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Media Centers on the Front Lines of the Election-Related Activities

The pre-election period has been a busy time for Election Media Centers which operate at the Centers for Civic Engagement in 10 cities of Georgia. In October, 2017 the Election Media Centers continued to serve as a useful platform for political parties, CSOs and media representatives for organizing information sessions and trainings, media briefings, debates, and discussions between political subjects.

Two weeks prior to the Election Day, up to 30 events were dedicated to public discussions and debates with Mayoral and majoritarian candidates from across the country. Women Voter’s needs were also widely discussed between the CSOs and election candidates in this period: ACCESS’ regional grantees held presentations of the findings of their pre-election surveys that identified main concerns and demands of women voters. Another widely discussed topic was the use of administrative resources for campaigning purposes, donations to political parties, and campaign spending. 

Political parties and electoral candidates were also frequent users of the Election Media Centers in pre-election period. They used the Centers to present their electoral programs with various audiences and hold coordination meetings and training sessions for their party representatives and activists. 

On Election Day, the Media Centers provided working space for election monitoring organizations and journalists from 7:00 a.m. till late night. On this day, more than 250 people used the Centers for different purposes. Local Election-monitoring organizations and the Public Defender’s Office used the media centers intensively to collect information from their Election Day monitors and other sources, as well as to plan and undertake the respective actions. Local Journalists used the Media Center’s TV and IT resources to follow the news, share information, and organize live interviews throughout the day, as needed.

From their official launch (July 11, 2017) till the end of October, the Election Media Centers have hosted 308 election-related events, engaging a total of 6955 participants. Media Centers will continue their operations until the end of 2017 to host post-election events. All interested parties (CSOs, political parties, election-monitoring organizations, social activists, and others) are able to use the Media Center’s resources for free.

Election Day at Ozurgeti Media-Center

Election Day at Telavi Media-Center

Call for Applications for Capacity Development Assistance Program for Georgian CSOs

On October 26, 2017, EWMI ACCESS announced an open call for Georgian Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) to participate in a Capacity Development Assistance Program. EWMI ACCESS and its partner – the Center for Training and Consultancy (CTC) provide individual and needs-based assistance to Georgian CSOs to strengthen their organizational capacities and help them to become sustainable organizations.

The Capacity Development Assistance Program allows CSOs to set priorities together with CTC and work towards filling the gaps. The Program starts with an initial assessment of the organization’s capacities (using the EWMI ACCESS organizational capacity assessment questionnaire). After the initial assessment process, an individual Capacity Development Plan is made up for each organization to address key weaknesses and needs. Once the plan is approved, CTC starts its implementation through individual consultations, mentoring and other assistance that lasts for several months. Mentoring and consultancy covers the areas of organizational management, governance, financial management, strategic planning, fundraising, human resources management, administration, and project management. CTC conducts repeated capacity assessment of each CSO after 6-10 months (once the program is over) to measure its impact and improvement in the organizational capacity score.

CSOs will be selected through an open competition. The deadline for submitting statements of interest is November 22, 2017. Both Tbilisi-based and regional CSOs are welcome to participate in the competition. Detailed information about the application procedures is available here. The program will start in December, 2017.

23 CSOs have already benefited from this program. The majority of them revised their organizational structure, set up internal regulations and reformulated the strategic action plans to follow more realistic objectives. As a result of these changes, many organizations have diversified their funding sources and some of them have received long-term core funding.

Focus on Needs of Women Voters in Georgian Regions

Despite the fact that women represent majority of all registered voters in Georgia (53, 7%), their participation in elections and political processes is very low. Due to their low civic engagement, women’s needs are rarely considered by decision makers and/or election candidates.

In order to increase politicians’ awareness of and sensitivity towards women voters’ priority issues, EWMI ACCESS and CiDA initiated a questionnaire survey in 10 regions of Georgia to identify top problems that women face, and use the pre-election period to present these issues to the election candidates for consideration. 23 regional civil society organizations (members of the Regional Civil Society Network – R-CSN) interviewed 1106 women in 10 regions of Georgia and after summarizing questionnaire findings, presented them to a large audience of CSOs, election candidates and journalists on October 17. Presentation was held in Tbilisi and it received wide media coverage both in Tbilisi and in the regional media. In parallel to the presentation, the regional media interviewed local CSOs (who conducted the survey) to discuss the survey findings and major problems as identified by women in their respective regions.

During post-election period, ACCESS will continue to support regional CSOs to follow-up on these issues and advocate that the elected decision-makers address the needs and priorities of women voters. The most frequently cited problems that women respondents identified through the survey are:

  1. Poor roads and sidewalks with no pavements (posing danger and causing difficulties while commuting with kids and a stroller);
  2. Inaccessibility to drinking water at homes (including lack of water, or water on a schedule that make household chores and cattle grooming extremely hard to manage);
  3. Lack or poorly managed parks and recreation areas, as well as outdoor lighting (children do not have spaces for entertainment);
  4. Poor access to and quality of kindergartens (unavailable spaces for more students at kindergartens and/or inflexible working hours forcing mothers to be late for work and/or leave offices early to pick up their children from kindergartens). 
  5. Lack or regular waste collection and disposal services. 

The survey’s interesting finding was that 67% of respondents’ state that they would vote for a candidate who addresses women’s problems and interests in his/her electoral program.

A full report written in Georgian is available here.

Presentation of the Women Voter's Needs Survey Findings

Presentation of the Women Voter's Needs Survey Findings

Announcing CSR Award for Socially-Responsible Businesses Project

On October 3rd, the UN Global Compact Network-Georgia and the Corporate Social Responsibility Club (CSR Club) announced a call for applications for Georgian business companies to participate in the CSR Award competition. The purpose of the award is to promote corporate social responsibility in Georgian business and to enable businesses to get recognition as leaders in this sector and reliable partners in terms of promoting human rights, protecting the environment, and attaining sustainable development goals.

An independent jury will award projects implemented by for-profit legal entities in the following categories:

a) Promoting and respecting human rights (e.g. creating an inclusive environment for people with disabilities, empowering women, protecting rights of minorities and socially vulnerable groups inside and/or outside the companies, protecting labor rights of its employees, education projects aimed at increasing public awareness on minority rights, and other initiatives).

b) Protecting the environment, such as: establishing viable mechanisms to address environmental challenges and reduce negative impact on the environment; projects aimed at increasing environmental consciousness among company employees and/or society at large; promoting development of environmentally-friendly products, technologies, and services. 

c) Business-CSO partnerships for sustainable development.

Two awards will be issued in each category – one for the large business companies and another for the small and medium-size businesses. The selection process will be based on pre-determined criteria which include conformity of the project with international standards and the company’s mission and values, the effectiveness of the project implementation process (management, activities, resources, and transparency), and impact on society and the business.

EWMI ACCESS and the CSR Club organized an open-door event for interested organizations on October 17. Answers to the frequently asked questions on the award competition are uploaded on the CSR Club website. Detailed information about the award is available at the following link. The deadline for submitting applications is November 6.

EWMI ACCESS provides continuous support to the promotion of corporate social responsibility in Georgia. In 2015, the CSR Club was established with support from ACCESS and CiDA. The Club aims to foster CSO-business cooperation and promote socially responsible business practices in Georgia. In addition, ACCESS partner CSO - Civil Development Agency (CiDA) became the secretariat of the UN Global Compact Network in Georgia in 2016. ACCESS supports CiDA in organizing various events aimed at assisting Georgian business companies to accept the general principles of the UN Global Compact.

ACCESS grantees to Countering Anti-Western Disinformation

To better promote its Georgian translation of a famous book “Nothing is Real and Everything is Possible – the Surreal Heart of New Russia”, ACCESS Grantee “Radarami” produced a promotional video featuring well-known Georgian writers, journalists, musicians, and authors to talk about the book as a way of garnering a larger interest among readers.  Additionally, focusing its efforts on citizen and reader engagement, “Radarami” created readers’ clubs around the country. Tabuni, as they have titled the tool, invite interested citizens to launch a readers’ club in their own area using the online platform. The platform will premier its activities in November to discuss “Nothing is Real and Everything is Possible” using pre-identified questions for an in-depth discussion.

As part of its media-heavy activities on countering anti-western disinformation in Adjara, the Batumi-based CSO ”Independent Journalist’s House” along with its partners (popular magazine “Batumelebi”, Batumi branch of Transparency International-Georgia, and the Public Broadcaster of Ajara), called for famous writers, journalists, activists and human rights defenders to share their ideas about Western values and their understanding of Europe. Ten well-known opinion makers recorded short videos where they spoke about their belief and trust in respecting human rights, fundamental freedoms, and cultural identities that Europe and other developed Western countries uphold and enshrine. The videos were disseminated through Ajara TV and social media.

ACCESS is a five-year, $ 6,897,000 civil society development initiative funded by the United States Agency for International Development and implemented by EWMI. The U.S. Agency for International Development administers U.S. foreign assistance programs providing economic and humanitarian assistance in more than 80 countries worldwide.