Posts with the tag
“Global Perspectives 2018”

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.

Recommendations

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 Manager

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

Head of Futures and Innovation

International Civil Society Centre

Vicky Tongue is the International Civil Society Centre’s Head of Futures and Innovation, leading our core initiatives on future trends, horizon scanning and civil society innovation. Vicky has more than 15 years’ senior programme management with several leading UK-based ISCOs, including Marie Stopes International, Article 19, CAFOD, ODI and Save the Children.


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

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

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.


Forus consults on the future of civil society and youth engagement at international civil society event in Berlin

15th November 2018 by Deirdre de Burca and Magda Toma

This blog entry was originally published on Forus-international.org. All rights reserved. 

Members of the Forus secretariat recently attended the annual Global Perspectives event in Berlin, Germany from Oct 31st- November 2nd  2018, organized by the International Civil Society Centre (More information about the event).

The theme of this year’s conference was “Engaging a New Generation”.

Forus hosted a “Campfire Session” during the conference called “What future for civil society and how important is youth engagement?” This session provided an opportunity for Forus to begin its planned consultation on the future of the sector with wider civil society, as part of the roll-out of its new Pilot International Initiative (2018-2020) Building essential infrastructure for the NGO sector & encouraging the emergence of supportive ecosystems“.

This initiative was presented and strongly endorsed by Forus members during its General Assembly in Santiago Chile this year. The Forus International Initiative envisages an initial, broad process of consultation with civil society globally over the coming two-years on the question of how the sector can be further developed and strengthened in the future.

The title of the Forus campfire session during the conference was “What future for civil society and how important is youth engagement?”. The session began with a short presentation of some of the major challenges currently facing civil society in a rapidly changing external environment.

The challenges discussed included:

  1. The increase in the number of new social movements and the tendency of young people to gravitate towards these movements rather than towards NGOs ; 
  2. The increase in the number of illiberal and authoritarian governments around the world, resulting in a shrinking space for civil society ; 
  3. The new demands being placed on civil society, as a key stakeholder in the implementation of Agenda 2030 ; 
  4. The increase in public demand for greater accountability, transparency and good governance from civil society and NGOs in particular ; 
  5. The fact that CSO funding sources and modalities continue to be project-based.

The group discussion that followed was lively and wide-ranging. 

It yielded the following conclusions:

A broad and inclusive definition of civil society is needed

  • The definition of “civil society” used in these discussions should be broad and diverse enough to be inclusive of all civil society actors, from the least to the most organised ends of the spectrum. The definition should include spontaneous and distributed social movements, small community and grassroots organisations, not-for-profitsocial enterprises and co-operatives, small and large NGOs, international civil society organisations, trade unions etc.

Build relationships between NGOs and social movements

  • More sustained efforts should be made to do outreach and build relationships between NGOs and social movements, which should result in greater mutual understanding and a better appreciation of the “added value” of each and the potentially complementary roles they can play in bringing about badly needed social and political change. Ideally, funding could be provided by NGOs to social movements for the achievement of broad aims (for example – to create public awareness about the need for climate action) and without too many conditions attached. The role of NGOs could be to broadly monitor progress on the achievement of the objective set. In this way social movements can be resourced to do what they do best without too many onerous reporting requirements considering their lack of formal organisation.

Recognise each other’s added value        

  • CSOs with more formalised organisational structures (eg NGOs) should not try to impose their agendas on the social movements when collaborating with them. Instead, NGOs should play a more supportive “background” role and allow the social movements to do what they do best (eg mobilising and public campaigning). NGOs should largely play an “enabling” role where social movements are concerned and make their resources and expertise available in a non-directive way. The added value of traditional NGOs and ICSOs is seen to lie more in long-term engagement and advocacy directed at governments and institutions.

Create “youth-friendly” spaces within NGOs and trade unions

  • NGOs, trade unions and other CSOs with more formal organisational structures should create “youth-friendly spaces” within their structures where young people’s voices can be heard and be allowed to influence discussions and decision-making. At present many NGOs and trade unions are organised in such a way that there is no opportunity for young people to engage or be heard, and the language used by these organisations is not at all youth-friendly.

Privilege the resourcing of small flexible local CSOs

  • Small, flexible, local CSOs should get much more attention from donors and funders than they have to date. Large institutional NGOs have tended to receive more government attention and resources, although locally-based civil society organisations including peer to peer organisations can often be more effective at representing the needs of local communities and can engage young people more effectively. Many large traditional ICSOs in particular, especially those involved in direct service delivery, are seen to face the possibility of increasing irrelevance over time.

Ensure a good inter-generational mix in the staffing of CSOs

  • The importance of having a good inter-generational mix in civil society organisations was emphasised as CSOs were felt to have a very different set of values and outlook if older people were at the top of these organisations.

Large international CSOs should regularly revisit their core mission and purpose

  • The larger the NGO the more risk there is that they will become overly – institutionalised and bureaucratic. It was felt to be very important for ICSOs to revisit their core founding values on a regular basis and to remind themselves of what motivated their creation in the first place. It was considered very important for ICSOs, in particular, to regularly review and update if necessary their core mission and purpose and ensure that the functioning of the organisation remains fully consistent with the core mission. Large CSOs should be willing to “re-invent” themselves if necessary based on these assessments.

Progressive CSOs should learn important lessons from populists

  • Progressive civil society should learn from the tactics of the populists and use them to advance progressive causes. This is often difficult however as populists try to present simple solutions and responses to complex problems. Explaining the complexity of some of the world’s problems often results in a weaker message. Progressive civil society needs to reflect on and develop better strategic influencing strategies.

Mobilize the masses so that a critical tipping point can be reached

  • Public awareness-raising remains a very important activity. There is a need to mobilise the masses and promote positive values so that a “tipping point” can be reached. CSOs should unite more around public awareness-raising work.

ICSOs should Identify risks and engage in intelligent risk taking

  • International civil society organisations in particular need to carry out risk identification which will allow them to engage in “intelligent risk-taking”. They need to learn to work with other ICSOs and other actors and to build strong national and local organisations. There should be an emphasis on employing local staff and building strong and relatively autonomous local systems of governance.

Best practices and solutions from the Global South should be identified

  • The identification of best practices and solutions can come from the Global South. A crisis of funding can often provide an opportunity and can help to identify new and more effective ways of working.

The discussion on the future of civil society and the engagement of youth during the Campfire Session was very stimulating and wide-ranging.

Forus intends to carry out a series of such consultations at upcoming international civil society events over the next 12 months.

Deirdre de Burca

Forus Advocacy Co-ordinator

Forus International

Deirdre de Burca currently works as the Advocacy Co-ordinator with Forus (formerly known as the International Forum for National NGO platforms). Forus is a global network of 69 national development platforms and 6 regional coalitions. Deirdre previously worked as Director of Advocacy for World Vision's Brussels office. She was also a member of the EU Steering Committee of Concord's Beyond 2015 EU Taskforce which played an essential role in influencing the position of the EU and its Member States during the UN negotiations on Agenda 2030. Deirdre was one of the founding members of SDG Watch Europe - a broad alliance of European civil society organisations established in June 2015 and which works to ensure the full implementation of Agenda 2030/the SDGs by the EU and its Member States.

Magda Toma

Forus Director

Forus International

Magda Toma is the Director of Forus (former IFP), a global network of civil society, bringing together 69 national development NGO platforms and 6 regional coalitions. Magda studied Political Science, European Affairs and Development Cooperation. She specialized in the relationship between the European Commission and development NGOs. Before working for Forus, she worked for CONCORD Europe, for the European Commission - DG EuropeAid and for B & S Europe, among others.


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

6th November 2018 by Thomas Howie

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.

Thomas Howie

Communications Manager

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.


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

1st November 2018 by Thomas Howie
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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
Globalisation!”
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.” ”
“””””””””””

Thomas Howie

Communications Manager

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.


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

Talents4Good

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

Talents4Good

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.


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

9th October 2018 by Beatrice Schulter, Lena Ingelstam, Tom Hodenfield, Ulrika Cilliers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Adults decide for us and think our opinions are less worthy than theirs just because we are younger. Adults play a negative role when they want to have the ‘last say’ without thinking they might be wrong.”

They told me’ feminazi’ and that they would sexually assault me.”
Children participating in Child Rights Connect & Centre for Children’s Rights Survey

On 28 September, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child will host the first international meeting on how to empower and protect children as human rights defenders (Day of General Discussion). The UN Day of General Discussion will be a unique opportunity for the international community to hear from children on their experiences as human rights defenders, discuss challenges and opportunities and formulate clear recommendations to states and other actors.

To address the obstacles children face when promoting and defending human rights, the UN Day of General Discussion must generate clear recommendations to States to:

  • Put in place and implement laws that guarantee children’s rights to take civic action online and offline, including their rights to the freedoms of expression, association, peaceful assembly and to access information.
  • Provide age-appropriate public information in languages and formats that children understand.
  • Establish and resource child-friendly, inclusive and safe mechanisms and platforms, such as children’s parliaments, where children from all walks of life can engage with local and national decision-makers.
  • Ensure that the education system provides opportunities for children to learn about their rights and strengthen their confidence to speak out.
  • Systematically promote the rights of children to be human rights defenders, address negative attitudes and build the capacity of adults to engage meaningfully with children.

“Children need to be given spaces to work together because there is power in having
many more children defending human rights”
Child participating in Child Rights Connect & Centre for Children’s Rights Survey

States are instrumental in addressing the barriers children face. But other actors also need to step up and intensify their actions.

The UN and other international inter-governmental bodies need to ensure there are child-friendly platforms, information and accreditation for children to influence their work.

Create a virtual participation tool for children and adolescents to consider the mechanisms of the UN, amplifying their voices together in order to be heard by decision-makers at the highest levels”
Child participating in Child Rights Connect & Centre for Children’s Rights Survey

The private sector should promote and respect all children’s rights, including their rights to act as human rights defenders applying the Children’s Rights and Business Principles.

Civil society organizations must recognize children as peers and partners, stand in solidarity with children, acknowledge that children can face multiple restrictions when taking civic action and defending human rights, and support them to speak out and be safe whilst doing so.

As we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, the Day of General Discussion must put a spotlight on what needs to change for children to be recognized, protected and empowered as human rights defenders, as a basis for more human rights focused societies.

For more information, please contact the authors:

Lena Ingelstam, Global Programme Director, Save the Children Sweden (lena.ingelstam@rb.se), and Ulrika Cilliers, Head of Advocacy, Child Rights Governance Global Theme, Save the Children (usc@redbarnet.dk), www.savethechildren.net

Tor Hodenfield, UN Adviser and Vuka! Secretariat Coalition Coordinator, CIVICUS, tor.hodenfield@civicus.org, www.civicus.org

Beatrice Schulter, Director, Child Rights Connect, schulter@childrightsconnect.org, www.childrightsconnect.org

You can find more information about the UNCRC Day of General Discussion on the OHCHR and Child Rights Connect webpages and follow the live webcast here.

Beatrice Schulter

Director

Child Rights Connect

Lena Ingelstam

Global Programme Director

Save The Children Sweden

Tom Hodenfield

UN Adviser and Vuka! Secretariat Coalition Coordinator

Civicus

Ulrika Cilliers

Head of Advocacy, Child Rights Governance Global Theme

Save the Children


Global Perspectives 2018 – why you should come and join in…

4th September 2018 by Thomas Howie

Global Perspectives 2018 will bring generations together in a unique framework. Established civil-society leaders can glean from the creativity and energy of young innovators, while younger actors can gain experience and useful networking opportunities. The conference emphasises mutual learning with a blend of workshops, panel discussions and interactive peer-to-peer exchange. Participants are invited to contribute in various ways, such as by hosting a workshop, planning side meetings or showcasing their initiatives.

It is a very rewarding environment, one that you will definitely enjoy, but don’t just take it from us. watch these videos from previous participants to see what Global Perspectives 2018 can offer you.

Uygar Özesmi – Founder and Instigator of Good4Trust
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Claudia Juech – CEO and President of Cloudera Foundation
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Richard Pichler – Special Representative for External Affairs and Resources for SOS Children’s Villages International

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Meg Gardinier – Secretary General of ChildFund Alliance
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Communications Manager

International Civil Society Centre