Citizens and civil society are increasingly active in engaging government policy makers, but they often lack the advocacy skills and influence to advance their reform agendas. NGOs need long-term solutions for their institutional sustainability because they rely heavily on international donor funds due to an underdeveloped domestic donor ecosystem. Ukraine’s independent media plays a crucial role promoting and facilitating the country’s democratic consolidation and European integration but is held back by the outsized influence of financial and political interests. Strong, democratic trade unions exist in only a handful of sectors and seldom participate in collective bargaining and social dialogue with government or employer associations.
- 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.
Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), labor unions, and independent media play a critical role in safeguarding democratic values and fostering accountable governance in Ukraine. USAID assistance helps consolidate Ukraine’s democratic advances by promoting independent media, supporting democratic labor unions, and strengthening civil society.
Civil Society Development
USAID’s civil society program in Ukraine fosters civic activism, boosts reforms, and builds sustainable CSOs. 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 democratic reforms through more effective advocacy, monitoring, and activism. The Citizens in Action Project works with civil society, the government, and parliament to improve the legislative and policy environment so that CSOs can easier set-up, register, raise funds, operate freely, assemble, etc. as well as contribute to legislation and policy. Meanwhile, the Civil Society Development Platform strengthens the organizational and management capacity of local CSOs through the innovative Capacity Building Marketplace. Through an interagency partnership with Peace Corps, USAID supports Peace Corps Response Volunteers to build the organizational capacity of local CSOs. Collectively, USAID’s assistance increases civic engagement in policy-making, while strengthening NGO institutional capacity and promoting greater cooperation.
Independent Media Development
USAID support fosters independent, professional Ukrainian media by developing journalism skills, supporting modern media legislation, and building the institutional capacity of organizations that support media freedom and quality journalism. Our flagship Ukraine Media (U-Media) project protects freedom of speech, improves the media environment, creates opportunities for new and innovative media approaches, and strengthens 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. USAID, the Government of Poland, and Solidarity Fund PL partner to increase knowledge and awareness among Ukrainian media professionals to better understand and communicate the facts related to Ukraine’s Association Agreement with the EU and what closer integration means for regular citizens and their communities. Meanwhile, USAID supports the International Visegrad Foundation in increasing the financial independence of media companies in Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia drawing from experience in other Visegrad countries.
Labor & Trade Union Development
USAID protects workers’ rights by supporting trade unions, promoting international labor standards, and improving access to justice for workers. In 2016, USAID in partnership with Solidarity Center launched a new five-year Labor Program to strengthen labor organizations and advocates for worker rights; promote access to justice for workers and equality of employment opportunities for women and vulnerable populations; and counter human trafficking and labor rights violations.
Civil Society Development
USAID support to civic platforms and coalitions such as CentreUA, CHESNO, Anti-Corruption Action Center, and the Reanimation Package of Reforms (RPR) makes citizens part of a process that sustains government momentum in developing, enacting, and implementing anti-corruption reforms; increasing transparency and accountability; and improving service delivery. With USAID support, CSO experts and advocates contributed to the passage of 79 laws or amendments critical to Ukraine’s reform. In 2015, USAID issued 174 Capacity Building Marketplace mini-grants that supported 250 CSOs and 125 government watchdog organizations consisting of local civil society.
In 2015, the U-Media program supported 53 local media CSOs and over 500 independent media outlets through grants, training, and technical assistance. U-Media advocacy partners contributed to 12 media-related bills, including laws on public broadcasting, transparency of media ownership, and destatization of print media. U-Media is now working with media, CSO and government partners to implement these key reforms. With the continued armed conflict in eastern Ukraine and the illegal occupation of Crimea, U-Media trains journalists in maintaining their personal safety while delivering objective conflict-sensitive reporting in Donbas and Crimea.
Promoting Worker and Trade Union Rights
In 2015 the USAID Labor Program provided grassroots education and outreach to over 3,000 workers and union activists, building support for labor reform, women and youth participation in the workforce, anti-corruption, and freedom of association. Working with partner trade unions, crisis intervention teams responded to workplace conflicts and carried out counter-propaganda education among workers in the Donbas and neighboring regions. The Labor Initiative Worker Rights Center in Kyiv also provided legal aid to over 1,000 people.
Last updated: July 14, 2016