CIVICUS Civil Society Index

An international action-research project by and for civil society

Posts Tagged ‘Participants’

From Poverty to Decent Work – Bridging the gap for the youth

Posted by civilsocietyindex on October 19, 2010

Each year, October 17 is a new occasion to highlight the issues behind poverty in the world. As the ‘International Day for the Eradication of Poverty’, it stressed once again this year the emergency of the situation, as almost half the world population – over three billion people – live on less than $2.50 a day (World Bank Development Indicators 2008).

Yesterday October 18, United Nations officials, member States and representatives of non-governmental organizations met at the UN headquarters to commemorate the theme for 2010, “From Poverty to Decent Work: Bridging the Gap”.

At this occasion, the agenda was to explore practical measures to alleviate the disproportionate burden of unemployment on young people and inadequate opportunities for decent work. Indeed the International Labour Organisation (LTO) reported recently in its annual Global Employment Trends that the global unemployment rate increased by 0.9 per cent between 2007 and 2009, to reach 6.6 per cent. Over the same period, the unemployment rate of young people rose from 11.8 per cent to 13.4 per cent.

The probability for young people to be unemployed is three times higher than for adults, bringing UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to raise awareness about their situation. “Last year, more than 81 million young people were unemployed, the highest on record. One of the best ways for youth to see a future of hope is through the prism of a decent job” he said on Sunday.

Symbols of hope for a better tomorrow, young people need a future where the role they play is recognized and encouraged rather than overlooked and dismissed. To guarantee their voices are heard, participation is of paramount importance, whether through their involvement in civil society organisations, elections or youth networks.

In order to better understand the challenges faced by youth, and identify how governments, civil society and young people themselves can tackle these challenges, it is crucial to bridge the information gap by developing platforms for dialogue, knowledge sharing, project development and capacity building within the youth but also between the youth and the rest of the society. As part of its action-oriented assessment of the state of civil society, the Civil Society Index analyzes the extent, depth and diversity of civic engagement. It notably enables to get a better understanding of the youth engagement, its scope and nature, and identify the areas of potential improvement.

YOUTH METRO is the youth institute of the People for Change Foundation

The People for Change Foundation – the CSI partner in Malta, has conceived a specific project dedicated to youth capacity building. Created in early 2007, YOUTH METRO intends to provide resources and empowerment tools for young people, young workers and academics focusing on this area. Covering 17 areas, it stands as a starting point for thought and cooperation, and as such offers a chance to make improvements towards the ultimate goal of poverty eradication, by empowering the youth and making their voices heard by decision-makers and the private sector.

Find out more about YOUTH METRO on their website.

Please follow the CSI in Malta here.

Read more about all the projects of the People for Change Foundation in Malta here.

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Small states: why assessing civil society matters

Posted by civilsocietyindex on October 6, 2010

– By Mark Nowottny, CSI Project Coordinator –

In 2003-2006, the Civil Society Index was implemented in Cyprus, just one of the world’s 45 small states (World Bank). In the 2008-2010 phase, the Index is now being implemented in three: Bahrain, Cyprus, Malta. According to the World Bank and the Commonwealth, who have led much of the world’s international development work in small states, it is difficult to precisely define ‘small states’, although a threshold of 1.5 million people has become the usual benchmark. No single criteria, however, whether in geography, population, or economy, can necessarily definitively capture the nature of ‘smallness’, and others are often interchangeably included in work on small states (for example, the Commonwealth includes Jamaica, Lesotho, Namibia and Papua New Guinea in some groupings).

Development, we are often told, is about people. No wonder then that international development discourses – and the money of international NGOs and bilateral agencies – have tended to align themselves with the problems of countries where the millions reside. The 20 million people of the 45 small states represent just 0.4% of the population of developing countries worldwide (World Bank).

In recent years, the discourses of international development have started to be kinder to small states, particularly because a large number of them are also islands. The spectre of climate change threatens to overwhelm low-lying states in the Caribbean and Pacific, and the self-pronounced threat of Maldives’ obliteration has turned from irrational fear to international cause celebre.

Nevertheless, few other interventions have sought to confront the more negative afflictions of ‘smallness’. In the Pacific, thousands migrate to New Zealand, only to find themselves without job, without social inclusion, and without family. Left behind are island societies gutted of their best talent, drained of their brain. In the Caribbean, American television, music, films and values are broadcast across the few miles of sea that lies between, while local artists and cultural producers struggle to create a space for the young and restless to look at the here and to look at the now, and to make peace with the idea of remaining in – and building – their small island.

These themes – these challenges – that confront the millions of citizens in small states are timeless, and precede the trends and language of international development. Frantz Fanon, Marcus Garvey and Aime Cesaire knew of them when they wrote of the face of post-colonial smallness which was more akin to mental slavery. Earl Lovelace, perhaps more sympathetically, explored the way it made those in his beloved Trinidad and Tobago think and act. In Belize, thinkers like Assad Shoman and Evan Hyde understood that the newly independent country had to take possession of its own history and reflect on its own unique problems, not look at them in the light of other countries’ very different experiences.

In these small states, it might be initially hard to see why assessing civil society matters. Certainly, the numbers do not demand it. From a research perspective, what use anyway is an accurate empirical picture of civil society in a country where there are few donors ready to change the way they spend their few pennies?

An example of active citizenship in Cyprus: the Volunteer Network Project [Management Centre]

For the CSI, it matters because the project can offer a space for reflection, and for looking inward on the state of active citizenship. In focus groups, in surveys, and in the National Workshops, the Civil Society Index offers one small space – not enough by itself, but a start – for civil society to come together to reflect on what it is doing, what it looks like, where the challenges lie, and also where the opportunities and commonalities are. These spaces for national conversations exist more rarely than one might think. Just as a picture, a song, a film, or a dance can open a window for citizens into their own realities and world, so can a forum for reflection give space for citizens to look at their actions, the effect of these actions, and where they must go in the future.

Across the Caribbean, the Pacific and the small states of the world, citizens must play an active part in confronting their own unique challenges: climate change, small-scale import economies, crime and lack of social cohesion, brain drain and, finally, cultural anomie in the face of the potential for local cultural production. The solutions might just be there: making the most of a voice on the global diplomatic stage, concerning new technologies and the creative economy, and cultural policies.

Governments and international development actors will not step up to these challenges, and will certainly not do so alone. But citizens in small states – perhaps more than anywhere else – are capable of changing the domestic paradigms of development and the national discourses of social justice to suit their own realities better. To do so, they may just need to make more use of forums offering the space for internal reflection and the opportunity to move towards being at ease with oneself. Tools such as the Civil Society Index, led by and for civil society, can perhaps be one such weapon in their arsenal.

– Mark Nowottny –

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“We are not so different.”

Posted by civilsocietyindex on September 2, 2010

Written by Tracy Anderson;-CSI Research Officer

This is perhaps the most profound statement I have ever heard regarding the CSI project and its findings.  It came about in a workshop led by some of CSI’s partners at the World Assembly last week.  As mentioned in a previous blog (click here), this workshop presented the findings and experiences of two cross-border initiatives based on the CSI project: Zeynep Meydanoglu (Third Sector Foundation of Turkey – TUSEV) and Lusine Hakobyan (Counterpart International Armenia) presented findings from Turkey and Armenia respectively; and Vanessa Cartaya (SINERGIA in Venezuela) and Luis Serra (Red Nicaraguense por la democracia y el desarrollo local, Nicaragua) each presented on the experiences of the cooperation throughout the Latin American region.

When examining their CSI diamonds and the various sub-dimensional scores that make up this image, both groups noted they had similar results. It was Luis who said:  “We are not so different.  The similarities far outweigh the differences.”

While he was talking about the scores of the diamond and therefore the makeup of civil society in the Latin American countries that participated, the honesty and simplicity of that statement echoes to all aspects of society.  We are not so different.   In a world full of conflicts- international conflicts, civil wars, genocide, personal conflicts, work-place conflicts; in a world full of poverty; of economic and environmental injustice, we are not so different, you and I.

Though the catalyst for this message here was the CSI project, the profoundness of this statement is its universality. The catalyst does not need to be CSI, but it is dialogue. Taking the opportunity, finding the ‘excuse’ (as Lusine and Zeynep said about the CSI), to talk, to get to know the ‘other’ enables us to see we are not so different.  This is often a key step in conflict resolution and prevention, humanizing the enemy, the ‘other’.  It also makes it harder to justify many of the ills in the world: how can we watch so many starve, let these children grow up without education, and deny those people refuge from the atrocities in their homeland.  If we are not so different from each other and we would not wish these ills upon ourselves or our friends and loved ones, we cannot allow them upon others.  If we are not so different, then why conflict, why poverty, why?

And if we are not so different, then surely we must stand up and help out. And that is the root of civil society.  Stand up together for the things we believe in, because we are not so different and we all are worthy.

 

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Building understanding in Georgia

Posted by civilsocietyindex on May 19, 2010

On March 26 the Caucasus Institute for Peace, Democracy and Development (CIPDD) organised a National Workshop in the framework of the CIVICUS Civil Society Index in Georgia.

The National Workshop aimed at building a common understanding of the current state of civil society and a joint action agenda for civil society strengthening initiatives.

At the workshop, CIPDD presented results of the conducted research. Participants worked in small groups and afterwards presented results of their joint work in the plenary sessions. 

 The event was organized in the office of the Open Society Georgia – Foundation.

 

Click here to check out the original story and the website of the CSI partners in Georgia, the Caucasus Institute for Peace, Democracy and Development (CIPDD).

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Armenian and Turkish civil society come together

Posted by civilsocietyindex on April 12, 2010

On 8 April, Counterpart International Armenia and the Third Sector Foundation of Turkey (TUSEV) convened a highly significant workshop as part of the Cross Border Cooperation Initiative, supported by USAID and the Black Sea Trust. During the meeting, representatives from both countries came together within the framework of the CIVICUS Civil Society Index project to discuss and reflect upon the findings within each other’s countries. Participants also took the opportunity to identify similarities, differences and areas for possible collaboration.

 

Turkish and Armenian civil society participants work with each other during the Cross Border Initiative meeting

Below, watch what Ingrid Srinath, Secretary General of CIVICUS, had to say to participants at the historic workshop in her video message:

On 9 April, the following day, Counterpart International Armenia held their National Workshop. The National Workshop is a crucial component of the Civil Society Index project, and provides an opportunity for representatives from across society, including CSOs, government, the private sector, academia and the media, to reflect on and learn from the CSI findings, and strategise for action initiatives to strengthen civil society.

Participants discuss action to strengthen civil society at the Armenia National Workshop

Below, watch what Ingrid Srinath, Secretary General of CIVICUS, had to say to National Workshop participants in her video message ahead of the meeting:

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Research seminar held in Russia on CSI findings

Posted by civilsocietyindex on November 27, 2009

On November 18 2009, the Civil Society Index national coordinating organisation in Russia – the State University Higher School of Economics Centre for Civil Society Studies – convened a research seminar entitled “The Civil Society Index in Russia: Methodology and Research Results”.

Director of the Centre, Ms Irena Mersiyanova

Led by Director of the Centre Irina Mersiyanova and project coordinator Liliana Proskuryakova, the seminar discussed the methodology used, the initial quantitative data so far collected and the 67 indicators about the state of civil society derived from this data. Participants also discussed how the methodology used in the CSI project had changed since implementation of the project during the first phase in 2003-2006, as well as how future changes to the methodology at the end of this phase might better enable international comparability.

Participants in discussion during the seminar

The seminar, participated in by researchers, students, civil society representatives, donors and government authorities, forms part of  an active communication and engagement strategy by the SU-HSE – a key component of implementing the CSI project at the national level.

The SU-HSE will now move onwards towards completion of the project implementation and is due to convene its full National Workshop on December 11 2009, where a wide range of actors will engage with the findings and look to take forward their recommendations by developing concrete action plans.

To read more about the research seminar (Russian only), click here.

To visit the SU-HSE website, click here.

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National Workshop convened in Uruguay

Posted by civilsocietyindex on November 16, 2009

On Thursday 29 October, the Instituto de Comunicación y Desarrollo (ICD) held their CSI National Workshop in Montevideo, Uruguay. The meeting brought together over 60 actors from civil society, government institutions, the media, the donor community and academia to discuss the findings of the CSI and to identify initiatives for strengthening civil society.

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Some of the most relevant results so far include the finding that the level of participation in Uruguay is growing, although the levels of individual activism on political questions is at the same time very low. The results also highlighted an environment and socio-political context which is highly conducive for civil society, with over 80% of civil society organisations claiming not to have encountered restrictions from government, and with 50% believing that current legislation is enabling.

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Uruguay is only the second country to hold its National Workshop, following Turkey earlier this year. The Civil Society Index in Uruguay is being developed within the framework of a project called “Strengthening of Civil Society in Uruguay”, which is a joint programme between the government and the United Nations.

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To read more about the implementation of the CSI National Workshop in Uruguay (Spanish only), click here.

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Partner Profile of the Week: Red Nicaragüense por la Democracia y el Desarrollo Local, Nicaragua

Posted by civilsocietyindex on October 27, 2009

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La Red Nicaragüense por la Democracia y el Desarrollo Local, es un espacio de comunicación e intercambio horizontal de una expresión de la sociedad civil nicaragüense, cuya identidad se construye en un proceso permanente de interacción sobre la base de principios y valores acordados entre sus 54 miembros.

La Red Nicaragüense por la democracia y el desarrollo local es un espacio autónomo integrado por organizaciones de la sociedad civil y personas a título individual, que promuevan de manera articulada e inclusiva el desarrollo local con equidad de género, generacional y pluricultural, de forma participativa y descentralizada.

Sitio web: http://www.redlocalnicaragua.org

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The Nicaragua Network for Democracy and Local Development (NNDLD) is a space for communication and horizontal exchange. It exists as an expression of Nicaraguan civil society, whose identity is constructed through a permanent process of interaction around the basic principles and values that have been agreed to by their 54 members.

The Nicaragua Network for Democracy and Local Development (NNDLD) is an autonomous platform made up of civil society organizations and individuals who are working to inclusively and concretely promote local development in the country. This work is done with attention to gender equity and equal representation of all social groups, and in a way that is participative and decentralized.

Website: http://www.redlocalnicaragua.org

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Partner Profile of the Week: ZCSD in Zambia

Posted by civilsocietyindex on October 22, 2009

Congratulations to our partners, the Zambian Council for Social Development (ZCSD), who have been enjoying great successes in implementing the CSI in Zambia. Below their profile, you can find some pictures from recent CSI activities undertaken in the country.

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The ZCSD is an umbrella organisation of more than 100 civil society organisations whose main goal is to promote vibrant, independent and well coordinated civil society organisations in the country.

Mission
The mission for ZCSD is to promote and facilitate sustainable, social-economic development through collaboration and networking among Non Governmental Organisations, Community based organisations, strategic partners and stakeholders.

Vision
The vision for ZCSD is to improve lives for the vulnerable where people are healthy, educated, motivated and empowered to make informed choices.

Since its formation in 1974, ZCSD has aimed at giving support to civil society organisation, networking and strengthening member linkages, advocating and policy work as well as internal capacity building.
To live up to its mission, ZCSD has undertaken activities mainly focused on:

  •  providing relevant information, resources and support to CSOs. The special emphasis on this area is placed on youth and women organisations concerning their rights and ability to effectively and freely operate.
  • Collaboration with CSOs and CBOs. Its emphasis is placed on youth and women organisations in Zambia and in the region. This area has paved way to provide institutional and technical support the Zambia Social Forum and other Social Movements.
  • Building capacity of key CSOs including youth and women organisations in the nine provinces of Zambia to understand and advocate on key policy issues affecting them; and strengthen ZCSD research, popularisation, dissemination and advocacy on relevant policies.
  • As well as well as ensuring that the organisation is recognised as a credible and independent advocacy civil society organisation amongst the national CSOs, INGOs and donors as well as ensuring a professional and competent ZCSD secretariat in terms of staffing, offices and management systems.

On a regional level, ZCSD as a national umbrella body represents Zambian civil society in a number of international and regional bodies most notably the SADC Council of Non-Governmental Organisations (SADC CNGO), lobbying for greater influence for civil society, and tackling important issues such as Human Rights and Good Governance on a regional and national level.

In the field of research, ZCSD is currently conducting a research on the Civil Society Index Project to assess the state of civil society organisations in Zambia through CIVICUS.

Contact information
No 11 Azikiwe Cresent Northmead.
P: Box 32997 Lusaka Zambia
Telefax: +260 211 236219
Email: mail@zcsd.org.zm
Website: www.zcsd.org.zm
CSI contacts: Chimfweembe Mweenge (mweenge.chimfwembe@zcsd.org.zm), Lois Kayumba (lois.kayumba@zcsd.org.zm)

 

Focus groups

At a CSI regional focus group meeting

group photo for the mansa FGM

Group shot of the focus group meeting in Mansa

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Profile of the Week: Malta: The People for Change Foundation

Posted by civilsocietyindex on October 13, 2009

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Creating Change for People

 

 

Preparing People for Change

 

Set up in 2007, the People for Change Foundation is structured into six specialized institutes, each of which takes on projects and initiatives within its respective area with a high degree of professionalism owed to the experience of the individuals involved within their areas of expertise.

Vision
The People for Change Foundation’s vision is of a just, fair and inclusive society all members of which may reach their full potential unhindered by factors such as age, race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.
 

Mission
The People for Change Foundation’s mission is to undertake research, advocacy and proactive action to promote social cohesion, respect for Human Rights and empowerment.
Current Projects
The People for Change Foundation is currently involved in a number of projects including:
  • providing asylum seekers with adequate material to be able to acquire assistance and healthcare within Maltese society;  
  • in the area of racism as the national European Network Against Racism coordinating body;  
  • in the area of youth capacity building as a partner in an e-learning project funded by the Council of Europe;  
  • on Overseas Development Aid within the National Platform for Non-Governmental Development Organizations;  
  • and in human rights and citizenship education by providing resources and support on a national level on these topics.  
  • We are also working on policy recommendations in the field of children and the media, children’s participation, national youth policy, racism, health of asylum seekers, human rights education within formal education, and civil society involvement in national fora. 

The Civil Society Index in Malta

Work on the preparation for the Civil Society Index in Malta commenced in 2008 with initial proposals and presentations. The actual implementation of the initiative started in July 2009 following the seed grant provided by CIVICUS. At present, the focus of our work is on the gathering of all the data through the various surveys. Moreover, we are continuously looking for further funding and support for the implementation of the project.

Contact Details

The People for Change Foundation
176, St. Julian’s Str. San Gwann, SGN 2803 Malta
Website: www.pfcmalta.org
CSI Website: www.pfcmalta.org/civilsociety.html
E-mail: info@pfcmalta.org
CSI e-mail: civilsociety@pfcmalta.org
Contact Number: 00356 27445954

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