CSOS, Social Movements and Activists Must Collaborate to Curb Shrinking Civic Space in West Africa
The West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI) in collaboration with the Fund for Global Human Rights (FGHR) organised a 3-day convening with twenty representatives from civil society organisations (CSOs) that promote social justice in West Africa. This workshop offered a platform for participants from 13 countries to discuss the increasing crackdown on civic space and examine alternative ways of effectively engaging with activists and social movements to respond to the shrinking civic space.
The perceived low level of collaboration between activists, social movements and CSOs have had a significant downturn effect on social interventions in West Africa. To identify and propose solutions to this situation, WACSI and FGHR are implementing a project that seeks to strengthen stakeholder collaboration to expand civic space in West Africa. This workshop falls under the first part of our series of interventions within this project. Through this convening, WACSI and FGHR sought to create an avenue for stakeholders to take stock of their engagements and how well they have/have not involved other relevant actors in their struggles/campaigns for social justice. It allowed participants to examine the effects of such actions.
Zikora Ibeh form Spaces for Change said, “this was a great opportunity to explore perspectives on the key differences and similarities between social movements and traditional social justice organisations [CSOs] and how we can create a synergy of action among these two groups”.
The workshop was also an opportunity to collect data from the participants to expand research on stakeholder collaboration for effective social activism in West Africa. The scoping research explored several conceptual underpinnings such as the notion of civic space, social movements, social activists and traditional social justice organisations (or CSOs). It served as a foundation to understand the prospects, challenges and possible mechanisms strengthen collaboration between traditional social justice organisations or CSOs, social activists and social movements to curb shrinking civic space.
Dr, Albert Arhin, lead research consultant explained that “this workshop confirmed some of the information gathered through the literature review conducted. A key element is that civic space is facing growing restrictions across the region. However, there is a lot of optimism in the benefit of an enhanced collaboration between traditional social justice organisations, social movements and activists.”
For more information on the insights from the discussion and the final research report, follow WACSI on its various social media channels.