Each week NDI’s Citizen Participation team provides a resource to assist NDI staff in meeting the objectives of their programs. This past month’s resources analyzed the process of building advocacy skills, the transformative potential of online videos for training, and a range of tactics and interventions that citizens and civil society can use to hold governments to account. These resources provide tools and insights that can help citizens strengthen their ability to effectively engage in political processes and bring about social and political change.
Fabricio Rodriguez is a veteran community organizer for employee rights, who began organizing 15 years ago while working at a sub-surface mine.
An important focus of our work here NDI for the past few years has been to find ways to help democracy deliver on the promise to improve the quality of life for people. In practical terms this has led some programs to grapple more explicitly with issues that address day to day concerns of people, such as education and healthcare. The way we see it, bringing about social change is inherently political, and the kind of skills and experiences that are imparted in an NDI program often lend themselves to these practicalities.
At a local Belgrade bar in September 2015, a group of assailants attacked a young LGBTI activist named Dragoslava Barzut while she was spending the evening with friends. No one stood up to protect Barzut and her friends that night. She continued to receive threats following the attack. Despite the attack and threats, asylum abroad was not an option for Barzut. She will not leave her country as long as she can be an agent for change even though she feels wary while on public transportation and nervous during her daily commute to work. “I'm not staying here because Serbia is an ideal place for someone like me to live,” she said, “but I deeply believe that if I don’t leave, one day it may be. My fight is here.”
NDI's Nicaragua project is developing a community organizing component to complement youth leadership training through the Certificate in Leadership and Public Management.
More and more evidence suggests that politics matters for development, and that there is a need to do development differently by thinking and working politically. This refrain is intensifying and fueling efforts by donors, practitioners, and local partners to put this emerging approach into practice. But understanding the politics of change is only one part of the equation. Changing the politics is the other, more challenging part, especially when there are existing gaps in government transparency and accountability. Those of us working in the democracy and governance arena deal with this reality on a daily basis and have found some viable approaches when it comes to working politically.
As we celebrate International Women’s Day today and the progress that women around the world have made, we must also commit to efforts that will overcome the significant obstacles that still stand in their way. This year, the National Democratic Institute is launching a campaign to stop violence against women in politics. Physical and psychological violence is real and has long-lasting consequences. Often women are told that such violence is “just the cost of politics.”
First off, happy Open Data Day. To celebrate this day of data liberation, we at NDI’s Open Election Data Initiative invite you to to participate in our Election Iconathon event on Saturday, March 19th where we will create icons that bring election data to life. Slots are filling up fast, so we encourage you to sign-up before they’re all gone. Throughout our work we've found that images, often through infographics, can tell memorable stories about elections. So we'd like to invite you to help us create icons that will do justice to the data our election monitoring partners collect and publish.
Africa is home to a wealth of political diversity and regime types. In 2015, elections brought about the first peaceful transfer of power to Africa’s most populated country, Nigeria, but also led to mass civil unrest and instability in Burundi. Over the course of 2016, 32 countries on the continent will hold elections from local to presidential. However, the context of each election varies not only in political landscape, but also in the strength of democratic institutions and norms embodied within each country’s political system. In countries like Ghana, political actors will compete in a fierce struggle of wooing enough voters amid an increasingly critical public. In Uganda, the competition will center upon establishing the rules of the electoral game, as a long-time ruler works to tilt the playing field in his favor. Understanding the political background of each election allows for a richer narrative in the journey toward democratic consolidation.
We here at the Open Election Data Initiative noticed yesterday that the Election Commission of Uganda made voter registration information available for free at a granular level. Naturally, we were excited to see those two open data principles at work. The Election Commission published a file with the number of registered voters for each polling station along with the number of females and males registered at each station. The problem: they posted it as a dreaded PDF file, which is not an analyzable format.
Armenian, Kazakh, and Kyrgyz women activists gathered to learn about holding governments accountable for the impact of laws and policies on women in particular.
This December, women activists from Armenia, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan came together for a four-day gender responsive budgeting (GRB) workshop sponsored by NDI to begin wrestling with this problem. More than 30 participants gathered in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan to discuss the theory and practice of GRB, and to jointly develop GRB programs for implementation in their own countries.
Political parties are essential for democracy, they offer citizens meaningful choices and opportunities to mobilize behind different visions for their society. However, around the globe political parties are consistently ranked among the least trusted democratic institutions. While there are many reasons for this distrust, it does have some people wrongly asking if political parties are still necessary in today’s changing technological environment or if they’re a dying species of the 20th century. However, parties remain the only institutions that offer citizens meaningful choices in governance, avenues for political participation and opportunities to shape their country’s future. They therefore remain fundamental to the healthy functioning of democratic systems. To address this disconnect between citizens and political parties, NDI's Political Parties team has launched this Party Renewal Initiative to discuss how parties can better adapt to the 21st century.