With the civil society space sometimes shrinking in the Caribbean, the CCWG has become an important platform for members to build and share skills in lobbying and advocacy.
Hazel Brown (Network of NGOs of Trinidad and Tobago for the Advancement of Women) who has worked in the civil society for many years, described her membership of the group as “an amazing experience, going to school about advocacy”.
“The work that we do in the CCWG is important, because it is building the capacity for advocacy and lobbying, and learning the ways in which you can be effective without having to shout and scream and demonstrate. Although there is a time for shouting and screaming and demonstrating.”
Ashley John (Constructive Solutions Inc) sees the Working Group as a means for civil society to regain its voice in parts of the Caribbean.
“One of the things that we have learned and we appreciate is that there are really no shortcuts. You have to be informed on your issues and what’s going on around you – not only in terms of your local island, but in the region and globally. You have to frame that into all your advocacy because you’re no longer stand alone. So this process has brought us on a par with global best practices.”
Sandra Ferguson (Inter Agency Group of Development Organisations (IAGDO) sees the group as “an excellent opportunity to learn about engaging more effectively. It also provides the opportunity for the regional to reach down to the national – so more synergy.” Ms Ferguson highlighted that members have been able to build their capacity in advocacy research, being able to draw on the knowledge and experience of others in the group. “This will also enable us to build the capacity of those engaged in the network, and also to expand it, as we think critical mass is important. For me, participatory governance is really about stakeholders – particularly our constituents or the marginalised – being part of the process of decision-making, of policy, of implementing, monitoring and designing.”