FUNDING for Better Democratic Participation
Disabled People’s Organizations (DPOs), other civil society organizations, governments, and official institutions around the world may want to take note:
The United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDEF) has opened its second funding applications round. UNDEF wants funding proposals for projects meant to build and strengthen democratic institutions, promote human rights, and ensure the participation of all groups in democratic processes. Its second round is open through December 18, 2007. [Edited 30 Dec. ’07 to add: It may be worth finding out if there might be a third round in 2008 … or a fourth in 2009. Follow the links, review their guidelines carefully, and start preparing your proposal early.] As with UNDEF’s first round, they are accepting applications in the following thematic categories:
- strengthening democratic dialogue and support for constitutional processes;
- civil society empowerment;
- civic education, voter registration and strengthening of political parties;
- citizen’s access to information;
- human rights and fundamental freedoms;
- accountability, transparency and integrity.
UNDEF was established in July 2005 as a United Nations General Trust Fund in order to promote democracy. Their funding applications round could be an excellent opportunity to obtain the funds you need to help disabled people participate more actively in your country’s democratic process.
For example, perhaps disabled people in your country find it harder to gain access to your country’s constitution, the daily news, or the positions of political candidates. Or they may find it harder to register to vote; to vote privately; or to enter voting polls. Or DPOs may find it harder to monitor how well your government implements laws that affect disabled people. Does your DPO, civil society organization, government, or official institution have an idea for a project that could help overcome one of these barriers? If so, you may wish to review UNDEF’s criteria carefully to see if your project would be appropriate for this funding opportunity.
You can learn more about UNDEF at the link.
Their Project Proposal Guidelines are available in PDF format in either English or French.
Note that one of their application questions, under “project information,” asks whether your proposed project takes into account the needs of “marginalized or vulnerable groups” or whether it addresses the needs of marginalized or vulnerable groups “as a key objective.” You may wish to use this opportunity to argue that a project targeted at disabled
people would be addressing the needs of a marginalized group “as a key objective.” There is space you could use to briefly explain how disabled people are “marginalized” or excluded from the democratic process in your country and how your project is meant to help.
Are you too late to apply for 2007? Don’t despair. This seems to be an annual opportunity, so there may be another chance next year. Do follow the links to UNDEF’s website to learn more about their organization. You may also wish to review information about, and criteria for, past funding rounds to help you start brainstorming and planning your next project proposal. It is never too early to start preparing proposals for funding grants.
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