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Civil Society Engagement

Engaging Civil Society on LGBT Issues

John Garrison's picture

The World Bank Group (WBG) is increasing its engagement with the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered (LGBT) community as part of its civil society engagement efforts at the global level. This comes as the campaign to reduce descrimination and promote inclusion of the LGBT community gains traction and visibility in the United States and many countries around the world. This interaction began last year when several CSOs reached out to the Global Civil Society Team to suggest introducing the LGBT issue within the WBG - CSO policy dialogue agenda.  As a result, the Bank hosted a session on LGBT coalition building during the 2013 Spring Meetings in April, and this was followed by a session on incorporating LGBT issues within Bank social assessments at the Annual Meetings in October.  In addition, the Bank sponsored an LGBT leader from Guyana to come to Washington for the week-long Civil Society Program during the Annual Meetings.
 
The “Coalition Building around LGBT Issues” session held on April 17 was organized by St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation and GLOBE which is the association of Bank LGBT staff. (see session summary)  The panel was composed of LGBT leaders from the US and Africa who shared their perspectives and personal experiences on fighting discrimination and policy advocacy. Rev. Albert Ogle of St. Paul’s Foundation described how homosexuality has been criminalized in 76 countries and the LGBT community is often among the most marginalized in developing countries, and called on the Bank to include the LGBT community in the development programs it finances. The session focused largely on Uganda as several panellists described the conflicting role played by faith-based organizations, some of which provided social services to the LGBT community while others actively propagate homophobia.  Victor Mukasa, a transgendered activist, described his compelling and troubling experiences in promoting LGBT inclusion in Uganda which led him to seek political asylum in the United States.

Can the Bank and CSOs Bridge the Trust Gap?

John Garrison's picture

This was a question asked by numerous participants during a consultation meeting held in Washington on February 29 on the Bank’s proposed Global Partnership for Enhanced Social Accountability (GPESA).  They noted that this lack of trust comes from a longstanding view that the Bank tends to favor governments in detriment of the broader society in many developing countries.  Others noted that the lack of trust comes from the perception that the Bank is not accessible and does not effectively engage civil society in some countries. This contrasts with the view, expressed by several participants, that the Bank has made important strides in opening up and reaching out to civil society at headquarters over the past decade and that this positive momentum should guide GPESA implementation.

How Should the World Bank Support Social Accountability: Share Your Views!

John Garrison's picture

This is a question many World Bank stakeholders – civil society, government, private sector representatives – have been debating in recent years.  The questions is even more timely now that the Bank is considering establishing a new global Partnership for Social Accountability geared to supporting civil society capacity to engage with governments to improve development effectiveness.  It comes in response to a speech Mr. Zoellick gave in April 2011 on the need to scale up relations with civil society in the wake of the Arab Spring and growth of civil society worldwide. 

Training with the Enemy: How CSOs Are Improving Bank Staff’s Ability to Engage with Civil Society

John Garrison's picture

While some staff of the World Bank and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) may have considered each other ‘enemy combatants’ on the proverbial policy battlefield some years back, today many are collaborating in joint training efforts geared to improving relations.  In a reversal of roles, a number of policy advocacy CSOs are helping to train the very same Bank staff whom they often advocated against in the past.  A good example is the participation of well known CSOs who monitor transparency issues in the extractive industries – Global Witness, Oxfam, and Revenue Watch – in a training session with staff from the Bank’s Oil, Gas, and Mining Department in April 2010.  The session was geared to improving the Bank staff’s knowledge and skills to engage civil society, and the CSOs were asked to both diagnose the nature of Bank - CSO tensions and suggest ways to improve these relations. While CSOs highlighted the difficulty they often face to get information or set up meetings with Bank staff, they also noted how the Bank’s presence can actually guarantee the safety of local CSOs.  Bank staff, in turn, shared the difficulty they have in identifying the appropriate CSOs to engage with at the country level, and expressed frustration with some of the critique the Bank receives despite their efforts to reach out.  They also welcomed greater civil society involvement in Bank-financed extractive industry projects.