Civic Charter Community standing in solidarity – LGBT+ rights are human rights

10th December 2018 by Miriam Niehaus and Matt Beard

This is a joint article by Miriam Niehaus, Securing Civic Rights Manager at the Centre and Matt Beard, Executive Director of All Out. Here, they each write how the fight for greater Civic Rights and LGBT+ Rights are conneected to the fight for our Human Rights. 

Miriam Niehaus:

Criminalized and persecuted in many countries, the LGBT+ community and their activists are often on the frontline of the human rights struggle. So today, on Human Rights Day, I ask the Civic Charter Community and all of those believing in Human Rights, to stand in solidarity with the LGBT+ Community.

The Civic Charter Community are those who believe in and are committed to its principles; principles, which are based on human rights. We stand in solidarity with each other when we come under attack, when governments want to take away our rights to our most basic freedoms – freedom of expression, assembly and association. This growing community is rich in diversity as members come from all over the world and work on a range of issues from climate change, to development, to ensuring free media. Our strength derives from being inclusive – and in turn, being united. This means it is imperative to look at shared struggles from different perspectives, so that they remain relatable to others.

Some 6 weeks ago, I participated in an eye-opening meeting. From 22-24 October, we convened the International Civic Forum, usually set up as a meeting of civic freedom experts from different sectors. For the first time, we ran this meeting not as a stand-alone event but within another conference and therefore with another audience: the International Anti-Corruption Conference. Consequently, the topics of the Civic Forum sessions all related civic freedom issues to corruption.

One session stood out in particular. It was run by Matt Beard from All Out, along with Sana Ahmad and Bisi Alimi, on extortion of gay men in Nigeria, among other aspects. By understanding extortion as a method of corruption, the anti-corruption community could readily relate to the struggle that All Out is in. At the same time, the then described method of state actors rang familiar to participants working more generally on civic freedoms, who are aware of a wide range of government methods, usually used to intimidate activists and CSOs.

In this instance, a new sense of connectedness between activists and CSOs of different ‘sub-sectors’ came about. And it is this spirit in which we need to show more solidarity with each other, making a conscious effort of relating our different experiences to each other and being open to that.

Matt Beard:

The opening line of the Civic Charter boldly declares “We, the people, have the right to participate in shaping our societies”.  For LGBT+ communities living in hostile environments around the world, this is a rallying call for our equality, our dignity and our agency as citizens. And with 69 governments around the world continuing to make same-sex love illegal (and nine of these using the death penalty against us), these words are also a call for our very existence as citizens.

LGBT+ people are so often denied the vision for human rights outlined in the Civic Charter. There are far too many examples.  In Russia, a so-called anti-gay “propaganda” law prevents freedom of expression – earlier this year, a sixteen-year-old boy, Maxim, was arrested for posting gay-related content on a social network. In Uganda, a Government Minister, Simon Lokodo, has repeatedly denied the LGBT+ community the right to freedom of assembly, using violence to prevent peaceful Pride celebrations. In Tanzania, LGBT+ civil society organizations are obstructed or closed down, in a denial of freedom of association. In deeply hostile environments like Indonesia, LGBT+ people must hide in the shadows, unable to play a role in the community and denied effective participation. In Chechnya, the state’s duty to protect failed massively in 2017 as gay and bi men were rounded up in a state-sponsored purge, taken to illegal detention centers, tortured and, in some cases, murdered. In Nigeria, LGBT+ people are denied public accountability – gay men are regularly arrested for no reason, with their families forced to pay bribes for their release.

At All Out, we believe that human rights are inalienable and indivisible. We believe that the common struggle to achieve human rights for all is a deeply uniting force that makes us stronger. We believe in the vision of Martin Luther King that there cannot be justice anywhere until there is justice everywhere. We therefore support and endorse the Civic Charter enthusiastically and want to use it as a framework to reach out to and collaborate with other groups fighting for human rights, justice and equality.

, ,

Miriam Niehaus

Securing Civic Rights Manager

International Civil Society Centre

Miriam joined the Centre in 2014 as an Executive Assistant. In 2016 she took on her role as Manager of the Securing Civic Rights projects, namely the Civic Charter and the International Civic Forum. Prior to joining the Centre Miriam worked for VSO International and GIZ in the Palestinian Territories. She holds a BA in Islamic Studies and Social Anthropology from the University of Freiburg and an MA in Near and Middle Eastern Studies from the School of Oriental and African Studies.

Matt Beard

Executive Director

All Out

Global Perspectives – why we need to say “Yes!” more often

4th December 2018 by Thomas Howie
10th Global Perspective Conference on November 1st 2018 at Festsaal Kreuzberg, Berlin. (c) Agata Skowronek

“I think my last word will be, ‘Yes!’ We need to stop saying ‘no’, we need to be positive and change the narrative. So we need to say ‘yes’ to changing things.” The words of Fouzy Mathy, a young woman from SOS Children’s Villages International at Global Perspective 2018.

Fouzy and Divine

Fouzy, and her ally Divine Usabase also from SOS, unexpectedly took to the stage in the final session when they swapped places with Jennifer Morgan, the Greenpeace International Executive Director, who was on the panel titled “What to do next, with who and how?”. The pair had an answer; we need to unite and make our voices and actions count. Fouzy illustrated what happens when we fail to do so.

She shared the story of a young person who took their own life because they did not feel supported. The young person in question had fled their home country due to conflict and famine caused by climate change. However, after arriving in Europe – somewhere they thought would be safe and supportive – that young person felt so abandoned and insecure that they took their own life.

Divine takes the floor

Fouzy told this story as a clarion call of why we need to act together to show compassion and humanity in our work and lives. Their concrete proposal was to create a project called “Yes4Humanity”. The project will engage a wide range of people with causes important to them, sharing personal, powerful, positive stories. There would be one small difference they wouldn’t be the #NewGeneration but a global #NOWGeneration.

Fouzy and Divine’s intervention in the conference was timely. It symbolised the hand over from old to the now generation, in keeping with the spirit and purpose of the event. After all, this kind of changing of the guard was discussed extensively at the event.

Let’s rewind then to the beginning of the event to understand how we ended up here…

Opening: Open the door to young people 

The conference opened with Paula Peters explaining how and why it is important to open the door to young people. She challenged everyone to rethink how we should let young people engage us, rather than how international civil society organisations can engage them. This was a call for a fundamental shift in power and control over resources, campaigns and messages and bureaucratic accountability.  This will help those young people who already do amazing work.

For example, Anshul Tewari founded Youth Ki Awaaz, India’s largest social justice media platform. It’s the place for young people to make a change in their societies. Additionally, Maha Babeker, a women’s rights activist in Sudan, shed light on how Sudanese young people are speaking out against Gender-Based Violence. These were just two examples of some of the amazing work done by young people.

Maha Babeker

What we wanted participants to get out of the conference

We had a variety of awesome speakers and insightful workshops. When we set out to put this conference together we sat down and thought about what we wanted people to get out of it.

We decided that at Global Perspectives 2018 we wanted to:

  • Provide an understanding of how the new generation.
  • Showcase innovative initiatives by and for young organisations as well as established CSOs.
  • Offer cross-sector networking by bringing together civil society leaders with other stakeholders.
  • Explore concrete steps so CSOs can adapt their organisations to better fit the new generation.

Themes: …

To do this we aimed to inspire and showcase cross-cutting content. We chose organisations with three themes in mind:

  • Communities: The people we work for and with.
  • Supporters: The people who support us, financially or with their time.
  • Talent: The people who work in our organisations.

Organisations: …

We wanted you to hear from as many people who represent each theme. We held a mixture of objective focused workshops and open-ended discussions called campfire sessions from the following organisations:

·        Amani Institute·        Talents4Good
·        Amnesty International·        Telecommunications Software & Systems Group
·        NetHope·        The Open University
·        OECD·        The Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy
·        OXFAM·        Toladata
·        Plan International·        Viva con Agua
·        Restless Development·        WEF
·        Save the Children·        Youth to End Sexual Violence
·        SDI Net

Future Scenario

As if this was not enough, we hosted a Future Scenario track. In these sessions, the participants attempted to identify the characteristics of a CSO 12 years from now that is successful in engaging youth.

Future Scenario

The group predicted a very different global environment of megatrends with great impact and influence on young people. Although only 12 years’ away, there was systemic and rapid change in social and political organisation, technology and data-driven inequality, precarious work/economic situations, and intense climate change, antibiotic resistance and genetically modified food systems.In this context, the successful CSO of 2030 would have characteristics fundamentally different from the mindsets, skills, structures and ways of working today.

Radical and cause-driven, it would be focused on campaigns, advocacy/policy and amplifying what others are doing, with devolved peer-to-peer accountability and consensus decision-making communities both internally and with supporters.

What next for “Yes4Humanity”?

There are several ICSOs keen to take part there will be a kick off meeting next month which the International Civil Society Centre is part of. You can read more about their plan here.


There were many excellent ideas at Global Perspectives, we’ve tried to capture them all in our Outcome document. You can find them under recommendations. You’ll see we have ideas on peer-to-peer learning, developing a youth strategy, including young people’s voices more, be accountable to young people and committing to work together without ‘egos or logos’.


Thomas Howie

Communications Coordinator

International Civil Society Centre

Thomas joined the Centre in June 2017 as the Communications Coordinator. He is responsible for developing and implementing the Centre’s global communication strategy, as well as the Disrupt & Innovate platform – a place for civil society professionals and activists to discuss current innovations and future trends in the civil society sector. Prior to the Centre, Thomas worked for 5 years in the European Parliament firstly as the Digital and Social Media Coordinator for the Socialists and Democrats Group in the European Parliament, and then, after the 2014 European elections, for Jude Kirton-Darling and Paul Brannen as Head of Communications, where he worked on issues such as the EU-US trade deal, issues around Brexit and as a specialist on the Petitions Committee. Thomas graduated from Bristol University with BSci in Geographical Sciences and holds an MA in Peace Studies from the University of Bradford, where he completed research into the role of civil society in the post war peace settlement in northern Uganda.

Exploring intergenerational organisations and engaging youth in foresight

29th November 2018 by Vicky Tongue

A future scenario workshop at our Global Perspectives 2018 conference explored what an international civil society organisation (ICSO) in 2030 successfully ‘Engaging a #New Generation’ would look like. The group predicted a very different global environment of megatrends with great impact and influence on young people. Although only 12 years’ away, there was systemic and rapid change in social and political organisation, technology and data-driven inequality, precarious work/economic situations, and intense climate change, antibiotic resistance and genetically modified food systems.

In this context, the successful CSO of 2030 would have characteristics fundamentally different from the mindsets, skills, structures and ways of working today. Radical and cause-driven, it would be focused on campaigns, advocacy/policy and amplifying what others are doing, with devolved peer-to-peer accountability and consensus decision-making communities both internally and with supporters.

One clear idea was intergenerational ICSOs working on major complex multi-generational issues. We imagined an organisation where all staff – regardless of age and number of years of professional experience – know how to catalyse change, engage the public, and mentor others. This includes multi-directional mentoring across a four- or five-generation workforce, in an organisation where everyone receives leadership training. With CSOs’ professional and technical staff expertise also seen as available through a `draw down´ service to partners, this would also increase in importance.

Undoubtedly, the ICSO of the future will need to expertly balance experience and youth for powerful leadership and ‘manage the intergenerational mix’. There is some general analysis out there but not much detailed exploration for our sector in particular. How much are organisations thinking about this and preparing internal scenarios, tools and processes to make this an easy and effective transition? We may explore this further with the Global Heads of Division in 2019, which will include HR Directors for the first time. Please get in touch if you are already working on this.

A number of ICSOs in the foresight community Scanning the Horizon are experimenting with or interested in engaging young audiences in developing future scenarios. The purpose of which is to inform their current cycles of organisational strategic planning. In a recent webinar organised by the Centre, Amnesty International shared insights from their first ever youth futures workshop within the organisation’s 2018 Global Youth Summit, with 100 young volunteers and activists. An initial round of internal thinking narrowed down the strategic topics to explore in the scenarios, including technology and human rights, economic inequality and cultural power. In groups, the young people then answered three overall questions:

  • why they chose that particular theme,
  • how the theme affects young people, and
  • what Amnesty International should do differently to address the human rights issues in that area.

The participants then created the vision of the world they wanted to see in 2030, completing a blank newspaper front page as the framework to define the future headlines they could help shape. The practical exercise enabled them to identify influencing strategies for different actors under each theme, make connections between topics, and gave them the confidence to replicate the exercise in their own peer networks. Amnesty International now plans to repeat this targeted process with more young people in regional spaces.

As UNICEF’s ‘Adolescents shaping their future: a foresight toolkit’ notes, involving young people in foresight process is important for a number of reasons, including ‘living with the consequences’ of current decisions and policies longer than those making or planning them in the present. Foresight does not require accurate predictions, but rather diverse and participatory generation of ideas about multiple potential futures. This should make it a relatively exciting and easy entry point to include young people, and increase open and more democratic exchanges, including where young people ‘have limited say in their lives or community affairs’. This could include some ICSO processes!

Engaging youth in developing future scenarios might be a first step towards ultimately making foresighting processes fully intergenerational as well. In developing a preferred vision of the future and how to get there, recognising and incorporating different perceptions of time is important. How far away does 2030 seem to people of different ages and stages of their lives? Integrating varied notions of time may highlight different senses of urgency or perceived levels of agency to change situations, and shake things up beyond incremental or even cynical thinking, to a more ambitious and optimistic outlook of what can be achieved. Appreciating different temporal dimensions may be important in intercultural foresight processes as well.

It is clear that there is both appetite and need to explore thinking on intergenerational working and future strategy development processes, and how ICSOs can implement these in more systematic and practical ways. The conversations will continue with our communities and through our convening in 2019.


Vicky Tongue

Programme Manager

International Civil Society Centre

Vicky Tongue is the International Civil Society Centre’s Programme Manager, co-ordinating core initiatives on horizon scanning, innovation and peer convening for CEOs and Global Heads of Division. Vicky has 15 years’ senior programme management with several leading UK-based ISCOs, including Marie Stopes International, Article 19, CAFOD, ODI and Save the Children.

“Power is the energy that flows; governance is the conduit through which it moves.”

27th November 2018 by Ed Boswell

In 2017, the Centre reported the results of a survey that revealed widespread dissatisfaction among ICSO leaders with their existing governance structures and mechanisms, as well as with the current balance of power within their organisations. Among the most frequently mentioned frustrations were slow decision-making, nagging questions of legitimacy and poor execution—and all of this despite the fact that some of these same organisations had engaged in governance reforms over the previous two years to address their issues.

Wolfgang Jamann, Centre ED, presenting at Global Governance Lab

This past September, leaders from eight ICSOs met in Berlin for the better part of three days to focus on how to best address these frustrations within their own institutions. At this Centre-sponsored Global Governance Lab, the participant cohort embodied a range of roles from board members to CEOs, from deputy secretary generals to program and governance directors. Collectively, they represented federations, confederations and unitary governance structures; faith-based and secular organisations; and humanitarian, human rights and development-focused INGOs, and together they possessed almost two centuries of experience in the civil society sector, with much of that time spent in leadership positions. Most of the participants represented organisations that were actively considering changes or updates to their current governance model and processes.

Participants discuss a power shift in the organisation at Global Governance Lab

The starting point for the group’s exploration was to assess in what specific ways the formal and informal power dynamics and governance structures currently at play either helped or hindered the realisation of their organisation’s intent. While each organisation had its own unique answers to this question, a number of themes emerged across the ICSOs. In fact, despite differences in formal governance structures and processes, the issues identified by the leaders in the Lab were strikingly similar across the cohort. Some of the common themes that emerged were as follows:

  • The impact that an organisation can potentially have in the world is compromised when its power dynamics and governance structures are not aligned with the achievement of the intent of the institution.
  • Power arrangements and governance structures that may have worked well at one point in the organisation’s past are often not the same as what is required in the current circumstances.
  • Informal power often undermines formal structures and processes, even well-established ones.
  • Money and access to resources (like funders) are major determinants of who has a voice and influence.
  • Money creates uneven power relations not only between organisations and their funders, but also within organisations, when financial contributions of one member organisation result in greater decision-making or voting power.
  • Long tenure with an organisation combined with a loyal network of relationships can also create a strong base of power and influence for individual actors.
  • Those who have decision-making power are often not the same as those with the power to implement, block, or ignore strategic decisions that have been made.
  • Power is asymmetric—that is, it takes more power to create and build momentum for action and change than to destroy or block necessary action and change.
  • Any significant power shifts and/or meaningful governance reforms almost always require that some individuals and/or parties give up or share power that they have long held or protected.
  • Hence, modifications to power dynamics and governance structures require committed and courageous leadership to withstand the inevitable resistance to change.

Interestingly, while all the organisations who participated in the Lab identified specific changes they needed to make to better achieve their organisation’s intent, the changes that were most frequently highlighted did not involve transforming the formal governance structures or processes. Instead, their recommendations most often cited shifting the informal yet potent power dynamics in their organisations. We will cover these specifics in our next instalment of this blog.

Ed Boswell, CEO and Co-Founder, Conner Advisory

(Along with Wolfgang Jamann, Ed co-designed and co-facilitated the Global Governance Lab.)


Ed Boswell

Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer

Connor Advisory

With more than four decades of experience helping senior leadership teams around the globe execute major transformational changes, Ed has worked with nonprofits and NGOs, as well as companies in the pharmaceutical, federal government, financial services, and professional services sectors. His work has reinforced to him the role character plays in successfully executing significant changes. Prior to joining forces with Daryl Conner in 2014 to form Conner Advisory, Ed was a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) where he led the U.S. People and Change consulting practice. In this role, Ed was responsible for leading a team of practitioners who helped clients drive large-scale strategic change, as well as transforming HR into a more effective function and optimizing organizational talent. A recognized leader in the field of transformational change, Ed is a frequent speaker on issues relating to leadership, strategy execution, and organizational performance. He co-authored Strategic Speed: Mobilize People, Accelerate Execution (Harvard Business Press, 2010), which provides a blueprint for leaders who are executing transformational change in their organizations. Ed earned his Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Pennsylvania. While at Penn, he also received The Wharton School Certificate in Business Administration.

OECD at Global Perspectives 2018

20th November 2018 by Chiara Di Stefano and France Charlet

Today, young people are digital nativesused to high-speed, instantaneous interactions on social media and other online platforms. Many established organisations  like the OECD  face a challenge: to be more agile in listening to young people so their vision and their needs are reflected in our work.  

The OECD goes to Global Perspectives every year to  hear from civil society organisations active across the globe and understand the main concerns of the people they aim to serve. It’s a space where we can speak face-to-face with people, gather insights from current civil society engaging with young people and think about ways to do better in our own organisation.  

This year, Global Perspectives was also an ideal setting for tackling a subject at the core of the OECD’s current agendathe future of work and skills. This conversation has many stakeholders, but it’s particularly important to grasp the next generation’s needs and concerns so our policy recommendations are fit-for-purpose. 

In a workshop, OECD and Global Perspectives participants discussed what it takes to deliver an inclusive world of work – and the implications for civil society.  Civil society organisations care a lot about their role as employers, youth mobilisers and policy shapers. In addition to helping amplify the voices of workers and future workers, part of the discussion focussed on how CSOs need to cultivate the right skills and the culture in their own organisations. 

Thanks to the International Civil Society Centre, we also heard from young people in other workshops. What we heard encouraged us to move beyond the question of “how the OECD engages young people to “how young people can engage and activate the OECD.  Youth is not a group “to reach”. They are essential partners for anyone – including organisations – who want to change the world. The OECD is serious about  delivering “better policies for better lives”, and we are excited to learn from and partner with civil society organisations for greater and more positive impact on the world we share. 






, ,

Chiara Di Stefano

Public Affairs Manager at OECD


Chiara Di Stefano, public affairs manager leading relationships with civil society organizations. Previously worked in Brussels both in the private sector and European Commission. Studied in the UK, France and Italy.

France Charlet

Campaigns manager at the OECD


Campaigns manager at the OECD. France previously led international advocacy campaigns for Save the Children, World Vision and other international and national NGOs. She worked in London, Bangkok and Brazzaville and specialised in building institutional capacity for campaigning through fundraising, training and strategy development.

Thanks to all who participated at Global Perspectives 2018! – Videos and Photos

6th November 2018 by Thomas Howie
Thank You

This year’s Global Perspectives was a dynamic and lively event about “Engaging a #NewGeneration”. While we mull over what this year’s event means, you can check out our photos and videos by clicking on the links below. We’ll be back next week with more detailed reflections.


Communications Coordinator

International Civil Society Centre

Jessy James LaFleur – The Point of No Return, slam poem for Global Perspectives 2018

1st November 2018 by Thomas Howie

Ladies, Gentlemen!
Welcome to the point of no return!
Can you hear the sirens off in the distance?”
Hoping they don’t come your way”
While you’re tryna maintain, keep up resistance”
I can see you hiding off in the shadows of the masses”
I can hear them whispering your name
How they order you to ignore this storm upon us
Always tryna push you towards fortune and fame
We’re all same, while being different,
but never different enough, that’s why we keep striving for perfection!
We’ve been forming the wrong habits, throwing caution to the wind,
recklessly acting like invincible heroes, while destroying our entire being.
And the struggle is real!
We’re even struggling to feel real emotions, struggling to co-exist
The frown on my face has gotten larger, while my smile has nearly disappeared. ”
Here we are, at the point of no return!
The dead end, a blind alley.
Blinded by the shiny billboards and wrong promises
I wish I could scream at your ignorance:”
God Damn’it! Look at me when I talk to you!
If you can’t look at me, how could you look at yourself!
When eyes are closed, we can’t see the chaos floating around us
When eyes are closed, we can still pretend that all this is not real!
How convenient, that there’s a digital universe we can travel to,
when reality gets too hard to accept
where we can hide away in a virtual, glittery-unicorn-world instead!”
Where you scroll, scroll, scroll, until you can’t scroll no more”
And you drown, drown, drown in an ocean of metaphors
You drown in solutions, that won’t solve any problems
You’re swallowed by the products that you’re consuming
It has never been you, it has always been them!
Our heads feel strangled by a million impressions
We’re tired of not being able to make a change
We’re lost in this huge sea of information” ”
Ladies and Gentlemen:
An entire generation suffering from desperation! ”
Airplanes, chemtrails, clickbait, hashtags ”
inhale, exhale, yoga mats
Black lives matter, metoo-movements,
Gender, LGBTQ
Plastic bottles, plastic body, micro plastic, plastic lobby
Sobbing children, desperate mothers
wars, weapons, little brothers
Army, killing, refugees, sea watch, watching, what I see
Lampedusa, middle sea, tons of loses, middle east.
Islam, Koran, God or Allah
Amen, Om, Shalom, Inshallah
Pretzels, Pork or Chicken Korma
Karma, Trump, Barack Obama.
We can do it, no we can’t
parents, progress, loans and grants
broken hopes and promises, bank accounts and insurance
credits, studies, student fees
Work or university
Heal the world, destroy the system
feminism, demonstration, ”
right wing, left wing, extremism
many questions, answers missing.
Guessing, knowing, building, growing
slow food, smoothies, kind of boring.
Nature, vegan industry, palm oil, poison, eating meat
Global warming, too much heat, immigration, time to leave.
Holding on or letting go, fighting, burn-out, alcohol.
Drugs and party, work and travel, buying houses, moving, settle
Tinder, Love, monogamy, relationships are not for me.
Sleepless nights, depressing mornings
Netflix, youtube, beauty goals,
Insta, Facebook,
never sober, pull the trigger, shoot,
Game over!”
I’m losing my sanity in all this chaos
My brain is fucked, my head explodes
Here we are, at the point of no return
Heaven is a ghost town and this world is gonna burn.
We’ve been up so high and now we are free falling”
We were dancing on the rooftops thinking we’d be kings and queens by morning
Balancing between white privilege and black discrimination
Challenged by this game of chess looking for future strategies”
I guess we didn’t hear that warning”
We were so sure that we’d be kings and queens by morning
But we’re not, we’ll be a lost generation if we don’t raise our voices
Stop tweeting little birdie bird, you gotta start roaring.
Lost in this fog of exploitation
Exploring the world, exploring different nations
Welcome to the new age,
it’s a revolution I suppose
We might be facing challenges,
the biggest is to mobilise our youth
They are are covered in the mess that politics have made
We are still choking on the lies that we’ve been told
This world traffics in the blackest of markets”
Trading misery like diamonds and gold
Cold-hearted propaganda, not a hijab leads to suicide attacks
All the fears and all the hate that we exchange”
For applause and voided praise
are turning this age into a nightmare from hell.
What will be left of us, when we have only our souls left to sell.
This generation is underrated, underestimated,
Too many doubts, too many choices
but you haven’t failed
We could only ever fail ourselves
So let’s reclaim our voices,
and build a peaceful army lined up like books on a shelf, filled with knowledge
Looking for dialogues in 6500 various languages,
Whoever is trying to silence you is always fearing your existence
I want to believe in a collaborative society
I want to believe in opportunities and positive diversity
No one should be ever penalised for their ethnicity
The only thing that should be separated by colour is my god-damn smelly laundry
Here we are, at the point of no return
And while my washing machine is turning in circles
just like the world keeps spinning out of control
I want you to know that we’ve got this, Darling – we’ve got this.
So raise your fist and make a peace sign with it
Because the battle we lead, has never been a war
Trust the sound of this generation,
we’re all fighting for the same goals
Hitting the same notes, singing the same chorus
Singing the same melody of unity and freedom ”
I know that you’re feeling overwhelmed and tired
But when there’s nothing left to burn,
you gotta set yourself on fire and empower the great minds around you
that cease to exist.
Hope is like fire and you can warm countless hearts on it.
Here we are, at the point of no return
Still hoping that we’d be kings and queens by morning
But can you hear the sirens off in the distance?
They’re steadily approaching!
Running away was easy, but ignorance won’t save us now
We have to build resistance against a mighty system
That wants us to hide in the shadows of the masses”
I can hear them whispering our names, but we’re stronger
and we won’t ignore this storm any longer.
Open your eyes!
and finally understand that you have a voice ”
and that voice is more powerful than anything else in this world
Open your eyes and see that you’re not alone!
Open your eyes and start to believe in the unknown!
Believe in a change that is currently happening
Look at the streets filled with people, this is everything but not a blind alley!”
My heart is dancing with grace,”
when I see your incredible courage
when I see your fight for a better future
when I see how much you’re trying to move forward
I guess we’re still at that point of no return
and looking at the present makes the future appear so goddamn hard
…but you know what my dear?
Pssst! Let me tell you something:
The finish line is a wonderful place where we could start.” ”


Communications Coordinator

International Civil Society Centre

The Together Project: Lessons for collective action in the face of chilling effects on civil society

26th October 2018 by Vicky Tongue

The sector Scanning the Horizon futures community this week heard from InterAction‘s Together Project, an inspiring example of collaboration by US-based civil society organisations (CSOs) to counter the ‘chilling’ effects of restrictive government regulations limiting their ability to operate. They achieved this through a combination of solidarity on principle with other NGOs, diverse but targeted and resilient advocacy in different policy and legislative spaces, engaging with ‘champions who can’, and not using simplistic messaging. Five key lessons emerged for our work in 2019 to further explore how CSOs can best work together to respond to current social divides and political agendas linked to nationalist self-interest.


The Together Project started in 2017 out of the need to address issues of discrimination from the financial sector, such as frozen bank accounts and transfers to local partners, and support members vulnerable to direct attacks in the media or public sphere, or indirect impacts of US anti-terrorism/money laundering laws, regulations, or policies restricting their ability to function. This was largely due to their religious faith and/or countries in which they support partners or programmes.

Princess Bazley-Bethea, the project manager, took us through some key activities and advocacy carried out to date. The key emerging lessons are:

  1. ‘Find friends who can speak on your behalf, vocalise your good work and elevate your story’

A large and diverse coalition of support has mobilised through solidarity with the potential exponential effect and implications of/for tomorrow, beyond the specific organisations affected. Behind the formal coalition of five organisations directly experiencing banking access challenges, there is a large informal support network of more than75 organisations, of other faiths and none, and with leverage and ‘voice’ with different audiences. Many flooded congressional offices with messages in support of one charity against which a disapproving think tank was trying to ‘evidence’ links to supposed terrorist activity.

  1. ‘Say who you are, don’t spend time and waste energy saying who you’re not’

There is still a role for strong empirical data even in these ‘post-truth’ times of poor evidential standards. If you focus too much on challenging allegations, you are just elevating the arguments of those who are trying to discredit you. Line up your audits and your allies! Use mechanisms and associations to show you are transparent and holding yourself to account, through public records and associations with a recognised CSO platform like InterAction. Be stoic in the face of information requests, even when ridiculous – due diligence requests for the shoe sizes of your Board members, we kid you not!

  1. Convince others to recognise their roles and responsibilities and share risk

Take advantage of relationships with unlikely allies and unfamiliar champions. Despite the risks and small NGO clientele, the banks were compelled by the reputational benefits (‘the bank saving lives’ in emergencies), and with the many Americans who donate to philanthropy. Standard Chartered Bank even attended en masse a day-long Academy to be educated on the issues. Pro bono legal sector collaboration also helped with education, connections, research and briefings.

  1. Counter disinformation with strong human stories

Prepare to defend yourself against spurious evidence and ‘experts’ mobilised against you. One mainstream media publication alleged links between a U.S. NGO operating in Palestine and terrorism – based on common names and information from social media profiles – to argue for tighter government control of their funding. Debunk such inaccuracies – InterAction’s disinformation toolkit is a great resource– and go directly to the source and insist on both removal and retraction. Counteract on social media and connect it to the bigger picture. Tell powerful stories about the negative impacts of the restrictions, such as the lives lost over the winter in Afghanistan because of delays in the transfer of funds for fuel and other vital supplies. Ensure all staff reinforce aligned, affirming, and objective messaging in all their communications, including personal tweets.

  1. Stress interconnectedness

Encourage your allies to promote your true story, use smart collaboration with media outlets who can communicate the issues to the public in a balanced and accessible way, especially if you don’t have the capacity for mass public engagement yourself. Invest significant time on outreach and education with political representatives, and elevate the conversation internationally, highlighting the interconnectedness of the issues and the broader ramifications of how they play out in different parts of the world. InterAction made the wider links to constraints on civic space at multi-stakeholder dialogues within the UN and World Bank.

In summary, it’s clear that working Together today is more necessary than ever in the current political climate, because we never know how things will develop tomorrow.


To find out more about InterAction’s Together project, join the Working Group, Advocacy Team, attend expert briefings and events, or work on common priorities such as the Charity & Security Network and the World Bank/ACAMS workstreams, please email Princess.

To find out more about the International Civil Society Centre’s Scanning the Horizon community of sector futurists and strategists, please visit email Vicky Tongue.

Vicky Tongue

Programme Manager

International Civil Society Centre

Vicky Tongue is the International Civil Society Centre’s Programme Manager, co-ordinating core initiatives on horizon scanning, innovation and peer convening for CEOs and Global Heads of Division. Vicky has 15 years’ senior programme management with several leading UK-based ISCOs, including Marie Stopes International, Article 19, CAFOD, ODI and Save the Children.

Reclaiming our Voices

23rd October 2018 by Maha Babeker

Every year, millions of women and girls worldwide suffer from violence; whether it is domestic violence, rape, dowry-related killing, trafficking, sexual violence, or other forms of abuse. Violence against women is a gross violation of human rights, and a threat to global peace, security, and development. In Sudan, high levels of poverty and rampant gender-based discrimination have resulted in the systematic violation of women’s rights.

The most vulnerable people in our society are we—the women. We are repeatedly oppressed by a State that refuses to advance legislation that protects our rights, and criminalizes acts done against us, such as FGM. The laws of Sudan are designed to oppress women, deprive us of our own free will, and punish us. For example, the Criminal Law of 1991 makes legal the punishment of women for adultery, improper dress code, abortion, changing religion, and gathering with an unrelated male companion. These are only examples of written laws—there are many more unwritten practices that strongly violate and abuse women’s rights. Having said that, Young women in Sudan are continuously threatened for choosing to speak out in favour of their most basic human rights, and for acting in support of the elimination of sexual violence.

One thing I have learnt from being a ‘Women Human Rights Defender’ is that the entire world, all countries, are connected as a Global Village. All of the challenges we face are shared, and this offers us a very unique opportunity for advocacy. And for that, young women and men need to understand the importance of working in international advocacy to realize that the world is a small place, and human rights are important no matter how big or small. The violations against human rights and women’s rights that we are combatting in Sudan is not only a Sudanese issue, but an international concern. We are not alone in our campaign to combat these violations—we are supported internationally in our struggle for justice and equality.  We are standing shoulder to shoulder with supporters from around the world.

Moreover, Youth groups need to put pressure on Sudan to respect women and girls rights. Pressure can be in the form of campaigns, or it can come from governments, or the international community. People from all over the world need to come together to push for change and reformation of all laws in Sudan that violate human rights, and women’s rights. I also believe that, CSOs need to mainly focus on mobilizing and empowering women and young women’s groups in particular in order to influence policy and overcome structural, political and legal obstacles to the advancement of their rights.

I urge Young Sudanese women and men to continue to advocate for reform to rape laws, and to Sudan’s Revised Penal Code, which is being used as the basis to justify the sentencing of women to cruel forms of punishments such as stoning. They also need to continue to advocate for campaigns to stop the practice of child marriage, and the reform of Sudan’s restrictive dress code laws, which force women and girls to live in fear of being arrested for what they wear. However, progress to the advancement of women’s rights continues to be challenged.

Young women and men have to stand for themselves, and all youth of Sudan, to end injustice and inequality. We must urge for all members of civil society to be able to practice their activism without hindrance or harassment by our government. We must make sure all donors and non-governmental organizations do not fund any government run programs in Sudan without first seeing an improvement in policies related to human rights, women’s rights, and gender equality. With pressure, the government regime will back down from its continuing abuse of citizens, especially women and young girls.

The common narrative of violence and intimidation against Sudanese women and girls must end. Now more than ever, Sudan needs youth leadership and participation to end Gender Based Violence. As Youth Ambassador for Sudan on Sexual Violence in Conflict, I will continue to advocate for women’s rights, and engage young men and women in the battle to end sexual violence, giving youth the tools necessary to speak up and speak out against this scourge. Through non-violent activism, young people in Sudan can challenge the perpetration of human rights abuses, and sow the seeds for sustainable peace. My hope is not only for CSOs that has been shut down by the government like Salmmah Women’s Resource Center to re-open, but for a radical change and transformation of laws in Sudan to advance women’s rights, and an abuse-free society.

I pray that young men and women, in Sudan and around the world, will stand in solidarity with one another as we demand justice and fight for the equality of all citizens.


Maha Babeker

UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict Office

Youth to End Sexual Violence in Conflict

Maha is an activist working to promote women’s rights in Sudan. Her skills vary from creating artwork to support campaigns for women's rights in Sudan to more recently participating in critically acclaimed plays ‘Seven’ in Ottawa to inspire and empower women. Currently, Maha coordinates the Youth Program at the Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic. Maha began her career in 2010 at the Salmmah Women’s Resource Centre, which is one of the oldest women’s rights organizations in Sudan. In December 2014 Maha was appointed the Youth Ambassador for Sudan on Sexual Violence in Conflict. In 2015 She co-hosted a weekly talk show that focused on women’s voices, opinions and experiences. In March 2016, she was one of the speakers at the World Muse Conference in the US to inspire women to create positive social change.

Recruiting the CSO Employees of the Future

16th October 2018 by Annika Behrendt and Liora Jaffe

The work world is changing, younger workers are switching jobs more frequently and looking for more than just a pay check. Not only millennials are interested in holding meaningful, ethical and sustainable jobs rather than working in traditional positions (think: banking, finance and consulting).

For the third sector this is a huge opportunity for acquiring new, passionate talent, who are invested in social causes. Making sure the best and the brightest choose to work in the third sector is a key way of impacting the most pressing issues of society today. The challenge then is, how to recruit the right people.

For organizations in the third sector it is important to ask oneself, what kind of employees are we looking for? Yes, in some situations the long-term activist who is very familiar with your work, might be the best fit for the organization, but it is also worthwhile to consider non-traditional career paths. What added benefit might someone from the business sector bring to my organisation? Are there volunteers who are already involved with our organization who would be a great fit? In what positions would a for-profit defector bring new skills and ideas to our organization? Having a focused profile of the type of skills that fit to the organization can help open the door for out-of-the-box employees who bring huge added value, motivation and talent.

The next question once you have an ideal applicant in mind, is how to go about recruiting and attracting that kind of talent. Some positions may be easier to fill than others, as there is currently a large interest in the sector and lots of people applying to any given position. On the other hand, not all positions attract as many applicants. Job opening in fundraising or IT can be tricky to fill. In Germany, due to the lack of trained fundraisers, finding the right person for the job requires a particularly attractive job offer, and impact alone may not be enough. Meanwhile IT salaries in the for-profit sector are far higher than most non-profits can afford and attracting appropriate candidates can be a challenging process for organizations.

In cases like this, it is important to highlight the non-salary benefits the position offers, be it flexibility, the ability to work from home, a friendly office work culture, or team lunches. There may also be other more institutionalized benefits such as health insurance, maternity leave or extra vacation time that is worth mentioning as well. Most importantly make sure to include the societal benefits of the position, this may be your organizations biggest advantage over businesses with more resources but who may lack impact.

Engaging a new generation of bright, passionate employees is just the catalyst the third sector needs to create the systemic, sustainable impact for the future, it is worth finding the right employee to fit your cause.


Annika Behrendt

Senior Project Manager


Senior project manager at Talents4Good, first German recruitment agency specialized in jobs in the non-profit sector. With her background in social sciences and her interest in female career topics Annika recruits mostly for NGOs with a focus on positions in fundraising and campaigning.

Liora Jaffe

Jr. Project Manager


Liora Jaffe is a native Californian who moved to Berlin in 2013 after finishing her B.A. in Sociology at the University of California, Berkeley. After working for two years at the humanitarian aid organization, JDC (The Joint Distribution Committee), she began her masters at the University of Hamburg in Public and Nonprofit Studies. Liora currently works as a Jr. Project Manager for the HR and recruiting firm Talents4Good in Berlin.