Civic participation can be difficult even amidst normal times; during a global pandemic imposing quarantine restrictions and various social distancing measures, it can be especially challenging for citizens to participate in community and civic actions. But these challenging times have not stopped CSOs from engaging with citizens and providing new and innovative ways to connect and unite constituents, all while supporting the needs of vulnerable groups and those battling COVID-19. In this issue of Highlights, we spotlight those creative forms of engagement. A virtual meeting gathered USAID/ENGAGE partners to share their responses and experiences in managing the new COVID-19 terrain. An online concert brought together thousands across Ukraine to raise funds for healthcare heroes. Regional partners continue to respond to the pandemic at the local level and fact-checks keep citizens informed with the knowledge they need to navigate the pandemic. Enjoy our newsletter and stay safe together with you families.
Our News / Новини “Долучайся!”
USAID/ENGAGE Virtual Meeting Brings Together Partners to Discuss COVID-19
On May 26, USAID/ENGAGE organized an online meeting for activity partners. During this vitual meeting, participants discussed very real challenges, such as organizational sustainability during the pandemic and COVID-related reprogramming. The event gathered 38 participants from 19 organizations to learn best practices of CSO adaptation to СOVID-19 and share lessons learned by activity partners.
USAID/ENGAGE Promotes Social Distancing and Responsible Behavior During COVID-19
On May 23, with the support of the USAID/ENGAGE activity partner, the CSO Association of Music Events, Atlas Weekend Festival and the M1 TV Channel held a 3-hour charity music marathon “Brave Heart,” with the participation of Alina Pash, Boombox and Druha Rika. During the marathon, the CSO Patients of Ukraine raised funds via SMS to purchase protective equipment and equipment for doctors fighting COVID-19. The event was organized with the aim to express gratitude to Ukrainian doctors and encourage viewers to behave responsibly during quarantine. More than 600,000 Ukrainians joined the event. Follow the link to engage and support those who save lives. Join us for the next marathon on May 30. This time we will enjoy the company and performances of Nikita Lomakin, Alyona Alyona, Alekseev and Maks Barskykh. Read more.
If you are eager to know what makes people feel empowered and have the ability to change society along with fellow citizens, the answer is the self-organization. Our chart lists the top activities citizens can do without (local) government to improve their life. The top positions are revitalizing one’s home territory (44%), organizing leisure activities (25%) and revitalizing the local park (23%). The respondents also mentioned supporting retired and people with disabilities in their house (16%) and in their city/country (13%), and renovation or repair of their multi-apartment houses (12%).
The Top 10 COVID-19 Fake Stories Debunked by VoxUkraine
The return of dolphins to Venice, 5G and its impact on the spread of coronavirus, hydrogen peroxide and alcohol as treatment for coronavirus infection—learn the real verified facts about COVID-19 together with VoxUkraine in the recent issue of debunked fakes. Read more.
Discover a Partner’s Judicial Reform RoadMap
Leading Ukrainian CSOs have created a Judicial Reform Map to track the progress of reform. It describes how to gradually cleanse the courts of dishonest judges and reform the judiciary. Follow the link and find out what four conditions the government must meet to build a truly independent court in Ukraine. Read more.
Center for United Actions Launches Video Blog About the Rights of Citizens During Quarantine
The Centre for United Actions launched a video blog, “The State and the People” about the relationship between the government and citizens during quarantine. In its first episodes, the Centre’s analysts examined how the pandemic affected small businesses, educators and retirees, and found out whether the government and the church should coordinate their actions to prevent the spread of the virus. Follow the link to learn more. Read more.
Discover Regional Activities During the Pandemic
CSOs from all over Ukraine did not turn a blind eye to the COVID-19 challenges, but also focused on their daily activities. The CSO “Development Together” has published the first results of their COVID-related informational needs assessment among residents of target cities in the Kharkiv Oblast, launched in order to provide rapid response on the most popular informational requests.
The CSO “Bureau of Legal Communications,” our partner from Sumy, continued to inspect the accessibility of the city center. And in the city of Enerhodar (Zaporizhzhia Oblast), the CSO “Freedom” conducted an online public presentation on participatory budgeting in the city. The organization presented on the modalities for participation in this municipal program and discussed the importance of inclusive and environmental components in social projects.
Civil Society News
UN Women Report Details Vulnerability and Needs of Women During COVID-19
Overall, 81.8% of women think that they will have to save food and 77.4% of women said there was a high likelihood of difficulties in paying rent and utilities. Every fifth woman expects to receive no salary or income if the restrictions continu. Men are also less likely than women to say that they might save on food (72.3%) and to say that it would be difficult to pay rent or utilities (65.5%) and receive no salary/income (each fourth). Read more.
Protest in Support of Civic Activist Serhiy Sternenko Gathers Hundreds of Citizens
Last week in front of the building of the Main Investigation Department of the Security Service of Ukraine, civic activists organized a rally in support of Serhiy Sternenko. On this day, Euromaidan activist Serhiy Sternenko was summoned to the Security Service of Ukraine for “participation in investigative and procedural actions.” The day before, the activist suggested that the investigation would declare him a suspect in the murder. This protest action was called “Hands Off Sternenko” and gathered several hundred activists. Many famous people joined the rally including journalist Yanina Sokolova and deputies of the “Voice” parliamentary faction. Read more.
The Progress on Reforms and the Investigation of Attacks on Activists: First Year Results of President’s Activities
On the occasion of the anniversary of his inauguration, President Volodymyr Zelensky gave a press conference to talk about the results of his first year. Among other issues, journalists asked the President about the progress on reforms, the investigation of attacks on activists, and the law on lustration. Concerning the investigation of the murder of activist Kateryna Handziuk, Volodymyr Zelensky noted that during his presidential term, the people who committed the killing were imprisoned. The Head of State confidently said that those who ordered this murder will receive a fair verdict. At the same time, the President noted that such a high-profile trial should be completely independent. Regarding medical reform, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky considers the first stage of medical reform to be good, and the second to be incorrect. According to the President, COVID-19 showed that the medical reform failed. Regarding education reform, the President said that this topic could be returned to when there is a full-fledged Minister of Education in the Government.
Patient Organizations Call on the Ministry of Health of Ukraine to Ensure Medicine Procurement
Last week the largest patient organizations (Patients of Ukraine, Tabletochki, Anti-corruption Action Center, 100% of Life, and Children with Hemophilia) held an online briefing to bring attention to prolonged delays in the state procurements of necessary medication for patients with severe diagnoses. Activists stated that the Ministry of Health of Ukraine is deliberately delaying the purchase of medicines and medical equipment at the expense of 2020 for patients with severe diagnoses. They stressed that because of such a delay, severely ill patients will begin to die due to drug shortages this autumn. Already in the fall, people suffering from cancer and rare diseases and those living with HIV will run out of drugs that are guaranteed by the state. Read more.
What Are We Reading?
Leading Medical Journal Stresses Importance of Community Engagement During a Pandemic Civil participation can be just as important to public health as it can be to the health of a democracy. That was the conclusion of a new article from The Lancet. A panel of medical experts looked at the value of community engagement during the pandemic. While in the past, governments have tended to dictate to communities how to respond, the authors argue that in many cases, bottom-up approaches involving civic actors will produce more effective results, better tailored to the needs of a respective community, including marginalized and vulnerable individuals. To forge this public-private inclusive response to COVID-19, experts suggest: investing in coproduction, working with community groups, committing to diversity, and being response and transparent. Indeed, “community participation holds the promise of reducing immediate damage from the COVID-19 pandemic and, crucially, of building future resilience.” Read more.