Hivos International

Freedom of Expression

Freedom to be who you are and think and say what you want

Freedom of expression is the oxygen of an open, inclusive society. Where there is room for dissent and new voices, there is space for people with all their differences. Yet this space is all too often limited by those in power, or mass media and large corporations, who silence and marginalise independent voices through aggressive censorship, mass espionage and growing media monopolies.

Our 2020 goals:

In societies that have no ear for or acceptance of critical voices, we aim to achieve more space for citizens to express themselves freely and openly, in particular through:

  • Effective use of public spaces - both physical and digital - by citizens
  • Increased independence of the creative sector
  • A safe, open and inclusive internet

What do we do to achieve this?

We need daring, creative minds, who push the boundaries of imagination and restrictive legislation; frontrunners who come up with new content, forms and channels to reclaim public space. Within our unique and longstanding global culture, ICT and media network, we have identified and built relationships with a new generation (15-35 years) of frontrunners of free expression for whom digital space is the main arena. We are thus well-positioned to support the creative sector as driver for pluralism, dialogue, innovation, jobs, and civic engagement and to protect and promote open, safe and accessible digital space for every citizen.

We support frontrunners to become self-sufficient

Hivos offers places where creative frontrunners can share resources, explore, exchange and experiment. Our Mideast Creatives programme for instance, provides co-working spaces for young designers, app developers, small media enterprises and other creatives. We boost the convergence of media, arts and culture and ICT. We support business training for young creative entrepreneurs and improve the so much needed access to finance through crowdfunding platforms like Zoomaal for the Arab region or impact investment opportunities through the HEVA Fund in East Africa and the Hivos Mideast Creatives Fund.

Connecting multiple stakeholders for experimentation and innovation

To explore new pathways for free expression, it is important to link creative frontrunners globally and to connect them to our worldwide network of partners allowing them to critically reflect on their work, learn from each other and to start joint ventures with new partners. Hivos fosters new alliances between creative frontrunners, civil society, governments and the private sector and we want to provide the opportunity to test how for example a digital tool developed in one region might be applicable in another region.

Strategic alliances

Brokering strategic alliances with donors, governments and private sector is key to a joint defense of freedom of expression. Through our Digital Defenders Partnership Programme and our Internet Governance programme, Hivos has a strategic position in keeping the internet open and free from emerging threats - specifically in internet repressive and transitional environments. 

Recent and current programmes:

Digital Defenders Partnership

Malawi Culture Fund

Age of Wonderland

Co-Working for Sustainable Youth Entrepreneurship 

Key Focal Areas