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Frontpage News 2013 Supporting civil society in Estonia

Civil society CVE-20120613-Hungary-132
Photo: Christophe Vander Eecken

Supporting civil society in Estonia

Strengthening democratic values and promoting human rights is one of the goals of the programme for non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in Estonia. To this end, the programme supports organisations working with issues such as civic participation, minorities and gay rights.

In total, €2.3 million have been set aside for the Estonian NGO programme which is operated by the Open Estonia Foundation. A total of 36 different NGO-projects in Estonia are receiving funding from the programme. Seventy-five per cent of the support is set aside for projects covering one or more of the three main focus areas:

  • Strengthening democratic values and promoting human rights
  • Developing the advocacy and watchdog role of Estonian NGOs
  • Strengthening the overall capacity of Estonian NGOs 

The remaining 25 % is allocated to capacity building.

Targeting young people

Several of the Estonian NGO projects target children and youth while at the same time working within one of the three main areas of focus. A project carried out by the NGO Lahedad Naised Lahedalt ,for instance, aims to raise the awareness of young people regarding democratic practices and increase their civic participation and interest in the political process. Throughout the project, young people participate in a democracy school where they learn about running and managing an NGO.  Another project, operated by the Estonian NGO Mundo, supports young people from activist groups in organising grass root campaigns and documentary film screenings. The target audience for these screenings are students in secondary school. To support the activist groups, Mundo provides campaigning manuals and workshops for the participants.

Other Estonian NGO projects include increasing the capacity of the Charity Fund Dharma through increasing the organisation’s fundraising capabilities, strengthening the communication work of the Estonian LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) association and supporting organisations representing minorities.

Important sector

A viable democracy depends on a strong civil society and NGOs play a vital role by stimulating engagement, participating in policy development and raising awareness about social issues. Because of this, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway have established NGO programmes in all the 15 beneficiary countries of the EEA Grants, with a total allocation of €147 million. This makes the EEA Grants one of the prime funding schemes for civil society in Central and Southern Europe. In addition, NGOs are eligible for funding under other programmes from the EEA and Norway Grants, such as mainstreaming gender equality and promoting work life balance as well as environmental protection and management and climate change.

Read more about the NGO programme here.