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- Honourable Alain Wong, Minister of Social Integration and Economic Empowerment;
- Mrs Lan, Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Social Integration and Economic Empowerment;
- Grant beneficiaries;
- Members of the Press;
- Ladies and Gentlemen;
Civil society organisations are a voice for those who are too often not heard. They have the courage to stand up against injustices, even if sometimes this means taking risks for themselves.
They are not only key players, but also main drivers for change – in terms of democracy, good governance, resilience, cohesions and promotion of fundamental human rights.
Yet, during the last years, the space for civil society has shrunk in many countries.
They need our support more than ever.
That’s why the European Union continues to stand in for an open and conducive environment for civil society, in Europe and in partner countries. We have committed to double our efforts to protect the democratic space at all levels and we will continue supporting the invaluable work of Civil Society Organisations and cooperating with them all around the world.
The EU has established a long term working partnership with CSOs in Mauritius and Rodrigues. We have elaborated a roadmap for our engagement with civil society organisations in Mauritius. This is instrumental in guiding our support to NGOs. But, also to improve their service delivery capacities.
Mauritius has a vibrant civil society. I commend Government for recognizing CSO's growing role, by engaging them, for instance in the elaboration of budget preparation and other policies. And I seize this opportunity to thank the Honourable Minister Alain Wong for taking part in today's event, hence confirming your commitment to supporting the civil society.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Today, we are here to award EU financed grants to NGOs under the EU Civil Society Organisation programme.
This programme supports CSOs at all levels, being as:
• Actors in governance and accountability;
• Partners in promoting social development; or
• In promoting inclusive and sustainable growth.
We launched a Call for Proposals in early 2018 and invited civil society to submit project proposals to address a wide range of priority areas, common to both the European Union and Mauritius.
We received 54 applications, a very good response in terms of number and in fact the requests exceeded by far the available financial budget for this year. We wish to underscore that most of those proposals were of high quality, hence it was not easy for us to make a selection, with proposals varying from governance and accountability to poverty alleviation; from women's empowerment, gender equality & maternal health to disability and environment and climate change.
At the end, we are pleased to announce today that we have retained 4 applications for the award of grants, worth a total amount of nearly 60 million rupees.
The beneficiaries are:
I wish to congratulate these 4 organisations and for the other NGOs that have not succeeded in this call, I want you to know that you doing an impressive work. There will be soon a new call to support new projects. Let me tell you, be even more ambitious next time and you will make it, as it was the case for the associations and foundations we are congratulating today.
Let me also add that today’s event comes at the opportune time as only few days ago we celebrated the World NGO Day and in two days we shall celebrate the International Women Day.
The actions that we have retained address the rights of women and girls. Indeed, protection of the rights of women and girls, their economic empowerment and maternal health were among the priority areas of this Call for Proposals.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The European Union will never leave human rights defenders and civil society organisations alone. This is a partnership we count on to protect people's rights and build opportunities for a society at large.
We have different roles: there are things that civil society organisations can do and other that you cannot do. Similarly, there are actions institutions can do, and others that we cannot or should not do.
These projects will offer us the opportunity to work together in protecting and fighting for fundamental human rights, democracy, and for sustainable development for all.
To our grantees here today, and to all NGOs out there who are doing a remarkable work, I want to tell: Thank you.
I take this opportunity to congratulate you, once again, and wish you success in the realisation of your projects. I am sure that the tangible results of your actions will not take long to be seen.
I thank you for your attention.