High Five for Team Dignity: International Development through the Eyes of a Community Organizer

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.

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Being LGBTI in Serbia: Can you walk out your door and be proud of who you are?

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.”

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A Grassroots Perspective on Thinking and Working Politically in International Development

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.

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Four New Resources for Strengthening Citizen Participation and Inclusion

A representative of civil society raises a question during the panel discussion held by Election Observation Coordination Group (EOCG) members in Nepal. Credit: Sr. Program Assistant Neha Shreshta/ 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 how citizens can counter corruption through nonviolent action, how to build a coalition in order to launch a successful campaign, social auditing to increase government accountability, and the debates and challenges of disability inclusion in development.

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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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Transforming Thoughts: The Realities of the LGBTI Communities

The LGBTI communities in Guatemala uses art to increase tolerance, understanding and political participation.

In the captivating play “Transforming Thoughts: The Realities of the LGBTI Communities,” members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) communities showed the harsh realities of life as a transgender woman in Guatemala. Drawing on stories from their personal lives, and the broader LGBTI communities, the actors weave together scenes demonstrating lack of opportunity, abuse and survival. I

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Gathering Launches Movement for LGBTI Political Inclusion in Latin America and the Caribbean

Plenary session of the LGBTI Political Leaders Conference.

“After Tegucigalpa, we will be a social movement,” declared Wilson Castañeda, the director LGBTI rights organization Caribe Afirmativo at the opening of the second annual Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) Political Leaders Conference for Latin America and the Caribbean. The gathering, held in the Honduran capital on October 2 and 3, brought together more than 300 LGBTI political leaders, activists and allies from across the region. Over two days of panels and workshops, participants discussed progress, challenges and best practices for increasing LGBTI communities’ political participation.

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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 Strengthening Citizen Access

At a constituency dialogue event in Cambodia, a participant displays his electricity bill to show members of the National Assembly how expensive energy is in his village, and asks them for a solution to rising costs. NDI helped organize the constituency dialogue event. (Photo by NDI's Chhiv Kimsrun)

Citizen access and influence in political decision-making can vary across identity groups. NDI programming helps citizens expand civic space and streamline processes to enhance their own political participation, with a cross-cutting priority to support the inclusion of historically marginalized populations. This past month’s resources discussed the need to lower barriers to voter registration for people with disabilities, how to partner with faith-based organizations and religious leaders, and the use of ICTs in women’s empowerment. In August, the Citizen Participation team and the Political Parties team organized a ‘TweetTalk’ on what political parties can do to include youth in the political process.

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