The Role of Civil Society in Attaining Social Justice: NGO Capacity Building in Egypt

WLP Egypt/Forum for Women in Development (FWID) has begun the third phase of an ongoing initiative to build capacity and facilitate cooperation between disparate civil society organizations (CSOs) non-governmental organizations (NGOs) throughout Egypt. The initiative, entitled “The Role of Civil Society in Attaining Social Justice,” encompasses diverse groups focusing on women’s rights, poverty reduction, and fighting corruption, among others. The initiative is seen as particularly important at a time when CSOs and NGOs of all types are facing increasing restrictions from the Egyptian government.

With additional assistance from the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, FWID launched the first phase, research and development, in July of 2013. FWID personnel met to discuss which aspects of the WLP leadership training manual Leading to Choices (LTC) and political participation training manual Leading to Action (LTA) to focus on in the capacity building sessions and how best to implement the sessions. They also considered the areas most likely to garner broad agreement, and where the Egyptian government would be most willing and able to achieve significant social change.

FWID implemented the second phase through three two- to three-day trainings in the northern city of Ismailia and in Alexandria, which received national media attention (link) in February and April 2014. This phase laid the groundwork for future collaboration by gathering representatives of diverse CSOs and NGOs to open lines of communication. FWID also introduced attendees to the participatory leadership concept in LTC, and the activist techniques and case studies, adapted to the Egyptian context, in LTA. FWID trained 106 women and men representatives from CSOs, NGOs, political parties, women’s clubs, and labor unions from all over Egypt.

The third phrase will build on the foundation of open communication; FWID gathered representatives of organizations to discuss the specific policy options they wanted to advocate and the joint-campaigns they would undertake. The first three-day meeting, “Local Institutes and Social Monitoring,” took place May 19-21, 2014, in Ismailia, in which participants discussed plans for better citizen oversight of local governments’ plans for social and economic development.

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