White Ribbon Alliance

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Without citizen engagement, the world may never achieve the lasting change it desires

September 30, 2015
By Winfred Ongy, Citizen Reporter, White Ribbon Alliance Uganda

“When they want to be elected leaders, they are beggars and when we give them the power it is sad that we the citizens become beggars. It is like they are doing us a favour to deliver services that they had committed to deliver” says Philomena a citizen from Uganda. The biggest cry the citizens have is that they want to see their respective leaders and other stakeholders commit to deliver. If the citizens are becoming beggars for services they need, then their rights are being abused, so how do the citizens hold different stake holders accountable? How do they get involved?

Dingaan Mithi, a citizen from Malawi, believes that the citizens are able to hold stakeholders accountable but they need to be empowered. Citizens can be empowered in different ways but the best is empowering with information. Most don’t have the information, not aware of their rights and don’t even know they have a say. It is time citizens are informed that provision of health care, education and other services is not a favor their governments is doing them but have a right to these services that should be to an accepted standard. Citizen participation is not only democratic but the most practical way to achieve lasting change the world desires to have by 2030.

From the citizen hearings in India organized by White Ribbon Alliance, Santana Murmu and Sujoy Roy appreciate in citizen engagement is productive and wise investment. It is the best way to listen and understand the citizens’ needs and how to get the solutions from them. Citizen engagement not only in in planning and implementing but also accountability will surely lead as to achieving the sustainable development goals. This is because it creates a good feedback mechanism between government, leaders and the citizens. Leaders hear from citizens, they get to know what they want and how they are able to achieve it.

Citizens are not asking for much, they want transparency, inclusiveness, deliberation and responsiveness. Nothing about them without them.

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