Rabat, Morocco – On January 14th, more than 100 members of Moroccan civil society gathered in Rabat for a Public Policy Advocacy Forum, convened by Counterpart International. Attendees included local government representatives, civil society organizations (CSOs), local associations working on gender equality, Counterpart partners including the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law, representatives from the U.S. Agency for International Development, and several members of the Moroccan press.
Counterpart’s Belma Ejupovic, Vice President for Programs, stated, “This is an opportune moment to bring together Moroccan stakeholders as they jointly seek greater engagement in the development and implementation of public policy. Counterpart International would like to thank both USAID and the Moroccan government for their partnership in this effort. Morocco’s recent commitment in Paris to the Open Government Partnership provides an important national context for our efforts with the government and civil society. Counterpart stands ready to support Morocco’s international commitments however we can.”
Participants came together on Saturday to share experiences, best practices, and lessons learned on CSO advocacy efforts in Morocco, and to discuss collaboration initiatives between civil society and the government. This event represents the first time that civil society, local government, and representatives from parliament have come together to discuss advocacy on public policies, and ways for these groups to work together in a more inclusive, impactful way. The Moroccan government and local representatives have been an enthusiastic partner in this effort, striving to find new and creative ways to engage with local civil society organizations in order to develop locally-driven solutions to community issues.
The all-day event featured welcome remarks by Counterpart’s Civil Society Strengthening Program’s Chief of Party, Hervé de Baillenx, along with an overview of Counterpart’s unique model focusing on local solutions for local problems, and accomplishments from the past year. “CSSP aims to increase and strengthen the contributions of civil society.” Mr. Baillenx explained in his opening remarks. He continued, “When I first started working at Counterpart, all of the existing success stories were on the national level. But now, there are so many important partnerships forming at the local, commune, and regional level.”
The first panel discussion highlighted baseline studies and perception studies that have been conducted over the past year, analyzing how more than 2,000 citizens throughout Morocco perceived the work of civil society organizations. In addition to these findings, panelists and participants from other communes were given the opportunity to share lessons learned from the past year of successfully working together and with the local government.
The second panel rounded out the conversation with a discussion about the importance of gender integration in public policy and the need to incorporate social inclusion in all levels of partnership and planning between civil society and local government.
With generous support from the U.S. Agency for International Development, Counterpart International works with local partners throughout Morocco to implement CSSP. The Civil Society Strengthening Program increases the ability of Morocco’s civil society organizations to participate in the political process and helps encourage greater engagement between government and civil society. CSSP is working with CSOs in four regions of Morocco (Tangier-Tetouan-Al Hoceima, Fes-Meknes, Marrakech-Safi, and Rabat-Sale-Kenitra) to find creative ways to increase engagement and interaction between communities, the civil society organizations that represent them, and government officials on both the local and national level. Counterpart partners with all levels of government and civil society in Morocco to build the capacity of the social sector to represent citizen needs and improve the government’s ability to respond to the needs of its people. Through a “cascading model,” Counterpart is supporting a core group of local organizations focused on improving the country’s lawmaking and public policy process. These organizations will then provide capacity building training to more organizations, ultimately expanding the reach and impact of this important work.
Counterpart International helps people build better lives and more durable futures, community by community. For 50 years, Counterpart has been an innovator, changing the way people look at, and solve, global development challenges. This year alone, Counterpart is working with 150,000 leaders – including women and youth – and more than 3,000 local organizations in more than 25 countries around the world.