all over the world. Youth Climate Leaders would like to give a special "thank you" to CIVICUS for supporting us to attend the Paris Peace Forum. It was a well-organized and bustling event.

The opening ceremony was full of Heads of State, Heads of Government, and leaders of international organizations. It was a life-time experience to share the same room with President Trudeau, President Macron, President Putin, Chancellor Angela Merkel, UN Secretary-General António Guterres, Nobel Peace Nadia Murad, just to name a few. A crucial part of YCL mission is to enable young people worldwide to increasingly occupy those spaces.

President Macron opened the ceremony stating that the world is in a different path because in the centenary of the 1918 Armistice we had in the same room 84 heads of states peacefully reunited in Paris under the Arc de Triomphe. The Chancellor Angela Merkel stated that peace must be pursed, and the first step is to recognize that the world is facing severe crises. She emphasized the refugee crisis we are facing saying that countries must be united in order to solve the situation providing real support for those in need.

Additionally, the UN Secretary-General António Guterres highlighted that climate change is the biggest challenge of 21st century and that multilateral efforts are crucial for us to take actions as we are gearing up for COP24. He complemented Merkel saying that in the context of climate change, demography and migration issues are the second most important challenge of our century. It reminded me of the amazing lecture that Dr. Caroline Zickgraf gave to us in Paris about the intersection of climate change and the refugee crisis during the #YCL2018Immersion.

The main purpose of the Paris Peace Forum was thus to produce two primary outputs: testifying and mobilizing in favor of collective action and multilateralism, and advancing concrete projects of global governance. Altogether, the Forum featured three spaces: (1) a Space for Solutions showcasing governance projects in five “Villages” (peace and security, environment, development, new technologies and inclusive economy); (2) a Space for debates where initiatives from the Villages as well as cross-cutting themes were discussed; and (3) a Space for Innovation which invited developers and programmers to devise digital solutions for the identified challenges.

It was a difficult task to decide which discussion I should participate in, as there were so many interesting topics! Fortunately, the YCL stand was always full of people keen to learn more about our startup and we had the chance to network with amazing people from all over the world. For that reason, I did not have time to participate in a lot of panels, so I chose the panels “Finance for Climate: a Way to go Forward, a Way to go Faster” and “Fleshing out 2250: A Role for Youth in Global Stability”.

We had three intense days at the Paris Peace Forum, where we could foster important connections to strengthen our ability to solve the challenges mentioned by President Macron. I was happy to hear in the closing ceremony that the next edition of the Paris Peace Forum they will have more open spaces for youth. We were not well represented in many panels, both as speakers and participants, nor as project leaders showcasing projects in the Villages. On the other hand, I was proud to see organizers recognizing this issue and that in order to pursue peace and have a multilateral effort to solve the world problems the youth must be included.

So, I hope to see many of you on the next edition of the Forum!


Civil society is blurring? Let’s remember our whys and get creative!

Reflection from “Money, Culture and Change” - a participatory action research process on the sustainability of youth-led civil society organisations (CSOs) in Medellin, Colombia.

By Gioel Gioacchino

In the middle of a research workshop, Stiven got up and drew the picture below on the board.  Stiven is a civil society leader active in Castilla, a neighbourhood on the slopes of Medellin, Colombia. He has not studied any theories of civil society, but, with his drawing, he put his finger on a big wound within the sector. He used the picture to explain that funding, and CSOs themselves, should be seen as tools, trampolines to promote a gearing of economic development and social economies based on solidarity.Gioel Giaoacchino

Stiven believes that social projects need to have economic models. “We need to move to an economy of solidarity,” he reflected, reminding us that there cannot be a community that lives in solidarity and justice without an economy of solidarity and justice.

As part of a PhD program at the Institute of Development Studies (University of Sussex), for the last four years I have been researching how youth-led CSOs seek financial sustainability, and with what implications for their organisational culture and understanding of social change.

Carrying out participatory action research with a group of ten youth-led CSOs in Medellin, Colombia we found a sort of double paradox in resourcing youth-led civil society organisations.

A double paradox

First, we noticed that youth-led organisations are more likely to want to do work that fits outside the buzzwords of the moment (read: they do not think of following the money). Yet, to do the type of work they value they do need resources.

If they manage to obtain some of the scarce funding available, they are asked to fit within the cha-cha-cha of funding parameters which often limit their independence - they need to adopt practices that might feel incoherent or set priorities that might not be their own.

Funding available to youth-led groups is scarce and often comes along with worldviews that disregard the contribution these organisations are making while emphasizing the more ‘technical aspects' of development. The risk is that CSOs will become more homogenous, less able to be in touch and respond to the needs they perceive in their communities.

They work with the crumbs of funding available, while having to digest the practices and values of a system they would not want to support.

Many youth-led organisations tend to be critical of our economic system and they would like to be truly independent, while they continue resourcing themselves from within a system that they struggle to fundamentally question - because it feeds them.

The other option is to generate funding by engaging with the market (e.g. Social entrepreneurship) - but many youth-organizations ask: how can we solve the challenges of a society, that we think are deeply tied to the injustice of the neoliberal economic system, by working with the same logic?

To make it all more complicated they often associate funding with negative emotions - they might think: ‘we do need funding, but money sucks’. It’s hard to attract funding when you think it sucks.

In short, the idea of an independent civil society seems redundant.

Looking at the future of civil society

A turning point in our research was a two-day participatory foresight workshop. Young civil society leaders and representative from donors’ institutions in Medellin came together to construct a range of eight scenarios for the future of civil society in 2035.

One of the most striking observations during the workshop was that, across all eight scenarios, participants expected differences between the public, private, and civil society sectors would blur even further.

Today, CIVICUS defines civil society as: “the arena - outside of the family, the state, and the market - which is created by individual and collective actions, organisations and institutions to advance shared interests”. In short, the current definition of civil society is tied to the idea that there are three sectors.

As they expected these boundaries between sectors to become thinner, participants were challenged to distil the meaning of civil society. If the structure and resourcing modalities of civil society were to change radically; if CSOs, as we know them today, were to disappear – what would be left of the concept of civil society?

To explore these scenarios, we had to go back to the essence. Why does civil society matter?

Across all eight scenarios, civil society was understood by participants as providing opportunities for questioning, reflecting, re-imagining and renewing social values and norms. A discussion on the question “What is the role of Civil Society?” suggested that civil society is a space where alternative values can be articulated, nourished, and explored. Someone argued that civil society seeks to “resist all the pressure to suppress citizens’ ability to express themselves”. Civil society generates well-being: it seeks to work in collaboration with others, it builds strong social ties, it crafts communities. Someone summarised the discussion by stating that civil society “promotes coexistence as intrinsically important”.

This research pointed out that many young people in Medellin are thirsty for different ways of being together and experiencing alternative community constructions: they are craving meaning. Consciousness, spirituality, and connection with nature were at the core of their work.

The youth-led CSOs in this study realised that resources matters beyond being instrumental to their work. Through funding, they create ties and conversations with other sectors. As we admitted civil society is not so independent, we realised that CSOs can only sustain themselves when they can co-construct realities with others, so as to pull together resources and energy.

For this type of work to happen, the current funding logics need to be transcended. Now, this won’t happen overnight - there is a lot to learn.


So the youth-led CSOs that took part in this study are engaging in constant experimenting.

They seek financial sustainability by trying different strategies that can uphold their views, while learning to engage with market-forces selectively. In other words, they are responding to market forces as a necessity, while trying to uphold their worldview as a way to work toward their visions. We found that the CSOs in this study were developing their ability to also speak the language of the market as a way to expand their opportunities, comprehend their ecosystems, and contribute to shaping it. Meanwhile, they organize rituals, exchange their products and services, build meaningful relationships with people from different institutions, support local artists and artisans, grow their own food, and resist getting in competition with one another. They choose solidarity and collaboration at every corner.

Civil society cannot afford to sit around and question an economic system without looking to find new ways to sustain itself. We all need to play, experiment and get creative.

CIVICUS is currently analysing trends and practices of resourcing youth-led groups and movements in Africa and Latin America. We hope to gain more insights on trends and challenges that could provide useful recommendations for both funders and youth-led groups. The analysis will be led by the author of this blog who has been researching extensively on the sustainability of youth-led groups.

If you’d like to input/engage in this analysis, reach out to



Disability inclusion benefits us all

by Lieke Scheewe, policy advisor & coordinator at DCDD

Today is World Disability Day – a great day to celebrate the value of human diversity! That’s why the Dutch Coalition on Disability and Development (DCDD) is making a case today for the value of a disability inclusive society, by launching a ‘social business case’.

Over 1 billion people in the world have some form of disability according to WHO, that I s 1 in 7. At least 80% of this billion are estimated by the UN to live in low- and middle-income countries. Due to the barriers they face in accessing services and jobs, persons with disabilities make up a disproportionate percentage of the poorest sections of the community. Not only people themselves – but societies at large – are paying a high price for exclusion. What can investments in a more inclusive society bring us?

More resilient people and householdsBridgete

Catherine from Kenya is partially deaf-blind. She received support from an NGO to learn how to use the screen reader programme JAWS, to know her rights and to feel confident about her abilities. Her vocational training institute received support on how to make their building and their teaching methods more inclusive. Thanks to the removal of these barriers, Catherine completed her certificate and is now able to invest in the future of her son: “I love my new job in customer care; talking is one of my hobbies! I am doing something I am trained in, and I am earning a good salary to support my family. My son is going to start kindergarten next year, and I will be able to pay his school fees with no struggle.”

Profitable private sectors and sustainable public sectors

Still most children with disabilities do not attend school. If education systems would become more accessible and inclusive, this would have a major impact on individual lives and communities. Research in the Philippines reveals that inclusive education raises future adult wages of a child, by more than 25%. Evidence from Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Nepal and the Philippines shows that the returns on investing in education for people with disabilities are two to three times higher than for persons without disabilities. ILO estimates that disability exclusion from the labour market comes at a national cost of 3 to 7 percent GDP. Fortunately, there is an increasing realisation among employers that promoting workplace diversity is good for business. Reasonable workplace adjustments and supportive policies are often less costly than initially thought and can also benefit workers without disabilities as they promote more inclusive work environments. “Differently-abled employees bring in a diversity of thought to the organisation, and hiring them is a business imperative for us, not a Corporate Social Responsibility activity,” said DP Singh, vice-president of Human Resources at IBM India/South Asia.

The Bangladesh garment industry opens its doors

Bangladesh Garment FactoryDisability exclusion from the labour market costs the Bangladesh government $891 million a year. Hopefully this is about to change, now that the garment industry has opened its doors to workers with a disability. As a growing industry, garment factories are in continuous demand for skilled workers. This already provided opportunity for many female domestic workers to enter the formal labour market, and it has now opened such opportunities to people with a disability as well. This change was triggered by the Rana Plaza disaster in 2014, which caused permanent injuries in the lives of many garment workers. The industry, together with local disability organisations and support from the Bangladesh and German governments, has established an Inclusive Job Centre and a Helpline in order to bridge the gap between employers and (potential) employees. So far, 250 factories have taken measures to make their workspaces accessible and inclusive, and 2500 people with disabilities have been supported in gaining skills and finding a job.

Ramp-up investment in disability inclusion!  

Good practices such as the one in Bangladesh are starting to pop up in many countries. Yet, we’re only at the beginning of seeing real change. If we aim to achieve the global goals by 2030, it’s high time that governments, businesses and development organisations really start to prioritize investments in accessibility, participation, support measures and disability data. As stated by the UN: Persons with disabilities, as both beneficiaries and agents of change, can fast track the process towards inclusive and sustainable development and promote a resilient society for all”. We can no longer afford to miss out on the valuable contributions people with a disability make to society! The success of our fight against poverty and inequality depends on it.


All quotes and research references above can be found in the full article, ‘A Social Business Case on Disability Inclusion in Development’. To download this social business case and the accompanying infographic, please visit Follow us on twitter @dcdd_nl.



What if ‘bottom-up’ wasn’t the answer?

By Marina Cherbonnier, CIVICUS membership engagement specialist

OECD at Paris Peace ForumAs I was walking around the stands, agoras and meet-ups of the very interactive and lively first edition of the Paris Peace Forum, I couldn’t help but keep stumbling across the by-now well-known expression ‘bottom-up approach’, used as a way to build a fair and better world.

The forum covered a range of extremely insightful topics such as digital peace and cyber security, global solidarity - on malnutrition for instance - and issues of the environment and governance – not only in the public sector but also in the business world. 

Discussions focused heavily on issues of global governance, and the phrase ‘bottom-up’ kept resonating like a fatalist acceptance of a system based on enduring inequality, where a tiny elite is and always will be at a higher level than others. As I listened, the question recurred: isn't that a fundamental issue if we are to build fair and equitable governance? How do we take on power when we genuinely believe that some people are above others?


Thinking about how to measure your organisation’s accountability?

...then read on, because this blog post is for you!

by Belén Giaquinta (CIVICUS)

FB Global EnThe Resilient Roots Accountability Initiative is working with 15 partners to help them design and rollout year-long accountability projects and document the factors which seem to help boost or hinder their accountability. We want to track changes in accountability over the course of the initiative, and to do so we need to measure our starting point!... But this proved to be much more complicated than we expected. Read on for some raw reflections about what we learned on the way!

How to do an accountability baseline in a comprehensive, yet efficient and comparable way, you ask? Well, you make a survey. Or to be exact, you make two similar surveys that cover various aspects of accountability (such as voice, responsiveness, trust, communication, etc.), addressed to the core of any organisation: their primary constituents and their staff.

For the majority of questions, the accountability baseline survey used the Net Performance Analysis (NPA) methodology, which involves respondents choosing a score on a scale from 0 to 10, from “totally disagree” to “completely agree”. The NPA then helped us generate a single number for each question which allows for easy comparison across constituent groups, between organisations, and over time. Comprehensive and comparable: check!

The exact method used to administer these surveys varied from one organisation to the next (based on the age of respondents, access to the internet, geographical location, etc), and included a mix of in-person/over the phone interviews and online surveys via the web and mobile phone applications. To do this, Resilient Roots hired independent consultants in almost all pilot project countries to undertake the surveys in the local language, and help reduce bias in responses (as opposed to organisations carrying out these baselines themselves).

Questions were standardised across all pilot project organisations, but the language in the surveys was adapted by each partner to fit the local context, make it less NGO-sounding and more accessible to its constituents. Then came the (11!) translations, one of the most time-consuming parts of the baseline measurement process. If you have ever tried to use “accountability” in another language, then you know the struggle of having to find translation for a term that simply does not exist outside of the English-speaking world. Now add words like “primary constituents” and “resilience” to the mix, and you have a buzzwords soup for a survey.

We approached these steps on a case-by-case basis, which made it a very laborious and slow process. But we wanted this baseline to be a real shared effort between our partners and the Resilient Roots team, and here taking our time proved to be more rewarding than efficiency.

So, we managed to create and implement a baseline survey that was indeed comprehensive, replicable, and comparable, and (to a lesser extent) efficient… That is until we got to the data analysis part, where we quickly realised how overwhelming this phase would be. The single, most important lesson learned from this is to “start at the end”. If we had started by spending more time thinking about the analysis, what we wanted to do with this information and what systems (read: complex equations on excel or powerful programming languages like “R”) we needed to set up to help us get there, this would have saved us lots of time and effort!

And it did not stop there! Once we had some preliminary results, we then had to figure out how to share these findings with the pilot project organisations, in a constructive and learning-oriented manner. After much debating, the best we came up with was an eight-page report (we tried!) with follow up calls. Of most importance for us was to visualise the data without generalising the findings or missing the nuance the NPA can give. So after we graphed, and pie-charted, and density-plotted, disaggregated and tabled, I think we got there!

Yet, a big part about understanding the results of this baseline survey does not depend on how many pretty graphs you make, but how vulnerable and open you are to both good and bad feedback from the people you work with. More importantly, it is about making serious commitments to address and respond to the feedback you receive. Accountability is (to a large extent) about organisational culture and how we “practice” sustainable development. These changes take time, and as a sector we have lots of work to do on this front! For Resilient Roots and the pilot project organisations, this baseline was our point of departure for setting off on this journey.

In sum, this accountability baseline measurement has been truly illuminating – though quite challenging and a somewhat burdensome process. But we have learned a lot on the way and we will continue to improve and adapt our methodology based on these learnings. Now, we feel readier than ever to support these 15, very exciting accountability pilot projects organisations make the best out of their efforts to increase their primary constituent accountability!

If you think, “hmm this is interesting, I want to know more about this methodology” then you are in luck! During the Global Accountability Week taking place 12-16 November, we will publish a much more comprehensive guide about how your organisation can measure its own accountability baseline. Stay tuned!


Global Citizenship Education as a Sustainable Development course: My first class

By Claudia Cassoma, writer, student in special education and teaching and CIVICUS member

Claudia2Considering Sustainable Development as the program of study, the major, perhaps the end goal; let's look at Global Citizenship Education as the required course and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as the elective ones.

On 3 October, I attended my first ‘class’ on Global Citizenship Education. It was held at the lavishly elegant Les Atéliers des Tanneurs, in Brussels, and wAas conducted by Bridge 47, a network of experts on the seventh target of the fourth Sustainable Development Goal, quality education. The classroom was filled with minds from different points of the world thirsty for knowledge. I did wish it was a little more culturally diverse; nonetheless, I loved that from the very beginning I felt inspired. From The Leap Manifesto, Maya Menezes opened the meeting with a simple sounding yet highly potent line that left me thinking ‘til the end. In her words, to change everything we need everyone. I held that in the muddle of my mind as I lived through that remarkable experience.

As we continued “unlocking the power of 4.7.” and deciphering the role of “Global Citizenship Education in achieving sustainable development” I was thinking about the most impactful way to deliver my own presentation. Yes! On the very first day of class I already had a presentation due. Being placed under the “changemakers” session was a responsibility I did not take lightly. I went in insisting on delivering nothing less than a true “story of impact”. I had an idea of what I wanted to say; however, as I got to observe the room and listen to all of those brilliant minds, that idea started conflicting with the question I had during my preparations: What exactly is ‘Global Citizenship Education’ and why does it matter to me as educator, humanitarian and as citizen of a country that barely knows the SDGs?


My Participation in the Bridge 47 Event and its Impact on our Education Program in Palestine

By Jamil Derbashi, from Palestinian Centre for Communication and Development Strategies (PCCDS), Palestine, and CIVICUS member

How the Bridge 47 project relates to our work in Palestine

Jamil DerbashiMy participation in the Bridge 47 Event in Brussels was one of my most important international meeting involvement in 2018. It focused mainly on the seventh objective of the fourth Sustainable Development Goal as defined by the United Nations for 2020-2030 (SDG4.7). The SDG 4.7 focuses on quality education towards a fair and resilient world (goal 4) and educating people as citizens of the world particularly (objective 7).

SDG4 is the framework of the Palestinian Centre for Communication and Development Strategies (PCCDS)’s work on education in Palestine. We will further be focusing on having a dialogue with the Palestinian Government and building coalitions to reach the objective of integrating “global citizenship” education within our strategic educational plan.

Indeed, the Sustainable Development Goals were approved and signed by the Palestinian President who has the highest authority, and he has demanded the various ministries to apply them, with the Ministry of Education being one of these ministries. The Ministry of Education responded gradually to address some objectives of goal 4, but hasn't yet implemented SDG 4.7.

How my participation at the Bridge 47 will further nurture our work

My attendance to the Bridge 47 event was side by side with 100 of the largest institutions working on global and/or sustainable education from Europe mainly, and from around the world in general, as well as representatives of international alliances. I was one of the members of these alliances: CIVICUS – the World Alliance for Citizen Participation.


Pakistan: “Global Citizenship”, a western perspective?

By Khurram Riaz, CIVICUS member from Pakistan

KhurramWith 207.74 million people in the country, having more than 50% youth population and 22.8 million children out of school, Pakistan faces the grave challenges of human rights violation, gender based violence, insecurity and extremism. Heavy influx of refugees and temporary displaced persons, cross-border tension and the latest economic project, Global Citizenship Education is the most important agenda to be taken forward by the government but completely neglected.

In Pakistan, which termed as a postcolonial state where citizenship agency is low, national identity very strong, and foreign influence extremely high, what can the future be for a framework of global citizenship? Although taught in schools in many developed countries e.g. UK, global citizenship is a new terminology in Pakistan and having talked to some of the citizens, students, professionals and friends, the general mindset in Pakistan is more local than global, more politically affiliated and it does not extend beyond nation states. Yes the postcolonial state of mindset is still prevalent, where citizenship is tied to nation state only. Today we, in Pakistan, still consider that the ideology of global citizenship stems from a western perspective.

But, this is not the case. I attended the one daylong conference on Building Global Citizenship and how we can unlock the power of global citizenship education on October 3, 2018 in Brussels, Belgium. This was hosted by Bridge 47 - a network of 16 European and International Organisations which CIVICUS is a steering group member. As many as 100 participants attended, representing an extremely diverse group, from a range of developed and developing countries and with unmatched enthusiasm and acknowledgement of the power of working together.

I was participating as a CIVICUS member, travelling all the way from Pakistan with a great FEAR in MIND: “I do not know anyone”. When I met the first Bridge 47 person: Tania, followed by Marina, Jamil, Claudia from CIVICUS, in a short time I felt myself part of the family. It felt so easy to talk to each one of them as if this was not the first time I was talking or even meeting them. When I started discussing about my country situation, I got the sense that they were bonding so much with me that they felt the issue and they provided expert advice. All of them are part of my family now and that's what Global Citizenship is: bringing the people together and seeing how the connections work.

I am grateful for this collective CIVICUS experience and meeting such fantastic people. I believe that the way we are bonded now, we can work for each other, support each other and even contribute to bringing peace and harmony in areas where we cannot even dream of going. This is Global Citizenship and together we can work for it.


What constituents say about CIVICUS

By Marina Cherbonnier, CIVICUS Membership Engagement Specialist

Spanish | French

Early 2018, we asked CIVICUS constituents to tell us about how they perceive CIVICUS’ work - what’s successful and what can be improved. We received 442 insightful responses from members and non-members.

It is clear that CIVICUS constituents value the work we are doing as an Alliance: CIVICUS’ power in connecting people, spurring collective action, creating avenues for Civil Society to be heard by other stakeholders etc. At the same time, they want more of it. They want members to truly drive CIVICUS as a member-based organisation, more diversity and inclusion and leveraging the work of the global alliance for more synergy and action on national and regional level.

Check the infographic below to see the Top 10 members’ asks to improve CIVICUS work and the Top 10 of what members see as CIVICUS’ success!

The CIVICUS Secretariat has been working on strengthening CIVICUS messaging on what it does, why, and how to get involved as a member. Stay tuned in the coming weeks! We are having further discussions with respondents, members and staff to define the action points that will meet members’ needs in 2019.  

Feel free to share your reactions and thoughts on the infographic’s key findings, by writing to .

Also, we take CIVICUS’ commitment to transparency, accountability, and continuous improvement very seriously. We count on CIVICUS members, allies and supporters to reach out to us whenever they have questions or concerns about the alliance’s work and activities. Do you think we are accountable? If not, go ahead and hold us to account via our new online feedback mechanism, which was just launched in July 2018. You can find more information in this blog post on how our new feedback channel will help to implement CIVICUS’ Accountability Framework.



What “Global Citizenship” means to you - if anything

Global citizenship IMG2

Marina Cherbonnier, CIVICUS membership engagement specialist and Bridge 47 steering group member.

Do you consider yourself as a citizen of the world? Alternatively, do you feel uncomfortable, threatened or simply blank when hearing the term “global citizenship”? It fascinates me that the concept is crystal clear to some but does not resonate at all with others. It largely depends on the experience and exposure we have of the world - but not only.

In the highly conceptual world that “International Development” evolves in, there is a project called Bridge 47. It works towards providing “global citizenship education” for all as a means towards building a world that is fair and resilient. The name “Bridge 47” resonates with the “SDG 4.7” framework: the 4th Sustainable Development Goal on Education for All, of which item 7 focuses on global citizenship education.

Learning to be a citizen of the world, in brief, is to grow the consciousness that everything is connected. For instance, child labour is not far from you if you buy products prepared by children. Learning to be a citizen of the world means building the spirit and competencies to make day-to-day decisions and actions that will have a positive impact on ourselves, our communities and the rest of the world all together.

2-4 October 2018 marked the first gathering of Bridge 47 staff and steering group – which CIVICUS has been a part - since the launch of the project. The objective was to take stock of the project’s progress since then. We identified challenges and addressed them on a strategic and practical level, by looking at the four aspects of the project: innovation, advocacy, networking and partnership. It also brought together a hundred potential partners to strengthen the network around the project.

The event gathered a fascinating group of diverse, international and enthusiastic people driven by social values and principles, and convinced about the power of working together. Most importantly, Global Citizenship (and my job) took all its meaning when appreciating how the CIVICUS delegation of members present united spontaneously as a family, despite their differences. Take Khurram: a senior monitoring and evaluation expert from Pakistan, Claudia: a young student in special education from Angola, Jamil: a SDG educational program implementer from Palestine. Their only apparent similarity was in their work on education. They bonded immediately and used each other as safety net while engaging with other participants.

Over the past 10 years of working with international networks, it is precisely the connection that operates amongst members that has nurtured my faith for universal peace and care. The sense of belonging that a global community spurs is magical. CIVICUS membership IS global citizenship in spirit and practice.

Yet, what strikes me is that those of us who have been convinced about the necessity of working collectively are yet to identify how to do this in a more efficient and cohesive way. How do we move from less “Blabla” to more “Boom Boom”, as eloquently put by one of my previous partners? As long as we stay in our own conceptual sphere, with our own language, how far will we go? How do we translate ideas into concrete actions? “How do we get real?” It is time to move from convincing ourselves of the need to work together. Implementing activities and showing what global citizenship means in practice are the next steps for Bridge 47 in 2019 onward. Stay tuned.


Resilience in times of shrinking civic space: How Resilient Roots organisations are attempting to strengthen their roots through primary constituent accountability

Soulayma Mardam Bey (CIVICUS) and Isabelle Büchner (Accountable Now)

The systematic crackdown on peaceful protests and demonstrations across the world has shaped our understanding of repression against civil society organisations (CSOs). Yet, less-spectacular restrictions such as increased bureaucratic requirements imposed by governments are not necessarily less threatening to CSO resilience.

While those tactics significantly hamper CSOs’ ability to operate and can reduce primary constituents' trust in CSOs' ability to represent them legitimately, we also need to acknowledge that these symptoms can stem from our own inappropriate approaches to accountability. When CSOs are not accountable to their roots, this can serve as a breeding ground for governments’ and other non-state actors’ anti-CSOs strategies and rhetoric.  

The Resilient Roots initiative is aiming to test whether CSOs who are more accountable and responsive to their primary constituents are more resilient against threats to their civic space. 15 organisations from diverse countries and contexts have partnered with us to design and rollout innovative accountability experiments over a 12 month period. These experiments will explore how public support and trust in CSOs can be improved through practising what we call primary constituent accountability, which aims to establish a meaningful dialogue with those groups that organisations exist to support, and increase their engagement in CSO decision-making.

Accountability and resilience are both highly context-specific and vary not just from country to country but also along an organisation’s thematic focus, size and approach. This means that we need to explore the relationship between accountability and resilience on a case by case basis and across a variety of very different contexts. Keeping this in mind - and without further adieu - read on to meet the some of Resilient Roots Accountability Pilot Project organisations:

One of these organisations is the Poverty Reduction Forum Trust (PRFT) from Zimbabwe. In the rural area of Dora, in the district of Mutare, they aim to systematically validate actions and strategies through constituent-led monitoring of programme progress. As a platform for civil society that aims to address the root-causes and diverse manifestations of poverty in Zimbabwe, they may face very different challenges from an organisation that works on more politically polarising topics.

For example, Russian CSO OVD-Info is an independent human rights media project that monitors detentions and other cases of politically motivated harassment, informs media and human rights organisations on the state of political repression in Russia, and provides legal assistance to activists. For the Resilient Roots initiative, OVD-Info seeks to set up a dashboard to serve as a data visualisation tool, which will help evaluate the efficiency of its projects and motivate their constituents to play a stronger role in the organisation’s decision-making.

In contrast to the technology and data-driven approach of OVD-Info, FemPLatz is a women’s rights organisation from Serbia that seeks a more direct and personal approach. They plan to gather feedback from their constituents through focus group discussions, interviews and workshops while also improving their communication with their constituents through the publication of a regular newsletter. This will allow their constituents to monitor their work and get in contact with them to provide feedback.

A newsletter can also contribute to closing the feedback loop. Projet Jeune Leader (PJL) from Madagascar, for example, will engage young adolescents, their parents and school administrations to establish a coordinated and systematic means to collect feedback. They will collect feedback through participatory scorecards, stories from primary constituents around the changes triggered by the project, and an updated youth magazine to get closer to their constituents. PJL works on a comprehensive sexual-reproductive health education and leadership development program integrated into public middle schools.

A particularly creative approach comes from Solidarity Now. Through multimedia productions, their primary constituents will express their daily perceptions, challenges, and dreams through the making and sharing of interactive material like video clips. Solidarity Now consists of a network of organisations and people whose goal is to assist and support the populations affected by the economic and humanitarian crises in Greece. Through the provision of services to both local Greeks and migrant populations, it seeks to restore the vision of a strong Europe based on solidarity and open values.

In Asia, Climate Watch Thailand (CWT) is an organisation working to drive changes in attitudes towards climate change, and trigger action on the topic. As part of the initiative, CWT is going to strengthen how they formulate policy asks, by continuously testing their relevance to their constituents and this gaining wider support.

Unfortunately, not all the organisations we work with in this initiative feel comfortable enough to publicly associate themselves to Resilient Roots, without the fear of inciting further anti-CSO responses in their local context. Such is the case of our Ugandan partner, a reminder of how delicate civic spaces are and how important it is for our sector to better understand how to strengthen CSO resilience in recent times.

These diverse organisations are using a variety of approaches to work on CSO accountability, and we are incredibly excited to be exploring with them how different accountability practices fare in different regional and thematic contexts. What factors will make them successful and where will they need to adjust? In what circumstances does increased accountability actually lead to increased resilience? We are looking forward to sharing this journey with you: how they progress with their projects, the things they are learning, and what you can draw from their experiences to inform the work of your own organisation.


Resilient Roots blog


Ganar espacio desde la raíz

Escrito por Analía Bettoni – Instituto de Comunicación y Desarrollo

Analia Bettoni En su reciente artículo The revolution will not be televised: Can NGOs learn to adapt? , Dom Perera, investigador del CIVICUS Monitor plantea que si bien en los últimos 25 años ha habido un crecimiento explosivo en el número de organizaciones no gubernamentales (ONG), su papel en generar un cambio social se cuestiona. Su actuación se ha puesto en tela de juicio desde la propia opinión pública, mientras que gobiernos en muchos países imponen a menudo restricciones al trabajo de las organizaciones.

El artículo plantea que, en este escenario hostil, sin embargo, los movimientos sociales están mejor posicionados. Esto se puede deber por ejemplo a que son creados y dirigidos por las propias personas que reclaman, tienen mayor flexibilidad y motivación para adaptarse, no se plantean objetivos de largo plazo y sus estructuras flexibles permiten sumar aliados en los momentos que se necesita, permitiendo la movilización, adaptación y participación de forma rápida.

En 2012 la investigación La Sociedad Civil en la Encrucijada (Civil Society at a Crossroads), un estudio comparado de casos en todo el mundo presentaba como resultado una serie de desafíos para la sociedad civil organizada en total consonancia con estos estudios más recientes.

De acuerdo con este estudio, en todos los continentes, las asociaciones formales, como los partidos políticos, sindicatos y ONG no estaban siendo capaces de proporcionar una voz colectiva a las necesidades de las personas. Éstas eligen unirse en movimientos sociales, que surgen como “explosiones” ciudadanas desconectadas de los ámbitos formales o más tradicionales de la sociedad civil. Estas movilizaciones ciudadanas logran convocar a las personas a través de formatos tradicionales como las marchas, las protestas, las ocupaciones, pero también a través de otras formas más innovadoras como el teatro callejero, el arte, la canción, la poesía, la música, el baile entre otras, como lo han demostrado los movimientos estudiantiles o de mujeres. Por el contrario, las organizaciones formales como las ONG, se fueron convirtiendo paulatinamente en estructuras jerárquicas, con modelos de gestión y eficacia institucional (similar al empresarial) en la búsqueda de la sostenibilidad de sus proyectos y estructuras, lo que las llevó en gran medida a desconectarse de sus raíces o de las personas para las que trabajan o representan.


Every Voice Counts: UN Puts Spotlight on Children as Human Rights Defenders

By Lena Ingelstam and Ulrika Cilliers, Save the Children, Tor Hodenfield, CIVICUS, and Beatrice Schulter, Child Rights Connect

Many children want to defend their rights and the rights of others and when children speak out things change.

Every day, millions of children take action and influence laws, budgets, service delivery and the realization of their rights as set out in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. They speak out on poverty, education, health, violence, the environment, discrimination, and many other things. Children are human rights defenders when they take action and promote, monitor and defend children’s rights and the rights of others.

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child provides all children with the right to act as human rights defenders, rights which are reinforced in the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.

EveryVoiceCounts“I believe we are all human rights defenders in our own way. Some of us in small and quiet ways because that’s how we feel and all we can give to the world and some in large ways. The impact may be big or small but we all fight for what we believe in.”
Child participating in Child Rights Connect & Centre for Children’s Rights Survey

92 per cent of children who participated in a new survey by Child Rights Connect and the Centre for Children’s Rights at Queen’s University, Belfast, see themselves as human rights defenders. But children face serious challenges when promoting and defending their rights and the rights of others. In the survey, children identify four main barriers:

  • Adults do not take children seriously. They do not see children as competent and children’s views are not respected.
  • Children do not feel safe; 70 per cent of children are concerned about violence when they act as human rights defenders.
  • Children lack information; 40 per cent of children agree that one of the main challenges they face as human rights defenders is the lack of information about rights.
  • Children sometimes struggle to act due to lack of time, money and ability to travel to meetings.

Children from the most marginalized and deprived groups often face additional challenges when they want to take action and promote and defend rights.


The world has changed; why haven’t we?

French | Spanish

Norwegian Agency

The world has changed dramatically since the turn of the century.  Selfies, smart phones, and instant communication are the norm across much of the world. Our lives are on the cloud and our offices are virtual. We're connecting across borders like never before.

We’re being confronted by our failures, such as the increasing number of scary weather events caused by global warming, along with deepening divides between the rich and those living in poverty. But we are also seeing people fighting back in new and creative ways, from the #MeToo movement in the United States to #FeesMustFall in South Africa. Innovative tools have made it easier than ever before for people to come together and take collective action, injecting new ideas, formations and energy into civil society.

For the past 25 years, CIVICUS has had a consistent mission, namely “to strengthen citizen action and civil society”. Yet, over the years, CIVICUS has worked mainly on the conditions for and effectiveness of civil society organisations, rather than the broader spectrum of citizen participation and action.


Resilient Roots: Debunking the Myths around Primary Constituent Accountability

By Isabelle Büchner (Accountable Now) and Laurence Prinz (Keystone Accountability)

When you are passionate about something and join others to work on it collectively, you quickly start to develop your own group language. You start using jargon and acronyms. This is a central part of creating a close community of peers. Yet this language can also become exclusive, where others misinterpret or feel uncomfortable to ask for clarifications on what has become a common part of your group’s vocabulary.


General Operating Support for Local Organizations Represented Just 1% of International Giving by U.S. Foundations Over Five-year Period

By Lauren Bradford and Inga Ingulfsen 

The State of Global Giving by U.S. Foundations

From 2011 to 2015 U.S. foundations awarded a total of 35.4 billion dollars for organizations or programs based outside the U.S. International giving grew by 29 percent over the five-year period and reached an all-time high of $9.3 billion.

These figures are drawn from The State of Global Giving by U.S. Foundations, a report jointly published by Foundation Center and Council on Foundations earlier this month. It’s the tenth in a series of joint research published by our two organizations since our first report on international grantmaking in 1997. (You can access the whole series here). While philanthropic funds are dwarfed by official development assistance – the $9.3 billion in international grants awarded by U.S. foundations in 2015 was equivalent to about a third of the $31 billion in U.S. official development assistance that year – we know governments alone can’t achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and that foundations are among the key civil society partners that will be instrumental in driving progress. We also know U.S. foundations provide critical support to civil society groups globally, including in countries with challenging legal environments for cross-border giving (more on this below). We therefore hope CIVICUS members and their extended networks will use our data and analysis to inform their strategic efforts and partnerships with U.S. foundations to strengthen civil society worldwide.

Here are four key takeaways for civil society advocates around the world on international giving by U.S. foundations:


Faire partie de CIVICUS nous a permis de défendre les droits des prisonniers au Burundi

English | Spanish  

A l’occasion des 25 ans de CIVICUS, SABUSHIMIKE Mamert, Président de l'Association des Amis de la Nature (AAN) et chargé de la communication et du plaidoyer au sein de la Coalition du Burundi pour la Défense des Droits de l’Homme, exprime comment faire partie de CIVICUS - l’Alliance Mondiale pour la participation des citoyens – a permis à son association d’avoir un impact pour l’amélioration des conditions des prisonniers au Burundi et le respect de leurs droits. @mamertsabushim   

Faire partie de l’Alliance Mondiale pour la participation des citoyens (CIVICUS) est une innovation importante et une très bonne chose pour moi, pour les membres de mon organisation : Association des Amis de la Nature et pour certains prisonniers du Burundi.

J’ai reçu de nouvelles connaissances en plaidoyer grâce à CIVICUS, qui ont été à la base de l’amélioration des conditions de vie, d’hygiène et d’assainissement des prisonniers du Burundi, particulièrement dans la principale prison du pays MPIMBA qui enfermait 3664 détenus en janvier 2018 avec une capacité d’accueil de 800 détenus.


Construyendo juntos un mejor entorno habilitante para todas las organizaciones sociales en el mundo

English | French 

Con motivo de los 25 años de CIVICUS, RACI: la Red Argentina de Cooperación Internacional queremos, explica de qué manera el ser parte de CIVICUS - Alianza Mundial para la participación ciudadana – permite cconstruir juntos un mejor entorno habilitante para todas las organizaciones sociales en el mundo.

“RACI se une, con mucha alegría, a la celebración del vigésimo quinto aniversario de CIVICUS. Desde la Red Argentina de Cooperación Internacional queremos desearle un feliz cumpleaños a CIVICUS y esperamos que vengan otros veinticinco años más.


Does greater accountability mean greater resilience? Findings from our research so far

By Kingsley Orievulu and Jack Cornforth

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]


Asia home to largest number of indigenous peoples: Activists building a movement in face of attacks

By Josef Benedict, Civic Space Research Officer

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. 


Partnerships for sustainability

By Siok Sian Pek-Dorji, from Bhutan Centre for Media and Democracy and CIVICUS member delegate to the EC Partnership Forum 2018.

pek1The 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.


Have your say: Feedback channels to hold us to account

By Tamryn Lee Fourie

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.


Local NGOs joining the “Giants”’ Table

By Lusanda Magwape, from Dream Factory Foundation, South Africa, and CIVICUS delegation’s member at the EC Partnership Forum 2018.

lusanda1When 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.


Desde Perú a Bélgica, juntos somos más Fuertes


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.

partnershipforum4Para 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).


The Echo of

By Ekaterina Porras Sivolobova, from Project 189, Kuwait and CIVICUS member delegate to the EC Partnership Forum 2018.

partnershipforum2Let’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.


Digitaalinen turvallisuus kuuluu kaikille


Auli Starck, Kepa, Suomi, CIVICUS-jäsenjärjestö

DigitalSecurity FollowupGDPR-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:


10 Young Activists using Art to Create Change

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 Sayet1. Madeline Sayet // @MadelineSayet

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.



 Daniel ArzolaVerified account2.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.




Sonita Alizadeh

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.


Opening up to Local Fundraising

By Mr. Mange Ram Adhana, President of the Association For Promotion Sustainable Development, India, and CIVICUS member.

APSD India1

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.


A Platform for Africanism, Identity and Action

By Rawand Boussama, Afrika Youth Movement

AYMThe 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.


European Youth Event 2018: from reflection to action

By Elena Ceban, Center for Intercultural Dialogue

European Youth EventImagine 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.


Reflections on resource mobilisation realities for youth movements and organisations

By Alex Farrow

Alex FarrowYouth 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.


5 CIVICUS members to attend the European Commission’s partnership forum

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).

5members ECForum Banner


Appetite, Buzzwords, and Capacity Gaps

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 meansWorking Together

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 the best 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.


A young rural woman activist at CSW62

By Nadia Sanchez, She Is Foundation. Colombia, Member of CIVICUS Youth Working Group

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

Nadia SanchezSharing 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'.


Agenda 2063: Youth taking charge of Africa's transformation

By Esther Kariuki

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?

Esther blog 2

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.


“Walk in My Shoes”: Change starts with us!

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.OSCAR Project Thandeka Mabuza

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.


A quest to find our generation’s mission

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.




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