Strengthening Roma civil society as independent and transparent watchdog organisations

Strengthening Roma civil society as independent and transparent watchdog organisations

ERGO members from the Western Balkans, Turkey and the ‘Visegrad countries’ Hungary, Slovakia and Czech Republic met in Brussels on 24-25 November to prepare a new ERGO project that will strengthen Roma civil society as independent and transparent watchdog organisations.

Being transparent and accountable are important prerequisites for the effectiveness of civil society organisations that are taken seriously by their institutional counterparts. It also shows public authorities that civil society take transparency and accountability very seriously and demand the same from the public sector.

With financial support from the International Visegrad Fund and the European Commission, ERGO Network member organizations therefore agreed on joining their efforts and put their thorough expertise together to set up a list of ‘transparency criteria’ and capacitate Roma civil society in their countries in implementing them.

During the meeting, all partners agreed that using transparency criteria would give them more legitimacy, better fundraising opportunities and more trust from both the grassroots level and institutions. They then drew up a list of criteria, divided into the chapters ‘governance’, ‘finance’ and ‘performance’. These include points such as giving access and distributing information about statutes and funding sources of CSOs, clear decision-making structures that divide responsibilities and ensure gender equality in CSOs, as well as the participation of target groups in the development of strategies and goals.  The partners furthermore stressed the importance of open leadership and regular training within the organisation that contribute to a positive performance of the staff, as well as the need not to use ‘dirty money’ coming for example from illegal sources or from companies using child labour.

Transparency also demands a proper and clear communication strategy (both internal and external) that communicates the vision, mission and the long term goals of the organization. If applicable, diversification of funds also contributes to more independence of organisations.

In 2018, ERGO Network will organise a training for trainers on the transparency criteria in order to help their usage and dissemination in the participating countries as well as offer coaching visits to the partner organisations. You will be able to find regular updates on our website.

Youth Camp ‘Turn on Activism’

In order to bring young people closer to the activist spirit, the Association of Citizens for the Promotion of Roma Education, “Otaharin”, currently implements a project named “Youth power rising”. Through this project we organize three youth camps in three years with support of the Schüler Helfen Leben Foundation.

Young people represent an extremely important category of the population and are future bearers of change in society; therefore it is necessary to pay adequate attention to their needs, attitudes and desires, as well as support the development of youth activism.

The youth camp “Turn on activism” is a five-day program in which young people have the opportunity to participate in the development of a strategic plan to solve problems identified in their community and then to solve the problem through the project. The aim of this activity is to promote positive change of everyday life through the active involvement of all young people in creating better social opportunities. The young people from the City of Bijeljina can participate in the camp.

As a result of three years working with this particular group of people (participants of past camps and project activities), we realized their need to create and form a youth organization on local level that will give them the chance to make bigger steps to positive change in community. In this camp, they will work on the strategic plan of this organization, and they will work on increasing their skills in working with a group, positive communication and leadership.

International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, 16 days of activism

International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, 16 days of activism

On 25 November, ERGO’s Network’s member from Bosnia-Herzegovina OTHARIN started its  so-called ’16-days-activism’ campaign, which is run together with the ‘UG Romkinja’ (Roma women) and the ‘Local Voluntary Service’ in Bijeljina.

The first part of the program took place on the 25 November 2016, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, on the city square in Bijeljina.

The participants of the street action wrote messages about the topic of violence against women and asked citizens who passed by to do the same to show their support.

T-Shirts were donated in order to thank those who left their supportive messages. Unfortunately violence against women is increasing again, which makes it even more important to raise public awareness on that topic.

For more news and updates from Bosnia – Herzegovina please click here