International groups awarded grants to protect civic space

Today, the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) announced four grants to civil society organizations who are advocating for the protection of civic space. The groups are taking action to protect civil rights and liberties during the pandemic, and will be using these grants to implement innovative projects in four locations across the globe.

This initiative is part of AFSC’s Under the Mask project, which works to identify, monitor, and resist the misuse and normalization of extreme measures that restrict civic space or further alienate marginalized peoples. In a time when authoritarianism is on the rise globally, some governments are exploiting the public health crisis to impose dangerous policies that could last generations. AFSC strongly supports necessary public health measures such as masks, vaccines, and temporary lockdowns to stop the spread of COVID-19. This project’s intent is to identify and counter policies that are excessive or contribute to the global decline in democracy.

Informal Urbanism Research Hub (InfUr) at the University of Melbourne, Save San Roque Alliance (SSR), and Metro Manila Vendors’ Alliance (MMVA) are three organizations working to protect civic space and livelihood activities of informal workers in Metro Manila (the Philippines). The Informal Urbanism Research Hub (InfUr) at the University of Melbourne has been working with three informal settlements in the north east district of Metro Manila, studying issues related to informal transport, street vending, informal settlement upgrading, and community-based organizations. Save San Roque Alliance (SSR) is a small non-government organization (NGO) helping to fund community kitchens in two settlements as normal sources of income have been blocked due to the lockdown. Metro Manila Vendors’ Alliance (MMVA) is a coalition of informal street vendors with memberships across different cities in metropolitan Manila. They work to assist street vendors who have been out of work for several months due to lockdown restrictions. These three groups will use the funding to develop rapid response groups that will challenge the government if they make arbitrary or unfounded arrests.