Bigger solidarity and cooperation in the sector to stimulate changes – an appeal from the annual Civica Mobilitas Networking meeting
“Together with joined forces, it is the best way of stimulating changes. We should discuss, negotiate, and it takes a lot of time. But, we have to do this on behalf of the civil sector”, said Veronica Ullman, the Ambassador of Switzerland in North Macedonia in her address at the Civica Mobilitas Networking Meeting. She encouraged the present 115 CSO representatives to network, make joint programmes and strategies for approach to the issues that are important for the sector. Ambassador Ullman asked the CSOs to translate the conducted analyses into actions. “Competition is good, but when it comes to higher purpose, they should join forces”, she added.
This was the goal of the Networking Meeting which took place from 4-6 May 2022 in Ohrid, where there were 83 organizations, current and former grantees of Civica Mobilitas. The participants, via working in groups, at plenary sessions and debates spoke about the everyday challenges and needs that they face, which concern the environment for their joint action, cooperation, engagement, finances, etc.
Liljana Jonoski from Rural Coalition looked at the regional and local development in our country. “The State itself does not invest enough in the local and regional development, and it is reflected in all areas. It is necessary to transfer the knowledge and skills at local level. We need to strengthen the cooperation not only among us, but also between us and the municipalities. Here we can look for the way out when it comes to institutionalization. We lack visibility”, says Jonoski. Vlado Karaev from “Rubikon” Citizen Association, spoke about the constituents of their organization, the children and young people, first of all representatives of vulnerable categories, as well as the institutions in charge. “In the area in which we work, prevention is an important thing, we can see the actors and bring the issues to the surface. Because the institutions do not react, we have decided to take them for partners”, adds Karaev. The marginalized groups in the society were also the topic covered by Bojan Pavlovski from Stronger Together, Daliborka Zlateva from the Association of People with Cerebral Paralysis and Other Disabilities from Veles, Zvonko Shavreski from Polio Plus who agreed that the social protection should be brought to local level – the direct contact and communication with the people gives results, however, there is the question if the CSOs fill in the emptiness made by the lack of involvement by the institutions, and actually absolve the state? The people present agreed that the CSOs should be loud and present in the public, that there should be more events for communication with representatives of the institutions, to educate the citizens, but also the people within the sector, to have bigger efficiency.
The results of the researches “Beneficiary Assessment” and “Civil Society Organizations Index” were presented at the event. “The results show that the external perceptions are better than the inner ones. Probably the fact that we are more critical has an influence on our self-criticism”, stressed Aleksandar Krzhalovski, the National Team Leader of Civica Mobilitas and MCIC Director. According to him, the results show that we should go out of our circles and dedicate ourselves to the priority demands of the citizens.
The participants at the meeting also stressed the challenge of sustainability for the CSOs, stressing the local associations which receive support much harder or are often not eligible for part of the calls. “We try to find ways to continue to offer our services. The small organizations need institutional grants – to support them for couple of years and see how they will develop”, proposed Hristina Zdraveska from the Association P.E.T. Station from Prilep. Simon Forester, an international expert in the programme spoke about the different models that are used in other countries, during the session on sustainability of organizations. The discussion was directed to some alternative ways of financing via some specific examples.
In their comments during the meeting, the participants stressed the institutional support that enabled them to make good progress in their respective organizations. For some of them, Civica Mobilitas provided the possibility to learn many new things, apart from the pleasure to work on the idea that they had. For the small organizations, the education provided by the programme was of exceptional importance. This is part of the shared experience on Civica Mobilitas support.
The meeting was used to specify the proposals for the next, final stage of this biggest programme for support of the civil society in North Macedonia.