Yesterday, we co-sponsored A Conversation With NDI's 2013 Democracy Award Recipients with our friends at NDI at their offices in Washington. The event brought five of the twenty-one 2013 Democracy Award winners together to speak about their work in various parts of the world. Check out the livestream here.
- Bellabbès Benkredda spoke abut the @Munathara Initiative which has encourage youth in the Arab world to become active citizens in the public sphere through media training;
- Vukosava Crnjanski šabović talked about the Center for Transparency and Accountability in Serbia which she co-founded, and how their "Truth-O-Meter" analyzes public statements by Serbian politicians on the truthfulness;
- Swati Ramanathan, the co-founder of the Janaagraha Centre for Citizenship and Democracy in India spoke about their experiences with their flagship I Paid A Bribe website;
- Gregor Hackmack introduced Parliament Watch which gives citizens in Germany the ability to ask their members of parliament questions online; and,
- Ginny Hunt, of Google's Civics Team, spoke about their work they did around Google's Kenya Elections Hub earlier this year.
The floor then opened up for questions from the audience on a number of issues, the 'thorniest' being gender and unequal access. In terms of gender in civic participation, the winners, three of whom were women, discussed how their own work which focuses on citizens at large can also be used as a means to empower women to become involved in their communities. Regarding unequal access, many of the winners agreed that this is truly a challenge that civic innovators need to focus on most going forward. On the motivation of citizens to participate, and how that plays with distrust in government, winners spoke to the reality that citizens often need to be affected by directly by negative governance in order to choose to become involved. What the catalyst is for each citizen varies from region to region.
Many thanks to our friends at NDI for their support and coordination of this great event. We look forward to following the progress of all winners and their very impressive work.