Civil Society and Media

During a City Laboratory in Severodonetsk conducted by the NGO, Dyvovyzhni, visitors learn how to improve their city.
During a City Laboratory in Severodonetsk conducted by the NGO, Dyvovyzhni, visitors learn how to improve their city.
Courtesy of Dyvovyzhni

THE CHALLENGE

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 to ensure institutional sustainability as they still 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 oligarchic 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.

PROGRAM OBJECTIVES

  • Citizen awareness and engagement in civic actions at the national, regional and local level is increased.
  • 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 fulfills public service oversight role and provides useful, reliable and objective news and information.
  • Robust media sector NGOs function in the professional interests of independent media.
  • Workers’ rights and livelihoods protected and international labor standards promoted through stronger democratic labor unions.

OVERVIEW

Independent media, civil society organizations (CSOs), and labor unions 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.

OUR PROGRAMS

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 works to (1) promote freedom of speech and media independence; (2) increase the variety of news sources and improve news quality; (3) improve the enabling environment for media and freedom of speech; and (4) improve the organizational capacity of Ukrainian media civil society organizations (CSOs). The project supports the establishment of an independent Ukrainian public broadcaster.

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.

Because studies show that many Ukrainians are not aware of the benefits of closer ties with the European Union, USAID has joined with the Government of Poland and the Solidarity Fund PL to increase knowledge and understanding among Ukraine’s media professionals regarding Ukraine’s Association Agreement with the EU, so they can better communicate what closer integration means to citizens. 

Civil Society Development

USAID’s civil society program in Ukraine fosters civic activism, boosts reforms, and builds sustainable CSOs by increasing civic engagement in policy-making, strengthening CSO institutional capacity and promoting greater cooperation.

The new Enhance Non-Governmental Actors and Grassroots Engagement program works to increase citizen awareness and engagement in civic actions at the national, regional, and local level. The program focuses on four key objectives: (1) enhanced civic education; (2) support for civic coalitions and initiatives at the national, regional and local levels; (3) improved organizational capacity of partner CSOs; and (4) the long-term sustainability of civic engagement as part of democratic reforms. The program provides funding for capacity building, and facilitates networking among citizens, civic organizations, and coalitions in critical areas of democratic reform, with a special focus on anti-corruption.

The program builds on the success of the former USAID civil society strengthening project, which worked to empower Ukrainian CSOs to represent citizens’ interests and drive Ukraine’s reform agenda through more effective advocacy, monitoring, and activism.

USAID also works to improve the enabling environment for CSOs in Ukraine through the Citizens in Action Project, which partners with civil society, government, and the parliament to make the legislative and policy environment for CSOs consistent with European standards. Additionally, the Civil Society Development Platform strengthens the organizational and management capacity of Ukrainian CSOs through its innovative Capacity Building Marketplace. Through an interagency partnership with Peace Corps, USAID also supports Peace Corps Response Volunteers to build the organizational capacity of local CSOs.

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. 

PROGRAM HIGHLIGHTS

Media Development

Last year, 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 parliamentary bills, including laws on public broadcasting, transparency of media ownership, and removal of print media from government ownership. U-Media is now working to implement these key reforms. U-Media trains journalists in maintaining their personal safety while delivering objective conflict-sensitive reporting in the occupied territories of the Donbas and Crimea.

Civil Society Development

USAID support to civic platforms and coalitions such as CentreUAAnti-Corruption Action Center, and the Reanimation Package of Reforms increased citizen engagement in democratic reforms, leading to the passage of 79 CSO-backed laws or amendments critical to Ukraine’s reform.  Additionally, USAID supported over 187 CSOs with capacity building assistance in 2016 through the Capacity Building Marketplace.

Promoting Worker and Trade Union Rights

In 2016, the project provided grassroots education and outreach to workers across Ukraine, building support for reform and anti-corruption efforts, and freedom of association.  The program aided more than 12,000 workers in joining and/or reorganizing and modernizing their local trade unions.  Collaboration with trade unions included assistance to crisis intervention teams that responded to workplace conflict, countered propaganda, and carried out anti-corruption education among workers in the Donbas and neighboring regions.  It also included support to 20 labor lawyers from the Labor Initiative Worker Rights Center in Kyiv, who provided more than 2,000 consultations. USAID-supported training focused on the development of new young leaders, especially young women, with more than 400 young women leaders participating in trainings in 2016.

Last updated: November 14, 2017

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