MovaTUT, Social Contracting-Belarus Civil Society Digest

Mova.TUT Belarusian language course

The most popular Belarus web portal TUT.BY launched a new initiative to promote the Belarusian language, MovaTUT. The law 'On alternative Service' adopted at the session in the House of Representatives on first reading

Minsk districts introduce state social contracting. Local authorities will allocate subsidies to CSOs for the provision of social services and social projects. Student Week is taking place on 9-17 November in Minsk.

Civil society activities

First lessons of the Belarusian language club MovaTUT gathered about 100 people. On 12 November the largest Belarus web portal TUT.BY and Belarusian State University launched the free Belarusian language courses. All communication is based on the art - that is, the concept of language learning is based on mastering the vocabulary through discussion of works of art with involving artists, writers, historians and the university teachers. The lessons take place every biweekly and along with Mova ci Kava, Mova Nanova, Movaveda courses confirm the increasing popularity among Belarusians to study the national language.

Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) in Belarus. On 17-23 November GEW Belarus activities, coordinated by BELBIZ Centre of Business Communication, take place in all Belarus regions and include International Entrepreneurship Forum, startup competition BEL.BIZ Battle, Mentor of the Year contest, start-up networking events, master-classes, workshops and panel discussions. Belarus has formally joined Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) in 2011 and has become one of 137 countries participating in the largest entrepreneurial initiative around the world.

The 'Krai | BY' multimedia project releases the last journey of the second season. The project team went on a virtual tour to city Kletsk with distinctive history. 'Krai | BY' is a series of films where artist Paval Kharlanchuk talks about the Belarusian places that are worth going back again and again. The second season of the multimedia project are made jointly by Skaryna Belarusian Language Society and Budzma! cultural campaign.

Art Siadziba invites to its new venue. The new, the sixth in a row, venue is located in the centre of Minsk on Independence Avenue, will host Belarusian cultural events - concerts, exhibitions, lectures and presentations. Art Siadziba is a cultural site and a non-governmental organisation emerged in late 2011 in Minsk. The CSO was forced to leave five premises, as each time the owners for various reasons cancelled the lease.

Student Week is taking place on 9-17 November in Minsk, aimed at allowing students to express themselves and find opportunities for learning and development. The Week program includes forum-theatre on an actual student topic, a city-game, a living library, a talk show on civic engagement, a photo exhibition, a selfie contest with a teacher, etc. The Week is implemented by a team of active people from youth CSOs – Student Council, the Association of Belarusian students, BASS, Centre for Student initiatives Development, Young Social Democrats and many others.

REFORUM announces a call for experts in voluntary health insurance. Belarusian Institute for Strategic Studies (BISS), under the REFORUM project announces a set of national experts to develop proposals for reforms aimed at modernising the Belarus legislation and practises to expand voluntary health insurance of employees. REFORUM supports the European Dialogue on the Modernization (EDM) and aims to develop 16 specific reforms based on the needs of society that will contribute to enhancing its competitiveness.

Appeal to the international community on the support of Elena Tonkacheva. On 12 November the Belarusian National Platform of the EaP Civil Society Forum issued an appeal to the international community on the support of human rights activist Elena Tonkacheva. The appeal regards the decision of the Belarusian authorities concerning Elena Tonkacheva as one more act of repression against civil society actors, which in its meaning continues odious logic of political persecution and the existence of political prisoners in Belarus.

Conferences and roundtables

Conference on theological education to be held in Minsk on 21-22 November. The conference will focus on theological education in Belarus and other countries in the context of the standards of freedom of religion and belief. The organisers of the conference are FORB Initiative, Centre for the Study of Contemporary Religiosity, Ekumena Centre (Belarus), together with the international organisation ‘Lawyers for Europe’ (Bulgaria).

MY World global survey. On 13 November the UN Office in Belarus hosted a round table with civil society organisations representing vulnerable groups of the Belarusian population. UN team presented the MY World global survey, which is used as one of the forms for public consultations in Belarus, and explained how to join the process as a partner. The survey results will be used not only by the UN for post-2015 development agenda, but also by the Belarusian government in the development of the National Strategy for Sustainable Socio-Economic Development till 2030.

Follow up discussion on the results of sector analysis of gender equality. On 20 November the Office for European expertise and Communications (OEEC) invites to discuss additional information, conclusions and recommendations, which appeared on the results of the presentation of sector analysis on gender equality (September 2014). The discussion is open to all comers.

Interaction between state and civil society

In 2015, in Minsk districts will introduce a mechanism of state social contracting. Social contracting allows local authorities to allocate subsidies to CSOs for the provision of social services and social projects. To the moment already 18 Minsk CSOs presented 11 social projects and 45 models of social services. The mechanism was lobbied by coalitions of Belarusian CSOs headed by the ACT NGO and operates since 2012.

The law 'On alternative Service' adopted at the session in the House of Representatives on first reading on 10 November. The drafting and introduction of the law happened because civil society actors made this question a matter of publicity and marked their understanding of this draft law’s significance. The final law though didn’t justify the hopes of the civil society organisations, according to Elena Tonkacheva, the Chair of the Board of the Legal Transformation Centre Lawtrend that has been one of the engines of the process for the past 5 years.

Belarus Digest prepared this overview on the basis of materials provided by Pact. This digest attempts to give a richer picture of the recent political and civil society events in Belarus. It often goes beyond the hot stories already available in English-language media.

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