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NEWSLETTER OCTOBER 2016


IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Women in Labour Relations: Issues of the Family/Work Balance >>

TOP NEWS

The Civic Charter: Global Call for Signatures and Contributions >>
Valentina Cherevatenko and Other Civil Society Activists at a Forum's Conference in London >>

Talking Populists and Demagogues in Warsaw >>

LEGAL DIALOGUE

A New Format for the "Legal Dialogue" >>

MEDIA
Annegret Wulff (MitOst Association, Berlin, Germany): 'There are Pretty Many Challenges, Which are the Same in the EU, Russia or Northern Africa'
 >>
"What Is Happening Within the Civil Society": The First Case is Lithuania
>>

MEMBERS' VIEWS
UNITED for Intercultural Action (Amsterdam, Netherlands): List of Deaths Presented at MoMA Exhibition >>
NGO Development Centre (St. Petersburg, Russia): NGO Kitchen >>
AMICA (Freiburg, Germany): "Sievershäuser Ermutigung" Peace Prize >>

COMING SOON
Conference in Versailles, "Different Wars" in Krasnoyarsk, General Assembly in Helsinki >>

IN THE SPOTLIGHT

Women in Labour Relations: Issues of the Family/Work Balance

Amid protests in Russia and single EU countries (respectively Poland) against the abortion ban, Julia Ostrovskaya, Deputy Director at the Centre for Social and Labour Rights (Moscow, Russia), takes a broader look at the protection of women at work in Russia:

 

In the current socioeconomic situation, both parents have to work in order to maintain a decent standard of living in a majority of Russian households with dependent children. For a majority of Russian parents, the question is no longer about choosing between family and work or career but rather how to succeed in combining these options harmoniously. Consequently, in the field of social policies, individual inquiries referring to the “work/family balance” are increasingly formulated. Working women make up a significant part of the workforce: Although the number of households, in which women are the only breadwinners, remains high, it is quite revealing for the state and society as a whole that working women are not only doing it for their families. Starting with the 20th century up to modern times in Russia, women's tendency to combine both their role of an active employee and mother keeps growing.

The difficulty of matching paid work with watching over the family and children affects women more than men, as women are still largely involved in the care of children, sick and elderly relatives. Women, and especially working women and mothers, tend to be the first victims of violations of labour rights and discrimination, or to fall in situation where it is impossible for them to fulfil their social and labour rights. Ensuring equal opportunities for women employees can only be achieved through an effective implementation of mechanisms safeguarding the work/family balance. Current legislation includes provisions on different levels of reinforcement of gender equality, non-discrimination, as well as guarantees for employees with family responsibilities. However, in practice women face problems, which does not allow them to combine their family and career. In addition, a number of guarantees for employees with children are provided exclusively for mothers, and not to fathers, at a time where the status of parent employees needs to be equalised and where guarantees to fulfil family responsibilities provided to male employees need to be the same as the one provided to female employees.

Read more

TOP NEWS

The Civic Charter: Global Call for Signatures and Contributions

On 26 October 2016, the Civic Charter was officially launched at the Global Perspectives Conference in Berlin, Germany.

'Our world faces a multitude of problems today,' writes Maina Kiai, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association, on the Charter's official website. 'But our biggest difficulty, truly, is that so many of us are excluded from having a say of how to solve these problems. I am thus proud to endorse this Civic Charter, which is a concise yet thorough reaffirmation of everyone's right to participate in their societies.'

The Civic Charter is now available at
www.civiccharter.org for sign-ons by individuals and organisations worldwide. We would be grateful for distribution of this information to your contacts.

'The Civic Charter is a joint effort of civil society actors, human rights defenders and NGOs from around the globe,' says Anna Sevortian, Executive Director at the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum, one of the contributors to the document. 'And the result is an essential two-pager, which, we believe, will ease the operations of our colleagues and civil societies as such.'

The Civic Charter is now finished but the project is only starting – so stay tuned, involved and connected, so we can further strengthen our struggle for civic participation.

To learn more on the document, please go to the comprehensive Civic Charter brochure

TOP NEWS

Valentina Cherevatenko and Other Civil Society Activists at a Forum's Conference in London

Upon invitation of the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum, prominent civil society actors from Russia and the European Union spent three days (4-6 October 2016) in London, UK at the conference "The Changing Formats of Support for the Civil Society in Eurasia" and related events.

For Valentina Cherevatenko, Head of the Human Rights Organisation "Don Women Union" (Novocherkassk, Russia), the visit to London turned out to be remarkable also for another reason. While being at the conference, she was notified that she had received a special RAW in WAR Anna Politkovskaya Award for her 'tireless work and determination to build bridges for peace and reconciliation between people and communities in war-torn North Caucasus, Armenia, Georgia and Ukraine'.
In spite of a goodwill mission of the organisation, the human rights defender was exposed to a criminal prosecution in June 2016 - due to 'malicious evasion of fulfilment of duties determined by the legislation of the Russian Federation on not-for-profit organisations executing function of a foreign agent.'

Along with Valentina Cherevatenko, the conference was attended by representatives of the Forum's member organisations - Katarzyna Batko-Tołuc from the Citizens Network Watchdog (Poland), Bálint Jósa from the Subjective Values Foundation (Hungary), Robert Latypov from the Perm Regional Branch of the International Memorial Society (Perm, Russia),  Grigori Melkoniants from the GOLOS Association (Moscow, Russia), Stefanie Schiffer from the European Exchange (Germany), Natalia Taubina from the Public Verdict Foundation, member of the Forum's Steering Committee (Moscow, Russia), and others.

Apart from the conference, guests spoke at side events at the Free Word Centre and the King's College as well as were interviewed by the BBC Russian Service and further British media.

TOP NEWS

Talking Populists and Demagogues in Warsaw

On 29 September 2016, the Institute of Public Affairs (Poland) in cooperation with the Friedrich Ebert Foundation Warsaw and the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum organised the international seminar "Populists and Demagogues | What Attracts People to Them?". The debates were held at the New Theatre in Warsaw.

The starting point for the event were signs of retreat from the democracic values in the Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) - be it a new Polish media law, Hungary's "illiberal democracy", or a stance by high level officials from the Czech Republic or Slovakia on the migrants’ crisis and Islam. Besides, the speakers were requested to give answer to the question, which external influences contributed to the trend of growing Euroscepticism and populism.

The seminar was divided into two panel debates - on the socioeconomic and the sociocultural backgrounds for the current crisis respectively. Representatives of the member organisations in the EU-Russia Civil Society Fprum - Dr Jacek Kucharczyk from the Institute of Public Affairs (Poland) and Tomáš Jungwirth from the Association for International Affairs (Czech Republic) - as well as guests invited by the Forum - Dr Bulcsú Hunyadi from the Political Capital Institute (Hungary) and Anton Shekhovtsov from the Institute for Human Sciences (Austria) - along with other panelists coming from Austria, Germany and Poland - joined in the lively conversations on the topic. 

Apart from that, members of the Forum's Steering Committee and the Secretariat used the opportunity of being in Poland for various advocacy visits, including those in the run-up of the 3rd Forum for Young Professionals "Europe Lab" to be held in July 2017 at the European Solidarity Centre in Gdańsk.

The videos from the debates (in Polish) are available here.

LEGAL DIALOGUE

A New Format for the "Legal Dialogue"

On 21 October 2016, the Law Faculty of the Lomonosov Moscow State University hosted the Round Table "International Experiences in Cooperation between Legal Clinics and Non-for-Profit Organisations" within the 7th All-Russian Conference of Legal Clinics. The Round Table was initiated by the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum in cooperation with the NGO "Centre of Development of Legal Clinics".

The targets of the meeting were exchange of experiences and discussion on possible new formats of cooperation between legal clinics and NGOs, which would be helpful both to students and non-for-profit organisations in the EU and Russia. There are similar concepts in some countries but there have been not too many platforms for sharing of best practices and development of international cooperation so far.

'We took the chance to come to an event with around 150 reprentatives of legal clinics from over 30 Russian regions and to reflect together, where it makes sense to head further with our programme,' says Polina Baigarova, Coordinator of the "EU-Russia Legal Dialogue" supported by the European Commission and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Germany.

Thanks to the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum, the meeting was attended not only by Russian experts but also by colleagues from Finland, Poland, Spain and Switzerland. All in all, more than 20 representatives of legal clinics and NGOs took part in the round table.

Filip Czernicki, President of the Foundation of Legal Clinics (Poland), summed up upon the end of the event: 'I am sure that we can learn a lot from each other. It will be great, if a legal clinic from one country interested in development of a new direction finds a partner clinic in another country with an appropriate experience. Besides, I believe, we can easily seek for NGO representatives specialised in these questions, who are ready to act as facilitators/experts on such a project.'


The second round of negotiations on elaboration of specific steps on implementation of this new activities direction is planned for November 2016 in France. The topic for a pilot project is migration.

MEDIA

Annegret Wulff (MitOst Association, Berlin, Germany): 'There are Pretty Many Challenges, Which are the Same in the EU, Russia or Northern Africa'

To watch the interview on YouTube, please follow the link

Ms Wulff, the MitOst Association has been a founding member of the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum. Throughout those five years, your Association and the Department you are running – “Active Citizenship” - have developed significantly. This direction started off with the Theodor Heuss Kolleg in 2001, which has grown much in its turn in last years. What are the current developments and the state of the art of the Active Citizenship Programme?

First of all, I would like to shortly remind what we are doing at the Active Citizenship Department of the MitOst Association: We are trying to motivate young people to become citizens and to start to see how they can take responsibility for the things, which really concern them. It is about participation. It is about how they can change the community they live in. It is about project management. It is about implementing their first initiatives. It is about building a network with other like-minded people. As you mentioned, we started fifteen years ago, with an international German-speaking programme in Berlin. As of now, we have been working in almost twenty different cooperation programmes in Central and Eastern Europe, Germany, Russia, Ukraine, the Caucasus Region, and Northern Africa. We are very happy about the approach we developed, as it is a very specific, community-based one with a lot of work in different surroundings. This is what we are happy about and what we understand as a big success.

How sustainable are those programmes you have been implementing in the mentioned regions? Is it only about organising seminars and other educational activities? Or have been some sustainable structures evolving?

The question of sustainability is a very important point. What we are trying to do is to work hand in hand with our partners, who are not only NGOs but also other civil society actors. We have been also cooperating with public administrations, universities, business structures to create a sustainable surrounding and to implement our programmes in the sense of active citizenship. As sustainable results, we have such things as seminar houses and further programmes emerging or having been implemented.

Read more

MEDIA

"What Is Happening Within the Civil Society": The First Case is Lithuania

The EU-Russia Civil Society Forum is launching a new product - “What Is Happening within the Civil Society”.

Following a request by Forum members, the Secretariat will prepare a series of leaflets providing a better overview of the current state of civil society in single EU countries. Interviews with prominent civil society actors, representatives of authorities, journalists, researchers and other insiders from the country in question constitute the basis for the research. T
he leaflet also contains additional information – such as research data, links, charts, etc.

The first product issued analyses the case of Lithuania. In total, five interviews were carried out and two major publications – by the local Civil Society Institute and the Human Rights Monitoring Institute – were taken into consideration. The next editions planned will be devoted to the cases of Croatia and Finland.

We would be grateful for any comments or suggestions you may have. Please send them to Sergei Tereshenkov, Forum's Senior Coordinator for Public Relations, and help us to make future editions of the “What Is Happening within the Civil Society” leaflet even better.

MEMBERS' VIEWS

UNITED for Intercultural Action (Amsterdam, Netherlands): List of Deaths Presented at MoMA Exhibition

UNITED’s List of Deaths, which includes the details of over 22,000 migrants and refugees who died due to the fatal policies of Fortress Europe, has been included in the exhibition “Insecurities: Tracing Displacement and Shelter” at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Read more

NGO Development Centre (St. Petersburg, Russia): NGO Kitchen

The NGO Development Centre (St. Petersburg) is launching the "NGO Kitchen" Project, which is aimed at providing access to relevant and high-quality materials on fundraising, management, project management and NGO legislation to non-profit organisations and initiatives.

Read more

AMICA (Freiburg, Germany): "Sievershäuser Ermutigung" Peace Prize

For more than 20 years, the Anti-War House Sievershausen has been awarding the "Sievershäuser Ermutigung" Peace Prize. In 2016, AMICA is designated to receive the prize.

Every two years since 1988, the Documentation Centre on War Events and Peacebuilding "Antikriegshaus Sievershausen" and the Foundation for Peace award the Peace Prize worth of 5,000 euros.

This year, the prize goes to AMICA from Freiburg, honouring a strong commitment to women and girls in war and conflict areas suffering from trauma. The support provided helped the beneficiary of the programme to process their experiences and to lead a self-determined life.

Read more

COMING SOON


23 November 2016, Versailles, France
Conference "Migration Policies and the Situation of Civil Society in the EU and in Russia" - in partnership with the European Economic and Social Committee

24 November 2016 - 16 January 2017, Krasnoyarsk, Russia
Exhibition "Different Wars: National School Textbooks on World War II"

1-3 February 2017, Helsinki, Finland

7th General Assembly of the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum (Don't forget to register until 16 December 2016 here!)

More events in our Calendar
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