Sub-Saharan Africa Programs
Freedom House partners with civil society and human rights defenders throughout Sub-Saharan Africa to advance respect for human rights, strengthen democratic governance, and fortify just rule of law.
A diverse region, recent years have seen increasing sophistication and replication of government strategies to curb civic space. Authoritative regimes have shut off the internet or blocked social media to disrupt protests and passed laws intended to restrict the work of civil society. Lack of adherence to the rule of law and respect for freedom of expression and association, corruption, and discrimination against women and the LGBT community remain serious problems in many countries. Freedom House works to resist these trends through a combination of on-the-ground programs in more than a dozen countries directly supporting civil society and human rights defenders, regional advocacy initiatives, research and policy engagement in Washington and other capitals.
Freedom House has worked on Ethiopia since 2008, assisting human rights organizations in the development of coordinated advocacy and public outreach campaigns, and supporting the next generation of human rights defenders and democratic governance champions. Current programming seeks to protect civic space through mentorship initiatives, including a human rights internship programs and civil society capacity building. Freedom House also supports civil society to advance the recent political opening in Ethiopia by helping civil society organizations to develop strategies for the upcoming elections and outreach to citizens.
Freedom House’s Advancing Rights in Southern Africa program aims to improve the recognition, awareness and enforcement of human rights in the region, with a focus on select rights and a crosscutting emphasis on protecting the region’s most vulnerable and marginalized groups, including indigenous peoples, women and youth. The program’s four thematic areas are women’s customary land rights, indigenous people’s rights, media freedoms and digital rights, and the protection of human rights defenders, with a priority focus on Angola, Botswana, eSwatini, Madagascar, Mozambique, Lesotho, Namibia and South Africa.
Freedom House’s Promoting Civic Education and Participation in South Africa program seeks to strengthen the ability of civil society and community-based organizations to conduct civic education activities in their communities and to support their efforts to strengthen citizen participation in political processes. The program aims to facilitate engagement between citizens and their local and national representatives, increasing the use of tools that improve citizens’ ability to hold government officials accountable.
Civic Education and Participation in South Africa
Civic Education and Participation in South Africa, funded by the Human Rights Support Mechanism, is a four-year program led by Freedom House that seeks to ensure that South African citizens have the knowledge of their constitutional rights, tools, and platforms to engage meaningfully in the political process. The program’s goal is to strengthen the ability of civil society organizations (CSOs) and community-based organizations (CBOs) to more effectively conduct civic education activities in their communities. The program mentors and supports those CSOs and CBOs to engage citizens in the political process, facilitate touch-points with their local and national representatives, and introduce tools that citizens can use to hold the government accountable.
Building our Community for All: Study Circle Handbook
This study circle handbook, titled “Here we are – building community for all” introduces readers to the Constitution of South Africa and the Bill of Rights. It contains information about the workings of the South African government, teaches basic skills, and presents inspiring examples of how citizens can build “people power” and help strengthen their democracy. Any small group of people who would like to be more informed and empowered can use this handbook as a self-study course. Groups using the handbook will be able to participate more actively in building and strengthening their communities. The handbook has been prepared for the HSRM Civic Education and Participation Program. While the methodology is transferable, the content is specific to South Africa.
Freedom House works with Ugandans to promote rule of law and protect human rights by supporting national-level structures and civil society organizations that uphold respect for human rights, child justice, and rule of law. The program combines technical assistance and financial support to Ugandan partners to improve judicial independence, strengthen promotion of human rights protection by civil society organizations, enhance media reporting on human rights accountability, and strengthen the organizational capacity of its partners.
Freedom House’s Data Driven Advocacy program works to build the ability of Tanzanian civil society to advocate for, and influence policy on, key national-level human rights issues using better data and information to drive results. The program does this by strengthening platforms of collaboration among CSOs for evidence-based human rights advocacy; building civil society’s ability to collect, generate, monitor, and report independent and reliable information concerning human rights abuses; and supporting civil society responses to urgent and unanticipated human rights needs.
More Regional Programs
Through a robust portfolio of projects on the ground, emergency assistance, international advocacy, and special research Freedom House supports citizens and civic groups across the Eurasia region to actively participate in reforms, seek accountability for injustice, and implement meaningful ways to engage citizens as allies and supporters.
Latin America and the Caribbean Programs
Freedom House helps citizens defend their rights against government abuses in several countries of Latin America and the Caribbean.
Middle East and North Africa Programs
Freedom House remains focused on building the capacity of citizens, including grassroots efforts, human rights defenders, and civil society organizations, to defend these rights and principles.