Civil Society Space
Over the past year, Oxfam has invested strongly in consolidating its response to the shrinking space for civil society, developing tools to help us to better understand the trend, and news ways of working.
As the oxygen for critical voices, civic space is a vital prerequisite for a rights-based approach to development. Civic space enables citizens to actively organise and mobilise around issues of importance to them, to express their needs, interests and concerns, to propose and negotiate solutions and to hold authorities and the private sector to account. In essence, civic space is for every citizen who wants to speak up on issues that matter to him or her, without fear of repercussions. It is an enabler in fostering vibrant societies where creativity and different forms of expression and identity knit together to create a sustainable social fabric. It also a critical enabler in the fight against poverty and pursuit of social justice.
Oxfam worked together with local NGO coalitions to advocate for progressive legal frameworks that will guarantee their right to freedom of association. In Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos, we persued a collaborative approach to improving public perceptions of civil society actors. In countries such as Tunisia and Myanmar, our programs help to protect and widen the newly-gained space. Strengthening local civil society to deal with shifting civil space is a key strategy for Oxfam Novib. This includes increasing accountability and strengthening their local constituencies, and investing in creating coalitions and networks on civic space.