Hivos International

Civil Society

Since 2006 the Nicaraguan abortion law eliminates all forms of therapeutic abortion in the country with a penalty of up to three years in prison. This paper considers the 2006 Nicaraguan abortion law reform by looking at the situation in the country, with special attention to women’s rights, in particular reproductive rights—and, more specifically, abortion rights. The paper shows that the reform is unrepresentative of the attitudes and opinions of much of its civil society members, namely, women’s organisations.

Civil society building efforts in Ecuador have provided the Achuar and Kichwas of the Amazon with a voice. This is particularly relevant given the global significance of the Amazon, which makes it essential that local voices are empowered to have a say in the future of their local space. Civil society building efforts aim at empowering historically excluded groups, leading to their political inclusion, as well as to an increase in their decision-making power.

The goal of this particular research has been to examine the role of  information and communication technologies (ICTs) in policy advocacy as  applied by civil society. Taking the Solidarity for African Women’s  Rights coalition and their work towards the ratification of the Protocol  on Women’s Rights of Women in Africa as a case study, this research has  looked at the opportunities and challenges in using Pambazuka News as a way of promoting the Protocol.

This article focuses on the issue of maternal mortality in Tanzania  from a human rights perspective. It deals with the findings of a study  conducted in 2008, which examined the role of civil society actors in  framing and claiming rights. During the research process, qualitative  interviews were carried out with non-governmental organizations and  focus group discussions were held with rural women in Tanzania. A key  thrust of the research was to examine how reproductive rights are  translated into the local context and how they are in turn used by civil  society actors.

This paper takes as its starting point the perspective that civil society participation in governance—particularly policy processes such as the Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs) and related policy developments—largely takes on a mere consultative rather than a transformative role when initiated and driven by government or donors.

'Participation for What' is about meaningful participation in development. How and when does it work? What are the downsides? And what does it imply for development practice and research? This book brings together a rich collection of essays on participation by Phd -  students from the Institute of Social Studies

South Africa grapples with serious social and economic inequalities, including inequality in access to basic services. At a  time of rising social tensions, the country’s institutions are in danger  of losing the legitimacy they gained in the wake of democratic  dispensations of the 1990s. This book presents  the findings of five research projects that address  these key areas in  partnership with practitioners, which were  presented at an international  conference organised by the Hivos-ISS  Knowledge Programme on Civil  Society in November 2009 in Johannesburg.

In ‘When Civics go governance’ Ria Brouwers analyses the stormy ascent of African NGOs in the field of good governance. Tracing the tracks of the NGO-boom in Africa, Brouwers brings together key academic writings with ISS led field on NGO interventions in Zambia, Uganda, Kenia and Tanzania conducted under the banner of the Hivos/ISS Civil Society Building Knowledge Programme.

The belligerence with which the women’s movement has defended its rights during the last ten years has made it to stand out as one of the main political actors of the country. Its level of development and articulation permitted the realization of systematic actions of denunciation, demands and mobilization on behalf of women’s rights, in particular, sexual and civil rights all over Nicaragua’s territory. Specially important has been the struggle developed during the last three years in order to avoid the abolition of therapeutical abortion by the Nicaraguan State and later for its restitution and decriminalization as a legitimate right of women.

Revisiting the end of civil society building?

The synthesis paper of Ria Brouwers of the Institute of Social Studies: “When ‘civics’ go ‘governance’, on the role and relevance of civic organisations in the policy arena in Sub-Sahara Africa”, looks at the political role played by civic organisation and tries to understand what happens when ‘civics’ go ‘governance’. It is a sound retrospective paper that deals with issues of the rise of civil society, the external force behind it, and the role that NGOs play in society and power imbalance between NGOs and government. However, the focus off the paper raises a lot of questions.