A joint project between the European Union (EU) and the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) has gained the support of the Ministry of Labour and Social Partnership Relations for its emphasis on building capacity within civil society organizations (CSOs).
Minister of Labour and Social Partnership Relations, Colin Jordan, endorsed the project last Friday, as he addressed the official launch at CMC’s headquarters, Harbour Industrial Estate, St. Michael.
The project, dubbed ‘Strengthening the Capacity of Caribbean Civil Society Organisations to Effectively Design and Engage in Public Advocacy Campaigns 2019-21‘, is funded by the EU at a cost of 398,000 Euros.
Praising management and staff of CMC for the initiative, Minister Jordan stressed Government was committed to increasing the involvement of civil society in the governance process, and engaging citizens through direct participation was a practice it also wanted to promote.
“The basic tenets of democracy dictate that government must, among other things, take into consideration and accept the participation of its citizens, including the critical views of those citizens in the development of policy…. We cannot have effective participation without dialogue. The sharing of information is an important part of that dialogue,” he said, adding that politicians and policy-makers must also listen and understand, and CSOs must be trained in advocacy to be able to share their perspectives.
Acknowledging that Government had ensured participation occurred through entities such as the Social Partnership and the Social Justice Committee, the Labour Minister added the engagement of CSOs as the Third Sector in the development process must be considered as a pillar for any democratic society.
Further lauding the CMC/EU project, he stressed it was important against the backdrop that this sector worked with diverse groups; helped to create sustainable jobs; contributed to economic growth of nations; and globally played an important role in “sharing the weight of providing social services”.
Meanwhile, CMC’s Head of Regional Sales and Marketing, Loretta Skeete, noting that the corporation had embarked on a developmental plan that includes forming alliances and partnerships with key stakeholders locally and regionally, said two years ago they successfully answered a call from the EU to enhance CSOs contribution to governance and the development processes in Barbados.
The project, she explained, is being rolled out in three phases, with the first currently training Barbadian CSOs in the fundamentals of relevant government policy and legislation and in designing and implementing advocacy campaigns through effective media and communication.
Noting phase two would focus on effective use of media and communication tools in relation to implementation advocacy campaigns, Ms. Skeete said: “The CMC, through its wide network, will make available to the successful Barbadian beneficiaries of the project, the opportunity to mount their campaign on our platform for visibility, in addition to providing linkages for new and continued opportunities.”
Phase three is expected to make provision for six grants to local CSOs in the areas of operational and technical capacity building, while providing training in media communications.