The Citizens’ Hearings Global Report was launched last week by White Ribbon Alliance, World Vision, Save the Children and the International Planned Parenthood Federation, on the day of the UN summit to adopt the new Sustainable Development Goals. The report brings together citizen voices from over 100 Citizens’ Hearings in 19 countries calling on governments to actively involve citizens in policy making efforts to end preventable maternal and child deaths.
NOTHING ABOUT US, WITHOUT US
“Accountability needs to focus on transparency, and we are not going to get transparency without engaging the communities. It is about the quality of the human rights based approach that you are using. It is about equity, it is about dignity, and you are not going to get that equity and dignity without listening to the voices of the people... We are talking about putting the citizens in the driving seat, and we are talking about reorientating all of development so that development focuses on people, so that we remember the basic foundation of development, and of human rights and wellbeing, starts with human beings themselves.”
— Joy Phumaphi at the Citizens' Hearing Global Report Launch
The Citizens’ Hearing Global Report launched in New York alongside the UN General Assembly at an event called ‘Nothing about us without us’ at the Japan Society in New York on Friday 25th September. The report outlines recommendations from thousands of people, including children, in Africa and Asia, who travelled from rural areas and cities to take part in these remarkable democratic and open dialogues with local and national politicians, health workers and media. Citizens asked questions and spoke out on their experiences; leaders listened and responded to the upsurge of demand for involvement and accountability for their countries’ health services to women, children and adolescents.
“Citizens’ Hearings have been critical in Malawi...[they are] giving the people the power to demand services for maternal health.”
— Dingaan Mithi, Journalist and Citizens’ Hearings reporter, Malawi
“Citizens did not know their rights before the Citizens’ Hearings, now they do. Citizens are now asking so many questions and they are demanding [their rights]”
— Santana Murmu, Citizen Reporter and Citizens' Hearings representative, India
“We, the citizens, have presented our voice, we ask governments and global leaders not to let us down”
— Philomena Okello, Nurse-Midwife and Citizens' Hearing representative, Uganda
“My generation is watching. We will hold leaders accountable and make sure the global goals are achieved”
— Sruthi Palanippan, Save the Children Young Leader
Citizens’ Hearings representatives also presented the Global Report, and spoke, at UNGA events throughout the week, including the PMNCH Accountability Breakfast on 26th September in New York, taking the citizen demand for strong, citizen-led accountability mechanisms in the new SDGs and updated Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health to world leaders.
The report includes a Call to Action from citizens addressed to leaders to:
1. Reflect citizens’ voices on the priority policies and actions needed for progress on women’s, children’s and adolescent’s health
2. Establish robust, participatory accountability mechanisms at local and national levels
3. Support the call for independent, participatory accountability mechanisms at the global level
COVERAGE OF CITIZENS HEARINGS IN INTERNATIONAL REPORTS
The Independent Expert Review Group (iERG) 4th Report - Every Woman, Every Child, Every Adolescent: Achievements and Prospects Report states, 'The failure to deliver accountability is not merely a failure to meet the norms and standards of a political process. It is a fundamental violation of the dignity of the most vulnerable citizens living in our communities. For hundreds of millions of women and children worldwide, the promises and commitments of national political leaders, as well as global heads of health agencies and development organisations, have fallen short of expectations'.
The iERG report notes the importance of civil society involvement in strengthening accountability and of processes like Citizens' Hearings as being crucial for building trust between citizens and their leaders in order to achieve the improvements to women's children's and adolescents' health set out in the SDGs.
The PMNCH 2015 Accountability Report - Strengthening Accountability: Achievements and Perspectives for Women's, Children's and Adolescents' Health, features the Citizens' Hearings as a key tool in promoting the role of parliamentarians and raising the voices of citizens. The report says Citizens' Hearings 'are important for improving accountability across levels and putting people at the heart of the SDGs'.
The Global Health Visions Report 2015 - Accountability in Global Health: What works, what doesn’t, and what we need to do about it, notes that 'Without listening to the populace and understanding the real barriers to effective implementation, successful outcomes will remain elusive' and highlights Citizens' Hearings as elevating citizens’ voices to the national and global levels.
Watch the Global Citizens' Hearings short film:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KEnzIYYf4y8
Read the full Global Citizens' Hearing Report here:
To learn more about Citizens' Hearings follow #CitizensPost on Twitter.