Grant Stream: Miscellaneous projects

Southern African Alliance for Youth Employment

Issue

The Southern African region (SADC) has a large youth population and low levels of decent employment for its youth, resulting in high levels of youth unemployment and underemployment. The lack of formal employment, irregularity of work and social protection means that youth in the SADC region face poverty and inequality.

Researchers have described the effect of this insecurity on youth as a ‘transitional limbo’. Without a secure income, young people are unable to meet their social roles that accompany adulthood. These challenges are compounded by a lack of credible information and a lack of mobilisation around youth employment. Youth voices in designing and implementing prevalent national and regional youth employment strategies and policies has been limited.

Project

The Southern African Alliance for Youth Employment (SAAYE) was formally established in February 2016 by the Economic Justice Network with the Commonwealth Foundation’s support. The Alliance is made up of representatives from trade unions, church councils, student unions, and civil society organisations across nine Southern African nations. Trade unions, churches and the civil society organisations, cumulatively have considerable potential power to determine the shape of policy for youth employment in Southern Africa.

The Economic Justice Network (EJN) performs as the Secretariat of SAAYE. SAAYE aims to play a coordinating and facilitating role for youth formations to inform and influence public discourse about youth employment; contribute to reforming employment and youth related policy; and, to hold governments accountable to their commitments to address youth unemployment across the SADC region – both nationally and regionally.

The Commonwealth Foundation’s capacity development approach has facilitated training, engagement and development of structures within the Alliance. A six member Working Group serves as the highest decision-making body of SAAYE. They also represent the Alliance at events such as the SADC-CNGO Civil Society Forum and to plan regional actions.

Commonwealth Gender Plan of Action Monitoring Group

The Commonwealth Foundation facilitates civil society participation and contribution to the Commonwealth’s Plan of Action for Gender Equality (PoA) 2005-2015.

The PoA was negotiated in 2004 by Commonwealth Ministers responsible for women’s affairs and endorsed by Commonwealth Heads of Government in 2005, receiving input from over 200 civil society organisations.  The PoA provides the framework through which the Commonwealth contributes to the advancement of gender equality.

The PoA focuses on 4 key areas:

  1. Gender, democracy, peace and conflict
  2. Gender, human rights and law
  3. Gender, poverty eradication and economic empowerment
  4. Gender and HIV/AIDS

The Commonwealth Gender Plan of Action Monitoring Group (CGPMG) was established in 2005 to function as a mechanism for monitoring, evaluating and reviewing the PoA in order to strengthen its implementation. In addition to the 21 representatives from National Women’s Machineries (NWMs), four civil society representatives are members of the Monitoring Group. Civil society involvement with the Monitoring Group is supported by the Commonwealth Foundation. The annual CGPMG meeting takes place in the wings of the United Nations’ Commission on the Status of Women conference.

Conference of Commonwealth Education Ministers: Civil Society Forum

Issue

Civic voice dialogue with governance institutions is a critical element of participatory governance. The Foundation promotes constructive engagement as an approach to advocacy between governments and civic voices. Commonwealth Ministerial spaces, where open to civil society participation, provide an opportunity for civil society working on relevant issues on the Ministerial agenda, to engage with decision-makers and to put forward their positions.

Constructive engagement implies that governance institutions recognise that CSOs are independent development actors in their own right and offer a wide range of expertise and experience in development solutions and innovation.

Project

The Conference of Commonwealth Education Ministers (CCEM) is held every two years. The Commonwealth Foundation, in collaboration with the Commonwealth Secretariat and host governments has, where feasible and relevant, convened a Civil Society Forum (CSF) as a pre-conference meeting.

The CSF enables the presence and participation of Commonwealth civil society to put forward a position on issues discussed at the Ministerial meetings. The Commonwealth Foundation has enabled the participation of civic voices from the margins which includes local leaders, subject experts or representatives of communities impacted by the policy under discussion.  The Forum also provides civic actors the opportunity to share good practises and build partnerships on issues impacting diverse constituencies.

Here is the statement of 12 key requests submitted by civil society to Education Ministers at the 19th CCEM held on 20-21 June, 2017 in Bahamas

African civic voice in the Post 2015 Development Agenda

The Foundation is supporting members of African civil society organisations to participate in the design of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

This project is part of an ongoing initiative to strengthen civic voice in global governance and development policy, with a specific focus on providing input to the discussions on the Post 2015 Development Agenda.

The Africa Platform is a collaboration of civil society practitioners working to transform issues that affect the African continent. In January 2014, members travelled to New York to engage directly with UN Permanent Representatives through a series of meetings with African diplomats who were directly involved with the policy negotiations.

These intergovernmental consultations included the Open Working Group (OWG) on Sustainable Development, the Expert Panel on Financing for Sustainable Development and the High Level Political Forum to monitor the Implementation of the SDGs.

To date, the process has formulated key regional development priorities on Post 2015, Beyond 2015 Africa, GCAP Africa and several thematic initiatives.

Institutional strengthening of the East African Civil Society Forum

EACSOF is a platform for civil society organisations in East Africa.

EACSOF was established in 2006 to be the channel through which civil society can make representation to the regional governance institution, the East African Community (EAC). Its vision is to see an East Africa in which citizens are fully engaged and involved in all affairs affecting their lives. EACSOF’s mission is to provide a platform and catalyse a critical mass of organised civil society to engage in need-driven, people-centred East Africa integration and to cooperate effectively and proactively for equitable and sustainable development.

The Commonwealth Foundation is supporting the institutional strengthening of EACSOF and working with it to develop an East Africa regional agenda for action at the EAC.

The Forum is currently reviewing its strategic plan and prioritising key regional issues for its action agenda for 2015 – 2019.  National consultations in each of the five East African countries are currently ongoing and findings will be brought together at EACSOF’s General Council meeting in early 2015.

In his welcoming address to the Kenya consultation in October 2014, Morris Odhiambo, Chair of the Kenya EACSOF Chapter captured the vision of EACSOF: “Regionalism is a global movement and the voices of the most disadvantaged citizens must be heard”.

 

Strengthening West African civil society engagement

A strong West African civil society will contribute meaningfully to the successful design and implementation of development policies.

However, CSOs in West Africa are operating with serious challenges, some of which include, low capacity to carry out their mandate fully, the lack of recognition and respect from governments and the unavailability of financial resources to develop innovative approaches to regional development challenges.

This project aims to strengthen West African civil society through the West African Civil Society Forum (WACSOF) and to secure WACSOF’s place at the core of development in the region by creating a path towards political renewal and the deepening of democracy. The project is implemented in partnership with the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI) and WACSOF.

WACSOF is the official interface for West African civil society with the ECOWAS Commission in promoting regional development and integration in West Africa. The Forum’s purpose is to galvanize civil society and facilitate constructive partnership with state authorities, political parties and ECOWAS. However, a needs assessment conducted by WACSI in 2008 and in 2014 identified a number of challenges preventing it from achieving its mandate to facilitate civil society voice in addressing regional development challenges/priorities.

The project consists of three main components:

  • capacity development of WACSOF and its members; 
  • development of a regional agenda and action plan identifying major development challenges for West Africa
  • improved engagement between West African CSOs and ECOWAS

 

Bringing civil society into the Commonwealth Health Ministers Meeting

Issue

Civic voice dialogue with governance institutions is a critical element of participatory governance. The Foundation promotes constructive engagement as an approach to advocacy between governments and civic voices. Commonwealth Ministerial spaces, where open to civil society participation, provide an opportunity for civil society working on issues relevant to the Ministerial agenda to engage with decision-makers and to put forward their positions.

Constructive engagement implies that governance institutions recognise that CSOs are independent development actors in their own right and offer a wide range of expertise and experience in development solutions and innovation.

Project

The Commonwealth Health Ministers Meeting (CHMM) is held every year in Geneva.

This video explains what the CHMM Civil Society Forum is about.

The Commonwealth Foundation, in collaboration with the Commonwealth Secretariat and host governments has, where feasible and relevant, convened a Civil Society Forum (CSF) as a pre-conference meeting.

The CSF enables the presence and participation of Commonwealth civil society to put forward a position on issues discussed at the Ministerial meetings with the intention that civil society’s policy asks will be taken on to the World Health Assembly. The Commonwealth Foundation has enabled the participation of civic voices from the margins which includes local leaders, subject experts or representatives of communities impacted by the policy under discussion.  The Forum also provides civic actors the opportunity to share good practises and build partnerships on issues impacting diverse constituencies.

Commonwealth Perspectives: the post-2015 Millennium Development Goal agenda

The publication Commonwealth Perspectives looked at the extent to which the MDGs created opportunities for civil society but also how future development agendas could be more inclusive.

Undertaking research in 14 countries, the Commonwealth Foundation worked with a range of civil society actors to take stock of what progress had been achieved and the extent to which civil society had been able to participate in, influence and benefit from MDG attainment. They also agreed recommendations to influence the new development frameworks being shaped for the post-2015 era.

In addition to the research and national consultations, the project drew on a 2005 Commonwealth Foundation report Breaking with Business as Usual:Perspectives from Civil Society in the Commonwealth on the Millennium Development Goals in the same 14 countries: Cameroon, Ghana, Grenada, Jamaica, Malawi, New Zealand, Pakistan, Samoa, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Trinidad ad Tobago, Uganda and Zambia.

With additional support from the UN Millennium Campaign, this project expanded to include four additional Commonwealth countries: Nigeria, The Gambia, Mozambique and India; and two non-Commonwealth countries: Nepal and Philippines.

To read all the reports, please go to the Knowledge Hub where you can download them.