Janan writes sometimes on what it is to be in love but not to touch. She has not touched her husband Ameer Makhoul in over two years now, and she still has to wait another seven. She gets to visit him once every two weeks for 45 minutes and has to talk to him through a pane of glass. This does not create much of an atmosphere for intimacy, and her two daughters and her husband’s sister are also usually present, crowded as they are into a visitor’s room in Gilboa prison, Israel.
I ask her what it is that attracted her to her husband, why it is that he is worth this excruciating wait, and she lowers her eyes and smiles with pride. She says that he was always everything she was looking for, that he was such an honest man with high principles. “He is a leader, a feminist – he was the first Palestinian man to condemn honour killings – he is so funny, handsome and aware and he wants to give back to the society he lives in. We joke that his name means Prince in Arabic.” By this point Janan is beaming. Continue reading
CIVICUS’ participatory governance side event at our World Assembly on 4 September brought together representatives from civil society and local governments from Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Pacific. On the subject of leadership development and civil society strengthening, the event was a product of inception workshops and consultations between civil society organisations, communities, traditional authorities and government in countries in the Pacific region that had taken place in the run-up to the World Assembly.
The inception workshops, consultations and World Assembly event were conducted under the aegis of a project led by CIVICUS and the Foundation of the People’s of the South Pacific, with support from Australian Aid, aimed at bridging existing gaps in collaboration between governments, civil society organisations and communities in the Pacific region. The project also aims to strengthen the capacity of leaders of communities and civil society organisations to enable them to engage more effectively with formal government structures in the formulation and implementation of policies.
I realised at the beginning of the week that something I have long observed among activists is true at the CIVICUS World Assembly. For many dedicated workers for social justice our planet is a peripheral concern, an afterthought alluded to in the phrase ‘sustainable development’. It’s a fine phrase that I use myself, but I perceive that it very often goes with seeing through a lens narrowed on human concerns, an important lens, but not the only one of value to our perception, analysis and planning.
We are engaged in building a united movement that includes both justice people and environment people. Seeing that the Earth itself is not in good focus for the majority at the Assembly, on Tuesday afternoon I decided to make the Earth more visible. I fashioned and wore for the rest of the week a garland of paper flowers, to call attention to a sign I wore on my back: “Planet Earth says, ‘My health is the basis of yours’.” I was not entirely comfortable wearing these flowers, but felt it was my duty to do something, and that was the idea I had.