Civil Society in Georgia: Challenges and Prospects
A meeting-discussion was held at the initiative of Civil Society Institute on April 11 in the Literature Cafe. The documentary filmed by the organization (hyperlink of the documentary), which depicts the history and trends of development of civil society organizations (CSOs) in Georgia, was shown at the meeting. What is the civil society? What role could CSOs play in building the society? Which problems and challenges are there in this respect in Georgia and what should be done to improve the situation? - these are the issues discussed after showing the movie by the representatives of donor and civil society organizations.
One of the key challenges identified at the meeting for CSOs is the fact that organizations are not membership-based and their activities do not carry mass character. Majority of respondents in the documentary could not describe the notion of non-governmental organizations and were negatively disposed towards NGOs. Somewhat similar picture was found also by one of the
recent studies carried out in this area. For this very reason the discussion participants have emphasized the need for greater degree of awareness among the citizens.
"Either non-governmental sector has to work harder on problems that are of major concern to people (unemployment, healthcare, etc.), or it has to do better in persuading the people that working on media and election issues is equally important and related to the very better healthcare or education system", noted Tamar Karosanidze from the East-West Management Institute. As the movie has demonstrated, establishment of civil responsibility is yet another priority task of the civil society and CSOs. "One of the key tasks of CSOs is to convince every single citizen that this country is ours and no one will come to give us welfare. This country is ours and we should govern it and do our best to establish civil responsibility", says VazhaSalamadze, Director of the Civil Society Institute. "Each member of the society must act as a citizen and must not look for a patron", states Oliver Reisner from the EC Delegation.
Civil Society Institute has already shown the documentary "Civil Society in Georgia" in various regions. The Institute plans to continue holding the meetings and discussions around these issues.