CIVIL SOCIETY AND MEDIA

Dance on wheelchairs.
You can dance in a wheelchair! During a USAID City Day in Vinnytsya, visitors became familiar with the equipment people with special needs use to access public transportation.
USAID
THE CHALLENGE
Citizens and civil society organizations are increasingly active in engaging government policy makers, but they often lack the advocacy skills and influence to advance the country’s reform agenda. NGOs need long-term solutions for their institutional sustainability, as they still rely heavily on international donor funds due to underdeveloped domestic donor support.

Ukraine’s media institutions should play a crucial role in promoting and facilitating the country’s democratic consolidation and European integration. The influence of commercial and political interests, however, makes it difficult for traditional media to perform their role as guardians of the public interest and providers of independent information.

Strong trade unions are only present in several sectors – mainly education, health care, transportation, heavy industry and mining. Democratic trade unions are often excluded from participation in collective bargaining and social dialogue with the government and employer associations.

OVERVIEW
Non-governmental organizations (NGOs), labor unions and media play a critical role in safeguarding democratic values and fostering accountable governance. USAID assistance is helping consolidate Ukraine’s democratic advances by promoting independent media, supporting democratic labor unions, and further strengthening civil society. USAID programs support increased civic engagement in policy-making, while strengthening NGO institutional capacity and promoting greater cooperation and experience sharing within the sector. USAID support fosters independent, professional Ukrainian media by developing journalistic skills, supporting modern media legislation, and building the institutional capacity of organizations that support media freedom and quality journalism. USAID programs help strengthen workers’ rights by supporting democratic trade unions, promoting international labor standards, and improving workers’ access to justice.

OUR PROGRAMS
Civil Society Development

USAID’s civil society program in Ukraine fosters civic activism, boosts reforms, and builds sustainable NGOs. The Ukraine National Initiatives to Enhance Reforms (UNITER) project strengthens the capacity of leading Ukrainian NGOs and community leaders to better represent citizens’ interests, and drive Ukraine’s reform agenda through more effective advocacy, monitoring and activism. The project assists NGOs to increase citizen participation in policy-making, establish legal frameworks that govern civil society, and improve the institutional and financial viability of NGOs across the country.

Media Development
The Ukraine Media (U-Media) project supports media sector activities that protect freedom of speech, improve the media environment, create opportunities for new and innovative media approaches, and strengthen the capacity of media NGO leaders to effectively represent their constituencies. Through capacity building grants and training, U-Media improves the quality of local media and investigative journalism, promotes the use of new media technologies, provides legal support to journalists and media outlets, and facilitates public and private sector partnerships.

Promoting Worker and Trade Union Rights
The Solidarity Center project provides technical expertise and assistance to Ukrainian trade unions and worker advocates.  The project works with trade union efforts to educate their members and the general public on national and international labor law and worker rights, occupational health and safety, social dialogue, and related  standards. It partners with independent and democratic trade unions to protect and strengthen the rights of workers to freely associate, bargain collectively for better working conditions, participate in social dialogue with employers and the government, and support democratic development of Ukraine.

PROGRAM OBJECTIVES

  • NGOs better represent citizen’s interests and drive the reform agenda through more effective advocacy, monitoring and activism.
  • NGOs are transparently governed, capably managed, and more financially sustainable, with less dependence on foreign donors.
  • The relevant legislative framework for civil society and media approaches European standards.
  • Media fulfill public service oversight role and provide useful, reliable and objective news and information.
  • Robust media-sector NGOs function in the professional interests of independent media.
  • Workers’ rights and livelihoods are protected and international labor standards promoted through stronger democratic labor unions and NGOs.

PROGRAM HIGHLIGHTS
Civil Society Development

USAID assistance strengthened the internal organizational capacity of over 200 civil society organizations and has provided support for local and national projects throughout Ukraine.  Among these was the popular CHESNO campaign which vetted the integrity of parliamentary candidates and members and elevated the issue of personal voting of MPs to the public. UNITER’s Local Advocacy Grants Program united the efforts of Ukrainian NGOs to advocate for citizen interests and national reforms, resulting in over 118 laws or policies at the national and local level influenced by civil society.

Media Development
Since its start in 2011, the USAID U-Media program has assisted 59 media sector NGOs and institutions that strengthen independent media. In total, 674 non-state media outlets have received support through grants, training, consultancy, and other technical assistance. In 2013, U-Media supported 32 organizations through sub-grants. U-Media has trained 1,299 print, TV, radio, and online journalists and 59 civil society organizations. U-Media journalism partners have conducted 230 in-depth journalism investigations. Media law partners have provided 928 oral and written legal consultations and represented media outlets in 21 court cases.

Through its partners, U-Media has monitored national and regional media to expose poor journalism practices and encourage improvements. U-Media has supported national and regional public events devoted to the issue of content quality and hidden advertisements, and supported partners in publishing stories analyzing the Ukrainian media. In Crimea, the U-Media program has supported increased citizen access to information and participation in local decision-making.

Promoting Worker and Trade Union Rights
Solidarity Center partners expanded the European Network on International Financial Institutions (ELNI), which links Ukrainian trade unions to NGOs and trade unions in Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, and Romania.  The network facilitates cooperation between trade unions, other civil society organizations, governments, and international financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and International Finance Corporation, advocating for labor, human rights protections, transparency, and democratic development.

 

Last updated: August 26, 2014

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