Ongoing stakeholder engagement is a key component of Dynamic Accountability. It is the vehicle through which civil society organisations (CSOs) can solicit their constituents’ opinions and learn more about their contexts, get feedback about their work, and ensure that these inputs drive decision making. When we think of stakeholder engagement, we usually think of a bilateral, conversational process. However, there are other more creative ways for CSOs to engage with their constituents which go beyond conventional surveys or focus group discussions. Intrigued by this, we take a look around the sector to see how organisations are innovating to engage communities and stakeholders in more unusual and participatory ways.

Artivism for Inclusion

The latest instalment of CIVICUS’ flagship International Civil Society Week (ICSW) event has transitioned from its usual in-person format to become a global, year-long conversation about people power, taking place via virtual events across multiple localities, regions and at the global level.

In recognition of the powerful role art plays in activism across the world, especially for traditionally excluded groups to express their experiences, deal with identity trauma and tell their stories, the CIVICUS Diversity and Inclusion Group for Networking and Action (DIGNA) recently hosted an Artivism for Inclusion event as part of the ICSW programme.  

Flower-Transgirls are Girls, by Ika Vantiani. Flowers are often associated with women in Indonesia. Because transgender women are women, a flower can also be associated with transgender women. As beautiful and as strong, they both live not only waiting to be ‘picked’ but instead they grow and bloom and die as they please. This work is a tribute to the artist’s transgender women friends on The International Transgender Day of Visibility this year.
Ika is a self taught artist, curator and crafter. She mostly focuses on women, media and consumption in her work, using collage as her main medium, and public workshops to engage the public. She lives and works in Jakarta, Indonesia., IG: vantiani

The event showcased live performances from young ‘artivists’ around the world, all of whom sharing a unique expression of creativity fuelled by their respective struggles for truth and justice. These ranged from songs dedicated to rural environmental defenders in South America, to poetry and painting expressing the different ways the racism driving the Black Lives Matter movement is affecting individuals across Africa. Each artivist had the opportunity to share further insights about the context in their localities and how it connects with the creative processes behind these performances, and respond to questions from a captivated audience. 

When providing feedback about the event, participants spoke of its “healing” qualities and the way the open format and emphasis on expressing hope through creativity “reminds us why we do what we do”. But even beyond the immediate benefits of running an event like this during a global pandemic, the event was commended by participants and organisers alike for its ability to create new relationships amongst participants centred on empathy and expression, and strengthen the bond between an organisation and its constituents. 

You can watch a video of the full event here.

“Resistance Amid The Pandemic” by Maria Sol Taulearia. This work is made from acrylic on used tea bags and canvas. Recently Maria has explored making artworks on teabags and coffee filters as a substitute material for paper and canvas. “Our movements are currently restricted for health reasons but it should not hinder us to continuously struggle and fight for our rights. We put our masks on to protect ourselves and others but it should never silence our voices to protect those whose rights have been blatantly trampled upon.” Maria Sol Taule is a human rights lawyer and artist from the Philippines. Twitter: @soltaule

Raising Young Voices on Climate Change Through Literature

Young people around the world represent those who will inherit the Earth and become the leaders of tomorrow. However, too often their voices are not heard, and they are not involved in decision making processes – including in civil society contexts. In order to put young people in the driver’s seat for positive change, Global Climate Strike has put together the Youth Storytelling Hub. Available in all languages, the hub is a space where young people around the world can showcase their thoughts on the current climate crisis via artistic expression. 

Even in the middle of a global pandemic, young people continue to raise their voices on the climate crisis through poetry, art, storytelling and activism. Via the platform, young people can share their thoughts, experiences and reflections via creative mediums that can encourage and embody much emotional nuance. Through sharing these stories, young people themselves are not only being engaged, they are also engaging others – inspiring their peers to write and be heard. Some of our top picks from the Hub include Naifah Uzlah’s Reflection for Recovery, and Thanaa Hesham’s How An Empath Reads the News.

These are some innovative ways that the sector is approaching engagement with different types of communities and stakeholders. Have you seen any interesting and alternative methods to engagement? If so – head over to the Dynamic Accountability Community of Practice’s Google Group and let us know!

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