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Promotion of civic participation in Cahul region, 2013

 

Caritas Czech Republic

Caritas Czech Republic in cooperation with a Moldovan non-government organization called Success implemented a one-year project “Promotion of civic participation in Cahul region” focused on strengthening civic participation, especially of women and youth, in local affairs and their involvement in decision-making processes in villages.

It is common that women are disadvantaged or discriminated against in Moldovan society; their access to information is also often limited, and they are paid less in their jobs. They can also be, so to say, imprisoned within gender stereotypes strictly defining what their role in society should be. It is also Moldovan youth who have very limited possibilities to influence decision-making processes in their communities.

A number of training sessions designed to strengthen abilities and skills of young people and women in the areas of personal development, understanding of the election process, critical thinking, leadership and thinking about current issues and their possible solutions were organized. Most of the sessions took between two and ten days, during which the training participants gained new knowledge, which will lead to permanent and sustainable changes in their communities.

Community Action Groups were created in five selected villages in the Cahul region  (Brinza, Zirnesti, Colibasi, Slobozia Mare, Giurgiulesti), members of which are representatives of youth, women, teachers and other citizens. Community Action Groups members were trained in how to identify needs, how to prepare budgets, manage local resources, raise funds and negotiate with authorities. The members met regularly and tried to identify community needs, which they reflected in action plans. They discussed these plans with local governments’ representatives and were seeking possibilities of their implementation.

25 women selected from the abovementioned villages that took part in training called “LeaderShe” had an opportunity to become managers of small grant projects implemented in their villages. Overall, 15 projects were presented focusing on social issues, education and support of cultural values. Some of them were directed on current community problems and initiated a debate on how to solve them. Children, students and youth were also among frequently discusses topics. In some cases, the project managed to involve local governments in small projects’ implementation either directly or by means of financial support.

Young people also had several opportunities to take part in community affairs. They were able, thanks to training in debating, courses in photographing and article writing as well as to theatre plays “Democracy through the eyes of youth”, to organize and conduct debates on current issues such as: pros and cons of the EU, religion at schools, PC and its influence on youth etc. 300 students participated in the debates. Young journalists and photographers wrote about events that took place in their villages; there were 10 articles published on a news server.

The mentioned activities resulted in joint action of people from the villages and representatives of local governments such as public hearings concerning budget planning or a public forum with the purpose to establish cooperation with local authorities who had realized how important it is to engage citizens in decision-making processes.

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