A blog by Dr. Achina Kundu, President Elect of National Association of Soroptimist International (NASI) of India, 2018-2020, member of Soroptimist International of Calcutta
“I had the opportunity to be a panellist and speak at an event on ‘Civil Society and Gender Empowerment – Ensuring Robust Spaces for Civil Society to Strengthen Sustainable Infrastructure for Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women and Girls’, a parallel event held during CSW63, organised by UK NGO CSW Alliance.
I spoke on the topic from an Indian perspective, discussing how CSOs in India are increasingly facing challenges due to the restrictive policies of the government on receiving foreign funds. NGOs have to register for a license to receive foreign funding, and this administrative procedure turns out to be extremely tedious and it may take months before an NGO receives their license. NGOs also face the threat of having their licenses revoked if they participate in activities which are ‘political’ in nature, i.e., if they critique the policies or views of the government.
The other panellists discussed similar situations in their own countries, such as in Uganda. The agreed conclusion from the whole panel discussion was that the rights of CSOs must not only be enshrined in the letter of the law, but should also be apparent in the political will.
The session ended with an interesting engagement with the audience, where they had the chance to deliberate on issues they faced as members of the civil society”.