My Rights are Your Rights: How one transgender woman in Guatemala is making change

Debby Linares, during her presentation at NDI, with fellow human rights activist, Fernando Us Alvarez.

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In the first week of December 2017, I had the chance to meet Debby Linares, a transgender woman and human rights activist from Guatemala, who soon became an inspiration to me on a personal level. Debby, who has been a human rights activist for the past 16 years, advocates for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) rights at the municipal and state level in Guatemala.

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Citizen participation: What’s ART got to do with it?

Art? You mean music, street theater, dance, visual art or radio dramas? 

The Civic Update is a production of NDI’s Citizen Participation Team which highlights innovative practices, approaches and lessons from NDI programs. The January 2017 video edition, Art for Campaigning, focuses on how NDI has supported local partners to use art as part of their organizing. It includes examples from the Central African Republic, Guatemala, Kosovo, Macedonia, Nepal and Nigeria.

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Who Are the Roma? A Personal Reflection

Left: a Slovak Roma activist at an NDI advocacy training. Top Right: Roma Children in a segregated Slovak settlement. Bottom Right: Youth activists at an NDI training on media and Information Communications Technologies (ICTs) in advocacy. 

April 8 is a special day. It’s a day when more than 10 million Romani citizens worldwide celebrate their rich culture, traditions, and heritage. And this year, it marks exactly 45 years since the First World Romani Congress, which took place in Orpington, England. On April 8, 1971, 23 representatives of nine countries and numerous observers formed the International Roma Union - an organization to represent Roma policy and interests worldwide - and adopted an official Roma flag and the Roma anthem, Djelem, Djelem.

But who are the Roma?

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Four New Resources for Strengthening Citizens’ Skills and Capacity

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.

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Four New Resources for Assisting Citizens in Diverse Political Contexts

Citizens line up to vote in the 2015 Tanzania elections. Photo credit: Monika Emch/NDI

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 relationship between minority groups and extreme poverty, ways in which authoritarian governments control the media, steps to increase women’s political participation and real-life lessons on how democracies can take hold.

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Four New Resources for Promoting Citizen Participation in Fragile Communities

Citizen election observer explains data collection methods to NDI staff in Monrovia, Liberia.

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 discussed how to encourage greater electoral participation in fragile states, young people’s priorities, the relationship between eliminating extreme poverty and citizen participation and alternative approaches to assisting civic movements. These resources highlight the role that citizen participation and inclusive governance play as drivers of social and political development, particularly when it comes to fragile states and vulnerable communities.

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Hope Emerges in Guatemala as Citizens Call for an End to Corruption

Protesters gather peacefully in Central Plaza in Guatemala City, demanding changes to the political system and the resignation of now ex-President Perez Molina. Credit: Ricardo Marroquin

In recent years, Guatemala has made headlines with bleak statistics illustrating the range of challenges it faces: the country suffers from the fifth highest homicide rate in the world, drug trafficking and narco money have penetrated society, child malnutrition is the worst in the hemisphere, and the state institutions responsible for providing services to Guatemalan citizens are notoriously weak and corrupt. Although those challenges still exist, Guatemala is now stepping back from the brink toward a much brighter future, brought about by citizens demanding more from their elected leaders.

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Four New Resources for Enhancing Civic Space and Inclusion

Photo credit: Mosa'ab Elshamy

Supporting citizens to enhance their civic voice, expanding space for political participation and improving government accountability are interrelated objectives for NDI programs. Each week, the Citizen Participation team shares a resource with NDI staff that provides innovative perspectives and new research for working towards those objectives. Reflecting the recently announced theme for International Democracy Day 2015, “Space for Civil Society,” this month’s resources contribute to a growing body of literature on how to measure and expand civic space and challenge the outcomes-based approach to policymaking and instead emphasize the importance of inclusive decision-making.

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A Project Assistant's First Week

I waited in the lobby to meet my supervisor to start my first day as the project assistant for the Public Affairs team. With over 1,000 employees, 60 field offices and programs in over 70 countries, I had a lot to learn about the organization. The first week in a new position can be overwhelming, but human resources put together a project assistant orientation that made my transition fun and smooth.

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