On June 29-30, 2022 in the framework of the European Union  COVID-19 Solidarity Programme for Eastern Partnership, AFEW International organized an Advocacy workshop in Istanbul for representatives of NGOs from Armenia, Moldova, and Georgia.

Recent dynamic developments, related in particular to the shrinking space for the civil society, post-COVID implications and growing refugee and migrant crisis due to the war in Ukraine, cause the current situation to be exceptional and require a new or modified approach to work with key populations. To develop these approaches and to exchange the knowledge and good practices, representatives of human rights organisations who have previously received support from AFEW International  within the COVID-19 Solidarity Fund were invited to the workshop in Istanbul. This event allowed them to discuss current challenges related to COVID-19, increase human rights activists/defenders’ skills and prepare short-term advocacy concepts responding to COVID-19 long term impact and current political crisis in Eastern Europe.

Besides, the workshop aimed at summarizing the results of the small scale emergency relief projects awarded by the “COVID-19 Solidarity Program 2020-2022” which is funded by the European Union, their impact on the organizations, their staff, teams and the populations served, and reflect on the current challenges to be addressed. During the workshop,  NGOs also discussed the digital security and safety of activists and had the unique opportunity for networking that may be used in their future activities.

Michal Pawlega, trainer, AFEW International, Netherlands

The Advocacy strategic workshop aimed to enhance the capacity building of the subgrantee NGOs in the scope of the EU COVID-19 Solidarity Programme in the  Eastern Partnership countries by developing their advocacy skills and equipping them with tools to apply for subsequent advocacy grants. As a result of the meeting, all the participating organisations identified their urgent challenges and planned activities to respond to them. Moreover, it was an excellent chance to discuss the current challenges related to COVID-19, the situation in Ukraine and the safety of human defenders  on the regional level and strengthen the links between the civil society in the Eastern  Partnership countries.

Tony Sarasfati, Temida NGO, Georgia

The advocacy school has made it possible to understand more about how to develop an idea in a short period of time more effectively and get a fruitful result in the future. Advocacy is a difficult process, but the results are worth the waiting time. The exchange of experiences with colleagues made it possible to realise the mistakes made and to further the vision. Personally I am full of positive emotions and motivation. A special thanks to the trainer Michal for the work done!

Sophio Ormotsadze, Rubiconi NGO, Georgia

It was a very practical and productive workshop where all participants shared their experiences.  I will use the acquired knowledge, which is related to the management of the advocacy program of our organization, in our activities, so that the achieved results become more effective. With the received knowledge, we will continue working on strengthening partnership relations and the sustainability of the organization.

Lilit Martirosyan, Right Side Human Rights Defender NGO, Armenia

It has been very important for me as a transgender activist from Armenia, to have the chance of participating in the Advocacy workshop organized by AFEW International. It was an awesome experience aimed at promoting our advocacy skills through knowledge building and experience exchange. I have learned a lot!

The program was interactive and engaging as we shared our current political and social situation, talked about the challenges connected with our safety and security as activists and the current crisis after COVID-19 and conflict in Armenia. I have learned about the best practices for advocating for legal and policy changes through peer discussions and thought about innovative ways of linking our ideas to current possibilities, and unforeseen circumstances to initiate changes in Armenia through cooperation and activism. I also enjoyed the questions and answers sessions, which were detailed and straightforward. Thank you so much for this great experience.

Sergey Gabrielyan, New Generation Humanitarian NGO, Armenia

I am glad that I got the opportunity to attend the event. The event was organized on a very high level having the main focus on information and experience exchange for one common goal: THE HUMAN RIGHTS FOR ALL.  I am ready to share the received information and gained knowledge with my staff. We are ready to use the best practices of the participants who presented those during our meeting.

Ina Vutcariov, Positive Initiative NGO, Moldova

I liked the organisers’ participatory approach and that they followed the needs of the group to respond to the needs of the participants during the training. Participants were able to get to know the objectives and priorities of potential donors, we assessed our own organisations’ priorities and were able to form an overall picture. It was important for me to know that my organisation’s objectives and ideas strategically fit into possible advocacy grants.

For Reference

The EU COVID-19 Solidarity Programme for the Eastern Partnership countries is funded by the European Union and implemented in partnership with People in Need and the Netherlands Helsinki Committee. This project aims to support civil society organizations in response to the immediate and long-term impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in the Eastern Partnership countries.

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