Tag: civil

Civil society gears up for big funds squeeze

A recent set of changes to India’s foreign donation laws, however, has put hundreds of small NGOs like Arpan in a spot. “Our work has come to a halt after the donor agency asked us not to use funds till rules (arising from the new laws) are framed,” said Renu Thakur, who heads the non-profit. “It looks like we will have to let go of some of our staff and curtail our geographic spread.”

In late September, India’s Parliament approved sweeping changes to the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), 2010. From now on, larger FCRA registered organisations are barred from transferring foreign donations to smaller non-profits (a practice known as sub-granting) who often find it difficult to access donors on their own. Also, all FCRA registered non-profits have been asked to limit their administrative expenses to 20% of donations (from the earlier norm of 50%) which is likely to force them to reduce staff as well as curtail research and policy advocacy work.

To tighten the screws further, FCRA registration can be suspended now after a summary enquiry and the period of suspension can extend up to a year (from 180 days earlier)—a provision which will give the government more time for enquiry and halt the organisation’s work for an extended period.

These changes will impact not just the availability of funds but also the very nature of philanthropic initiatives. The focus of donors may shift from rights, advocacy and research to service delivery; in a few years, foreign donors might also redirect funds to other countries, experts warn.

The restrictions on NGOs were least expected by civil society organisations that have been stretched after a gruelling past few months helping communities (like migrant workers) affected by covid-19. Also, it’s ironic since political parties can now access foreign funds through electoral bonds.

During 2018-19, Indian NGOs received 16,881 crore in foreign donations, accounting for about a fourth of the overall philanthropic spending in India. At a time when most donor funds are directed towards covid relief efforts, the amendments could squeeze the once-vibrant not-for-profit sector of funds. The crunch is also because a chunk of the corporate social responsibility (CSR) funds which NGOs depend on went to the PM-Cares fund, a new national corpus set up to mitigate the impact of emergencies like the ongoing pandemic.

An analysis of CSR spending outlook for 2020-21 by Sattva, a consultancy firm, shows that more than half of the annual CSR budget of Indian corporations, or about 7,863 crore, was allotted for covid relief by early July. About 68% of this allocation went to the PM-Cares fund ( 5,324 crore). “With an estimated 8,000 crore going to the PM-Cares by now, availability of domestic CSR funds for NGOs will be back to normal levels by the second quarter of 2022,” said Parul Soni, managing partner at Thinkthrough Consulting.

There’s obviously been a mixed response to the changes. Soni, for one, defends the recent amendments, saying they will bring in

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Civil society fears spike in GBV cases if government cuts Covid-19 relief funds

By Se-Anne Rall Time of article published16m ago

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Durban – A move by government to cut Covid-19 relief funding could lead to a spike in gender-based violence cases.

This is according to former public protector Thuli Madonsela, who joined several civil society organisations across the country in pleading with the government to continue providing the much-needed R350 Social Relief of Distress grant as well as the R585 monthly grant to caregivers.

Speaking during a media briefing on Monday, Madonsela said if the government planned to withdraw the grant, “we need to push them as women and girls would bear the brunt”.

“We know that when there is distress that women and girls will pay the price as they bear the burden of care,” she said.

Madonsela said funding could be pulled from other spheres to accommodate for the payments of these grants.

Alluding to the exorbitant costs of security staff for government officials, she said the issue should be re-visited as South Africa was not the most dangerous country in Africa, therefore there was no need for such an excessive amount of security.

“We do not want women to pay for government’s mistakes,” she said.

On Sunday, several civil organisations called for the government to continue the paying out the grants until a comprehensive plan for guaranteed basic outcomes was established.

In a statement issued on Sunday, the organisations highlighted the need for the grants and how they had helped to put food on the table for millions of South Africans who live well below the poverty line.

According to researcher Ihsaan Bassier, at least 5 million people will be pushed to extreme poverty if the grants are withdrawn.

“Furthermore, while jobs and a recovery plan is crucial, this will take time and there needs to be cushion in the meantime. The grants were meant to address the Covid crisis and this is far from over. Also, this is an opportunity to reach commitment to eliminate extreme poverty,” he said.

The full statement can be read here:

IOL

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Civil Society Strengthening Platform Guidelines to better support women and girls victims of violence throughout the COVID-19 pandemic – Turkey

The current COVID-19 pandemic represents a great social and economic disruption to all human
beings, affecting disproportionally women and girls due to widespread pre-existing discrimination and
inequalities

. Every crisis creates inequalities and aggravates older ones, such as the inequalities
existing against women and girls. It is necessary for states to step up their efforts and increase the
measures to protect women and girls victims of violence.

Home is not always a safe place for women and their children, and they are especially at-risk during
lockdown, as they cannot escape their abusers. A grave concern is that social distancing and
confinement rules imposed by national governments have triggered additional risks of domestic
violence.

The present guidelines are to support the national government and service providers in Albania, Bosnia
and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia and Turkey to better respond to the
needs of women and their children, girls’ victims of violence to the effects of the lockdown measures
in light of the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus. These guidelines are to be applicable also after the
lockdown measures are lifted.

The guidelines are prepared by CSSP partners and WAVE Network, in frame of the Civil Society
Strengthening Platform project, a project ongoing in 7 countries in the Western Balkans and Turkey,
supported in frame of the European Union and UN Women programme ‘Implementing norms,
changing minds’
.

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Watch: Building back better through civil society

Building back better though civil society. Via YouTube.

SAN FRANCISCO — Hamzat Lawal, co-founder of Connected Development, is focused on fighting corruption in Nigeria and across Africa. His Follow the Money initiative, which uses data to hold the government accountable, has been tracking COVID-19 spending in the months since the pandemic hit.

In a recent Devex digital event, Lawal called on donors not just to increase their funding of civil society organizations, but also to provide more flexible support.

“You submit a proposal and then you have a workplan and then you have activities,” he said of what donors traditionally require of nonprofits. “For us right now, with COVID-19, we can’t even tell what will happen tomorrow.”

While donors have increasingly expressed interest in supporting grassroots organizations, only 2% of official development assistance goes directly to civil society organizations in low-and middle-income countries. As these groups emerge as critical partners in the COVID-19 response, it is critical that donors scale up their support, panelists told Devex. They outlined ways donors can go beyond supporting civil society organizations by giving them a seat at the table so they can represent the most vulnerable, translate ideas into policy, and hold power to account.

Cornelieke Keizer, senior policy officer on the Women’s Rights & Gender Equity Taskforce at the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, outlined ways bilateral donors can move from a managerial to a transformational approach.

“Let go of technical processes,” she said. “Trust local ownership and contextual approaches to shift power and create lasting change.”

Keizer acknowledged that this is not always easy or even possible for bilateral donors, because they are accountable to taxpayers, tend to operate on short funding cycles based on the political context, and are bound to program funding.

She mentioned Leading from the South, a feminist philanthropic fund supported by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as one potential model for donors interested in increasing support for civil society organizations.

The pandemic is more than a public health crisis, as the crisis spans ecological, political, and economic systems, said Chung-Wha Hong, executive director of Grassroots International, which supports grassroots movements globally.

“Movements are making visionary demands and trying to push through not just pieces of policy changes, but new systems, a new world,” she said.

Hong notes that only 1% of total U.S. philanthropic dollars go toward advocacy and organizing in low- and middle-income countries

“What does that say about our sector?” she said.

Over the past several years, the William & Flora Hewlett Foundation has increased the amount of money it grants to civil society organizations headquartered in Africa from 10% to 20% of its $100 million annual budget, said Dana Hovig, program director of global development and population at the foundation.

He emphasized the importance of making funding more flexible, applauding efforts by other donors to follow these best practices during COVID-19, and saying he hopes to see these practices continue

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Structural problems of Pakistan’s civil society

In my previous article titled “On State and Civil Society”, I argued that a strong and vibrant civil society is necessary for development. Moreover, I pointed out that the gap between our civil society and our government is problematic as it doesn’t allow the former to grow and be a potential partner in the nation’s development. This article continues the discussion. The question that can set the premise for this article is whether the gap between the civil society and the government, and lack of seriousness on the part of the government is the only reason behind the not-so-active presence of civil society in Pakistan’s development context.

The answer is no. It is not the only problem. Before elaborating, it is necessary to have a glimpse of the civil society structure in Pakistan. A comprehensive research can be done to explain it. Put briefly, civil society is not just the non-governmental organisations rather it is more than that. In Pakistan, the tribal associations, biradaris, and religious groups are also part of civil society. The reason for this is because of their functionality, these entities regulate the collective social life as intermediaries between the state and society.

The law, however, recognises NGOs as civil society. There is no particular legislative recognition of non-NGO formal and informal institutions and organisations as part of civil society. The absence of a legal recognition can be seen as beneficial as it sets these entities free to regulate themselves. But meanwhile it is alarming to see these entities so divided along many fault-lines. Some of the fractures exist along sectarian and ethnic lines. Researchers like Muhammad Qadeer and Iftikhar H Malik stated in the 1990s that the denominational interests of these entities have come to dominate the civil society arena.

This depicts a picture of scattered potential. Whereas these institutions and organisations bear a lot of potential in terms of critical mass, cultural norms and intellectual endeavours, their potential is unharnessed. Sometimes, certain civil society actors are alleged to be played as pawns by the government to alter public attention from key issues. This is because of a lack of proper structure that should converge on the spectra of civil society.

A consortium of various civil society fora should exist where these civil society organisations come together to deliberate and agree on a broader civil society agenda. By doing so, they can create a momentum in favour of social development. Otherwise in the absence of a common platform to interact, random attempts to attain wide-scattered agendas leave the civil society dysfunctional. It’s probably why the government also seems not in a position to devise a policy related to civil society as there is no prevalent tangible structure of the civil society that can be dealt with as a unified whole.

By saying this, I do Rather a collective effort can be more effective than scattered efforts. Moreover, by coming closer to each onot mean that various denominations of civil society should relinquish the positive role

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Civil Society Warns G20 of Dire Global Fallout & Demands Bold Reforms

The Civil 20 Virtual Summit, Saudi Arabia

The Civil 20 Virtual Summit has convened with more than 4,000 civil society leaders representing 109 countries at the biggest non-government organizations gathering in the G20 history, channeling their concerns and demands ahead of the G20 Virtual Leaders’ Summit next month. Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
The Civil 20 Virtual Summit has convened with more than 4,000 civil society leaders representing 109 countries at the biggest non-government organizations gathering in the G20 history, channeling their concerns and demands ahead of the G20 Virtual Leaders’ Summit next month. Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
The Civil 20 Virtual Summit has convened with more than 4,000 civil society leaders representing 109 countries at the biggest non-government organizations gathering in the G20 history, channeling their concerns and demands ahead of the G20 Virtual Leaders’ Summit next month. Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia, Oct. 06, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The Civil 20 Virtual Summit has convened today with more than 4,000 civil society leaders representing 109 countries at the biggest non-government organizations gathering in the G20 history, channeling their concerns and demands ahead of the G20 Virtual Leaders’ Summit next month.

The Civil 20 Communiqué released during the C20 Virtual Summit, urging G20 leaders to “seize the current historical moment to reflect, correct, and take decisive global action.” The Communiqué warned that the “future is in jeopardy, and we as global civil society are deeply concerned.” The convening NGO leaders noted that “we live in an unprecedented time – not only with a health pandemic and rampant misinformation, but also with the worst economic recession since WWII. Trust in governments, science, and multilateral institutions is in decline. Peace and justice are being undermined. Civic spaces are shrinking. Inequalities are worsening; between the rich and the poor, between genders, and between countries.”

The group did not only sound the alarm, but reminded governments that the “world is not destined to be in turmoil” and that humanity has withstood numerous shared challenges before. It’s time for world leaders to take bold reforms and commit to health, education and social protection investments, while taking ambitious steps towards climate action and biodiversity protection.

The civil society communiqué demanded that world leaders “must choose cooperation over competition; make decisions based on science, solidarity, and public interest instead of lies, profits, and geopolitical considerations.” It also noted the lack of political leadership, weakened multilateral processes, fractured international system, and a closed global policy making approach that only serves private interest and lobbyists. Such stark reality needs a restored faith in multilateralism, supporting the UN-system, and resorting to political dialogue to solve differences, instead of trade wars and misinformation campaigns.

Civil Society leaders emphasized that “global challenges did not start with COVID-19 and will not end when it is under control. The pandemic has exacerbated existing challenges manifested by the current structural ailments of our political, social and economic systems.” They called for world leaders to reverse structural inequalities, and recover from this global pandemic, by implementing inclusive global economic and public health policies, cancelling developing countries’ debt, committing to a people’s vaccine, urgently addressing the growing climate crisis, and supporting the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator.

The Civil 20 advocacy consortium of nonprofits also called on G20 leaders

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Civil society’s attempt to usurp State powers must be condemned

The Herald

Ranga Mataire Writing Black

Since the 1980s, the world has seen a resurgence of global neo-liberal agendas dominating the intellectual, political and moral space and vision.

One of the tragic consequences of this unrestrained liberal domination is the notion of a failed state and assumption of unblemished image of success of civil society or non-governmental organisations.

There is a fervent attempt to demote the State in favour of civil society that is often presented as the moral compass that should be financially supported vigorously.

Many must be aware of the boisterous declarations by some Western embassies that they are the biggest donors in Zimbabwe.

However, much of this financial support is not channelled to the State, but goes to civil society and non-governmental organisations. The State is often viewed as morally inept.

A regrettable fact that has emerged over the years is that the discourse of a “failed state” and the “successful civil society” has been globally constituted and that global constitution of “failure and success” betrays more an ideological preference than a real description of the actuality on the ground.

Without exception across the whole continent, but more pronounced in Zimbabwe, is the fact that Western influence distort the local evolution of a fair partnership of civil society and the State.

The portrayal of the State as “failed” and civil society as “success” is often a discourse constructed by external actors who often negate the right of local actors to frame and define the discourse based on their knowledge systems and cultural norms.

The result of this contemptuous attitude of external players towards local homegrown NGOs has been the manufacturing of a new political economy through donor funding where the State and civil society become involved in strains and clashes rather than promoting mutually beneficial partnerships and social cohesion.

The most saddening part of Western cynical attitude towards developing nations like Zimbabwe is that donors bring in the funds and consultants to shape civil society according to their (donors) own image.

NGO-dom in effect becomes something like a new social space for making a living. A casual observation of local non-governmental organisations and civil society groups that clamour the most about corruption, transparency and human rights points to a situation where personnel is motivated more by self-enrichment rather than genuine concerns for the citizens’ welfare.

As Africans, we need to robustly contest and question the Western mode of constituting civil society and State relations in terms of the frames, narratives, discourses, rhetoric and metaphors of “failure and success”.

We need as Africans to come up with a different development of civil society based on local definitions, knowledge and cultural conventions.

Ethiopian intellectual guru, Professor Mammo Muchie believes that there is need for a “Pan-African constitution of the State and society nexus (which has) the advantage of making Africa’s interest at the centre of all development initiatives.”

Prof Muchie is of the belief that Pan-Africanism builds upon the knowledge and life worlds of Africa’s pristine communities provides the

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Indonesia’s civil society petitions to remove health minister Terawan over his handling of Covid-19 pandemic, SE Asia News & Top Stories

JAKARTA (THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) – A coalition of civil society groups, academics and social organisations has started an online petition urging Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo to fire Health Minister Terawan Agus Putranto for his alleged incompetence in handling the worsening Covid-19 pandemic.

“We think that Terawan Agus Putranto has failed to carry out his duties in handling the pandemic as health minister,” the coalition wrote in a petition filed through change.org.

“Therefore, we demand that President Jokowi dismiss Terawan from his position as health minister and replace him with someone more competent.”

The petition was started on Wednesday (Oct 30) by the National Network on Domestic Worker Advocacy (Jala PRT), the head of students’ executive board of Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University (UIN Jakarta) Sultan Rivandi, the head of the University of Indonesia’s Student Executive Body (BEM UI) Manik Marganamahendra, Irma Hidayana of Lapor Covid-19 (Report Covid-19) community and Supinah as a labour representative.

As of Monday, more than 6,000 people have signed the petition.

“From the beginning, the minister has taken the pandemic lightly. He has not been serious in handling (the pandemic). He is also unable to overcome issues such as protecting health workers and containing the spread of Covid-19,” the petition said. According to the World Health Organisation, as of Monday, Indonesia ranks 22nd among the countries with the highest rate of Covid-19 infections, only second to the Philippines in Southeast Asia.

Indonesia also has one of the highest death tolls in Asia, with 11,151 deaths.

The country recorded 303,498 Covid-19 cases as of Saturday.

In September, Amnesty International also listed Indonesia among the countries with the highest estimated numbers of health workers who have died from Covid-19.

Calls for Terawan’s removal have been made as early as March when another civil society coalition consisting of human rights watchdogs KontraS and Amnesty International Indonesia, among other groups, said he had “an arrogant and antiscience attitude”.

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Civil society groups feel heat as elected governments turn on NGOs

International civil society groups say they are facing intensifying pressure even in democracies as elected governments wield political, legal and financial weapons to halt their work.

Amnesty International’s suspension last week of its Indian operations is the latest casualty in what critics view as a widening crackdown from Budapest to Brasília by elected but autocratic leaders seeking to entrench their power.

The trend has fed broader fears of a tilt towards authoritarianism worldwide. Activists fear that the loss of campaigning on injustices by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) will add to factors such as online disinformation and the Covid-19 pandemic that already alienate people and make it easier for politicians to tighten their grip.

“An atomised society is a society that’s easier to control — that’s the rationale behind cracking down on NGOs,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of US-based Human Rights Watch. “That was a first principle of dictatorship — but we are now seeing this in ostensible democracies.”

Clampdowns on domestic civil society groups viewed as threatening official interests are familiar in countries that either hold no elections or whose polls are seen by international observers as flawed, such as China and Russia.

However, in recent years a number of democracies have begun to use similar tactics to curb the work of local and global NGOs.

Critics say the trend is part of a strategy of “hybrid government” by authoritarians, who amass power not by directly rigging votes but through domination of the public sphere achieved by stifling dissenting voices and promoting supportive ones.

“It’s definitely happening more with democratically elected governments,” said Elena Lazarou, an associate fellow at the Chatham House think-tank. “And they are not only cracking down but also trying to boost their own alternative sets of civil society actors.”

Amnesty stopped its work in India after the country’s economic crime investigation agency froze the aid group’s bank accounts on the grounds that it allegedly broke laws prohibiting overseas funding. Amnesty has denied wrongdoing and says it has been harassed by Indian authorities for the past two years. It recently published two reports that attacked the human rights record of Narendra Modi’s government.

Elsewhere, a July report by the Philippines’ Commission on Human Rights warned that President Rodrigo Duterte had created a “dangerous fiction” that it was legitimate to monitor and harass NGOs. He said in 2017 that police should shoot human rights activists who were “obstructing justice” in his bloody drugs war.

In Brazil, President Jair Bolsonaro last year initially blamed non-profit groups, without evidence, for wildfires that surged through the Amazon. Last month he branded NGOs a “cancer”.

In the EU — which sees itself as a bastion of democracy — Hungarian leader Viktor Orban’s government has criminalised civil society groups that provide help to migrants it deems illegal. It also imposed law changes and exerted political pressure that forced the Open Society Foundations, created by billionaire

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Civil society coalition starts petition demanding dismissal of Health Minister Terawan – National

A coalition of civil society groups, academics and social organizations has started an online petition urging President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo to fire Health Minister Terawan Agus Putranto for his alleged incompetence in handling the worsening COVID-19 pandemic.

“We think that Terawan Agus Putranto has failed to carry out his duties in handling the pandemic as health minister,” the coalition wrote in a petition filed through change.org. “Therefore, we demand that President Jokowi dismiss Terawan from his position as health minister and replace him with someone more competent.”

The petition was started on Wednesday by the National Network on Domestic Worker Advocacy (Jala PRT), the head of students’ executive board of Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University (UIN Jakarta) Sultan Rivandi, the head of the University of Indonesia’s Student Executive Body (BEM UI) Manik Marganamahendra, Irma Hidayana of LaporCOVID-19 (Report COVID-19) community and Supinah as a labor representative.

As of the time of writing, 5,772 people have signed the petition.

“From the beginning, the minister has taken the pandemic lightly. He has not been serious in handling [the pandemic]. He is also unable to overcome issues such as protecting health workers and containing the spread of COVID-19,” the petition said.

According to the World Health Organization, as of Sunday, Indonesia ranks 23rd among the countries with the highest rate of COVID-19 infections, with 299,506 cases, only second to the Philippines in Southeast Asia. Indonesia also has one of the highest death tolls in Asia, with more than 11,000 deaths.

In September, Amnesty International also listed Indonesia among the countries with the highest estimated numbers of health workers who have died from COVID-19. 

Calls for Terawan’s removal have been made as early as March when another civil society coalition consisting of human rights watchdogs KontraS and Amnesty International Indonesia, among other groups, said he had “an arrogant and antiscience attitude”.

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