PAKISTAN STUDYINTRODUCTIONCIVIL SOCIETYCivil society refers to the multiplicity of voluntary collective action and social ...
PAKISTAN STUDYMAPPING CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANIZATION IN UGANDAOur selection of civil society organization to examine for the C...
PAKISTAN STUDYIn the past, there has been a tendency to respond to the gap that exists between citizens and stateinstituti...
PAKISTAN STUDYyouth members and activists, which means there is no long-term incentive for young Pakistanisto remain produ...
PAKISTAN STUDYVarious concepts are used to refer to participatory media or some specific forms of participatorymedia, e.g....
PAKISTAN STUDYcoverage and contribute most to policy-making in the post-communist countriesanalysed in this paper.        ...
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Citizen participation in civil society

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Citizen participation in civil society

  1. 1. PAKISTAN STUDYINTRODUCTIONCIVIL SOCIETYCivil society refers to the multiplicity of voluntary collective action and social organization bycitizen, typically motivated by shared interests, goals, identities, culture, beliefs, values or such.It can be seen as an opposing force to the state and to the market, and as such has been refered to– using economic terminology – as the Third Sector of society.Civil society is formed by informal and spontaneous networks as well as formal organizationssuch as: • Civil society organizations (CSOs), also referred to as non-governmental organizations (NGOs), • Registered associations and charities, • Clubs for sports or other leasure time activities, • Self-help groups, • Community groups (in certain neighborhoods, villages or such), • Campaigns and protest actions, • Citizen lobbies and advocacy groups, • Social movements, • Religious groups.Whether or not trade unions and political parties should be included in the definition of civilsociety is a debatable issue and varies depending on the society and source in question. Politicalparties are essentially part of the political system of a state, and in countries like Finland alsotrade unions have such an established position that it differs dramatically from other civil societyorganizations. For the purposes of this learning module, civil society is defined more narrowly sothat it does not include political parties or trade unions, but refers to the “grassroot” activities andorganizations of citizens.Even though the actual engagement of the civil society in common social and political issues, inpublic discussion and decision-making processes varies from country to country, the importanceof a vibrant civil society to a democracy is widely recognized. By: Mir Toufeeq A. Talpur 1
  2. 2. PAKISTAN STUDYMAPPING CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANIZATION IN UGANDAOur selection of civil society organization to examine for the CSI project closely follows theDENIVA and NAG definitions. This is presented in the table belowFIGURE: Organizations that are part of civil societyIncluded organizations Excluded organizationsNGOs (non-governmental organization) Private sector for profit organization.Faith-based/religious organization For profit media organizationCommunity-based organization (CBOs) Schools and universitiesCommunity groups Political partiesTrade unions / federations Independent constitutional commissionsProfessional associations Any type of Government bodyParent-teacher associations and other user Bilateral and multi-lateral donor agenciescommittees (e.g. water point committees). Resistance and (later) local councilsAssociations of NGOs and or CBOs.Business associations/federations.Independent academic institutes.Sports associationsNot-for-profit media organizationPARTICIPATION IN CIVIL SOCIETYAround the world, a growing crisis of legitimacy characterises the relationship between citizensand the institutions that affect their lives. In both North and South,citizens speak of mounting disillusionment with government, based on concerns aboutcorruption, lack of responsiveness to the needs of the poor and the absenceof a sense of connection with elected representatives and bureaucrats (CommonwealthFoundation 1999).As traditional forms of political representation are being re-examined, direct democraticmechanisms are increasingly being drawn upon to enable citizens to play amore active part in decisions which affect their lives. In this context, the questions of howcitizens – especially the poor – express voice and how institutional responsivenessand accountability can be ensured have become paramount.In this article, we explore some of these challenges. Repositioning participation to embraceconcerns with inclusive citizenship and rights, we examine a range ofcontemporary participatory mechanisms and strategies that seek to bridge the gap betweencitizens and the state. By: Mir Toufeeq A. Talpur 2
  3. 3. PAKISTAN STUDYIn the past, there has been a tendency to respond to the gap that exists between citizens and stateinstitutions in one of two ways. On the one hand, attention has beenmade to strengthening the processes of participation – that is the ways in which poor peopleexercise voice through new forms of inclusion, consultation and/ormobilisation designed to inform and to influence larger institutions and policies. On the otherhand, growing attention has been paid to how to strengthen theaccountability and responsiveness of these institutions and policies through changes ininstitutional design and a focus on the enabling structures for good governance.Each perspective has often perceived the other as inadequate, with one warning that consultationwithout attention to power and politics will lead to ‘voice withoutinfluence’ and the other arguing that reform of political institutions without attention to inclusionand consultation will only reinforce the status quo.PARTICIPATION IN POLETICAL PARTIESPolitical parties in Pakistan need to be representative of all segments of society whileformulating their manifestos, and also need rigorous internal monitoring mechanisms to evaluateprogress on the promises contained within their documents. Parties also need to empower theyouth by improving how they train and involve young Pakistanis in the political process beyondusing them for mobilisation during election cycles. This was the view of participants at aroundtable discussion organised by the Jinnah Institute in Islamabad.Raza Rumi, director of policy and programs at the Jinnah Institute, opened the discussion byhighlighting the importance of reviewing how parties develop their manifestos and then assesstheir performance based on them. Mr. Rumi also spoke about the importance of youth politicalactivity, and how despite the shifting society and demographics, Pakistan’s political parties haveheld on to their outdated party organisation and politics. “The country has moved on and thepolitical parties should focus on reform and develop internal capacity for policy analysis”, saidMr Rumi.Participants included members of political parties, social scientists and policy researches, civilsociety activists and concerned citizens. The Pakistan Peoples Party, the Muttahida QaumiMovement, Jamaat-e-Islami, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, and the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf were represented at the roundtable. Senator Tahir Mashhadi of the MQM said his party wasrooted in the youth, and was originally a student organisation. Most of itslegislators at the federallevels were members of its students organisation in the past. Discussing the issue of manifestodevelopment, Senator Mashhadi said that the MQM was committed to a democratic, secular, andsuccessful Pakistan. “We are committed to achieving Jinnah’s Pakistan,” he said.Kashif Chaudhry of the Jamaat-e-Islami, Asim Niazi of the PMLN and Farad Jarral of thePeople’s Youth Organisation highlighted the processes their respective parties use for manifestodevelopment as well as youth participation. This was followed by a lively discussion focusing onthe issues with manifestos as well as parties’ attitudes towards youth participation. Civil societyactivists and researchers asked party representatives about the issues they face on these issues.Party representatives admitted that there is a disconnect between a party’s central leadership and By: Mir Toufeeq A. Talpur 3
  4. 4. PAKISTAN STUDYyouth members and activists, which means there is no long-term incentive for young Pakistanisto remain productively involved in politics.The participants concluded that there was a need for political parties to evaluate themselvescritically on their performance and also involve independent experts in this process. Participantsalso agreed that parties need to develop future leaders by providing substantial opportunities toyoung people to participate in politics.MEDIAMany civil society organizations and networks are motivated by a common goal: they seek sometransformations in society. This is true especially of advocacy groups and social movementswhich by definition focus on advocating social (and/or cultural/political) changes. Activists ofthese groups and movements need the mainstream media (mass media) for • politicising new themes and bringing them on political agenda, • provoking public debate, • struggling for defining certain issues and states of affairs as social problems and demanding social and political changes to solve those problems, • analysing causes of and suggesting solutions to social problems, • challenging and pressuring adversaries and political decision-makers, • influencing the public opinion, seeking for support and sympathy for the cause, • recruiting members and participants in action, • challenging the prevailing cultural codes and discourses and bringing out new or alternative ones, • promoting alternative values, ways of life, consumer habits and so on, • constructing and maintaining the collective identity of the group/movement in question.Especially in modern urbanized societies, where communication and public debate on social andpolitical issues takes place almost inclusively in the media, the public image of an advocacygroup or a social movement and their cause becomes vital for their success and outcomes. Tosucceed in accomplishing a social change, activists needs to be seen and heard and to have theirmessage and cause taken seriously.PARTICIPATORY MEDIAParticipatory media is a diverse field which includes a multiplicity of publication, practices andprojects. What is common to different forms of participatory media is that they aim at involvingand empowering ordinary citizen or certain communities, are non-profit and somehow “non-mainstream”, i. e. alternative to the mainstream media in terms of contents and practices.Participatory media are done at least partly by non-professionals and thus they bring out voicesand views which are not present in the mainstream media. By: Mir Toufeeq A. Talpur 4
  5. 5. PAKISTAN STUDYVarious concepts are used to refer to participatory media or some specific forms of participatorymedia, e.g.: • Citizen media • Third sector media • Community media • Alternative media • Radical media • Grassroots mediaSome of these concepts put more emphasis on the alternative nature of the content (e.g.alternative media and radical media) where as others put more emphasis on the group of peoplethe media is supposed to serve (e.g. community media, minority media).In spite of the shared aspiration to citizen/community engagement, different participatory mediahave different characters for example in terms of • Duration: Long-term operations and processes or short-term projects? • Origin and ownership: Initiated and coordinated by outsiders (project workers, community workers, professional journalists, media students or such) or initiated and run by the community/citizen group itself? • Community served: Local (geographip) community, community of interests, ideological community, ethnic/cultural community, religious community or something else? • Level of professionalism: involvement and role of media professionals. • Level of community participation: involvement and role of non-professional community members and media activists. • Forms of funding: Project funding, public or donor funding, membership/subsription fees, advertizing revenue? • Format and content: Political, religious, alternative and underground, indigenous, informative and educational, entertaining and cultural..?.CONCLUSIONSEnvironmental sustainability is a widely promoted value in civil society, thanks tothe activities of a number of environmental organisations that have been successful in elicitingpublic support and in influencing the public agenda on environmental issues. Thanks to theircapacity to conduct independent research and ‘package’ their research-based evidence for thewider public, environmental organisations have been able to attract the attention of the mediaand, currently, are the CSOs that, along with the trade unions, receive the most significant media By: Mir Toufeeq A. Talpur 5
  6. 6. PAKISTAN STUDYcoverage and contribute most to policy-making in the post-communist countriesanalysed in this paper. By: Mir Toufeeq A. Talpur 6

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