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EWMI ACCESS Funds Five New Citizen Engagement Projects in Georgian Regions

In April, 2017 EWMI ACCESS announced the Citizen Outreach Grants Program for Georgian Civil Society Organizations (CSO). Considering the upcoming local government elections in October 2017, the program was focused on bringing women voters’ needs to the attention of political parties and election candidates, and contributing to the formation of a female voter constituency.

In total 35 project proposals were submitted under this call, out of which 5 projects were selected for funding. The projects will cover almost all regions of Georgia and engage local women, the political parties and election subjects to raise the profile of special needs of women voters and bring those needs to the electoral agenda. Activities include wide scale awareness-raising campaigns, pre-and-post election debates with political subjects, and various capacity-building initiatives to empower women to advocate for their interests and increase women’s political participation. The projects will pay particular attention to the ethnic-minority women and women from marginalized groups.

Projects are expected to start in mid-July. The winning organizations are:

•  Journalists’ Network for Gender Equality (Tbilisi)
•  Local Development Agency- Georgia (Kutaisi)
•  The Levan Mikeladze Foundation (Tbilisi)
•  Samtskhe-Javakheti Media Center  (Borjomi)
•  Women for Regional Development (Guria, village Dvabzu)

EWMI ACCESS congratulates the winners and wishes them success. Detailed description of the projects will soon be available at ACCESS website.

EWMI ACCESS Facilitates Policy Dialogue over an Effective Model of Periodic Technical Inspection of Vehicles in Georgia

On June 27, EWMI ACCESS and its partner CSO “Georgian Alliance for Safe Roads” organized a conference on mandatory technical inspection of vehicles to be introduced from January 1, 2018.  The purpose of the conference was to facilitate a multi-stakeholder dialogue over an EU-compatible, affordable, and effective model of Periodic Technical Inspection for Georgia to reduce road fatalities and air pollution, as well as to discuss technical issues to ensure smooth implementation of the reform.

According to the EU-Georgia Association Agreement, the Government is expected to introduce mandatory roadworthiness testing/periodic technical inspection (PTI) of vehicles from 1 January, 2018.

At the conference, speakers presented the preparatory work done so far by 26 Technical Inspection Centers to provide services to more than 1 million vehicles in Georgia, as well as results of the public opinion polls on the upcoming legislative changes. In addition to this, panelists discussed the EU directive and an optimal Periodic Technical Inspection model for Georgia. The conference featured high-ranking public officials (the Deputy Ministers from the Ministry of Economic and Sustainable Development, the Ministry of the Environment and National Resources, the Ministry of the Internal Affairs, and the Mayor of the Tbilisi), representatives of Civil Society Organizations and the donor community (USAID Mission to Georgia and the European Union Delegation to Georgia), representatives of the National Accreditation Center, the Transport and Roads Association of Georgia, and field experts.

The discussion was centered on the following key issues:

1. Readiness for Periodic Technical Inspection (PTI) - Are the existing 26 Testing Centers ready to provide testing services to 1.1 million cars? Is the public Accreditation Center ready to ensure corruption-free, transparent and effective inspection?

2. Public Opinion, Environment & Health Issues – Is the population supportive of introducing PTI? What is the state of air quality in Georgia and what role transport sector plays in air pollution? What are the health problems related to air pollution?

3. EU Directive, International Experiences and an Optimal Model of PTI - What are the requirements of the EU Directive on roadworthiness tests for motor vehicles that Georgia has to transpose in 2018? What are similar experiences of other countries? What are the policy challenges that the Georgian government has to address to ensure the effectiveness of the reform? How can Periodic Technical Inspection deal with car emissions and old cars?

EWMI ACCESS will summarize the feedback and together with other stakeholders follow-up on the main issues raised at the conference.

The New Website www.mythdetector.ge is Launched

The Media Development Foundation with support from EWMI ACCESS is implementing a project aimed at combating anti-western myths through preparing myth-busting articles and TV reports, and increasing media literacy among society at large.

In order to reach wider audiences and make the available information attractive and interactive, the organization redesigned the previous web-site and launched the new one www.mythdetector.ge where users can find a lot of useful and easy-to-understand information about anti-western disinformation in Georgia and tools for revealing such information. In particular, the website features mini articles to refute the disinformation disseminated by Georgian media outlets, politicians and social actors. There are also examples of photo and video manipulations, ways of detecting them and guidelines to spot and reveal fake news. Educational tools such as quizzes, info-graphics (depicting main fakes of the months), social videos, TV reports and cartoons, and many other useful resources have also been added.  The website allows users to engage through sending the fakes to the web-administrators via a “Report the Fake” button.

It is the first Georgian website fully dedicated to revealing and debunking fake news and anti-western disinformation. The Media Development Foundation in partnership with TV Pirveli also produces weekly TV-interviews and feature stories on these issues which are broadcast every Monday through TV Pirveli’s morning program.

The Media Development Foundation is running a myth detector Facebook Page as well which has a very high engagement rate among the Facebook population. Thanks to the myth detector articles, several Georgian web portals have publicly apologized for disseminating disinformation and removed the fake content from the web.

#Strength is In Europe – Leading CSOs Meet Local Communities in Imereti

Civic Campaign #Strength is in Europe started its round of the regional information meetings from Imereti. On June 15th and 16th ACCESS partner CSOs –“Transparency International Georgia”, the “Media Development Foundation”, the “Atlantic Council”, “Civil Development Agency (CiDA)”, and “Europe is our House” visited Kutaisi and nearby villages where they met with local civic actors and general public to talk about the Georgia’s European future, advantages of joining Euro-Atlantic unions, how the Western values conform to the Georgian culture, and other related topics. Speakers also elaborated on widespread anti-western myths and ways of detecting and combating them.

CSO leaders first met with students and lecturers at the Kutaisi State University, and later with Imereti media and CSO representatives, where in addition to the above-mentioned issues they discussed the challenges that he Georgian government and the civil sector face for combating anti-western disinformation and building public support towards the EU and NATO.

General awareness-raising community meetings were held separately in the villages of Banoja, Geguti and Patriketi.  Communities were particularly interested about opportunities for Georgian farmers and entrepreneurs to enter the European market. They were also interested in the education programs abroad and visa liberalization issues. Communities shared their own experience and knowledge about anti-western myths spread in their areas and how they try to tackle them.

More meetings in other regions of Georgia will be held within the coming months.

The movement #Strength is in Europe is funded by EWMI ACCESS. The movement aims to increase public support towards EU and NATO and combat all forms of anti-western disinformation and attempts of altering Georgia’s pro-Western orientation. The civic campaign envisions an intensive awareness-raising campaign through open community meetings, TV talk-shows and TV ads on leading national and regional TV channels, media literacy trainings, myth-busting online articles and success stories, videos, cartoons, and other visual materials.

EWMI ACCESS Supports “Women of Georgia” Initiative

As of June, 2017, EWMI ACCESS started supporting the project Women of Georgia which is an extension of a well-established and popular Facebook platform that features human stories titled as ‘Women of Georgia’. These stories are aimed at identifying topics and thematic directions to exemplify gender inequalities, mapping out the subgroups most susceptible to gender and sex-based discrimination, as well as naming and exposing often hidden gender barriers. This is achieved through in-depth interviews using human story approach accompanied with photos that visualize women and their lives.

By featuring the individual stories of 60 women from Georgia using an online platform to highlight women’s issues and showcase the women’s unique experiences of challenging traditional gender roles, the project aims to increase awareness of invisible barriers that women from all classes, races and sexualities face in Georgia. The project paves the way for civic advocacy on gender related issues from the grassroots level, thus making sure the women’s voice is heard by decision makers.

Training in Professional Communication for Think Tanks

As one of its main objectives, EWMI ACCESS strives to increase organizational capacities of the Georgian CSOs, as well as helping policy research organizations (think-tanks) to increase their impact and the influence on policy-formulation process. For this purpose, ACCESS provides diversified targeted technical assistance to its grantees and other CSOs.

In June, ACCESS invited renowned expert, Mr. Hans Gutbrod to deliver a series of training sessions to selected group of research organizations in effective communications and writing professional policy briefs. Mr. Gutbrod has worked with research organizations worldwide, has analyzed think tank finance, and consults on policy research. Previously, Mr. Gutbrod led the Caucasus Research Resource Centers (CRRC) in Georgia, overseeing more than 100 research projects. 

Apart from the general introductory sessions, the training was tailored to the needs of each participating organization. The trainer, along with participants, reviewed the policy briefs and other information materials produced by the participant organizations and provided detailed feedback regarding the key principles, structure and procedures of document writing.

The trainer also discussed the role of think tanks in Georgia and the ways they should communicate and advocate their ideas, using findings from the EWMI GPAC study reports on the challenges of the Georgian think tanks as illustrative examples.

ACCESS and CTC Launch the Online Training Course in Management of Non-Profit Organizations

In June, EWMI ACCESS and the Center for Training and Consultancy (CTC) closed the call for applications for the certified online training course in Management of Non-Profit Organizations. Up to 80 people applied for the course, out of which 20 participants will be selected through interviews and document review. The distance learning course is expected to start in July, 2017.

The course is designed for CSO managers and covers many aspects of NGO and Project Management including the organizational strategic planning, project cycle management, social marketing, and fundraising. Successful participants will also be offered optional modules such as: organizing advocacy campaigns, human resources management, financial management, and leadership. Studies combine both theoretical work and practical exercises.

CTC has been conducting Non-Profit Management classroom trainings for two years (currently hosting the third group of participants). Considering the high demand for the course from regional CSOs, ACCESS and CTC decided to launch a distance learning course for those who are unable to attend classroom sessions in Tbilisi.

This course is fully funded by EWMI ACCESS and is free for participants.

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.