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Newsletters > October 2011 > A look inside the SO6 theme Civil Society Empowerment
A look inside the Civil Society Empowerment theme: a brief summary of the path made, which will lead to the policy recommendations by the end of the year.

The first step: define terms

The civil society includes organisations of single volunteer citizens, but includes also the communities of citizens. What does empowering the civil society mean in the third millennium in view of demographic, economic and social changes? At one side new needs, pressed not least by the economic crisis which all the European countries are facing, call for new answers and renewed commitment (participation) by the citizens and organisations from civil society (CSOs)

The second step: learn from other experiences

Collection of good practices (good because innovative in the approach and/or in the content) known by partners and realised in the partner regions. Partners collected experiences of interventions realised by CSOs in collaboration with local authorities and chose three best practices considered more relevant for SO6 theme: Fondazione La Casa, CRIS (Criminal Return into Society) and Andalusia digital engagement. The knowledge was disseminated among the partners through documents (extended descriptions and articles), interviews, videos and study visits.

The third step: study to know

European statistics were used to measure the different commitment of the civil society in the partner's countries, considering also how ICT can improve the participation of citizens.

In the international conference “Empowering Civil Society for social innovation” experts, researches and local authorities confronted themselves on what empowering the civil society means in a period of relevant changes. The empowering goes through a more active role of citizens in the democratic processes and through the solidarity and volunteering activities. ICT can help to raise and improve the participation and the democracy only if citizens have equal opportunity of access to technologies.

The fourth step: suggest policy recommendation

The path can not be considered now, but few suggestions can be mentioned.

Local governments should promote participatory processes in the realisation of interventions and local policies

Equal opportunity in the access to ICT, considered source of information and direct participation, should be ensured.

In a society which is getting even poorer economically, the financial resources dwindle. A new community model based on a more conscious life of citizens can contribute to answer to new needs. Empower the civil society means helping to growth this model.