These past two years have been quite disruptive for everyone and our sector has not been the exception. The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to adapt to a fast-paced environment where they scaled back the number of staff in the field due to travel and quarantine restrictions. Relying more heavily on remote work and local partners (a challenge for those organisations that were not used to working in partnerships already) and adapting interventions are just several of the ways that CSOs have responded. Additionally, last year we witnessed a renewed global outcry over systemic racism and political instability, adding pressure to CSOs to begin or accelerate transforming their practices and demonstrate their integrity.
Ensuring and demonstrating that organisations are recognising both the urgency and significance of the change needed, learning, working on root causes and walking the talk is essential for CSOs to be seen as legitimate and credible actors. This is not only crucial for civil society itself, but also to allow civil society to play its central role in advocating for healthy and substantive democracies.
Accountable Now believes that to be truly accountable and to redress power imbalances where we truly work in equitable partnerships, CSOs should be driven by their values, led by promoting and fighting for the protection of human rights, ensuring that principles of do-no-harm guide their program and project work and prioritising activities by sustainability values -but more ‘radically’ by constantly questioning their ways of working and approach (how) and by becoming actively anti-racist.
For this reason, this year’s Annual General Meeting will be a 4-day event where organisations, practitioners and donors will have the opportunity to discuss and exchange ideas on how to continue advancing their organisational accountability in different thematic areas. Participants will have the opportunity to reflect on how accountability can help tackle the different issues that CSOs are experiencing due to their inherent structures and internal dynamics. This Peer to Peer meeting aims at encouraging horizontal dialogue, sharing experiences and learning between Accountable Now Members and other CSO representatives to achieve a collective and continuous growth.
What You Need to Know:
WHEN / WHERE:
May 23 – 26 (13:00 – 16:30 CEST).
This year’s AGM will be taking place online. Registered participants will receive Zoom connection details prior to the event, along with all the other necessary information.
Registration is now open! Register before May 15 at 23:59 CEST.
Participation in this event is free of charge.
The agenda is currently being further developed and more panellists will be added soon. Keep an eye on social media for updates!
To learn more about the sessions, continue reading below.
MORE ABOUT THE SESSIONS:
Monday, 23 May 2022 (13:00 – 14:30 CEST)
#Young Women for Awareness, Agency, Advocacy & Accountability #YoungWomenTransform #YW4A
Gender equality is a fundamental human right and a necessary foundation for peaceful, prosperous and sustainable societies. Access to essential political and economic resources enables more women and girls to participate fully in society and to achieve their true potential. Women are powerful agents of change. The significant benefits of diversity and gender parity in leadership and decision-making are increasingly recognized in all spheres. However, women continue to be vastly under-represented in decision-making processes despite the fact that balancing the power equation in leadership benefits politics, businesses and communities.
The social norms around leadership that have been framed by patriarchal structures continue to be very present, hindering feminist leadership. Furthermore, as girls grow into young women, they increasingly find their voices silenced in patriarchal families, communities and political spaces, and are subject to sexual and gender-based violence. The gaps in women’s legal protection frameworks and legal status laws, are still a persistent problem across countries in Africa and the Middle East & North Africa (MENA) regions and social strata within the countries. Being able to Identify and change those norms can catalyze change, allowing women to shape their own present and future.
It is under this context that the YW4A initiative was founded. The YW4A programme and its partners aim to create and enhance an environment where these conditions are met for the realisation of young women’s rights. Studies conducted by the World YWCA and Monash University revealed that safe spaces, peer networks, intergenerational leadership, widespread promotion of young women’s rights, and support of local communities are key drivers for young women’s leadership in private, public and civic spaces. In addition, ending young women’s exclusion from decision making and exposure to SGBV requires an ecosystem approach that transforms formal and informal norms and behavior, at multiple levels. However, this is an aggregated summation of the prerequisites for young women’s inclusion and leadership.
The objective of this session is to discuss a multi-sectoral approach to facilitate an environment conducive for young women’s leadership and advocacy in different spaces. We will hear first hand how an initiative led by young women in South Sudan, Egypt, Kenya and Palestine are advancing awareness, agency, advocacy and accountability to establish women’s leadership and to protect their rights to bodily integrity. Through this session we will hear from young women themselves about the conditions of leadership that they need within their unique contexts, and how the YW4A initiative is supporting them in this endeavor. The session will also highlight the fundamental intersection of faith/religion/spirituality and law in advocating for young women’s rights, thereby enhancing participants’ understanding of key steps to begin changing behaviors/implement intentional actions to enable a transformative leadership where different perspectives and skills are used. When women rise to become leaders and change-makers in their lives and their communities, they can become an influential force coming up with solutions and championing social change far beyond their immediate surroundings.
This session will answer the following questions:
- How can we facilitate holistic programming for women’s rights? What is the intersection of faith/religion/spirituality and law in advocating for young women’s rights?
- How do our values, experiences and knowledge about gender equality undermine how we work with young women in such initiatives?
- What does it mean to center young women’s leadership? Can we draw lessons from the Young Women Reference group in YW4A?
- How can my organisation advance/ create an enabling environment for young women’s leadership?
Co-organizing: World YWCA + YW4A
Monday, 23 May 2022 (15:00 – 16:30 CEST)
Being accountable: Our different journeys towards inclusiveness, diversity and shifting power
Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) as agents of change have historically advocated for policies and programmes that seek to tackle inequality and exclusion; however, carrying out these actions does not necessarily mean that the organisation is actually diverse and inclusive and/or that they are advancing those same changes internally for their own benefit.
Diversity is about answering the question who is part of the organisation? Organisations need to make sure that we are involving people with a wide range of different social and racial/ethnic backgrounds and of different genders, sexual orientations, abilities and disabilities, etc. Inclusion is about how well the contributions of every different group of people are valued, heard and integrated into the decision-making process within the organisation and it is also about creating the appropriate spaces for people’s voices to be heard and listened to.
CSOs recognize that there is significant value in fostering diversity and inclusion within their own organisations, yet we continue to observe that in a large percentage of these, power is held by a small group of people that is usually not diverse. Few people within our sector recognise that racism, sexism, homophobia and other forms of discrimination operate on a broader level within organisations and systems, and that these underline every major social issue in almost all societies. CSOs around the world will need to continue strengthening their diversity and inclusiveness policies and practices. But how can we make sure that we are advancing in the right direction?
In recent years, in an attempt to measure how diverse and inclusive are our organisations, standards, benchmarks, indexes and methodologies have been developed. But is measuring our diversity and inclusion that easy? Can we use the same methodology across different types of organisations or contexts and also across different realities? These new methodologies and standards are providing CSOs with guidelines to begin reflecting on our practices, but what else can be done?
This session has the purpose of discussing how CSOs are measuring their diversity and inclusion practices within their own individual organisations but also in more complex structures like federations. The ultimate goal is to provide ideas/approaches on how organisations can measure and advance towards more inclusive and diverse CSOs.
This discussion is not meant to be a lecture. This is a conversation between peers and practitioners who wish to discuss the following questions:
- What would being diverse look like in my organisation? Is promoting or having a diverse workforce enough?
- How about culture, leadership, power (formal and informal)
- How can we use existing standards and methodologies to measure our diversity and inclusion practices?
- When can we say that we have become diverse? And in which levels and ways is it most important to be diverse? How can we go beyond diversity into inclusion?
- How can we advance inclusivity and avoid tokenism?
- What can organisations do to make sure that everyone is included? How can we tackle exclusion? Is there a way in which we can measure this? the importance of organisational culture
- How can we be more accountable on our diversity and inclusion practices?
- How does my/my organisation’s behavior influence others in promoting a culture that embraces cultural diversity?
Sharing experiences from:
Andres Gomez de la Torre (Care International)
Jay Goulden (Care International)
Lorriann Robinson (Co-founder of the Equity Index)
Jean Scrimgeour – Accountability Lab
Tuesday, 24 May 2022 (13:00 – 14:30 CEST)
From conversation to action: Shifting the Power
Throughout the past couple of years, our sector has been carrying out in depth reviews and participating in a wide range of conversations that have the purpose of identifying ways of addressing the systemic challenges that our sector is facing and in many cases perpetuating, particularly when it comes to replicating different forms of power imbalances, particularly when engaging with local actors.
Our sector has recognized that we need to begin by changing our internal structures, practices and ultimately our culture to make sure that our organisations are in line with the vision of advancing towards more just and inclusive societies. Processes of self-reflection and assessment have brought willingness to change and thus make sure that we are redistributing power and advance toward more horizontal and equal relationships with our partners.
Over this past year, conversations around localisation and power shift have multiplied and are being held in different spaces and with different actors. However, these conversations are happening at different levels and thus there is a lack of coordination and common understanding on how to advance change and how we would like to transform the sector.
We all agree that power needs to be redistributed to make sure that marginalised voices are heard and so that they are the drivers of our work. But how can we do this? How can we move from conversation to action?
The objective of this session is to showcase the work that different organisations have carried out where they have challenged their way of working. CSOs will share how they have embarked on a journey where they have put people´s voices at the core of their decision-making processes. They will share their challenges and also the benefits of implementing such an approach.
The ultimate goal of this conversation is to discuss at a very personal and individual level, how can we contribute to shifting the power?
Some of the questions that participants will discuss are:
- What do we understand by shifting the power?
- What could I do differently in order for my job to be people driven?
- What are the barriers that I identify that prevent me/my organisation from moving away from the traditional top down way of working?
- What can I do within my organisation to enable processes that ensure that my work is locally-led?
- How can other actors contribute to me/my organisation when trying to be people driven?
- What can my organisation do to identify where it adds the most value and where power should be sitting in someone else’s hands?
Ariana Martini (Saferworld)
Anj Dacanay – Bantay Kita
Tuesday, 24 May 2022 (15:00 – 16:00 CEST)
Scaling CSO impact through Digital means and being accountable for it!
The Covid-19 pandemic pushed civil society organisations around the world -national and international- to adapt and transform their practices, interventions and efforts to a new reality where in-person interaction was limited and travel was restricted. In many cases, organisations placed a travel ban to safeguard people and their partners given the health crisis that the world was grappling with.
This new reality encouraged organisations to innovate and redesign the ways in which they would carry out their regular tasks in order to continue advancing their mission in such a difficult environment. Tasks related to providing support, engaging with and collecting information and feedback from the people they worked for and with had to change drastically. Many organisations resorted to using digital means and platforms to be able to continue engaging with their partners. By shifting their approaches, organisations realised that they were able to scale up and reach more people than they were able to do before!
Two years later, the world is slowly going back to what we considered to be normal: countries are slowly reopening their borders and international travel is slowly resuming. In this new context civil society organisations are questioning themselves how to move forward. Questions around the possibility of continuing to use remote and digital approaches that have the potential of reaching more people but that also could potentially hinder impact and inclusivity due to the digital divide versus in-person interventions are at the forefront of organisational strategic thinking.
This session has the purpose of discussing the advantages and challenges of using digital means to provide support to people. Panelists will share what this means in terms of impact but also how can we guarantee that people are still driving CSO interventions.
Some of the main questions that surface are:
- What role can technology play when trying to scale impact?
- Can we achieve the same results through in-person interventions?
- Can we truly achieve the same level of impact through digital means?
- What are some of the challenges and opportunities for CSOs to become more impactful?
- How can we contribute to overcome the digital divide?
- What are the enablers and barriers of digitalisation?
Jason Schwartzman – ChildFund Team Leader for Child & Youth Involvement (ChildFund International)
Cristina Barrera – Country Director (ChildFund Ecuador)
Javier Alvarado – Executive Director (Telefónica Foundation Ecuador)
Wednesday, 25 May 2022 (13:00 – 14:00 CEST)
Presented by the Dynamic Accountability Community of Practice – Dynamic Accountability: Our Unique Journeys
While accountability is an important part of organisations’ work, the diversity and mode of practice varies from organisation to organisation. This difference stems from the varying needs, resource availability, context, organisational culture, focus and activities. The richness in their diverse practices show the resourcefulness, consideration and efforts that are being put in by CSOs to be responsive and adaptive to the people who they work for and with. At the same time, organisations are facing challenges and obstacles in practising accountability, and often handling them in silos.
Therefore, this circle aims to provide a space where new and existing DACoP members alike can share how different aspects of accountability are practised and embedded in their organisations, and together identify good practices, areas of commonality, build relationships and learn from one another.
This session aims to answer the following questions:
- What does people driven work look like in your accountability practice? How do you involve stakeholders into every step of the process
- How does your organisation build its ability to work with communities? What does engagement look like?
- How has programming been made to be flexible, to adapt to the different needs of your stakeholders?
- How do you take feedback on board and implement them? What are the processes of reflection in your organisation?
- What are some barriers or challenges? How did you overcome them?
- Have you reflected on the power that you hold? How does power affect the way you work?
- How do you address power imbalances within your work/programmes? How do you raise voices, create spaces that shift the power towards the people who you work for and with, so that they feel empowered to drive your work?
Oyebisi Oluyesi (Nigerian Network of NGOs)
Ariola Agolli (Partners Albania)
Inés Yábar (Restless Development)
Wednesday, 25 May 2022 (15:00 – 16:30 CEST)
The Dynamic Accountability Community of Practice: Stronger Together
The Dynamic Accountability Community of Practice (DACoP) is a joint initiative by CIVICUS, Restless Development, and the Global Standard Partnership. It is a space where a wide range of civil society practitioners can come together to share good practice, discover useful resources and learn from one another on the topic of Dynamic Accountability.
The DACoP began in the margins of the International Civil Society Week in 2019, where civil society organisations came together to discuss their needs and experiences of Dynamic Accountability. Despite a lot of diversity and innovation in accountability practices, most practitioners had not yet had the opportunity to exchange their knowledge on the topic and there was interest in creating a space for this. Through consultations, the Community was therefore borned and ideated.
Since then, we’ve been through many iterations, changing platforms and adapting to a more simple format for interactions. In doing so, we have published regular newsletters, organised open dialogues and learning events, and convened learning groups. With this session, we want to celebrate the journey of the DACoP so far, seek further inputs from members and non-members alike to strengthen the community and explore how the community can be more member-led in a sustainable way.
The purpose of the event is to celebrate the journey of the DACoP so far. Furthermore, it will stimulate dialogue for DACoP members (new and old) so that they are able to make decisions about the future design and direction of the community.
Thursday, 26 May 2022 (13:00 – 15:30 CEST)
Annual General Meeting – Only for Accountable Now Members.
More information including prep papers will be shared with registered participants from Member organisations soon.