Supporting Vibrant Civil Society & Independent Media

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A minicab driver listens to a radio broadcast in a market in Abeche, Chad (2009)
A minicab driver listens to a radio broadcast in a market in Abeche, Chad (2009).
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USAID provides technical leadership and support on civil society and media issues. It generates knowledge on effective approaches for strengthening the sector; pilots state-of-the-art approaches; builds DRG staff capacity through training and technical assistance; conducts assessments, strategy, and program designs, and evaluations; and manages a targeted portfolio of global programs. USAID promotes innovations in the civil society, labor, youth and media arenas (including the use of new technologies) as a means for addressing development challenges.

MISSION AND ACTIVITIES

STRENGTHEN CITIZENS’ ABILITY TO FREELY ORGANIZE AND COMMUNICATE: Support legal and regulatory frameworks that provide an enabling environment for civil society organizations (CSOs), democratic labor organizations, and independent media.

STRENGTHEN A DEMOCRATIC POLITICAL CULTURE: Resilient democracies depend on a political culture that values citizen engagement, tolerance, and respect for human rights. USAID plays a lead role in advancing knowledge about fortifying democratic political cultures. This includes supporting civic education programs and promoting democratic principles in worker education programs.

MOBILIZE CONSTITUENCIES FOR REFORM: USAID emphasizes support for CSOs whose advocacy efforts give voice to citizens, thus increasing their influence on the political process. This includes a range of organizations from human rights and pro-democracy groups to informal groups.

THEMATIC AREAS

CIVIC SPACE

As civil society globally has experienced increased restrictions in civic and political space, USAID has collected analysis from our posts around the world and developed a three-pronged strategy of Prevention -- Adaptation – Continued Support.


LABOR

USAID supports the design and development of programs on labor rights and access to justice for workers worldwide, including through its Leader with Associates mechanism, the Global Labor Program.


MEDIA

USAID supports programs in more than 30 countries to strengthen journalistic professionalism, establish media management skills, and promote free and independent media. The Information Safety and Capacity program is USAID’s flagship Internet freedom program to support USAID partners' ability to operate safely in the digital space, managed centrally by DCHA/DRG. We also administer programming on countering disinformation through the Advancing Integrity in Media programs.


YOUTH CIVIC EDUCATION, ENGAGEMENT, AND LEADERSHIP

USAID’s civil society- and media-focused youth activities aim to leverage the creativity and energy of young people to develop prosperous, stable, and democratic societies. The Agency’s Global Leadership and Education for Advancing Development (Global LEAD) initiative and State and Youth New Approaches to Social and Political Engagement (SYNAPSE) pilots seek to add to a body of evidence, promote learning, and ensure civic education initiatives lead to greater youth engagement and leadership. The global Youth Power 2 suite of mechanisms support the Agency in engaging youth and emerging leaders in a wide range of youth issues, including peace and security, employment, health, civic and democratic participation. CSM also provides technical support to missions working with youth and participates in cross-agency coordination efforts to implement USAID's Youth in Development policy.


TECHNICAL LEADERSHIP INITIATIVES

CIVIL SOCIETY INNOVATION INITIATIVE (CSII) PROGRAM: A network of regional civil society innovation hubs that work to connect CSOs across countries, encourage physical and digital peer-to-peer learning, provide CSOs and CSO networks with a virtual and physical platform to access tools and technologies to address their most pressing issues, and amplify civil society voices around the world. It is an initiative that is supported by USAID and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida).

CSO SUSTAINABILITY INDEX (CSOSI): The annual Civil Society Organization Sustainability Index (CSOSI) reports on the strength and overall viability of the civil society sector in 72 countries covering Asia, Europe and Eurasia, Middle East & North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Mexico. The CSOSI highlights both advances and setbacks in the development of the civil society sector in seven dimensions: legal environment; organizational capacity; financial viability; advocacy; service provision; infrastructure; and public image. This index allows for comparisons across countries and sub-regions over time and is an important tool for local civil society organizations (CSOs), governments, donors, academics, and others to understand and measure the sustainability of the CSO sector.

EPCS INSPIRES: The Enabling and Protecting Civil Society Project (EPCS) Illuminating New Solutions and Programmatic Innovations for Resilient Spaces (INSPIRES) activity is working to increase knowledge and capacity to respond to growing restrictions on democratic freedoms of association, assembly, and expression through new analytical tools to forecast troubled civic spaces, testing programmatic interventions to boost civil society resilience, and empowering local partners through flexible response support.

GLOBAL LABOR PROGRAM (GLP): This five-year (2016-2021) Leader with Associates award promotes workers’ rights, strengthens connections between worker organizations and broader civil society, augments protections for vulnerable workers, and improves access to justice for workers. The program also has a strong component of work addressing counter-trafficking in persons by promoting safe labor migration. The program implementer is Solidarity Center. GLP has 10 active bilateral programs, in Lesotho, South Africa, Liberia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Georgia, Ukraine, Morocco, Mexico, and Colombia. It also has regional and sub-regional programs in Latin America, Southern Africa, South Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East and North Africa. The Leader also supports thematic research and advocacy programs on gender, migration and trafficking, informality, and rule of law.

GREATER INTERNET FREEDOM (GIF): USAID’s flagship internet freedom program, this three-year (2020-2023) activity will support the digital security of civil society and media organizations, while supporting citizen engagement in internet governance and the recognition of human rights online.

STRENGTHENING CIVIL SOCIETY GLOBALLY (SCS GLOBAL): The Strengthening Civil Society Globally program provides technical assistance to strengthen CSOs, independent media and independent labor organizations to enhance citizen participation and government transparency and accountability as well as advance other development goals. It's global support mechanism is a Cooperative Agreement/Leader with Associates Award (LWA).

YOUTH POWER 2: A USAID Agency-wide suite of mechanisms that strengthen local, national and global youth systems and programs to achieve sustainable, positive youth outcomes in health, education, and political and economic empowerment, and to increase youth engagement in development efforts. YouthPower 2 mechanisms are intended to support USAID in the implementation of its Youth in Development Policy. The YouthPower 2 APS is focused on supporting Missions in implementing cross-sectoral youth programs. The second, YouthPower 2 Learning and Evaluation contract, is focused on reinforcing and applying learning on cross-sectoral youth programming.

Last updated: October 30, 2020

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