Resilience for a Stronger Civil Society

By January 12, 2022 October 6th, 2022 No Comments

The essential elements for a functioning and inclusive democracy are a vibrant civil society and robust civic space. Together, they allow people to engage and have voice in the decisions that affect their lives. However, across the world, especially in the Global South, we’re witnessing a concerning rise in authoritarianism and a compounding decrease in democratic values that, together, are deepening inequality.

Since March 2020, 155 countries have placed new restrictions on public assemblies. As societies grapple with this changing reality, the ability for people, organizations, and movements to engage is hampered by increasing restrictions. Without robust civic space, there is no place for engagement and voice, and people who live on the margins are systematically excluded from the decisions that affect them most.

Today, my colleagues and I are honored to introduce Weaving Resilience, our new $80 million initiative to support civil society organizations throughout the Global South. Developed with our partners on the ground in eight regions, this initiative will strengthen and connect civil society organizations and movements on the frontlines of the fight for social justice so they can safeguard civic space and flourish for the long haul.

Institutional resilience
Civil society organizations in the Global South operate within a web of complex and rapidly changing standards, from convoluted tax laws to undue audits and inspections. Authoritarian governments weaponize these regulations to denigrate civil society and force organizations into closure. As a result, civil society is forced to dedicate their time and resources to navigating these financial and legal obstacles in order to simply survive—often at the cost of their day-to-day operations.

Strategic relevance
Undemocratic regimes frequently frame civil society organizations as agents of foreign interests or enemies of the very communities they serve. These attacks are designed to delegitimize, and they require a coordinated response that can both counter misrepresentation and present new, creative, and proactive strategies for change.

Holistic well-being
Civil society organizations face challenges not only to their operations but to their team members’ very lives and livelihoods. In nations across the Global South, these threats are imminent and include everything from physical and emotional strain to security threats against staff and their families.

Weaving Resilience will establish interrelated yet highly localized resource hubs in eight regions across the Global South so organizations can empower each other with the expertise and tools they need to build and sustain social change. Too often, these kinds of initiatives are based in or led from the Global North; crucially, this initiative’s hubs will be housed and led in the Global South by southern-based organizations.

These hubs will become centers of excellence for civil society resilience in their respective regions, providing strategic assistance and guidance on security and institutional adaptability. Each will be grounded in its unique local context, meeting civil society’s three central challenges in culturally appropriate and relevant ways.

Traditional Philanthropy
Traditional models of philanthropy often reflect the biases and assumptions of donors in the Global North, with operations and decision-making based far from the communities they seek to help. As a result, the people closest to the problems do not have voices in the solutions, critical cultural sensitivities are overlooked, and funding is imprecise and ineffective.

Weaving Resilience
Weaving Resilience’s approach to philanthropy sends funding directly to innovative leaders in the Global South and centers operations and decision-making within the most affected regions. This allows the people with the greatest local expertise to drive bold solutions and build supportive networks that spread impact to other communities.

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Post original name: Weaving Resilience for a Stronger Civil Society in the Global South
Written by Darren Walker
Image: Survival Report
Publication date: October 4, 2022

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