Most of us consider philanthropists, civil society workers and NGO volunteers as selfless saints. But the truth of the matter is they are people like you and me who choose to do something good with generally a selfless motive. My college required me to either participate in sports or do some volunteer work. I chose the latter without hesitation.
Never in my wildest dreams did I think that doing a few hours of volunteer work would transform my life to such an extent. It changed my outlook on life completely and made me appreciate all the little things that I had been taking for granted.
But the best part was that those few hours gave me the opportunity to change other people’s lives and fill them with love, laughter and hope. The civil societies around the globe are doing just that on a much larger scale!
What are Civil Societies?
Civil society refers to a wide array of organizations: community groups, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), labor unions, indigenous groups, charitable organizations, faith-based organizations, professional associations, and foundations.
Civil societies are often regarded as the “third sector”, separate from private and public sectors. They have impacted the societies in numerous ways around the globe and brought about some radical changes.
Roles of Civil Societies
Civil societies work on numerous things, from protecting the interests of labourers to spreading correct information on nutrition.
Promotion of Human Rights
Civil societies ensure that human rights are not suspended in the name of “public unrest”. They work towards the protection and promotion of human rights. Conflicts between the public and the state can often lead to the latter practising dominance. Civil societies check such behaviour.
Acceptance of People
With various NGOs working for LGBTQIA+ communities, people feel empowered to accept and own their identities. NGOs like Mingle and Naz Foundation are actively working towards these people.
Evaluation of Administrative Functioning
Various NGOs play a vital role in evaluating administrative tasks and acting as watchdogs towards the government's activities. Their evaluations and monitoring help ensure that governments are transparent, accountable, and responsive to the needs and rights of the public. By fostering good governance practices, NGOs contribute to the overall development and well-being of societies.
Pooling of Funds
Various civil societies hold fundraising events to pool funds for underprivileged sections of society, especially during humanitarian crises. These events bring together individuals and organizations to generate financial support. The funds collected provide immediate relief and long-term development initiatives. Civil societies play a vital role in addressing social inequalities and building inclusive communities.
Various organized and unorganized civil societies hold seminars and workshops to raise awareness about social issues. Through informative presentations, interactive discussions, and practical activities, these gatherings enable participants to gain insights into topics such as poverty, gender equality, environmental sustainability, and human rights.
Promotion of Health-Based Programs
They also help in disseminating correct information about nutrition and exercise, so that people can take care of themselves in a better way. By bridging the knowledge gap and promoting healthy habits, they contribute to the creation of healthier communities.
They hold social campaigns like polio vaccination to spread awareness about diseases and help in any way that they possibly can. Through their collective efforts, they strive to create a healthier and more resilient society, leaving a lasting impact on the overall well-being of communities.
Guidance and Emotional Support
Communities like ‘Now&Me’ provide guidance and emotional support to anyone and everyone. Such judgement-free zones allow people to be themselves. The choice of seeking help anonymously also makes people reveal their deepest, darkest secrets, thus lifting the weight and pressure of secrecy off their chest.
Uplifting the Marginalized
These societies not only address the problems of marginalized groups but also help in providing them relief in times of emergencies. Whether it's providing shelter, food, medical aid, or psychological support, they strive to alleviate the immediate suffering and restore a sense of stability and security.
Shaping Public Policy
In addition to monitoring the government activities, the societies shape public policy by lobbying and being the spokesperson of their workers and public, at large.
Civil societies also help in the construction and maintenance of schools, hospitals, public toilets and parks. By creating and maintaining such infrastructure, civil societies not only improve the quality of life for individuals but also promote social cohesion, recreation, and overall well-being within the community.
Preservation of Nature and Natural Resources
Various civil societies like the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) advocate for the protection of the environment and depleting natural resources.
Disaster Management and Mitigation
Civil societies work towards spreading awareness about mitigating disasters and help in delivering essential services in case a disaster strikes.
Civil Societies during COVID-19
Civil societies have been at the forefront, delivering essential services and amplifying the voices of the marginalized during these unprecedented times. They provided crucial mental support and continued fighting for social justice and rallied for provisions of jobs under the MNREGA scheme.
They distributed PPE kits, sanitizers, masks to thousands of workers and worked towards spreading awareness about virus prevention. They organised seminars and workshops and invited the experts so as to make sure that all the myths regarding the pandemic busted. Their relentless efforts increased resilience and helped people cope in these difficult times.
The pandemic posed challenges for civil societies, limiting their outreach and funding. However, their mission remains steadfast. Some societies utilized digital platforms to increase outreach and bridge the digital divide. NEEDS (Network for Enterprises Enhancement and Development Support), an organization in Jharkhand, provided digital classes for children aged 10-14. Digital transformation facilitated large-scale crowdfunding but also brought uncertain challenges like data theft and radicalization. Civil societies have a responsibility to address these challenges ethically, protecting their integrity and people's sovereignty.
How Can Now&Me help?
Civil societies play a crucial role in fostering social change, promoting human rights, and addressing various issues within communities. Their collective efforts have the power to create a positive impact on society by advocating for equality, justice, and inclusivity.
Now&Me, as a platform dedicated to mental health and emotional support, can contribute to civil societies by providing a safe and inclusive space for individuals to share their thoughts, experiences, and concerns regarding civil societies. By engaging in discussions on the platform, you can contribute to the collective understanding of civil societies and their role in creating positive change.
Now&Me provides a safe platform to connect with experienced mental health and self care professionals who can offer you guidance and support. Our peer community is welcoming, non-judgmental, and inclusive, creating a warm and supportive environment to share your thoughts and feelings.You can interact with like-minded peers or seek guidance from experienced experts like therapists and life coaches, instantly. What are you waiting for? Download for FREE!