Adriana Garcia – President ANONG [National Association of NGOs for Development] (Uruguay National NGO Forum)
In order to construct a vision of Uruguay 2030, ANONG has brought together civil society organisations to engage in a process of analysis and reflection aimed at agreeing on a strategic agenda of our specific and common problems.
This participation shows that our organisations have the political will to address problem areas and issues that affect society as a whole. Without side-lining the state’s primary responsibility to resolve these issues, the main themes of the civil society agenda and ways of addressing our country’s still unresolved issues were identified, in the context of a state increasingly involved in the formulation of social policy and the expansion of citizens’ rights and with greater alignment with the traditional concerns of civil society. This has led us to consider interaction with the state as another element of the civil society agenda, one that links with a wider history of social and economic crisis, neoliberal economic policies and targeted social policies based on an assistance model.
There have been changes in this respect: the state has played an increasing role in the widening of social protection, significant reduction in poverty as measured by income; and in the international field, the country’s inclusion in the high-income group.
Despite this, sectors of the population remain in poverty, in particular families with children. In a country with an ageing population like Uruguay, the concentration of poverty among the youngest age groups remains an enormous handicap and challenge to social cohesion. Inequalities and social and economic fragmentation are manifested in territorial and educational segregation.
Domestic and institutional violence, assaults on the rights of children, teenagers and young people; policies of imprisonment and punishment as a response to public safety issues; discrimination on the basis of race/ethnicity, sex, gender and/or generation; these are acute problems in our society. We need urgent discussion on problems related to environmental sustainability, educational quality, and access to decent housing and secure employment.
It is the state’s fundamental responsibility to ensure that these problems are recognised and resolved. The participation of civil society organisations enriches policy formulation, and hence we demand genuine and substantive participation in public policies.
The specific modalities and mechanisms of interaction emerging between civil society and the state are analysed. From an ethics and rights perspective, we seek involvement in political decision-making, in implementing and managing programmes and monitoring and overseeing their functioning and their results. ANONG is a space for organised collective reflection, which will always defend the rights of the subjects of the public policies and the organised collectives that adopt the same ethical focus.